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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
Isaiah 27

 

 

Verses 1-9

7. THE DOWNFALL OF THE WORDLY POWERS AND ZION’S JOYFUL RESURRECTION

Isaiah 27:1-9

1 In that day the Lord with his[FN1] sore and great and strong sword,

Shall punish leviathan the [FN2] [FN3]piercing serpent,

Even leviathan, that crooked serpent;

And he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea.

2 In that day sing ye unto her,

A vineyard of red wine.

3 I the Lord do keep it;

I will water it every moment.

Lest any hurt it,

I will keep it night and day.

4 Fury is not in me;

Who [FN4] would set the briers and thorns against me in battle?

I would [FN5]go through them,

I would burn them together.

5 Or let him take hold of my strength,

That he may make peace with me;

And he shall make peace with me.

6 [FN6] He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root:

Israel shall blossom and bud,

And fill the face of the world with fruit.

7 Hath he smitten him, [FN7]as he smote those that smote him?

Or is he slain according to the slaughter of them that are slain by him?

8 In measure, [FN8]when it shooteth forth, thou wilt debate with it;

[FN9] [FN10]He stayeth his rough wind in the day of the east wind.

9 By this, therefore, shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged;

And this is all the fruit to take away his sin;

When he maketh all the stones of the altar

As [FN11]chalkstones that are beaten in sunder,

The [FN12]groves and [FN13]images shall not stand up.

TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL

Isaiah 27:2. On the authority of the Septuagint (ἀμπελὼν καλὸς ἐπιθν́μημα), of the Targum (vinea plantata in terra bona), and of many codices and editions, many interpreters read חֶמֶד, which finds support in כַּרְמֵי־חֶמֶד, Amos 5:11, and שְׂדֵי חֶמֶד, Isaiah 32:12. Comp. Isaiah 5:7; Jeremiah 3:19. Although חמר is the more difficult reading, חֶמֶד is perhaps to be preferred here. For what does כרם חמר mean? [But compare גֶפֶן הַיַּיִן, Numbers 6:4; Judges 13:14, and such phrases as a mine of wealth, a well of water. Though Dr. Naegelsbach follows most modern commentators in preferring the reading חמד, there is no necessity for altering here the common text of the Hebrew Bible.—D. M.]. If the supposition be made that כֶּרֶם denotes a plantation in general, and כֶּרֶם זַיִת, Judges 15:5, be appealed to, still כרם alone denotes a vineyard in so many places that the addition חמר appears pleonastic. [But this objection would equally avail against such an expression as a spring of water.—D. M.]. It cannot be proved that חמר denotes a nobler kind of wine. I prefer therefore, with Drechsler and Delitzsch, and many older interpreters, to read חֶמֶד.

Isaiah 27:5. Drechsler is in error in thinking that יעשׂה cannot be taken as jussive. Comp. Naegelsbach, § 90, 3, c.

Isaiah 27:6. הִשְׁרִישׁ radices agere ( Job 5:3; Psalm 80:10) is denominative from שֹׁרֵשׁ (comp48:24).

Isaiah 27:8. The word בסאסאה is best derived from סְאָה mensura, so that the word is contracted from בִּסְאָה סְאָה. Dagesh forte in the second ס arises from the assimilation of the ה, while the first א has completely lost its power as a consonant. Compare לִקְרַאת for חַטַאת,לְקִרְאַת for חַטְּאַת.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

1. If we consider that Isaiah 27:1; Isaiah 27:10-11 of this chapter are directed against the worldly power, while Isaiah 27:2-9; Isaiah 27:12-13, contain words of comfort for Israel, we ascertain that the chapter is divided into two principal parts, each of which again consists of two subdivisions which correspond to one another. The Prophet sees here also the salvation of Israel set off by the foil of the judgment inflicted on the heathen worldly power. If we connect, as many do, Isaiah 27:1 with chap26. we destroy the beautiful parallelism of chapter27, violate the principle of the number two, which dominates chaps, 24–27, and bring Isaiah 27:1 into a connection to which it does not belong. For after the words in Isaiah 26:21, which are of so general a character, chap27. would not follow naturally; and is not Isaiah 27:1, by the formula in that day, even as manifestly separated from Isaiah 26:21 as it is connected thereby with Isaiah 27:2? As chapter25. is related to chapter24, so is chap27. related to chap26. As in chap25. Mount Zion emerges from the all-embracing scenes of judgment as the only place of salvation and peace, so the leading thought in chap27 is seen to be Israel’s victory over its enemies, the worldly powers, and its deliverance from their grasp, in order, as a united people, to partake of salvation on Mount Zion. The Prophet in Isaiah 25:10 sqq, set forth the worldly powers under the name of Moab, and he now gives a different emblematic representation of them. He exhibits them under the form of beasts as the straight and the coiled Leviathan, and as the crocodile. Of all these he declares that they will be vanquished by the mighty sword of Jehovah ( Isaiah 27:1). A call is at the same time made by him to begin a hymn regarding Israel, as he himself had already done, Isaiah 25:1 sqq. ( Isaiah 27:2). In this hymn Jehovah Himself is introduced as the Speaker. He declares that He will faithfully protect and tend Israel as His vineyard ( Isaiah 27:3). And if hostile powers, like thorns and thistles, should desire again to injure the vineyard, He will terribly intervene, and burn them up (verse4): unless they make peace with Him by humble and believing submission under His might (5). Israel shall accordingly in the distant future take root, blossom and bud, and fill the earth with its fruits ( Isaiah 27:6). That the prospect of such a glorious future is disclosed to Israel ought not to seem strange. Think how the Lord has hitherto treated Israel. It has never been exposed to such destructive strokes as its enemies ( Isaiah 27:7). The Lord metes out punishment to Israel in spoonfuls, not by the bushel, punishing it only by temporary rejection when He makes His breath pass over the land like a blast of the east wind ( Isaiah 27:8). And by these very chastisements Israel’s guilt is purged, and Israel reaps then the blessed fruit, that the stones of the altars of its false gods are become as lime-stones that are crushed and cast away, and that therefore the images of Ashtoreth and of the sun will stand up no more ( Isaiah 27:9).

2. In that day——in the sea.

Isaiah 27:1. The expression in that day indicates here too that what is introduced by this formula belongs to the same stage of the world’s history as what precedes. The Prophet freely uses the verb פקד in these chapters of punitive visitation: Isaiah 24:21; Isaiah 26:14; Isaiah 26:21; Isaiah 27:3. That יפקר here is connected with לפקד, Isaiah 26:21, may be readily admitted. For truly the visitation spoken of in Isaiah 27:1 is a part, yea, the chief part of that universal one which has for its object, according to Isaiah 26:21, the whole population of the earth. But I cannot concede that the visitation Isaiah 27:1 is absolutely identical with the one threatened in Isaiah 26:21. For, as has been shown above, chap27 is not of so general a character as chap26. And the formula in that day points to a difference as well as to contemporaneousness. In Isaiah 27:1 that part of the judgment is prominently set forth which has respect to the great worldly powers that are the immediate oppressors of Israel, as chaps, 25,27 have for their subject the singular position of Israel in the general judgment indicated by בהר ציון ובירושׁלים ( Isaiah 24:23 comp. Isaiah 25:6) or בהר הקדשׁ ובירושׁלים ( Isaiah 27:13). The sword of Jehovah, symbol of His power that destroys everything opposed to it, is after the original passage, Deuteronomy 32:41 sq, often mentioned; Psalm 7:13; Psalm 17:13; Isaiah 34:5-6; Isaiah 66:16; Jeremiah 12:12; Jeremiah 47:6. This sword with which the Lord will annihilate the enemies of Israel is described as hard in respect to its material, great in regard to its length, and strong with reference to its irresistible action. These enemies of Israel are represented under the image of monstrous beasts. This form of expression is based on views which pervade the divine revelation of the Old and New Testament. Comp. Psalm 68:31; Psalm 74:13; Daniel 7:3 sqq.; Isaiah 8:3 sqq.; Revelation 12:3 sqq.; Isaiah 13:1 sqq. The kingdom of God is human ( Daniel 7:13 sqq.), the worldly power is animal, brutal, heartless, cruel. Here, first of all, the question arises whether merely earthly powers of the world are meant, and not rather powers of heaven and of the world as Isaiah 24:21. In support of the view that the two Leviathans mentioned in this verse are powers of heaven, appeal is made to Job 26:13, where certainly נחשׁ בריח is mentioned as a constellation. Hence the conclusion is drawn that also נחשׁ עקלתון is a constellation (Hitzig, Hendewerk, Drechsler). But the whole structure of these four chapters proves that powers of heaven cannot be here in question. For our chapter stands parallel to chap25, and treats of the peculiar position of Israel in opposition to the worldly power. But in chap25. the worldly power is represented by what is of the earth, by the personified Moab. Here there is a climax, while three animal forms, placed at the commencement of the discourse, take the part of Moab, which is there placed at the close. Moreover, in this passage, נחשׁ בריח and נהשׁ עקלתון are not the leading terms. But these designations only define more particularly the term Leviathan. The case would be different if the latter term were wanting, and the Prophet spoke only of נחשׁ ב׳ and נחשׁ ע׳. As our text runs, we can only say that the Prophet has in view two powers that in their nature are closely related, nay essentially alike, for which reason he designates both of them by the name Leviathan.—They have, however, their individual peculiarities, wherefore he more particularly defines the one as the fleeing serpent and the other as the coiled serpent. The predicate “fleeing serpent” is manifestly borrowed from Job 26:13, as we have already observed manifold traces of the use of the book of Job in Isaiah (comp. on Isaiah 14:30; Isaiah 17:2; Isaiah 21:4; Isaiah 22:2; Isaiah 22:4; Isaiah 22:22; Isaiah 22:24; Isaiah 23:12; Isaiah 25:2). The expression נחשׁ בריח denotes in Job, as is on all hands admitted, a constellation or appearance in the heavens, although the learned still dispute whether it is the dragon, or the milky way, or the scorpion, or the rainbow (comp. Leyrer in Herzog’sR. Ency. XIX, p565). Isaiah, however, found the expression in its literal signification fit to be appended as an apposition to the term Leviathan. This is apparent, because Leviathan nowhere else denotes a constellation, and the second apposition נחשׁ עקלתון occurs in no other place as the name of a constellation. The question then Isaiah, what is the proper meaning of נחשׁ בריח? That נחשׁ denotes a serpent, is undoubted. The word is found in this signification in Isaiah 14:29; Isaiah 65:25. But בריח which, besides here and Job 26:13, occurs only Isaiah 43:14, can according to its etymology (בָּרַחfugere) have only the meaning “fleeing.” A נחש בריח is therefore a serpent which at full stretch flees away in haste. In opposition to it נחשׁ עקלתון is a crooked, coiled serpent. The word עקלתון is ἃπ. λεγ. The radix עקל occurs besides only in מְעֻקָל ( Habakkuk 1:4 jus perversum) and in עֲקַלְקַלּוֹתtortuosa, crookednesses, crooked ways ( Judges 5:6; Psalm 125:5). לִוְיָתָן is a poetic symbolical generic name which is sometimes given to the Crocodile ( Job 40:25; Psalm 74:14), sometimes to other monsters of the deep ( Job 3:8; Psalm 104:26). With such a bellua aquatica the two worldly powers are here compared in such a way that each is placed in parallel with a species of this genus. For it is plain that two powers are compared with two species of the genus Leviathan, the one with one species, and the other with another species; and that a third power is compared with the תַּנִּין. The sword is a single one. It is only once mentioned, and is the subject common to three predicates. But the Leviathan is twice named, each time with a different specifying word. And that the Prophet understands under the תנין a third hostile power is evident from his not putting this term in apposition to the term Leviathan. When afterwards, Isaiah 27:12-13, the land of the Euphrates, Assyria and Egypt are expressly designated as the countries from which redeemed Israel will return home, is not this to be regarded as a consequence of the Lord having according to Isaiah 27:1 crushed these hostile powers and so compelled them to let Israel go free? It has been further observed that תַּנִּין denotes Egypt, Isaiah 51:9 (the only place beside this one where it occurs in Isaiah); Ezekiel 29:3; Ezekiel 32:2; Psalm 74:13. The word is in meaning, though not in etymology, closely connected with the term Leviathan. Now if these places where תנין is used in reference to Egypt are borrowed from the one before us, they certainly bear witness to an ancient and indisputable interpretation. We are, therefore, fully justified in understanding Egypt to be denoted by the dragon that is in the sea (regarding יָם comp. Isaiah 18:2; Isaiah 19:5; Isaiah 21:1). But if the תַּנִּין denotes Egypt, then the Leviathan, the fleeing serpent, must be the land of the Tigris, i.e., Assyria, for the serpent shooting quickly along is an apt emblem of the rapid Tigris, which name, according to the testimony of the ancients (Strabo XI. p527; Curt. VI:36), means an arrow. In the Persian and Kurdish Tir denotes both an arrow and the Tigris (comp. Gesen,Thes., p448). In regard to the windings of the Euphrates Herodotus speaks (I, 185) and relates that in sailing down the river, Arderikka, a place situated on it, is passed by three times in three days. Might not Jeremiah ( Jeremiah 50:17) have had this passage before his mind in writing: “first the king of Assyria ate him, and last this Nebuchadrezzar, king of Babylon, hath crushed his bones?” Assyria, the power that rushed straight upon Israel,laid hold of him with its teeth. But it tore off as it were only pieces of his flesh, inflicted flesh wounds. But Babylon has as the Boa Constrictor enfolded Israel in the coils of his powerful body and crashed his bones. Comp. Naegelsbach on Jeremiah 50:17. That Isaiah had Babylon before his mind is just as possible here as Isaiah 21:1-10. Both places are to be similarly explained.

3. In that day——wine.

Isaiah 27:2. While the worldly powers are annihilated, Israel is elevated to high joy and honor. The Prophet announces this for the comfort of his people in a hymn which is parallel to the hymn Isaiah 25:1-5. This hymn is peculiar in its structure, as it consists of brief members formed of only two words. It is true that many members of it consist of three or four words. But two constitute always the leading ideas what is over and above, may be said to be accessory ideas which are only grammatically indispensable. In Isaiah 27:4 in the line מי־יתננו שׁמיר שׁית the first two and the last two words form each one principal notion. The two chief sentences, verses3,4, contain each four such members or lines consisting of two ideas; the introduction ( Isaiah 27:2) and the close ( Isaiah 27:5) each contain three of them. The principle of duality is here carried out in such a way that the whole consists of six times two, and eight times two, consequently, of28 members. That the introduction and close have each only three times two members, imparts to the whole the charm of a sort of crescendo and decrescendo. Isaiah 27:2 does not properly belong to the song itself. For it contains only the theme and the summons to celebrate it in song. But it is rhythmically constructed as the song itself, and rhythmically regarded, it is a part of the song. The words כרם חמר form the title prefixed absolutely (comp. הַבָּאִים Isaiah 27:6). Israel is compared with a vineyard as in Isaiah 5:1 sqq. But there is this difference, that in Isaiah 5:1 sqq. Israel appears as a vineyard consigned to destruction as a punishment; here it is a vineyard faithfully protected and tended. חֶמֶר is found only here and Deuteronomy 32:14. That the word denotes wine is certain; but it is doubtful how this meaning is reached whether ab effervescendo (from fermenting) or a rubedine. [The analogy of the cognate Arabic and Syriac supports the former of these derivations, which is the one commonly adopted by modern scholars.—D. M.]. ענו לה is not to be joined with ביום חהוא. For this date plainly refers to all that follows, and ענו לה are not words of the Prophet, but words which people at that day will call out to one another. לְ after ענה in the signification “in reference to” as Numbers 21:17; 1 Samuel 21:12; 1 Samuel 29:5; Psalm 147:7.

4. I the LORD——peace with me.

Isaiah 27:3-5. The Prophet by putting into the mouth of the people a song in which Jehovah Himself as speaker gives glorious promises to the people, intimates that the people may regard these promises as their own certain possession. For they belong to them as those who publish them, and they are sure to them, because they proclaim them as verba ipsissima of Jehovah. The Lord promises now that He will keep His vineyard and abundantly water it (לרגעיםevery moment asלבקרים which two expressions stand together Job 7:18, Comp. Isaiah 33:2; Psalm 73:14 et saepe) yea watch it night and day, that it may not be visited by an enemy (פקד with על which elsewhere denotes a visitation for punishment, comp Hosea 12:3; Jeremiah 9:24 sq, seems to stand here in the sense of, פּגַשׁ,פָּגַע . The fury (חֵמָה here for the first time comp. Isaiah 34:2; Isaiah 42:25; Isaiah 51:13; Isaiah 51:17; Isaiah 51:20; Isaiah 51:22 et saepe in the second part of Isaiah), which the Lord formerly felt and manifested toward His vineyard Israel ( Isaiah 27:5 sqq.), no longer exists. Nay more, thorns and thistles, which the Lord according to ver, 6 would for a punishment let grow up in the old vineyard, He wishes now to be set before Him in order to show by destroying them the zeal of His love for the renewed vineyard. Thorns and thistles, which grow from the soil of the vineyard itself, are, in opposition to the wild beasts which break in from without, symbols of internal decay, symptoms of the germs of evil still existing in the vineyard itself. Here external foes are not expressly mentioned as in chap5, and we have therefore to understand here under thorns and thistles everything which could set itself against the nature and purpose of the vineyard. [But does not the expression בַּמִּלְחָמָה point rather to external enemies of the Church as denoted under the symbols of briers and thorns? D. M.]. The asyndetonbriers, thorns, is explained by the lively emotion of the Prophet (comp. Isaiah 32:13). מי יתנני (only here in Isaiah, comp. Job 29:2; Jeremiah 9:1) is a formula expressive of a wish. The suffix has here a dative sense. במלחמה is connected by the Masoretes with what precedes, but it belongs necessarily to what follows, as Knobel and Delitzsch have perceived. With war,i.e., with martial impetuosity, would the Lordstride in (פשׂעgradiri, ingredi only here, substantives derived from it 1 Samuel 20:3; 1 Chronicles 19:4) against them (בָּהּ the feminine suffix refers to the nouns שָׁמִיר שַׁיִת, and is to be taken in a neuter sense, as afterwards the suffix in אציתנה) and burn up the bushes all altogetherהֵצית for הִצִּית only here. When in Isaiah 27:5 the Lord speaks of people before whom the alternative is placed, either to be overcome by the storm of war just mentioned, or (אוֹ as conjunction with omitted כִּי comp. Exodus 21:36; 2 Samuel 18:13 comp. Leviticus 13:16; Leviticus 13:24) to lay hold of the protection of Jehovah (החזק בְּ4:1; 1 Kings 1:50; מעוזdefence, protection, Isaiah 17:9-10; Isaiah 23:4; Isaiah 23:11; Isaiah 23:14; Isaiah 25:4; Isaiah 30:3) and to make peace with Him ( Joshua 9:15), we perceive that He thinks of such among the people for whom there is a possibility of repentance and salvation. From this possibility even the external enemies of the theocracy are not excluded ( Isaiah 2:3; Isaiah 25:6 sqq.), but to Israel it appertains pre-eminently. This is another reason for supposing that under the thorns and thistles ( Isaiah 27:4) internal enemies arising out of Israel are to be understood. The taking hold of protection is a subordinate matter, involving merely passive submission and endeavor after safety. But in the making of peace with God there is something higher, positive yielding of one’s self to him, union with Him.

To the last thought peculiar weight and emphasis is given by its repetition with שׁלום the chief term placed first. The close of the song is thus at the same time fitly intimated.

5. He shall cause——with fruit.

Isaiah 27:6. The cessation of a uniform rhythm shows that the language of prose is resumed. But what is now said is in sense closely connected with the Song of Solomon, the thoughts of which it explains and completes. For it sounds as the solution of a riddle (comp. Isaiah 27:7), when it is now explicitly stated that Israel is the vineyard of the Lord; at the same time the fruit of the vineyard is described as glorious, and spreading far and wide. [Dr. Naegelsbach’s translation of the first clause: “In the coming days Jacob shall take root” is adopted by the best modern scholars, and is much more natural and accurate than the rendering of the Eng. ver.: “He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root.” The sense of causing to take root is foreign to the form of the verb employed, and the order of the words will not admit of the translation those that come of Israel.—D M.] הבאים supply יָמִים, comp. e.g., יָמִים בָּאִים, Jeremiah 7:32; Ecclesiastes 2:6 and אֹתִיוֹתres futurae Isaiah 41:23; Isaiah 44:7. The accusative marks the duration of time. The names Jacob and Israel designate sometimes the whole people (chaps2, 3, 5, 6 and seqq.), sometimes the northern kingdom in particular ( Isaiah 9:7). Here, however, it seems as if the Prophet by the use of the two names intended to designate the entire people by its two halves. In favor of this view is the plural מלאו, as only the singular would have been requisite, as in the verbal forms יציץ,פרה ישׁרשׁ. That יציץ (only here in Isaiah) stands before פרח (germinare, sprout, comp. Isaiah 17:11; Isaiah 35:1-2; Isaiah 66:14) is not to be pressed. We too, can say “blossom and bud” or “bud and blossom.” At most we might say that the Prophet wished to put the blossom first as the higher of the two. The fruit (תנובהproventus, produce of fruit, only here in Isaiah) will be in such abundance that the whole earth will be filled with it ( Isaiah 37:31). Israel will then, when the judgment shall have destroyed the worldly powers and the heathen, be all in all. For mount Zion and Jerusalem shall stand, even if heaven and earth should perish.

6. Hath he smitten—stand up.

Isaiah 27:7-9. The declaration that Israel will continue, even if all the rest of the world should be swallowed up by the floods of judgment, is so bold as to require a particular justification. This is given by the Prophet while he shows from history how the Lord always distinguished Israel, and even when He smote him, never smote him as his enemies. (Comp. Isaiah 10:24 sqq.). Therefore he asks, verse Isaiah 7 : has Jehovah, his God, smitten him, namely Israel, with the stroke of his smiter (מַכֶּה as Isaiah 10:26; Isaiah 14:7; Isaiah 30:26; מַכֵּהוּ (comp. Isaiah 9:12; Isaiah 10:20; Isaiah 14:29) i.e., even so hard as He smote those who smote Israel? Or has he ever been so slain as the enemies of the theocracy that were slain by him (Israel)? הֶרֶג in Isaiah besides Isaiah 30:25. Part. הרוגים in Isaiah only here and Isaiah 26:21. הֹרַג Pual only here and Psalm 44:23. The meaning is: Israel has never suffered complete destruction. Turning to address the Lord Himself the Prophet continues: In small measure by sending her away thou punishest her. The connection requires the signification mensura. Reference is rightly made to Jeremiah 10:24; Jeremiah 30:11 ( Jeremiah 46:28), where לַמִּשְׁפָּט is used in a like sense. Knobel objects that סאה does not signify measure in general, but a definite measure, and the figurative use of it would be as hard as if we should say: to punish one by the quart. סְאָה is by all means a definite measure of grain, and according to the statements of the ancients, the third part of an ephah. But this signification suits admirably, The translation in measure is of course not literal. It should be: with the measure of a seah by putting away thou punishest her. The meaning accordingly is that the Lord ordains only a small measureful of punishment for Israel. The antithesis to this is then a large measure which causes destruction. The expression “small measure” involves necessarily the idea of clemency. Hitzig, Ewald and Knobel propose to read בְּסַאְסְאָהּ Inf. Pilp. from =זוע=סואby his disquietude. But this thought, apart from the artificial etymology, does not suit the context. It appears to me that this בסאסאה was a popular and familiar expression. At all events, it occurs in the language of Scripture only here. The feminine suffix in the last two words shows that the Prophet, in accordance with the notion of “putting away,” thinks of Israel as a wife, ריכ stands here with accusative of the person in a signification in which it is commonly construed with one of the prepositions אֶל,עִם or בְּ, namely = altercari, to contend, dispute with, punish. However, this construction with the accusative is found elsewhere: Isaiah 49:25; Deuteronomy 33:8; Job 10:2; Hosea 4:4. The imperfect (future) is not used to express repetition in the past; for the Prophet cannot yet say that Israel’s exile has terminated. Israel is to-day still in exile. The imperfect rather marks the still uncompleted, enduring fact. That the second person imperfect is used, while before and afterwards Jehovah is spoken of in the third person, has, apart from the ease with which in Hebrew the person is changed, its reason perhaps in this, that the Prophet wishes to make the three words of this clause which are like one another in respect to the ending and number of the consonantal sounds, as conformable to one another as possible in their initial sounds also. For Tan is certainly more nearly related to the S-sounds with which the preceding words begin, than Yod. Lexicographers and interpreters are inclined to regard הָגָה as an independent verbal stem, to which they ascribe the meaning “amovere, separare, to sift,” which is supposed to occur only here and Proverbs 25:4-5. I believe that our הגה is identical with the הגה that occurs so frequently. The word is clearly onomatopoetic, and its radical meaning is “to breathe;” and it means that kind of breathing which consists is a strong ejection of air through the throat. The sound that is thus produced corresponds to the rough guttural sound of the roaring lion ( Isaiah 31:4), to the noise of thunder ( Job 37:2), to the moaning of a dove ( Isaiah 38:14), to the muttering of conjurers ( Isaiah 8:19), and to the sighing of a man ( Isaiah 16:7), and is also the physical basis for human speech, whether this be a speaking with others or a speaking with one’s self under profound emotion (meditari). Even in Proverbs 25:4 sq. this signification holds. “Breathe (blow) the dross from the silver” is what we read there. This means, we are to remove by blowing the impure ingredients that swim on the surface of the molten silver. And so ( Proverbs 25:5) the court is to be purified from the hurtful presence of a wicked Prayer of Manasseh, he is to be blown away as scum upon molten silver. In our place, too, הָגָה is simply “to breathe.” He breathes with his rough breath in the day of the east wind means nothing else than: God blows Israel away out of his land by sending, like the storm of an east wind, His breath with great force over the land. The thought involved in שׁלחה is once more expressed by an image. The Prophet knows that exile is the severest punishment which Jehovah inflicts on His people. Whether it was the case that Isaiah had already witnessed the carrying away of the ten tribes, or that passages of the Pentateuch which threaten the punishment of exile were present to him ( Deuteronomy 4:27 sq.; Deuteronomy 28:36; Deuteronomy 28:63 sqq.; Deuteronomy 29:28), he certainly means that Jehovah does not exterminate His people as Hebrews, e.g., exterminated the Canaanites, but that He inflicts on them as the maximum of punishment only temporary exile. The use of the perfect הָגָה is then quite normal, in order to describe further a matter contained in the principal sentence (שׁלחה). The expression רוח קשׁה does not elsewhere occur. But Isaiah does speak of a אֲדֹנִים קָשֶׁה19:4, of a חָזוּת קָשָׁה21:2, of עֲבֹדָה קָשָׁה14:3, of a חֶרֶב קָשָׁה Isaiah 27:1. A mighty political catastrophe which would purify the land is here compared with a stormy wind, or east wind, the most violent wind known in Palestine ( Job 27:21; Hosea 13:15, which place was perhaps before the mind of the Prophet; Jonah 4:8; Ezekiel 17:10; Ezekiel 19:12); and this wind is marked as רוּחַ יהוה as a breath proceeding from the mouth of God; wind being frequently in the O. T. described as God’s breath, or God’s breath being described as wind ( Exodus 15:8; Job 4:9; Job 15:30; Hosea 13:15; Isaiah 40:7; Isaiah 59:19). As a violent tempest causes much damage, but at the same time does much good by its purifying influence, so this punishment of expulsion from the land is so far from being intended for the destruction of Israel, that the salvation of Israel arises from it. For just thereby (לָכֵן as Isaiah 26:14; Jeremiah 5:2) the guilt of Jacob is expiated (covered comp. Isaiah 22:14). The words by this, therefore, are to be taken together, and point with emphasis backwards. בזאת cannot be referred to the following בשׂומו, because atonement is not made for Israel by this שׂוּם וגו׳, but on the contrary, this שׂום וגו׳ is the fruit of the expiation. By this expiatory punishment Israel is made partaker of great blessing. The Lord knows how to make good come out of evil ( Genesis 50:20). The expiation, i.e., the removal of guilt has the effect that Israel thereby becomes free also from the power and dominion of sin. [יְכֻפַּר, though it strictly means shall be atoned for, is here metonymically used to denote the effect and not the cause, purification and not expiation. In the very same way it is applied to the cleansing of inanimate objects. Alexander.—D. M.]. זֶה refers to פְּרִי and what follows. All fruit of the forgiveness of sin, consequently all sanctification concentrates itself in Israel’s keeping now the first and greatest commandment, and in definitively renouncing idolatry. זֶה is not, however, the demonstrative pronoun, but is to be taken adverbially; this word, as is well known, possessing the two significations this and there. Hence the construction בְּשׂוּמוֹ (not שׂוּמוֹ) can follow. Comp. עֲלוּ זֶה בַנֶּנֶב Numbers 13:17. Israel by so dashing in pieces all the stones of their idolatrous altars, that they can no longer serve for places of worship for Ashtoreth and images of the sun, exhibits the fruit of the expiation that has been rendered and of the forgiveness that has been received. גיר (ἅπ. λεγ) is lime, אבני גיר are not lime-stones, in the mineralogical sense, but stones in a wall which are covered with lime, mortar [?]. מנפצות, (comp. Isaiah 11:12; Isaiah 33:3) are the same stones, when they, in consequence of the destruction of the wall which they formed, lie broken in pieces. This shall happen to the stones of the idolatrous altars, and they will in consequence no longer serve as pedestals on which images of Ashtoreth and of the sun (comp on Isaiah 17:8) stand up.

Footnotes:

FN#1 - hard.

FN#2 - Or, crossing like a bar.

FN#3 - fleeing.

FN#4 - will set.

FN#5 - Or, march against.

FN#6 - In coming days will Jacob take root.

FN#7 - Heb. according to the stroke of those.

FN#8 - Or, when thou sendest it forth.

FN#9 - Or, when he removeth it.

FN#10 - he bloweth with his rough blast.

FN#11 - stones of mortar.

FN#12 - images of Ashtoreth.

FN#13 - Or, sun-images.


Verses 10-13

8. THE DESTRUCTION OF THE WORDLY CITY AND ISRAEL’S JOYFUL RESTORATION

Isaiah 27:10-13

10 a Yet the defenced city shall be desolate,

And the habitation forsaken, and left like a wilderness:

There shall the calf feed, and there shall he lie down,

And consume the branches thereof.

11 When the boughs thereof are withered, they shall be broken off:

The women come and set them on fire:

For it is a people of no understanding;

Therefore he that made them will not have mercy on them,

And he that formed them will show them no favor.

12 And it shall come to pass in that day,

That the Lord shall beat off

From the bchannel of the river unto the stream of Egypt,

And ye shall be gathered one by one,

O ye children of Israel.

13 And it shall come to pass in that day,

That the great trumpet shall be blown,

And they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria,

And the outcasts in the land of Egypt,

And shall worship the Lord in the holy mount at Jerusalem.

TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL

Isaiah 27:10. בדד (only here in Isaiah) is an adverb, or substantive used adverbially. It might also be לְבָדָד (comp. Numbers 23:9; Micah 7:14). That an adverb can be the predicate is well known.

Isaiah 27:12. לְאַחַד אֶחָד, i.e., to one one, to one which is one and nothing else, wholly one. This combination occurs only here (for Ecclesiastes 7:27 is different). אַחַד is the form of the construct state, and can be treated here as such; for the construct state marks in appositional relations nothing but the closest connection (Naegelsbach Gr., § 64, 1). [To one one, i.e., one to the other, to mark careful attention to each individual, and to express the idea that all will be gathered together and without exception.—D. M.].

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

1. The Prophet again draws on a dark background the picture of the worldly power. He had represented it, Isaiah 27:1, in the form of beasts; here, as already ( Isaiah 24:10-12; Isaiah 25:2-3; Isaiah 25:12; Isaiah 26:5), the great city of the world, the centre of the worldly power, is made to appear. He depicts it as a desolate forsaken place, overgrown with bushes, whose tender branches the calves eat off, whose withered twigs women gather for fuel. This pitiable lot is the punishment of their folly ( Isaiah 27:10-11). Quite different is the case with Israel. This people finds grace in the eyes of its Lord. Out of the sheaves of the nations, which shall be gathered in the day of judgment, all the ears that belong to Israel shall be separated, and bound together ( Isaiah 27:12). And when the great trumpet sounds, all the Israelites lost and scattered in the lands of the heathen, shall return home, in order to worship Jehovah on the holy mountain at Jerusalem ( Isaiah 27:13).

2. Yet the defenced—no favor.

Isaiah 27:10-11. The city which becomes desolate and finds no mercy ( Isaiah 27:11) cannot possibly be Jerusalem. It can only be the city which the Prophet has already ( Isaiah 24:10-12; Isaiah 21:2-3; Isaiah 21:12; Isaiah 26:5) so emphatically set forth as the centre of the worldly power, and distinguished from the earth of which it is the centre. Isaiah 27:10-11 are therefore connected with Isaiah 27:1. כִּי is here explicative, rather than causal. The defenced city of Isaiah 27:10 is identical with the קריה בצורה in Isaiah 25:2.—גָוֶה (comp. Isaiah 32:18; Isaiah 33:20; Isaiah 34:13; Isaiah 35:7; Isaiah 65:10) is originally a habitation of Nomades, a place where people can stay with their flocks and herds. Then it is habitation in general; and as the city is here designated as נוה נעזב, what the city was, and not what it Isaiah, is denoted by נוה. It was formerly an inhabited city. נוה is accordingly not to be taken here as “pasturage,” but as habitation, dwelling-place. The נוה is said by Metonymy to be driven away (מְשֻׁלָּח) although only its inhabitants are so. (Comp. קֵן משלח. Isaiah 16:2; הָעִיר הַיצֵֹאת, Amos 5:3; and תָאָרֶץ תֵּשֵׁב, Isaiah 13:20). As the wilderness can be said to be forsaken, but not driven away, we have to connect only נעזב with כמדבר, and not משׁלח also. On the place that has been so forsaken calves will feed (comp. Isaiah 5:17; Isaiah 27:13 sqq.), and lie down, and consume ( Isaiah 49:4) the branches (comp. Isaiah 17:6) thereof,i.e., of the forsaken city. What remains of the branches (קציר in the collective sense of foliage, especially in Job 14:9; Job 18:16; Job 29:19), and is withered, is broken off (the plural תשברנה to be referred to the idea of a multitude of branches contained in קציר); then women come and kindle it (אוֹתָהּ as a neuter comp. on Isaiah 27:4), i.e., they make an אוּר, a flame of it ( Isaiah 31:9; Isaiah 44:16; Isaiah 50:11 comp. Malachi 1:10). This judgment comes upon the people (i.e., the nations conceived as one) of the worldly power; because it is a people without right understanding (plural only here. Comp. on Isaiah 11:2). Therefore, although Jehovah is the Creator of the heathen also ( Genesis 1:26 : comp. Job 12:10; Acts 17:26), yet He will not be gracious unto them (עשׂהו as Isaiah 17:7; Isaiah 29:16. יצרו comp. Isaiah 29:16; Isaiah 45:9 et saepe). [Many of the best interpreters hold that the city spoken of in Isaiah 27:10 is Jerusalem, and not Babylon. The desolation here described is not so complete as that denounced against Babylon ( Isaiah 13:19-22), and corresponds exactly to the judgment foretold elsewhere by Isaiah against Israel and Jerusalem Isaiah 32:13-14; Isaiah 5:17. The people of no understand standing, whose Maker and Former is Jehovah, certainly looks like Israel. Comp. Isaiah 1:3.—D. M.].

3. And it shall come—Jerusalem.

Isaiah 27:12-13. In contrast to the sad image of a wilderness in Isaiah 27:10-11, the Prophet depicts Israel’s final destiny as a harvest of glory and highest honor for Israel. The image of a great harvest-day ( Matthew 13:39; Revelation 14:14 sqq.), forms the basis of the figurative language of Isaiah 27:12-13. The sheaves are gathered, even in the countries where Israel lives in exile, mainly therefore, in the countries of the Euphrates and the Nile. For these countries are for the Prophet here, as Isaiah 11:11 sqq.; Isaiah 19:23 sqq, representatives of the lands of exile in general. But when the harvest-sheaves of those countries are borne by the reapers, the Lord shall beat these sheaves (חָבַט of the beating off of olives Deuteronomy 24:20; of the threshing of grain with a staff Judges 6:11; Ruth 2:17; Isaiah 28:27), and the ears of Israel will fall out, and then be gathered to be brought back. It is plain that the Prophet means by this image what he afterwards, Isaiah 27:13, states in proper terms. For the scattered Israelitish ears amid the great sheaves of the Gentiles are nothing but the אבדים and נדחים Isaiah 27:13. I take therefore שִׁבֹּלֶת Isaiah 27:12 as a collective designation of ears of grain. For what significance would it have here to give prominence to the Euphrates being at high water, as it is quite indifferent for the Geographical boundary whether the Euphrates has much water or little (שׁבלת, fluxus aquae, emphasizes the abundance of water, Psalm 69:3; Psalm 69:6; besides only Judges 12:6 where the meaning is a matter of no consequence)? We dare not press the line of the Euphrates, or the line of the נחל מצרים any more than the depth of the Euphrates as a sharply drawn boundary-line. For the grain-ears of the Euphrates are just the ears of the lands of the Euphrates, and the ears of the brook of Egypt are the ears of Egypt, as appears from ארץ אשׁור and מצרים Isaiah 27:13. I believe that in regard to grammar we are fully justified in supplying שׁבלת after עד and before נחל מי. The omission of substantives after prepositions of comparison furnishes a perfectly sufficient analogy for this omission (comp. Job 33:25). [The proposed construction is intolerably hard, and has no clear parallel to support it. It is unwarrantably assumed that שׁבלת הנחר must mean the high water of the river Euphrates as distinguished from the river at low water.שׁבלת denotes current, flood, and so abundance of water, and it may well be put as an adjunct of the river Euphrates when the other terminus is the insignificant stream of Egypt, the Wadi el Arish. It appears to me exceedingly forced to take שׁבלת here as a collective, meaning ears of grain, and then to suppose an ellipsis of this substantive after עד.—D. M.].

That the נחל מ׳ is the Wadi el Arish which flows near Rhinocolura into the sea is certain. (Comp. Ebers,Egypt and the books of Moses, I. p275). But it is not mentioned along with the Euphrates to designate a boundary of the Israelitish kingdom ( Genesis 15:18; 1 Kings 8:65), but as emblem of the southern and first land of exile; as the Euphrates is emblem of the second and northern land of exile.

At the signal which will be given by sound of trumpet ( Isaiah 18:3; Matthew 24:3; 1 Corinthians 15:52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16) all the Israelites who are lost ( Jeremiah 50:6) and scattered ( Isaiah 11:12 comp. Ezekiel 34:4; Ezekiel 34:16) in the lands of Assyria and Egypt (in the same lands which were previously designated by נהר and נחל מ׳) come to worship the Lord in Jerusalem, on the mountain of the Sanctuary ( Isaiah 24:23; Isaiah 25:6-7; Isaiah 25:10). Here ends the libellus apocalypticus of Isaiah. This worship he conceives as never ending (comp. Isaiah 25:7 sq.). Israel’s return to his own land is type of the restoration of redeemed men (the Ἰσραὴλ πνευματικός) into the heavenly home. It is not possible in this connection to think merely (as even Drechsler does) on a single act of worship before taking possession of the land and settling in it.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. Isaiah 24:2. “When general judgments take place, no distinction is observed between man and wife, master and servant, mistress and maid, learned and unlearned, noble and plebeian, clergy and laity; therefore let no one rely on any external prerogative or superiority, but let every one without distinction repent and forsake sin.”—Cramer. Though this is right, yet we must, on the other hand, remember that the Lord declares in reference to the same great event, “Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left” ( Matthew 24:10 sq.). There is no contradiction in these two statements. Both are true: outward relations will make no difference; there shall be no respect of persons. But the state of the heart will make a difference. According to the inward character there will, in the case of those whose external position in the world is perfectly alike, be some who enter life, others whose doom is death.

2. Isaiah 24:5 sq. “The earth is burdened with sins, and is therefore deprived of every blessing. The earth must suffer for our guilt, when we have as it were spoilt it, and it must be subject to vanity for our sakes ( Romans 8:20). What wonder is it that it should show itself ungrateful toward us?”—Cramer.

3. Isaiah 24:13 sq. “Observe the small number of this remnant; here and there one who shall escape the common calamity (as Noah and his family, when the old world was drowned), who when all faces gather blackness, can lift up their head with joy. Luke 21:26-28.” Henry.—D. M.].

4. Isaiah 24:17-20. Our earth is a volcanic body. Mighty volcanic forces were active at its formation. That these are still in commotion in the interior of the earth is proved by the many active volcanoes scattered over the whole earth, and by the perpetual volcanic convulsions which we call earthquakes. These have hitherto been confined to particular localities. But who can guarantee that a concentration and simultaneous eruption of those volcanic forces, that Isaiah, a universal earthquake, shall not hereafter occur? The Lord makes express mention of earthquakes among the signs which shall precede His second coming ( Matthew 24:7; Mark 13:8; Luke 21:11). And in 2 Peter 3:5 sqq. the future destruction of the earth by fire is set over against the destruction of the old world by water. Isaiah in our place announces a catastrophe whose characteristic features will be that, 1) there will be no escape from it; 2) destructive forces will assail from above and below; 3) the earth will be rent asunder; 4) it will reel and totter; 5) it will suffer so heavy a fall that it will not rise again ( Isaiah 24:20 b). Is there not here a prophecy of the destruction of the earth by volcanic forces? And how suddenly can they break loose! The ministers of the word have every reason to compare this extreme exposedness of our earth to fire, and the possibility of its unexpectedly sudden collapse with the above-cited warnings of the word of God, and to attach thereto the admonition which is added in 2 Peter 3:11.

5. Isaiah 24:21. The earth is a part of our planetary system. It is not what it appears to the optical perception to be, a central body around which worlds of a different nature revolve, but it, together with many similar bodies, revolves round a common centre. The earth according to that view of the account of the creation in Genesis 1, which appears to me the true one, has arisen with all the bodies of our Solar system out of one primary matter, originally united, common to them all. If our Solar System is a well-ordered, complete organism, it must rest on the basis of a not merely formal, but also material unity; i.e., the separate bodies must move, not only according to a principle of order which governs all, but they must also as to their substance be essentially like. And as they arose simultaneously, so must they perish simultaneously. It is inconceivable that our earth alone should disappear from the organism of the Solar System, or pass over to a higher material condition. Its absence, or ceasing to exist in its previous form and substance, would necessarily draw after it the ruin of the whole system. Hence the Scripture speaks every where of a passing away and renovation of the heaven and the earth ( Psalm 102:26; Isaiah 51:6; Isaiah 65:17; Isaiah 66:22; Matthew 5:18; Matthew 24:29; Matthew 24:35; 2 Peter 3:7; 2 Peter 3:10; 2 Peter 3:13; Hebrews 12:26; Revelation 20:11; Revelation 21:1). The heaven that shall pass away with a great noise, whose powers shall be shaken, whose stars shall fall, is the planetary heaven. The same lot will happen to the companions of our earth, to the other planets, and to the centre, the sun, and to all other co-ordinate and subordinate stellar bodies, which will befall the earth itself. This is the substance of the view which serves as a basis for our place. But personal beings are not thereby by any means excluded from the צבא מרום. The parallel expression מלכי האדמה, and the use in other places of the related expression צבא השׁמים lead us rather to suppose personal beings to be included. But I believe that a distinction must be made here. As the heavenly bodies which will pass away simultaneously with the earth, can only be those which arose together with it, and which stand in organic connection with it, so also the angelic powers, which are judged simultaneously with us men, can be only those which stand in connection with the heavenly bodies of our Solar System, i.e., with the earthly material world. There are heavenly bodies of glorious pneumatic substance. If personal beings stand in connection with them, they must also be pure, glorious, resplendent beings. These will not be judged. They are the holy angels, who come with the Lord ( Matthew 25:31). But it is quite conceivable that all the bodies of our Solar System are till the judgment like our earth suffered to be the theatre of the spirits of darkness.

6. Isaiah 24:21-23, It seems to me that the Prophet has here sketched the chief matters pertaining to eschatology. For the passing away of heaven and earth, the binding of Satan ( Revelation 20:1-3), the loosing of Satan again ( Revelation 20:7), and finally the reign of God alone, which will make sun and moon unnecessary ( Revelation 21:23)—are not these the boundary-stones of the chief epochs of the history of the end of the world?

7. [“The Lord of hosts makes this feast. The provision is very rich, and every thing is of the best. It is a feast, which supposes abundance and variety; it is a continual feast to believers: it is their fault if it be not. It is a feast of fat things and full of marrow; so relishing, so nourishing are the comforts of the Gospel to all those that feast upon them and digest them. The returning prodigal was entertained with the fatted calf; and David has that pleasure in communion with God, with which his soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness. It is a feast of wines on the lees; the strongest-bodied wines, that have been long kept upon the lees, and then are well refined from them, so that they are clear and fine. There is that in the Gospel which, like fine wine, soberly used, makes glad the heart, and raises the spirits, and is fit for those that are of a heavy heart, being under convictions of sin, and mourning for it, that they may drink and forget their misery (for that is the proper use of wine; it is a cordial for those that need it, Proverbs 31:6-7) may be of good cheer, knowing that their sins are forgiven, and may be vigorous in their spiritual work and warfare, as a strong man refreshed with wine.” Henry.—D. M.]

8. Isaiah 25:9. “In the Old Testament the vail and covering were before men’s eyes, partly because they waited for the light that was to appear, partly because they sat in darkness and in the shadow of death ( Luke 1:79). The fulfilment of this prediction has in Christ already begun, and will at last be perfectly fulfilled in the Church triumphant where all ignorance and sorrow shall be dispelled ( 1 Corinthians 13:12).” Cramer.

9. Isaiah 25:8. “God here represents Himself as a mother, who presses to her bosom her sorrowful Song of Solomon, comforts him and wipes away his tears ( Isaiah 66:13). The righteous are to believe and appropriate this promise, that every one may learn to speak with Paul in the time of trial: the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us, Romans 8:18.” Cramer.

10. Isaiah 25:10. “This is now the hope and consolation of the church that the hand of the Lord rests on this mountain, that Isaiah, that He will be gracious, and let His power, help and grace be there seen and felt. But the unbelieving Moabites, i.e., the Jews, with all others who will not receive the gospel, shall be threshed to pieces as straw in the mire; these the Lord’s hand will not rescue, as it helps those who wait on Him, but it shall press them down so that they will never rise, according to the saying, Mark 16:16.” Veit Dietrich.

11. Isaiah 25 Three thoughts contained in this chapter we should hold fast: 1) When we see the world triumph over every thing which belongs to the Lord and His kingdom, when our hearts are anxious about the preservation in the world of the Church of Christ, which is sore oppressed, let this word of the Prophet comfort our hearts. The world-city which contains all that is of the world, sinks into the dust, and the church of Christ goes from her chains and bands into the state of freedom and glory. We have often seen that it is the Lord’s way to let every thing come to maturity. When it is once ripe, He comes suddenly with His sentence. Let us comfort ourselves therewith, for thus will it happen with the world and its dominion over the faithful followers of Christ. When it is ripe, suddenly it will come to an end2) No one who has a heart for the welfare of the nations can see without the deepest pain how all hearts are now seduced and befooled, and all eyes closed and covered. The simplest truths are no longer acknowledged, but the more perverse, brutal and mean views and doctrines are, the more greedily are they laid hold of. We cannot avert this. But our comfort is that even this seduction of the nations will reach its climax. Then men will come to themselves. The vail and covering will fall off, and the Gospel will shine with new light before the nations. Therewith let us comfort ourselves3) Till this happens, the church is sorrowful. But she shall be full of joy. The promise is given to her that she shall be fully satisfied with the good things of the house of the Lord. A life is promised to her which neither death nor any pain can affect, as she has rest from all enemies. The word of the Lord shall be fulfilled in her: Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. The Church that has such a promise may wait in patient quietness for its accomplishment, and praise the Lord in affliction, till it pleases Him to glorify her before all nations.” Weber, The Prophet Isaiah. 1875.

12. Isaiah 26:1. “The Christian church is a city of God. God has built it, and He is the right Master-builder. It is strong: 1) on account of the Builder; 2) on account of the foundation and corner-stone, which is Christ; 3) on account of the bond wherewith the living stones are bound together, which is the unity of the faith.” Cramer. [The security and happiness of true believers, both on earth and in heaven, is represented in Scripture under the image of their dwelling in a city in which they can bid defiance to all their enemies. We dwell in such a city even now, Psalm 46:4-5. We look for such a city, Hebrews 11:10; Hebrews 11:16; Revelation 21—D. M.]

13. [These words may be taken as a description of the people whom God owns, who are fit to be accounted members of the church of the living God on earth, and who will not be excluded from the celestial city. Instead of complaining that only the righteous and the faithful will be admitted into the heavenly city, it should rather give us joy to think that there will be no sin there, that none but the just and true will there be found. This has been a delightful subject of reflection to God’s saints. The last words written by Henry Martyn were: “Oh! when shall time give place to eternity? When shall appear that new heaven and new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness? There, there shall in no wise enter in any thing that defileth; none of that wickedness which has made men worse than wild beasts—none of their corruptions which add to the miseries of mortality shall be seen or heard of any more.”—D. M.]

14. Isaiah 26:4. “The fourth privilege of the church is trust in God the Rock of Ages, i.e., in Christ, who not only here, but also Matthew 16; 1 Corinthians 10; 1 Peter 2, is called a rock in a peculiar manner, because no other foundation of salvation and of the church can be laid except this rock, which is here called the rock of ages on account of the eternity of His being, merit and office. Hence a refutation can be drawn of the papistical fable which makes Peter and his successors, the Roman Pontiffs, to be the rock on which the church is built.” Foerster. [“Whatever we trust to the world for, it will be but for a moment. All we expect from it is confined within the limits of time; but what we trust in God for will last as long as we shall last. For in the Lord Jehovah, Jah, Jehovah, in Him who was, and Isaiah, and is to come, there is a rock of ages, a firm and lasting foundation for faith and hope to build upon; and the house built on that rock will stand in a storm.” Henry.”—D. M.]

15. Isaiah 26:5. “It is very common with the prophets, when they prophesy of the kingdom of Christ to make reference to the proud and to the needy, and to represent the latter as exalted and the former as brought low. This truth is directed properly against the self-righteous. For Christ and His righteousness will not endure spiritual pride and presumption; but the souls that are poor, that hunger and thirst for grace, that know their need, these Christ graciously receives.” Cramer.

16. Isaiah 26:6. “It vexes the proud all the more that they will be overcome by those who are poor and of no consequence. For example, Goliath was annoyed that a boy should come against him with a staff ( 1 Samuel 13:43) Cramer.

17. Isaiah 26:8-10. That the justice of God must absolutely manifest itself that the majesty of the Lord may be seen, and that the wicked may learn righteousness, must even from a new Testament view-point be admitted. But the New Testament disputes the existence of any one who is righteous when confronted by the law, and who is not deserving of punishment. [But that there is none righteous, no not one, is taught most emphatically in the Old Testament also.—D. M.]. But it (the New Testament) while it shuts up all, Jews and Gentiles, without exception, under sin ( Galatians 3:22; Romans 3:9; Romans 11:32), sets forth a scheme of mediation, which, while it renders full satisfaction to justice, at the same time offers to all the possibility of deliverance. This mediation is through the Cross of Christ. It is only when this mediation has not been accepted that punitive justice has free course. It should not surprise us that even the Evangelist of the Old Covenant, who wrote chap53, did not possess perfect knowledge of this mediation. Let us remember John the Baptist ( Matthew 3:7; Matthew 11:11) and the disciples of the Lord ( Luke 9:54). [Let us not forget that Isaiah was a true Prophet, and spoke as he was moved by the Spirit of God. The Apostle Paul did not find fault with the most terrible denunciations of judgment contained in the Old Testament, or affect a superiority over the men who uttered them. On the contrary, he quotes them as words which could not be suffered to fall, but which must be fulfilled in all their dreadful import. See e.g. Romans 11:9-10.—D. M.].

18. Isaiah 26:12. “It is a characteristic of true, sincere Christians, that they give God the glory and not themselves, and freely confess that they have nothing of themselves, but everything from God ( 1 Corinthians 4:7; Philippians 2:13; Hebrews 12:2).” Cramer.

19. Isaiah 26:16. The old theologians have many comforting and edifying thoughts connected with this place: “A magnet has the power to raise and attract to itself iron. Our heart is heavy as iron. But the hand of God is as a magnet. When that hand visits us with affliction, it lifts us up, and draws us to itself.” “Distress teaches us to pray, and prayer again dispels all distress. One wedge displaces the other.” “Ex gravibus curis impellimur ad pia vota.” “Ex monte myrrhae procedimus ad collem thuris ( Song of Solomon 9:6). In amaritudine crucis exsurgit odor devotae precationis ( Psalm 86:6 sq.).” “Ubi nulla crux et tentatio, ibi nulla vera oratio. Oratio sine mails est tanquam avis sine alis. Optimus orandi magister necessitas. Τὰ παθήματα μαθήματα. Quae nocent, docent. Ubi tentatio, ibi oratio. Mala, quae hic nos premunt, ad Deum ire compellunt. Qui nescit orare, ingrediatur mare.” “When the string is most tightly drawn, it sounds best. Cross and temptation are the right prayer-bell. They are the press by which God crushes out the juice of prayer.” Cramer and Foerster.

20. Isaiah 26:20. As God, when the deluge was about to burst, bade Noah go into his ark as into his chamber, and Himself shut the door on him ( Genesis 7:6); so does the Lord still act when a storm is approaching; He brings His own into a chamber where they can be safe, either for their temporal preservation and protection against every might ( Psalm 91:1), or, on the other hand, to give them repose by a peaceful and happy death.” “His anger endureth but a moment; in his favor is life ( Psalm 30:6).” Cramer.

21. [“Great and mighty princes [nations] if they oppose the people of God, are in God’s account, as dragons and serpents, and plagues of mankind; and the Lord will punish them in due time. They are too big for men to deal with, and call to an account; and therefore the great God will take the doing of it into His own hands.” Henry.—D. M.].

22. Isaiah 27:2-5. “It seems to the world that God has no concern for His church and Christians, else, we imagine, they would be better off. But certain it Isaiah, that it is not the angels but God Himself that will be watcher over this vineyard, and will send it gracious rain.” Veit Dietrich. [“The church is a vineyard of red wine, yielding the best and choicest grapes, intimating the reformation of the church, that it now brings forth good fruit unto God, whereas before it brought forth fruit to itself, or brought forth wild grapes, Isaiah 5:4.” “God takes care (1) of the safety of this vineyard; I the Lord do keep it. He speaks this, as glorying in it, that He Isaiah, and has undertaken to be, the keeper of Israel; those that bring forth fruit to God are, and shall be always, under His protection. (2) God takes care of the fruitfulness of this vineyard: I will water it every moment; and yet it shall not be over watered. We need the constant and continual waterings of the divine grace; for if that be at any time withdrawn, we wither and come to nothing.” Henry. D. M.].

23. Isaiah 27:4. “Est aurea promissio, qua praecedentem confirmat. Indignatio non est mihi, fury is not in me. Quomodo enim is nobis irasci potest, qui pro nobis est mortuus? Quanquam igitur appareat, eum irasci, non tamen est verum, quod irascatur. Sic Paulo immittitur angelus Satanae, sed non est ira, nam ipse Christus dicit: sufficit tibi gratia mea. Sic pater filium delinquentem castigat, sed non est ira, quanquam appareat ira esse. Custodia igitur vineae aliquando cogit Deum immittere speciem irae, ne pereat luxurie, sed non est ira. Est insignis textus, which we should inscribe on all tribulations: Non est indignatio mihi, non possum irasci. Quod autem videtur irasci est custodia vineae, ne pereas et fias securus. Luther. “In order to understand fully the doctrine of the wrath of God we must have a clear perception of the antithesis: the long-suffering of God, and the wrath of God, wrath and mercy.” Lange.

24. Isaiah 27:7-9. “Christ judges His church, i.e., He punishes and afflicts it, but He does this in measure. The sorrow and cross is meted out, and is not, as it appears to us, without measure and infinite. It is so measured that redemption must certainly follow. But why does God let His Christians so suffer? Why does He not lay the cross on the wicked? God answers this question and speaks: the sin of Jacob will thereby cease. That is: God restrains sin by the cross, and subdues the old Adam.” Veit Dietrich.

25. [“The application of this verse to a future restoration of the Jews can neither be established nor disproved. In itself considered, it appears to contain nothing which may not be naturally applied to events long past.” J. A. Alexander.—“This prediction was completely and entirely fulfilled by the return of the Jews to their own country under the decree of Cyrus.” Barnes.—D. M.].

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

1. On Isaiah 24:4-6. Fast-day sermon. Warning against dechristianization of the life of the people1) Wherein such dechristianization consists: a, transgression of the commandments that are in force; b, alteration of the commandments which are essential articles of the everlasting covenant, as e.g. removing of all state institutions from the basis of religion2) Its consequences: a, Desecration of the land (subjectively, by the spread of a profane, godless sentiment; objectively, by the secularization of relations hitherto held sacred); b, the curse consumes the land, Isaiah 24:4.

2. On Isaiah 25:1-5. The Lord, the refuge of the needy1) He has the power to help. This we perceive a, from His nature (Lord, God, Wonderful); b, from His deeds ( Isaiah 25:1 b, Isaiah 25:2). 2) He gives His strength even to the feeble, ( Isaiah 25:4). 3) These are thereby victorious, ( Isaiah 25:5).

3. On Isaiah 25:6-9. Easter Sermon, by T. Schaeffer (Manch. Gab. u. ein Geist III. p269):—“The glorious Easter-blessing of the Risen One: 1) Wherein it consists? 2) who receive it? 3) what are its effects? Christmas Sermon, by Romberg [ibid. 1869, p78): Our text represents to us Christmas joy under the image of a festive board. Let us consider, 1) the host; 2) the guests; 3) the gifts.”

4. On Isaiah 26:1-4. Concerning the church1) She is a strong city in which salvation is to be found2) The condition of having a portion in her is faith3) The blessing which she is instrumental in procuring is peace.

5. Isaiah 26:19-21. The comfort of the Christian for the present and future1) For the present the Christian is to betake himself to his quiet chamber, where he is alone with his Lord and by Him made cheerful and secure2) For the future he has the certain hope, a, that the Lord will judge the wicked, b, raise the believer to everlasting life.

6. Isaiah 27:2-9. How the Lord deals with His vineyard, the church1) Fury is not in Him towards it; 2) He protects and purifies it; 3) He gives it strength, peace and growth; 4) He chastens it in measure; 5) He makes the chastisement itself serve to purge it from sins.

 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Isaiah 27:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/isaiah-27.html. 1857-84.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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