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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Isaiah 29

 

 

Verse 1

Isaiah 29:1 Woe to Ariel, to Ariel, the city [where] David dwelt! add ye year to year; let them kill sacrifices.

Ver. 1. Woe to Ariel, to Ariel,] i.e., To the brazen altar, [Ezekiel 43:15-16] called here Ariel, or God’s lion, because it seemed as a lion to devour the sacrifices daily burnt upon it. Here it is put for the whole temple, (a) which, together with the city wherein it stood, is threatened with destruction.

The city where David dwelt.] Both Mount Moriah, whereon stood the temple, and Mount Zion, whereon stood the palace. Both Church and State are menaced with judgments, temporal in the eight first verses, and spiritual in the eight next. The rest of the chapter is no less consolatory than this is comminatory.

Add ye year to year,] i.e., Feed yourselves on with these vain hopes, that years shall run on always in the same manner. See 2 Peter 2:4, Ezekiel 12:22.

Let them kill sacrifices.] And thereby think, but falsely and foolishly, to demerit God to themselves, as that emperor did, who, marching against his enemy, sacrificed, and then said, Non sic Deos coluimus ut ille nos vinceret, (b) We have not so served God that he should serve us no better than to give our enemies the better of us. See Isaiah 58:3, Jeremiah 7:21, Hosea 9:1.


Verse 2

Isaiah 29:2 Yet I will distress Ariel, and there shall be heaviness and sorrow: and it shall be unto me as Ariel.

Ver. 2. Yet I will distress Ariel.] Though a sacred place. Profligate professors are the worse for their privileges. The Jew first. [Romans 2:9]

And it shall be unto me as Ariel,] i.e., It shall be full of slain bodies, as the altar is usually full of slaughtered beasts, and swimmeth, as it were, in blood. So Jeremiah 12:3, Isaiah 34:6. Arias Montanus giveth this sense: ‘Jerusalem, which once was Ariel, that is, a strong lion, shall now be Ariel, that is, a strong curse, or a rain of malediction.’


Verse 3

Isaiah 29:3 And I will camp against thee round about, and will lay siege against thee with a mount, and I will raise forts against thee.

Ver. 3. And I will camp against thee round about.] I will bring the woe of war upon thee - a woe that no words, how wide soever, can possibly express. See this accomplished. [2 Kings 25:4]

And will lay siege.] As the captain general of the Chaldees.


Verse 4

Isaiah 29:4 And thou shalt be brought down, [and] shalt speak out of the ground, and thy speech shall be low out of the dust, and thy voice shall be, as of one that hath a familiar spirit, out of the ground, and thy speech shall whisper out of the dust.

Ver. 4. And thou, shalt be brought down.] From those lofty pinnacles of self-exaltation whereunto thy pride hath perched thee.

And speak out of the ground.] Humillime et submissime, thou shalt speak supplication, with a low voice (as broken men), who wast wont to face the heavens, and speak in spite of God and men, speak big words, bubbles of words. See Jeremiah 46:22.

And thy voice shall be as one that hath a familiar spirit.] Cuius vox est gracilis, flebilis, hiulca, confusa, gemebunda.

Out of the ground.] As the devil at Delphi did.


Verse 5

Isaiah 29:5 Moreover the multitude of thy strangers shall be like small dust, and the multitude of the terrible ones [shall be] as chaff that passeth away: yea, it shall be at an instant suddenly.

Ver. 5. Moreover, the multitude of thy strangers.] Thy foreign auxiliaries; these shall do thee no good, but be blown away as with a whirlwind.

It shall be at an instant, suddenly.] The last siege and sack of Jerusalem was so by a specialty, as is to be read in Josephus. And some interpreters understand this whole chapter of the times of the New Testament, because our Saviour and St Paul do cite some places herehence, and apply the same to those their times, not by way of accommodation only, but as the proper and true sense of the text. {as Matthew 15:8-9 Romans 11:8 1 Corinthians 1:19}


Verse 6

Isaiah 29:6 Thou shalt be visited of the LORD of hosts with thunder, and with earthquake, and great noise, with storm and tempest, and the flame of devouring fire.

Ver. 6. Thou shalt be visited with thunder and earthquake,] i.e., Fragosis, repentinis, vehementibus, et immedicabilibus plagis, with rattling, sudden, violent, and unmedicinable miseries and mischiefs, as if heaven and earth had conspired thine utter undoing. Some apply this to the prodigies that went before the last devastation of Jerusalem whereof see Joseph., lib. vii. cap. 12.


Verse 7

Isaiah 29:7 And the multitude of all the nations that fight against Ariel, even all that fight against her and her munition, and that distress her, shall be as a dream of a night vision.

Ver. 7. Shall be as the dream of a night vision.] Both in regard of thee to whom this siege and ruin shall happen beyond all thought, judgment, and expectation, as also in respect of the Chaldees themselves, who will never be satisfied with tormenting thee, {as Isaiah 29:8} and yet shall fail of what they hope for too. (a) Spes mortalium sunt somnia vigilantium, saith Plato.


Verse 8

Isaiah 29:8 It shall even be as when an hungry [man] dreameth, and, behold, he eateth; but he awaketh, and his soul is empty: or as when a thirsty man dreameth, and, behold, he drinketh; but he awaketh, and, behold, [he is] faint, and his soul hath appetite: so shall the multitude of all the nations be, that fight against mount Zion.

Ver. 8. It shall be as when.] See on Isaiah 29:7.


Verse 9

Isaiah 29:9 Stay yourselves, and wonder; cry ye out, and cry: they are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink.

Ver. 9. Stay yourselves, and wonder.] Sistite gradum, stand still, and stand amazed at this people’s stupendous stupidity and desperate security. Piscator rendereth the text thus: Cunctantur, itaque admiramini; deliciantur, itaque vociferamini. They delay (to return), therefore wonder ye at it; they sport at it, but cry ye out, as lamenting their folly. {Ezekiel 9:4, where the original is very elegant} Some translate the words thus: Obstupefacite vos ipsi, et sitis stupidi, et excaecate vos ipsi et sitis caeci, stupify yourselves and be stupid; blind yourselves and be blind; do so, I say, for you will do so undoubtedly. And here begin their spiritual miseries. See Isaiah 29:1; Isaiah 6:9-10.

They are drunk, but not with wine.] But yet with that which is much worse, viz., with a spirit of stupidity; [Isaiah 29:10] they are not only drunk with a dry drunkenness, but deadly sick of a lethargy, being dulled in their understandings, lulled asleep in their sinful practices, ready to fly in the face of one that shall offer to awake them. Other drunkenness a man may sleep out, sleep himself sober, as Noah did; not so here, as Nazianzen (a) well observeth upon this text.


Verse 10

Isaiah 29:10 For the LORD hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered.

Ver. 10. For the Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep.] By a judiciary hardness he hath rolled a stone upon your hearts, and given you up to a reprobate sense. He hath cast you into a dead lethargy, a dedolent disposition; so that "because of the blindness of their hearts," this people are "past feeling," [Ephesians 4:18-19] and because they have wilfully winked, he hath even dashed out their eyes, bereaving them of the light against which they rebelled, [Job 24:13] so that they have neither sight nor light, lemosorum instar oculos mentis concretos habent; they are miserably benighted.

The prophets, &c.] A blind seer is a monster. How could these, thus blindly led, avoid the ditch of destruction?


Verse 11

Isaiah 29:11 And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which [men] deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it [is] sealed:

Ver. 11. And the vision of all is become unto you, &c.] The Scriptures were so to the scribes and elders of the people, who although, when Herod asked them of the Messiah, they could give such descriptions of him as agreed to none but the babe of Bethlehem, [Matthew 2:5-6] yet would they by no means be drawn to believe in his name. And the like woeful obstinace is found in the Rabbis and other Jews to this day. The like spiritual judgment hath befallen the Papists also, both the learned and unlearned; and yet one of them sticks not to tell us to our heads, that our damnation is so plainly and plentifully set down in our own English Bibles, that no man needeth to doubt of it who hath but a book, and can read English. Thus, who so bold as blind Bayard? who so blind as those that will not see?


Verse 12

Isaiah 29:12 And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned.

Ver. 12. And the book is delivered to one that is not learned.] Heb., Knoweth not to read. By the learned is meant, say some, the rulers in Church and State; by the unlearned, the common people: all were in a pickle. Nicodemus had oft read in this our prophet, in Ezekiel and elsewhere, of regeneration, though not under that term; but how little he understood it, see John 3:4; John 3:9 And what a buzzard is Bellarmine himself in some such fundamentals as whereof it is a shame for a very child to be ignorant! I must needs confess, said a learned Papist to the Bishop of Cavaillon, that I have often been at the schools of Sorbonne in Paris, where I have heard the disputations of the divines, but yet I never learned so much as I have done by hearing these young children at Merindol posing one another before the bishop about points of religion. The poor men of Lyons in France were enlightened when the great doctors were blinded and besotted in their superstitious tenets and practices. (a)


Verse 13

Isaiah 29:13 Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near [me] with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:

Ver. 13. Because this people draweth near to me, &c.] For their putid hypocrisy and outsidedness in God’s service, they were given up by him to be further hardened by the devil, and to have their necks possessed by an iron sinew, Hypocritis nihil stupidius. {See Trapp on "Matthew 15:8"}

Their fear towards me.] See on Matthew 15:9.


Verse 14

Isaiah 29:14 Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, [even] a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise [men] shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent [men] shall be hid.

Ver. 14. Therefore, behold, I do a marvellous work,] scil., By infatuating these masters in Israel, and bereaving their wise men of their wisdom. This was a greater marvel than to take sight from the eye, whiteness from the swan, sweetness from sugar, &c.

For the wisdom of their wise men shall perish.] And worthily, since they either hid their candle under a bushel, or else their learning hung in their light, while it better served them to devise a thousand shifts to elude the truth, than their pride would suffer them once to yield and acknowledge it. This the prophet speaketh of the Pharisaical and rabbinical wisdom; and the apostle fitly extendeth it to the wisdom of the Gentiles, [1 Corinthians 1:19] calling both the Pharisees and philosophers "Princes of this world" for their learning, but yet denying that they knew anything to any purpose at all. [1 Corinthians 2:8]

Si Christum nescis, nihil est si cratera noscis.


Verse 15

Isaiah 29:15 Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the LORD, and their works are in the dark, and they say, Who seeth us? and who knoweth us?

Ver. 15. Woe unto them that seek deep to hide.] That carry two faces under a hood, as all formalists and double-minded persons do, desirous to deceive the world, and, if it were possible, God himself also, with their pretences and professions, and to cozen him of heaven.

To hide their counsel.] Their cunning contrivances, ut ita libere in omnes veneres et scelera ruant.

From the Lord.] Which cannot be, because he is all eye, and the searcher of hearts; he is intimo nostro intimior nobis, and will bring to light the hidden things of darkness. [1 Corinthians 4:5]

Their works are in the dark.] Out of sight, but not out of the light of his countenance. [Psalms 90:8] Deo obscura liquent, muta respondent, silentium confitetur. "All things are naked and open before the eyes of him with whom we have to do." [Hebrews 4:13] Sin not therefore in hope of secrecy; Si non caste tamen caute, will prove too short a covering.

And say, Who seeth us? and who knoweth us?] God doth, to be sure, whoever doth not; hold this fast against that natural atheism which is in us all. See Ezekiel 9:9, Romans 3:18. {See Trapp on "Romans 3:18"}


Verse 16

Isaiah 29:16 Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay: for shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not? or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, He had no understanding?

Ver. 16. Surely your turning of things upside down.] Heb., Invertere vestrum. Your denying the divine providence and omniscience, whereby ye go about to pervert the whole course of nature, and to put all into a confusion.

Shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay.] Shall be confuted by a very familiar comparison. Calvin readeth it thus: "Shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay," i.e., is as easily effected as he maketh a vessel at his pleasure.

For shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not?] It should say so upon the matter, by denying his knowledge of it. The watchmaker knoweth every pin and wheel in it; so the heartmaker knoweth every turning and winding in it, were they more than they are.


Verse 17

Isaiah 29:17 [Is] it not yet a very little while, and Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field, and the fruitful field shall be esteemed as a forest?

Ver. 17. Is it yet not a very little while?] Nonne adhuc paululum paululum; or, A hundred years hence the Gentiles shall be called by the preaching of the apostles (for here beginneth the consolatory part of this chapter; see on Isaiah 29:1); and that is but a very small time with God. He speeds away the generation, that he may finish the calling of his elect, and so put an end to all.

And Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field.] Heb., Lebanon shall be turned into Carmel, the wide world; the wide waste of the Gentiles, {confer Isaiah 42:15} the elect among them shall be made God’s husbandry or vineyard, [Ephesians 2:12 Romans 11:17] et e contra, Carmelus fiet Libanus. (a)

The fruitful field shall be esteemed as a forest.] The obstinate Jews, with their seeming fruitfulness, shall be rejected. Lo, here is a turning of things upside down that you dream not of; this is that marvellous work, Isaiah 29:14.


Verse 18

Isaiah 29:18 And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness.

Ver. 18. In that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book,] i.e., The deaf and blind Gentiles being by the preaching of the gospel drawn out of darkness into God’s marvellous light, shall see and hear that which eye never saw nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart of any natural man to conceive. [1 Corinthians 2:9] They shall first be enlightened; secondly, to be cheered. [Isaiah 29:19 Acts 13:48 Romans 14:17]

The words of the book.] The Holy Scriptures, that book which the proud would not read, the ignorant could not. [Isaiah 29:11-12]

Shall see out of obscurity.] See the Saviour, as Simeon; see that blissful vision. [Ephesians 1:18-19] See Job 9:3-9.


Verse 19

Isaiah 29:19 The meek also shall increase [their] joy in the LORD, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.

Ver. 19. The meek also shall increase their joy in the Lord.] All sincere converts, such especially as have mastered and mortified their unruly passions and are cured of the fret, these shall add joy; these shall have joy upon joy, they shall "overabound exceedingly with joy." [2 Corinthians 7:4]

The poor among men.] The poor in spirit. These shall greatly rejoice, both for the mercy of God to themselves, and for the justice of God exercised upon others. [Isaiah 29:20-21]


Verse 20

Isaiah 29:20 For the terrible one is brought to nought, and the scorner is consumed, and all that watch for iniquity are cut off:

Ver. 20. For the terrible one is brought to nought.] This is part matter of the just man’s joy; where observe the contrary characters given to the godly and the wicked; those are said to be lowly, meek, poor in spirit; these to be tyrants, scorners, sedulous in sin, publicans, incorrigible, such as turn aside the just, &c. [Isaiah 29:20]

And all that watch for iniquity.] Surgunt de nocte latrones; they also break their sleep to devise mischief; [Psalms 36:4 Micah 2:1] but they should watch for a better purpose, [Mark 13:37] as Seneca also could say, and Pliny, Qui vitam mortalium vigelium esse pronunciat; { a} who calleth man’s life a watch.


Verse 21

Isaiah 29:21 That make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate, and turn aside the just for a thing of nought.

Ver. 21. That make a man an offender for a word.] When he meant no hurt, or by perverting and misconstruing his speeches. Thus they sought to trap Christ in his speeches; and thus they dealt by many of the martyrs and confessors. To say, the Lord, and not our Lord, is called by Stephen Gardner symbolum haereticorum, a note of a heretic. (a) Dr Storie’s rule to know a heretic was, they will say, the Lord, and we praise God, and, the living God. (b) Robert Cook was abjured for saying that the blessing with a shoe sole was as good as the bishop’s blessing. (c) Another for saying that alms should not be given until it did sweat in a man’s hand. (d) Mrs Catismore for saying that when men go to offer to images, they did it to show their new gear; and that images were but carpenters’ chips; and that folks go on pilgrimage more for the green way than for devotion. (e) Philip Brasier for saying that when any miracle is done, the priests anoint the images, and make men believe these images sweat in labouring for them, &c. (f) "Every day they wrest my words," saith David of his enemies. [Psalms 56:5] As the spleen is subservient to the liver, to take from it only the most putrid and feculent blood; so do detractors pick out the worst of everything, to lay it in a man’s dish, or allege it against him.

And lay a snare for him that reproveth.] {See Trapp on "Amos 5:10"} Freedom of speech used by the Waldenses in blaming and reproving the vices and errors of great ones, effecit ut plures nefariae affingerentur eis opiniones, a quibus ornnino fuerant alieni, made them hardly thought and spoken of. (g)


Verse 22

Isaiah 29:22 Therefore thus saith the LORD, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob, Jacob shall not now be ashamed, neither shall his face now wax pale.

Ver. 22. Who redeemed Abraham., ] sc., Out of his idolatry, that pulled him as a brand out of Ur of the Chaldees. [Joshua 24:2-3] The Rabbis say that his father Terah was a maker and seller of images.

Concerning the house of Jacob,] i.e., The calling of the Jews. Compare Romans 11:2-5.


Verse 23

Isaiah 29:23 But when he seeth his children, the work of mine hands, in the midst of him, they shall sanctify my name, and sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and shall fear the God of Israel.

Ver. 23. The work of mine hands.] "Created in Christ Jesus unto good works"; [Ephesians 2:10] and now sanctifying God’s name in their hearts and lives, and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comforts of the Holy Ghost. Thus, as it were, ex professo, doth the prophet Isaiah here handle the doctrine of regeneration, which, and other like places, while Nicodemus had not noted, he was worthily reproved. [John 3:9-10]


Verse 24

Isaiah 29:24 They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that murmured shall learn doctrine.

Ver. 24. They also that erred in spirit.] Erroneous opinions, and muttering against ministers, are here instanced as two special obstacles to effectual conversion. Those that relinquish not these two evils are far enough from God’s kingdom, and yet today nothing is more ordinary; hence so few converts, so many apostates.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 29:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/isaiah-29.html. 1865-1868.

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