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Bible Commentaries

Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Isaiah 63

Verses 1-6

Isaiah 63:1-Joshua : . The Triumph of Yahweh.— In this poem, isolated from its context, the poet, looking into the future, sees a solitary but majestic warrior striding along, his splendid garments all bloodstained. “ Who,” he asks, “ is this?” To which Yahweh Himself, for it is He, makes answer, “ I, resplendent in triumph, mighty to deliver.” “ Why,” asks the poet, “ is Thine apparel stained red like the garments of the grape-treader?” Yahweh answers, “ A wine-trough indeed have I trodden and the nations lent Me no aid. In fury I trampled them, so that their juice spurted out and I stained all My garments.” This terrible figure is explained in Isaiah 63:4-Joshua :. Yahweh’ s day of vengeance on the nations that oppressed His people, the year ( cf. Isaiah 61:2) of ransom ( cf. mg.) was come. He sought an ally among the nations— but to His astonishment found none to support Him. So His own strength and fury wrought deliverance for Him. The nations in passion He trampled and smashed (so read with some MSS for “ made drunk” ) in His fury, spilling their life-blood (literally “ juice,” the same word as in Isaiah 63:3) on the ground. The poem ends abruptly; the end of it seems to have been lost.

Isaiah 63:1 . Edom, Bozrah: if the text is right Edom, and its chief city Bozrah, are used as typical of the nations. Cf. Isaiah 34. But with the slightest change we might translate “ cometh all crimsoned, his garments redder than a vintager.” We might read in the last clause: “ I resplendent in righteousness ( i.e. triumph), mighty to save.”

Verses 7-14

Isaiah 63:7-2 Chronicles : . A Recital of Yahweh’ s Kindness to His People of Old.— This passage seems to be a liturgy of thanksgiving: resemblance to Pss. is obvious.

I will recount Yahweh’ s acts of love, His deeds of renown, in accordance with all that Yahweh, great in goodness ( cf. LXX), has done for us. He thought, “ Surely they are My people, sons that will not play Me false.” So He became their deliverer in all their distress. Following LXX, connect the first four words of Isaiah 63:9 with Isaiah 63:8, and continue: “ No messenger or angel, but His own presence delivered them.” ) Yahweh Himself, no intermediary, delivered, ransomed, and led them with tender care. But, disappointing His thought ( Isaiah 63:8), they were perverse, and pained His holy spirit ( i.e. His manifested presence” ) so that He was compelled to fight against them. In their consequent distress Israel ( cf. mg.) recalled His grace in times gone by; “ where,” they lamented, “ is He who brought up (delete “ them” with VSS and some MSS) from the sea the shepherd ( mg.) of His flock?” i.e. saved Moses from the Nile ( cf. Isaiah 19:5 *). “ Where is He who put His holy spirit within the community, lending His wonder-working power to Moses’ hand and bringing, to His eternal glory, His people through the Red Sea, so that they did not stumble but walked as surely as a horse on the plain, and with the unerring step of cattle descending a hillside?” Read with VSS, “ guided” for “ caused to rest” in Isaiah 63:14.

Verses 15-19

Isaiah 63:15 to Isaiah 64:9 . A Fervent Prayer to Yahweh to Intervene again for His Children.— The appeal rings like a litany, reminding Yahweh, who has withdrawn into His glorious heavenly palace, of His former compassion. To Abraham and Israel appeal has been made in vain (some approach to ancestor-worship seems to have been prevalent), but Yahweh is their father and redeemer. His severity has sent them wandering even further away, and hardened their heart so that they cannot “ fear Him,” i.e. carry out the duties of religion. If only He would come back from His seclusion! Isaiah 63:18 is corrupt; regrouping of consonants and very slight changes give the excellent sense, “ Why do the wicked despise thy Holy House, our enemies desecrate thy Sanctuary? “ The allusion is not to a destruction, but a profanation, of the Temple by the pro-Samaritans, who refused to accept the new standard of religious practice, adhering tenaciously to old usages now regarded as heathenish. The strict party is left, through Yahweh’ s seclusion, as a shepherdless flock. If Yahweh would but manifest Himself in a glorious theophany ( cf. Judges 5:4 f.), rending the heavens and causing the mountains to shake, even as fire makes brushwood crackle and blaze or water boil over, that He might “ put the fear of God” into His adversaries, and make the peoples tremble while He does “ terrible things”— the term used of the marvels of the Exodus— beyond the hopes of His people or the experience of men! (Delete Isaiah 64:3 b, “ thou camest . . . presence” an accidental repetition from Isaiah 63:1, and connect “ For from of old men have not heard” with what precedes, changing “ For” to “ and.” On the basis of LXX the rest of Isaiah 63:4 may possibly be reconstructed, “ Ear hath not heard and eye hath not seen the deeds and exploits which thou wilt work for those who wait on thee.” ) Oh! that He would meet, i.e. be gracious to, those who work righteousness and remember His ways ( cf. LXX). The remainder of this corrupt verse ( cf. mg.) may read, “ Behold, thou wast wroth and we sinned, wroth at our doings, so that we became guilty.” ) For we have become like the unclean, our righteous deeds like a polluted garment: we are withered like leaves, and our iniquity (read sing.) has whirled us away like the wind. So that hardly one among us calls on Thy name ( cf. Genesis 4:26), or is zealous to lay hold on Thee, because Thou hast withdrawn Thy countenance from us and delivered us up to the power of our sins ( mg.) . We are the clay which Thou hast fashioned; destroy not Thy work by unrelenting anger ( cf. Job 10:8-2 Kings :). Look at us, we entreat Thee, we are Thy people!

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Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Isaiah 63". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". 1919.