Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 24

Peake's Commentary on the BiblePeake's Commentary


Isaiah 24-27. The World is Judged, Israel is Delivered.— This section of the book is certainly not by Isaiah. It has points of contact with his prophecies, but with the work of later prophets as well. Its style is more artificial, and there are several characteristics which distinguish it from Isaiah’ s writing. Driver enumerates the following: many plays on words and alliterations, a tendency to rhyme, a frequent combination of nearly synonymous clauses often without connecting conjunctions, repetition of words, many unusual expressions. But in addition to these features of style, it should be observed that the ideas are far in advance of those of Isaiah’ s time, and go even beyond those of the Second Isaiah. The tone is apocalyptic, and so are its imagery and the forms of representation. Cheyne mentions the following points in this connexion: the physical convulsion of the world, the going up of all nations to the Divine feast at Jerusalem, the committal of the host of the height and the kings of the earth to prison, the mysterious designations of the world-empires, the trumpet blown to recall the Jewish exiles. The expectation of the resurrection of individual Israelites and the promise that death will be abolished, also stamp it as late. It is certainly post-exilic. It seems most likely that it should be placed in the late Persian period at the earliest, and for much of it the tremendous convulsion, caused in the East by Alexander the Great’ s overthrow of Persia, seems to supply the worthiest occasion. The doctrine of individual resurrection is less developed than in Daniel, and there is no necessity to bring it down to a Maccabean date. Probably, as Duhm was the first to point out, the section is not a unity. His analysis has been largely accepted: ( a) the oracle itself consisting of Isaiah 24, Isaiah 25:6-8; Isaiah 26:20; Isaiah 27:1; Isaiah 27:12 f.; ( b) Isaiah 25:1-5; ( c) Isaiah 25:9-11; ( d) Isaiah 25:12, Isaiah 26:1-19; ( e) Isaiah 27:2-5. He was uncertain whether Isaiah 27:6-11 belonged to the main oracle or not. Probably it is a separate fragment.

Verses 1-23

Isaiah 24. A World-wide Judgment Foretold.— The apocalypse opens with the description of a judgment on the whole world. This judgment is predicted, it has not already happened. It will involve all in one common ruin, every distinction of class will be obliterated. For the world’ s inhabitants have broken the covenant made with Noah, in which bloodshed was forbidden ( Genesis 9:5 f.). On bloodshed the huge empires have been founded and they shall perish in the blood they have spilt. Few men will be left, merriment ceases for wine is scarce, and the revellers who drink wine and strong drink find no pleasure in it. The city of false gods has its walls broken, the houses are closely barricaded, all gladness has gone, the city is desolation, the gate in ruins. The survivors are proportionately as few as the olives left to be beaten off the tree, or the few grapes to be gleaned when the principal gathering of olives and grapes is past. What follows ( Isaiah 24:14-16) is very difficult. The text is corrupt, and the verses do not fit into their present context. Possibly the remnant is described as singing songs of praise, in which the prophet feels that he cannot join. With Isaiah 24:17 we return to the prediction of judgment. The world’ s inhabitants are menaced by terror, pit and snare. They escape from one only to fall into another. For heaven’ s windows are opened ( Genesis 2:6 f.*, Genesis 7:11), and the waters of the heavenly ocean descend in flood, while earthquakes of appalling violence heighten the catastrophe. Then Yahweh will punish the heavenly principalities and powers, the angels of the nations, their guardian princes ( Daniel 10:13 *), along with the earthly rulers of these nations who have been incited by their malign inspiration to oppress Yahweh’ s people ( cf. *Psalms 58, 82). They are to be shut up for a season in a subterranean dungeon, the pits of darkness of 2 Peter 2:4, to await, as that passage also says, their final judgment. Then Yahweh in person will reign in Zion, so resplendent in glory before the elders of His people that the sun and the moon shall seem dim by comparison.

Isaiah 24:10 . city of confusion: city of tohu (the word rendered “ waste” in Genesis 1:2), possibly so called here to mean the city that is to become waste, but more probably the meaning is city of false gods ( cf. 1 Samuel 12:21). The city is not Jerusalem, but the capital of the kingdom of evil, the centre of the forces and tendencies which are hostile to God.

Isaiah 24:11 . is darkened: read perhaps “ has passed away.”

Isaiah 24:16 . glory: render “ honour.”

Isaiah 24:18 . windows on high: Genesis 7:11.— a hut: a flimsy structure ( cf. Isaiah 1:8).— visited: not in mercy but in judgment.

Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Isaiah 24". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". 1919.