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Bible Commentaries

Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Isaiah 34

Isaiah 34-35. The Downfall of Edom, and Permanent Desolation of its Land. The Blessedness of God’ s People and Fertility of its Land.— These chapters are generally, and probably correctly, attributed to the same hand. Isaiah 34 exhibits the fiercest hatred of Edom, reminding us most of Isaiah 63:1-7. This hatred, for which we may compare Lamentations 4:21 f., Psalms 137:7, Jeremiah 49:7-22, was largely due to the exultation displayed by the Edomites at the destruction of Jerusalem in 586, and it was cherished by the Jews from that time forward. The desolation of Edom is described in language very similar to that used in Isaiah 13 for the desolation of Babylon. The connexion of Edom with the judgment of all nations, and especially the reference to a collection of prophecies as a Book of Yahweh, points to the post-exilic period as the most probable date for its composition. Isaiah 35 implies the Dispersion and a knowledge of Isaiah 40-66.

Verses 1-4

Isaiah 34:1-4 . All nations are summoned to hear their doom. Yahweh is infuriated against them, He has pronounced the ban (pp. 99, 114, Deuteronomy 2:34 *, Joshua 6:17 *) upon them. The foul odour of their exposed and putrefying corpses shall fill the air, the mountains be dissolved with their blood. The sky shall be rolled up like a scroll, and the stars drop off it ( Revelation 6:13 f.) like a fading leaf from the vine or fig-tree.

Isaiah 34:4 . host of heaven: read “ hills” ; the line is parallel to the last clause of Isaiah 34:3.

Verses 5-8

Isaiah 34:5-8 . In preparation for the slaughter of earth Yahweh’ s sword has drunk its fill of wrath in heaven. Now, charged and sharpened with its fury, it descends to execute the ban upon Edom ( mg.) . His sword reeks with blood and is glutted with fat, but the victims slaughtered in this sacrifice are the Edomites, commoners ( Isaiah 34:6) and aristocrats ( Isaiah 34:7) alike; for it is the day of Yahweh’ s vengeance in the controversy He has with Edom for the wrongs she has inflicted on Zion.

Isaiah 34:6 f. The animals in Isaiah 34:6 represent the common people, those in Isaiah 34:7 the chiefs and nobles.— Bozrah: Jeremiah 49:13 *.

Verses 9-17

Isaiah 34:9-17 . Edom is near to the Dead Sea, and the country is volcanic, and these facts suggest this lurid picture of judgment. Edom’ s rivers will be turned to pitch, its dust to brimstone, the land shall be a smoking, desolate wilderness for ever and ever. Pelican and bittern ( Isaiah 14:23 *), owl and raven, shall dwell in it; it shall be reduced to utter chaos. Satyrs shall dwell in it, its rulers shall be destroyed. The palaces will be overrun with thorns and thistles, and be the dwelling-place of wild beasts and uncanny monsters. Let those who read this book verify the description for themselves, for Yahweh has allotted Edom to these creatures as their promised land, just as He allotted Canaan to the tribes of Israel.

Isaiah 34:11 b. Confusion and emptiness are the words which describe the primeval chaos in Genesis 1:2. The line and plummet are used to secure exactness in building. With just the same care and completeness Yahweh will execute the work of destruction.

Isaiah 34:12 . Read, partially following LXX, “ And satyrs shall dwell therein, Her rulers shall not be; There shall be no kingdom there to proclaim, And all her princes shall be no more.”

Isaiah 34:13-15 . Cf. Isaiah 13:21 f.*

Isaiah 34:14 . night monster: better Lilith ( mg.) , a night demon among the Babylonians and Assyrians. The Jews of Mesopotamia kept up the superstition about her till late in the Christian era, and she is the subject of several Rabbinical stories. The representation of her as Adam’ s first wife appears in Faust. place of rest: cf. Matthew 12:43, Luke 11:24.

Isaiah 34:15 . arrowsnake: the reference to hatching seems to favour the view that a bird is intended, but the writer may have been unaware that pythons are the only snakes that hatch.— gather under her shadow: read, “ brood over her eggs.”

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Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Isaiah 34". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". 1919.