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Bible Commentaries

Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Isaiah 26

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 1-19

Isaiah 26:1-19 . Memories and Anticipations.— The poem, which is a very elaborate composition, seems to have been written in confident expectation of deliverance, though the actual situation is still one of distress. Jerusalem has been made impregnable, let the righteous enter in. The unwavering mind is kept by God in unbroken peace ( cf. mg.) . He is worthy of trust, for He is an everlasting rock; He has laid low the exalted city, the afflicted Jews trample it under foot. The way of the just is made smooth. The manifestation of Yahweh’ s judgment has been eagerly awaited, for the world’ s inhabitants will learn righteousness when Yahweh’ s judgments are in the land. The unrighteous shall not find favour, for they have not learnt righteousness. Though Yahweh’ s hand is lifted, they fail to see it. See it they shall, and be confounded and destroyed. He alone has secured their peace. Other masters have ruled them, but they are dead, and will never return to exercise dominion; the nation is multiplied, the land enlarged. They had sought Yahweh in distress, they writhed in pain, but their agony was in vain, the land remained unpeopled. To fill the depleted land, those who died in loyalty to Yahweh shall be raised from the dead. God’ s dew shall quicken the dead bodies, the shades shall return to the upper world.

Isaiah 26:8 . The name of Yahweh in the OT stands for His essential nature as self-revealed.

Isaiah 26:10 . Perhaps we should read with Marti, “ Favour will not be shewed to the wicked, who has not learned righteousness.”

Isaiah 26:13 . other lords: not false gods ( cf. Isaiah 26:14), but earthly lords, i.e. Israel’ s oppressors.

Isaiah 26:14 . deceased: read mg.; cf. Isaiah 14:9.

Isaiah 26:18 . fallen: RV means that the enemy has not been overthrown. But we should probably read “ been born” ( mg.) , and take the meaning to be that Palestine remains thinly peopled.

Isaiah 26:19 . An extremely important verse, the earliest mention in the OT of a resurrection. Here it is restricted to the righteous; martyrs may possibly be specially intended. The much later passage, Daniel 12:2 *, adds the resurrection of the apostates.— thy dead: Yahweh’ s worshippers.— dew of herbs: render probably “ dew of light” ( mg.) , i.e. dew from the realm of light; though J. G. Frazer thinks that the evidence he has collected with reference to the customs of bathing in dew may perhaps favour “ dew of herbs.”

Verses 20-21

Isaiah 26:20 to Isaiah 27:1 . Let Yahweh’ s People Take Shelter, for He is about to Execute Judgment.— Here the apocalypse is resumed. The Jews are warned that Yahweh’ s indignation is about to break loose on the earth, which will reveal the bloodshed she has concealed; let them take shelter, for His wrath will soon be executed. In that day He will punish the two leviathans and the dragon in the sea.

Isaiah 26:21 b . Cf. Genesis 4:10 *.

Isaiah 27:1 . It is generally thought that the three monsters here mentioned are to be identified with empires. If so, the dragon is probably here, as elsewhere, Egypt. The fleeing ( mg.) serpent has been identified with Assyria, Babylon, Persia, and Syria; the winding serpent with Babylon, Persia, Greece, or Parthia, according to the historical circumstances which are supposed to lie behind the oracle. It is possible that constellations are intended: if so, Smend and Burney may be right in identifying the first leviathan with Serpens, the second with Draco, and the dragon with Hydra. The sea will in this case be the heavenly ocean. It must be remembered that the stars were thought of as personal powers ( cf. Judges 5:20), and they would be connected with the host of the high ones on high of Isaiah 24:21.

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Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Isaiah 26". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". 1919.