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Bible Commentaries

Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Isaiah 34


God’s fury and wrath against his church’s enemies, Isaiah 34:1-10.

Their land utterly desolate, Isaiah 34:11-15.

The certainty hereof, and duration, Isaiah 34:16,Isaiah 34:17.

Verse 1

Come near, ye nations, to hear; and hearken, ye people; let the people of all nations take notice of what I am about to say and do, as that wherein they are generally concerned, and by the consideration whereof they may, if they will, be instructed, and so delivered from the calamity here denounced.

All things that come forth of it, Heb. all the offsprings of it; either,

1. All the trees and fruits, and other productions of it; for it is usual with the prophets, by a figure, to turn their speech to these senseless creatures. Or,

2. All the inhabitants of the world, as the Chaldee and other ancients restrain and understand this general expression; which also is emphatical, and admonisheth the proud and insolent sons of men of their mean and obscure original, that how great and glorious soever they may seem to themselves or others, yet in truth they are but a better sort of mushrooms springing out of the earth; for dust they are, and unto dust they must return, as was said, Genesis 3:19.

Verse 2

Upon all nations; not only upon the Assyrians, and those nations which were confederate with them in this expedition, but upon all other enemies of my people whatsoever.

He hath utterly destroyed them; he will infallibly destroy all of them.

Verse 3

Shall be cast out into the fields, where they shall lie unburied, and be left for a prey to all ravenous birds and beasts; whereby he implies, either the vast numbers which shall be slain, so as they could not have time or place to bury them; or the curse of God upon them, and the people’s contempt and abhorrency of them.

The mountains about Jerusalem, where they are supposed to be gathered to fight against Jerusalem, as the Assyrians now were, and as other enemies afterward would be, Zechariah 12:2; Zechariah 14:2.

Shall be melted with their blood; shall be filled with their blood, which shall run down abundantly from the mountains with great force, and dissolve and carry down part of the earth of the mountains with it, as great showers of rain frequently do.

Verse 4

All the host of heaven; the sun, and moon, and stars. which frequently come under this name in Scripture, as Deuteronomy 4:19; Deuteronomy 17:3, and elsewhere.

Shall be dissolved; shall seem to be dissolved. So great shall be the confusion and consternation of mankind, as if all the frame of the creation were broken into pieces. Some understand this of the general judgment; which some passages here following will not permit. But it is a very usual thing for prophetical writers, both in the Old and New Testament, to represent great and general calamities in such words and phrases as properly agree to the day of judgment; as, on the contrary, the glorious deliverances of God’s people are set forth in such expressions as properly agree to the resurrection from the dead. See Ezekiel 37:7; Joel 2:31; Joel 3:15; Revelation 6:12,Revelation 6:13.

The heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll, Heb. as a book; for books were then written in scrolls, which they usually rolled up together; and when they were so, no man could read any word in it; and no more shall any man be able to see those goodly lights of heaven, for they shall all be obscured and confounded. This phrase is used also Isaiah 8:1; Revelation 6:14.

As the leaf that falleth off from the vine, when it is withered.

As a falling fig; which falleth, either through great maturity, or being thrust out by green figs coming forth, or by any other accident.

Verse 5

Shall be bathed in the blood of these people; Heb. is or shall be made drunk. In heaven; either,

1. In my church, which is called heaven, Daniel 8:10; Revelation 4:1; Revelation 12:1, in and against which these enemies are said to be gathered together. Or,

2. In the highest heaven, where God dwells; in which this is said to be done, because it was there decreed and appointed to be done.

Upon Idumea; upon the Edomites, who, though they were nearly related to the Israelites, and were circumcised as well as they; yet were their most inveterate and implacable enemies, watching all opportunities, and being ready to join with all those that attempted, to destroy them; whereof we have many intimations and instances in Scripture. But these are not named exclusively, but rather comprehensively, and synecdochically, for all the enemies of God’s church, of whom they were a considerable part, and an eminent type.

Upon the people of my curse; to whom my curse belongs; or, whom I have cursed, and devoted to utter destruction, as this Hebrew word properly signifies.

Verse 6

Is filled with blood; shall drink its fill of blood. The metaphor is here taken from a great glutton or drunkard, who is almost insatiable with meat and drink.

With the blood of lambs and goats, with the fat of the kidneys of rams: by, lambs, and goats, and rams, he means people of all ranks and conditions, high and low, rich and poor. A sacrifice; so he calleth this bloody work, because it was done by God’s command, and for his honour; and therefore was a service acceptable to him.

Bozrah; a chief city of Edom, Isaiah 63:1; Jeremiah 49:13, and a type of those cities which should be most opposite and mischievous to God’s people.

Verse 7

The unicorns, Heb. the reemim. But what kind of beast this is, whether that beast which is commonly called an unicorn, which seems to be but a fiction in the judgment of the learned, or a rhinoceros, or a wild ox or bull, it is needless to trouble the ordinary reader about it; and the learned may consult my Latin Synopsis upon Numbers 23:22 about it. It is confessed that it was a beast of great strength and fierceness; and it is certain that it is metephorically used in this place, to signify their princes and potentates.

Shall come down; shall be humbled and cast down. The LXX. and Syriac render it,

they shall fall down, as such beasts do when they have received a deadly blow. With them; with the lambs, and goats, and rams, last mentioned, Isaiah 34:6.

With fatness; with the fat of the slain sacrifices, which shall he mingled with it.

Verse 8

This is the time which God hath long since appointed and fixed, to avenge the cause of his oppressed and persecuted people against all their enemies.

Verse 9

The streams, which seem most secure from this danger, and much more the land. Idumea shall be dealt with as Sodom and Gomorrah were, even utterly destroyed, as it were, by fire, or burning pitch and brimstone thrown down upon it from heaven.

Verse 10

It shall be irrecoverably ruined, and shall remain as a spectacle of God’s vengeance to all succeeding ages.

Verse 11

The cormorant and the bittern shall possess it, the owl also and the raven shall dwell in it; the inhabitants shall be wholly cut off, and it shall be entirely possessed by those creatures which delight in deserts and waste places. See the same or like expressions in the like case, Isaiah 13:21,Isaiah 13:22; Isaiah 14:23.

He shall stretch out upon it the line of confusion, and the stones of emptiness; he shall use the line, or the stone or plummet joined to it, not to build them, but to mark them out to desolation and destruction, as workmen commonly use them to mark what they are to pull down.

Verse 12

They shall call the nobles thereof to the kingdom, but none shall be there; they shall endeavour to heal their breaches, but in vain; the remnant of the people shall seek for any fit person, and offer the kingdom to him; but they shall not find any such who shall be willing to undertake the government.

Shall be nothing; either shall be lost and cut off, or shall have no courage or strength left in them.

Verse 13

This is another mark and evidence of extreme desolation, as it is also, Hosea 9:6.

Verse 14

The satyr shall cry to his fellow: See Poole "Isaiah 13:21". See Poole "Isaiah 13:22".

The screech owl also shall rest there, because there shall be no men left to disturb or affright them, Isaiah 17:2.

Verse 15

The great owl; whether this or what other creature is meant by this Hebrew word, the learned reader may find largely discoursed in my Latin Synopsis upon this place; for others, it may suffice to know, what all agree in, that, whether it be a bird or a serpent, it is a creature that lives in desert places.

Make her nest, and lay, and hatch, and gather under her shadow, as fearing no disturbance from any men.

Verse 16

Seek ye out of the book of the Lord, and read; when this judgment is executed, if you peruse this book of holy writ, and particularly this prophecy of mine, you will find that all things shall exactly come to pass as I have told you.

No one of these shall fail, none shall want her mate: as I have said, that the vultures should each have their mate, so shall it be; and this prophecy shall be exactly fulfilled, even in its smallest circumstances. His Spirit; my Spirit; such sudden changes of persons being frequent here. And God’s Spirit may be put for his might and power, as it is in many places of Scripture. Hath gathered them; hath brought all these creatures together, as he formerly brought the creatures to Adam and to Noah, by an instinct which he put into them.

Verse 17

He hath divided the land to them, as it were, by lot and line, as Canaan was divided among the Israelites.

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Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Isaiah 34". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.