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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
Isaiah 29

 

 

Verses 1-12

II.—THE SECOND WOE

Isaiah 29

1. THE FOURFOLD ARIEL.

Isaiah 29:1-12

1 Woe [FN1]to Ariel, to Ariel,

[FN2]The city where David dwelt!

Add ye year to year;

[FN3]Let them [FN4]kill sacrifices.

2 [FN5]Yet I will distress Ariel,

And there shall be heaviness and sorrow;

And it shall be unto me as Ariel.

3 And I will camp against thee round about,

And will lay siege against thee with a [FN6]mount,

And I will raise forts against thee.

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 [FN7]of one that hath a familiar spirit, out of the ground,

And thy speech shall [FN8]whisper out of the dust.

5 [FN9]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.

6 [FN10]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.

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.

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.

9 Stay yourselves, and wonder;

[FN11] [FN12]Cry ye out, and cry:

They are drunken, but not with wine;

They stagger, but not with strong drink.

10 For the Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep,

And hath closed your eyes:

The prophets and your [FN13]rulers, the seers hath he covered.

11 And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a [FN14]book that is sealed,

Which men deliver to one that [FN15]is learned,

Saying, Read this, I pray thee:

And he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed:

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.

TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL

Isaiah 29:1. By comparing Isaiah 30:1 we see that סְפוּ is not from יָסַף, but from ספה ( Jeremiah 7:21, et saepe). נקף (Kal only here, Hiphil further in Isaiah 15:8) is circuire circulare. This meaning belongs to תְּקוּפָה Exodus 34:22; 2 Chronicles 24:23.

Isaiah 29:7. צֹבֶיהָ, is used for the sake of variety instead of צֹבְאֶיהָ comp. ואניה תאניה Isaiah 29:2, לבּתע בּתאם Isaiah 29:5. The construction of the suffix is to be explained as in קָמַי Psalm 18:40; Psalm 18:49. מְצוֹדָה is found also in Ezekiel 19:9, where the king of Judah is spoken of who was caught by means of net and pit, placed in a cage by means of hooks, and brought to Babylon into מְצֹדוֹת. The whole connection there renders it probable that מְצדֹוֹת denotes a place for wild animals that have been captured—a prison or something of that kind—whereas in Ecclesiastes 9:12, where only the word again occurs, the meaning “net” is undoubted. When then מְצֹדָה, and not מְצוּדָה is in the text, and when, moreover, I consider that the grammatical co-ordination of מצדתה with the suffix in צביה (all her assailants and of her מצדה) would be very abnormal, because we cannot, e.g., say בָּנֶיהָ וַֽאֲחוֹתָהּ instead of בָּנֶיהָ וּבְנֵי אֲחוֹתָהּ,—it seems to me much more probable that מְצֹדָה is intended to denote here not the fortress Zion, but the siege entrenchments set up against Zion, the מְצֻרֹת verse3, which enclose the city as a net, and can therefore be called its net. And this net of bulwarks, together with those who by means of it distress Zion (מציקים comp. on הציקותי Isaiah 29:2), shall disappear as a vision of a dream. Moreover the conjecture of Boettcher (Aehrenlese p32) that we should read צִבְיָהּ instead of צֹבֶיהָ seems to me not unworthy of attention. For the difficulty still remains to give a specific meaning to צֹבֶיהָ, if it is to stand for צֹבְאֶיהָ. Boettcher not unjustly remarks, too, that the צְבִי, the splendor of the city ( Isaiah 23:9; Isaiah 28:1 sqq.; Isaiah 32:13 sq.) certainly formed a prominent point in the vanishing vision as “the refreshment which they desire, and imagine they will receive.” Whoever is inclined to adopt this conjecture of Boettcher, which even Knobel accepts, will have no difficulty in connecting ומצדתה with what precedes it.

Isaiah 29:8. We should expect a pronomen separatum (הוּא) along with the participles אוֹבֵל and שֹׁתֶה, and the adjective עָיֵף. But it is well known that this pronoun is frequently omitted.

Isaiah 29:11. Instead of יוֹדֵעַ הַסֵּפֶר we find in the K’ri סֵפֶד without the article, as in Isaiah 29:12. But the alteration is needless. For in this connection הַסֵּפֶר can also be said, if only we take the article as the generic. Respecting וְאָמַר, vers11,12, comp. on Isaiah 40:6.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

1. The Prophet sets forth in vers1,2the theme of his discourse. For he announces to Ariel, i.e., to the city of God, Jerusalem, that he will cause her after a time great distress, notwithstanding that she is Ariel, i.e., lion of God; that she, however, in this distress will prove herself to be Ariel, i.e., the hearth of God. This thought! is further developed in what follows. The Lord causes Jerusalem to be told that He will besiege and afflict her greatly ( Isaiah 29:3), so that she, bowed low in the dust, will let her voice sound faintly as the spirit of one dead ( Isaiah 29:4). But the comforting promise is immediately annexed, that the enemies of Jerusalem will suddenly become as fine dust or as flying chaff ( Isaiah 29:5). For Jehovah will come against them as with thunder, and tempest, and devouring fire ( Isaiah 29:6). The whole force, therefore, of the enemies that fight against Ariel, i. e., here the mount of God, will pass away as a vision of a dream in the night ( Isaiah 29:7); these enemies will be in the condition of one who in a dream thinks that he has eaten and drunk, and only on awaking perceives that he has been dreaming ( Isaiah 29:8). In Isaiah 29:9-12 the Prophet himself depicts the effect of his words on the obdurate people. They build on other aid. They therefore hear the word of the Prophet in fixed amazement ( Isaiah 29:9). For they are as blind ( Isaiah 29:10), and in relation to the prophecy they are as one who has to read a sealed document, or as one who has an unsealed writing given him to read, but he cannot read ( Isaiah 29:11-12).

2. Woe to Ariel—as Ariel.

Isaiah 29:1-2. This paragraph begins with הוֹי as Isaiah 28:1; Isaiah 29:15; Isaiah 30:1; Isaiah 31:1; Isaiah 33:1. The name אריאל occurs 2 Samuel 23:20 ( 1 Chronicles 11:22) as the name of Moabite heroes; Ezra 8:16 as the name of a Levite; Ezekiel 43:15-16 the altar is called הַרְאֵל and אֲרִיאֵל (K’ri, Kethibh אֲרִאֵיל); Isaiah 33:7אֶרְאֵל is found in the signification “hero.” Interpreters take the word as often as it occurs in the passage before us, namely, Isaiah 29:1 (bis), Isaiah 29:2 (bis), and Isaiah 29:7, either in the signification of “lion of God,” or in that of “hearth of God.” Only Hitzig, who is on this account censured, assumes a play on the word, and takes it in ver 1 as ara Dei, and Isaiah 29:2 as lion of God. I am of opinion that Hitzig has not gone far enough. For it seems to me that the Prophet has each time used the word in a different signification according to the connection, and that it is taken in four different meanings [?]. First of all, Ariel appears as an enigmatical, significant name which the Prophet attributes to the city of Jerusalem in a manner unusual and fitted to excite inquiry. That Jerusalem is meant by it is clear from the connection, especially from קרית חנה דוד Isaiah 29:1, and from הר־ציוז in Isaiah 29:8. But we mark from the connection in each instance, that the Prophet intends each time a different allusion while employing the same word. In adding in Isaiah 29:1קרית חנה דוד he gives us to understand that under אריאל he alludes to עָר אֵלcity of God. The word עָר is used besides only of the Moabite capital Ar-Moab: Numbers 21:15; Numbers 21:28; Deuteronomy 2:9; Isaiah 15:1. עָר אֵל may accordingly involve an antithesis to עָר מוֹאָב—Moab, as in Isaiah 25:10 sq, being thought of as the representative of all opposition to God. The Septuagint translator has referred אריאל to Moab, while he takes this word to designate the Moabite city; for he renders ον̓αὶ πόλις ’Αριήλ, ῆν Δανὶδ ἐπολέμησεν,” whereby he certainly had in his eye the victory achieved by David over the Moabites, 2 Samuel 8:2. But what led him to think of Moab in connection with אריאל, was either the recollection of the Moabite heroes mentioned 2 Samuel 23:20, or the similarity in sound to the name of the city Ar (Greek ’́Αρ, Numbers 21:15; Deuteronomy 2:9) which lies in Ar-iel. That the resemblance could have been thought of by the Prophet appears from the manifold permutations which occur between א and ע in Hebrew, and in the cognate dialects (comp. Isaiah 29:5פתע and פתאם, אגם and אזל ענם, and תאב,עזל and תעב, גאל and געלetc. Comp. Ewald,Gr., § 58, a, note 1 and c; Gesen.Thes. p2). The yod in אריאל does not militate against our exposition. For, apart from the fact that a mere similarity in sound is the matter in question, the “i” would not grammatically stand in the way of the explanation “City of God,” as this “i” occurs not rarely as an antique connecting vowel especially in proper names (comp. Gabriel, Abdiel, etc., Ewald,Gr., § 211, b). Accordingly I consider the words קרית חנה דוד as explanatory of the word Ariel, or as a hint to intimate in what signification the Prophet would have us understand the word here. For Jerusalem, a holy city from a high antiquity ( Genesis 14:18 sqq.), became, the city of God ( Isaiah 60:14; Psalm 46:5; Psalm 48:2; Psalm 48:9; Psalm 87:3; Psalm 101:8), and the centre of the theocracy from the day when David, chosen king, by all Israel, took up in it his royal residence, ( 2 Samuel 5:6 sqq.). With the words סבּי שׁנה וג׳ to ואניה the Prophet confirms the woe which he had pronounced. First of all, the question presents itself, whether the words ספוינקפו contain an indefinite or a definite statement of time. If the declaration of time be indefinite, the occurrence of the calamity would be placed in prospect at a point of time incalculably remote. For nothing would indicate how long this adding year to year, and this revolution of the festivals should last. Thereby, however, the effect of the prophecy on those living at the time of its delivery would be neutralized. For they could indulge the hope that the catastrophe would not affect them. The design of the Prophet could not be to produce such an impression.

We must therefore assume that the Prophet wishes to indicate by these words an interval at least approximately defined, and a point of time not very remote, but rather relatively near (as Isaiah 32:10). The meaning then would be: Add to the present year another year, and let another annual revolution of festivals be completed. This would be tantamount to saying, that from the end of the present year another year would run its course, and then the catastrophe announced in what follows would take place. The addition חגים ינקפו is intended to intimate that a full sacred year has yet to run its course. If the time when the Prophet spoke this prophecy was coincident with the beginning of the sacred year, then the addition was really superfluous. But if this coincidence did not exist, then the addition had the meaning that the complete year is not to be reckoned from the day when the Prophet spoke the words, but from the beginning of the next sacred year. It is therefore not probable that the Prophet made the utterance at the time of the Passover festival, which formed the commencement of the theocratic year ( Exodus 7:2). But the Prophet must have spoken the words a considerable time before the Passover. [“Many of the older writers, and the E. V, take the last words of the verse in the sense, let them kill (or more specifically, cut off the heads) the sacrificial victims; but it is more in accordance both with the usage of the words and with the context to give חַגִּים its usual sense of feasts or festivals, and נָקַף that of moving in a circle or revolving, which it has in Hiphil. The phrase then exactly corresponds to the one preceding, “add year to year.” Alexander.—D. M.] Isaiah 29:2 tells what shall happen at the point of time indicated. Then the Lord will cause Ariel difficulty and distress ( Isaiah 29:7; Isaiah 51:13); and there shall arise sighing and groaning (besides only Lamentations 2:5 borrowed from this place; the verb אָנָה, Isaiah 3:26; Isaiah 19:8, comp. the related תַּֽאֲנָה of the snorting of the female camel [wild she-ass.—D.M.] in heat, Jeremiah 2:24). Here Ariel is represented as on all sides oppressed, which extorts pitiable groaning. The name Ariel seems therefore to involve here an antithesis to הציקותי: The strong is oppressed, and in this his distress he sighs and groans. When then in this connection the idea of strength is prominent in אריאל, we shall have to take the word here in its common signification=lion of God. But this distress does not last forever. The Prophet in this statement passes hastily over the whole field of vision from the bad beginning to the glorious end: Jerusalem (for this is the subject of והיתה) shall yet be to the Lord as אריאל. It is manifest that the word must be taken here as a word of good meaning. In such a signification we find it used Ezekiel 43:15 sq. For there the altar of burnt offering is so designated. The same altar is also called there הַרְאֵל. But this designation seems to be given to the altar as a whole. When therefore אריאל along with הראל is an altar-name, we may assume that both words have a signification referring to the nature of the altar. In the case of הראל this is at once evident; the high place of God is put in opposition to the high places (בָּמוֹת) of the false gods. It is true that אֲרִי is found elsewhere only in the signification lion. But the radix אָרָה denotes carpere ( Psalm 80:13; Song of Solomon 5:1), and can, like בָעַר, be used of fire. If further we compare the Arabic ’irâ, focus, caminus, and consider that in Isaiah 31:9, it is said of the Lord that אוּר לוֹ בְצִיּוֹן, it follows that the Prophets were justified, in a connection in which a manifold playing on a word is ingeniously practised, in finding in the word ארי an allusion to the place of fire, to the altar. It is particularly to be observed that the Prophet in our place says כַּֽאֲרִיאֵלas Ariel. He does not say לַֽאֲרִיאֵל. Jerusalem is not therefore to become an altar, but it is to prove itself as a holy hearth, which it has long been. It shall be treated as such by the Lord, it shall therefore be again delivered out of distress.

3. And I will camp——the dust.

Isaiah 29:3-4. What was stated in Isaiah 29:1-2 with the brevity of a theme is now set forth more fully. And, first, it is shown how the Lord will afflict the strong lion, and compel him to utter lamentable sounds of distress. חנה, which is employed by Isaiah only in this chapter, denotes here encamping with a view to besieging. The word stands frequently in the historical books in this sense in conjunction with עַל: Joshua 10:5; Joshua 10:31; Joshua 10:34; 2 Samuel 12:28 et saepe.כַּדּוּד (besides only Isaiah 22:18)=as in a circle. דּוּר (related to דּוֹרperiodus) is to be regarded as standing in the accus. localis.צוּר (in Isaiah besides only Isaiah 21:2) stands frequently with עַל in the sense of pressing upon: Deuteronomy 20:12; Deuteronomy 20:19; 2 Kings 6:25; 2 Kings 24:11; Jeremiah 32:2 et saepe.מֻצָּב (ἅπ. λεγ.), is synonymous with מַצָּב,מַצָּנָה,נְצִיב = Statio, excubiae praeaidium, post. As to construction the word is to be regarded as in the accusative (accus. instrum.). מְצוּרָה, which occurs in Isaiah only here, is a very general term, which is most frequently equivalent to מָצוֹר in the expression עָרֵי מְצוּרַה ( 2 Chronicles 11:10; 2 Chronicles 11:23; 2 Chronicles 12:4; 2 Chronicles 14:5; 2 Chronicles 21:3). It manifestly denotes not instruments for attacking a place, but fortifications, entrenchments employed by a besieging army, among which are סֹלְלָה( 2 Samuel 20:15; Jeremiah 6:6, et saepe) and דָּיֵקּ ( 2 Kings 25:1). The plural then denotes the various parts of the works thrown up by the besiegers. As the fortifications for defence are also called מְצוּרוֹת, 2 Chronicles 11:11. The expression והקימתי is not opposed to what has been said. For the machines used in a siege, the כָּרִים, as is clear from Ezekiel 4:2, belong to the מצורים. Isaiah 29:4 illustrates the words in Isaiah 29:2, and there shall be sighing and groaning [E. V, heaviness and sorrow]. The construction ושׁפלת תדברי is the well-known one, according to which an adverbial notion is expressed by the verb that is placed first. Jerusalem will lie so low that her voice will be only heard as if it proceeded from the dust, yea, from under the earth. There is here a climax descendens. The voice comes from a female sitting on the ground, out of the dust, from under the earth. In the clause ומעפרו׳ we mark a pregnant construction. שָׁחַח is used by Isaiah with tolerable frequency: Isaiah 2:9; Isaiah 2:11; Isaiah 2:17; Isaiah 5:15; Isaiah 25:12; Isaiah 26:5. The word is used especially of a suppressed voice Ecclesiastes 12:4. Regarding אוֹב and צפצף comp. on Isaiah 7:19. The voice will, like that of the spirit of one dead, come forth out of the earth.

4. Moreover the multitude——Mount Zion.

Isaiah 29:5-8. These words expand the short promise at the close of Isaiah 29:2. The distress of Jerusalem shall not last long. The supplication of her who has been brought so low shall be heard; her enemies shall be brought still lower; they shall be crushed even to dust. אָבָק comp. Isaiah 5:24. דַּק besides Isaiah 40:15. הָמוֹן is used by the Prophet four times in this passage: Isaiah 29:5 bis, Isaiah 29:7 and Isaiah 29:8. Regarding זָר comp. on Isaiah 1:7. The image of chaff carried away by the wind is frequent: Isaiah 17:13; Isaiah 41:15; Psalm 1:4; Psalm 35:5; Job 21:18; Zephaniah 2:2. עריצים comp. Isaiah 13:11. The crushing of the enemies shall be not only complete, but also sudden. It will be thereby all the more terrible. פֶּתַע is substantive=the opening of the eyes, a moment; but פִּתְאֹם is an adverb (comp. יוֹמָם,הֲלֹם). In regard to the permutation of ע and א see on Isaiah 29:1. The two words stand together Numbers 6:9, where, however, we find בפתע פתאם, and Isaiah 30:13. לְ denotes the measure (momentaneo modo, comp. לְאַט,לְצֶדֶק,לָבֶטַח, etc). Isaiah 29:6 describes the means, by which the Lord crushes the enemy of Jerusalem. תפקד is taken by Gesenius, Hitzig, Knobel, Delitzsch impersonally: A visitation shall be made. But it seems to me that this would require the passive of the causative conjugation, namely Hophal. (Comp. on Isaiah 38:10). The reference to Jerusalem is suggested by Isaiah 29:2; Isaiah 29:7-8. The Prophet says therefore, that Jerusalem will be graciously visited, i. e., delivered ( Isaiah 24:22) [According to this interpretation we must translate “and she shall be visited, etc.” If we use the second person as in the E. V, “thou shalt be visited,” then the enemy must be addressed, and not the city Jerusalem, which would require the verb to be in the feminine form of the second person.—D. M.]. ברעם וגו׳, observe here the similarity of sound in these words. רַעַם, the cracking, roaring (of thunder Psalm 104:7; Psalm 77:19), is found only here in Isaiah. רעשׁconquassatio, σεισμός (hence earthquake 1 Kings 19:11; Amos 1:1), is further used by Isaiah 9:4. סופה from סוּף (אָסַף, סָפָה) auferre, rapere, is rather the whirlwind, turbo, comp. Isaiah 5:28; Isaiah 17:13; Isaiah 21:1; Isaiah 66:15. סערה tempest, hurricane, comp. Isaiah 40:24; Isaiah 41:6. Both words are found in conjunction elsewhere only in Amos 1:14. The flame of devouring fire, comp. Isaiah 30:30. The plural להבים13:8; Isaiah 66:15. Besides לֶהָבָה4:5; Isaiah 5:24; Isaiah 10:17; Isaiah 43:2; Isaiah 47:14. אשׁ אכלה comp. Isaiah 30:27; Isaiah 30:30; Isaiah 33:14. Vitringa thinks that we ought to take these words literally, and find in them an intimation that the Lord destroyed the Assyrians in that night ( Isaiah 37:36) by a frightful thunderstorm. But this is a manifest misconception of the Prophetic style. In Isaiah 29:7-8 the Prophet depicts at the close the disappointment which the enemy will feel. This is expressed by a simple image. The Assyrians, so far as they had really seen Jerusalem before them, and had it in reach of their power, will, after their overthrow, have the impression that they had seen Jerusalem only in a dream, in a vision of the night: and in so far as they had hoped to be able easily to conquer Jerusalem, they will be as if they had eaten in a dream, but on awaking, should feel themselves as hungry as before. By the two images the Prophet expresses very emphatically the thought that the whole attempt of Assyria upon Jerusalem should be as if it had not been; should be in fact as empty and unreal as the fabric of a dream. The subject of Isaiah 29:7 is המןו־ו׳ and וכל־צביה וגו׳. The expression חלום חזון לילה is found besides only Job 33:15, where we read בַּ‍ֽחֲלוֹם חֶזְיוֹן לַיְלָה (comp. Job 4:13; Job 20:8). They who fight against Ariel will be as a vision of a dream (צבא as a verb in Isaiah besides only Isaiah 31:4). In what sense we have to take Ariel here, is evident from Isaiah 29:8. For there the whole phrase “the multitude of all the nations that fight against” is repeated, but instead of “Ariel” we read “Mount Zion.” This makes it clear that the Prophet would have us take אֲרִיאֵל here in the sense of הַרְאֵל Mount of God [?]. א and ה are interchanged just as frequently as א and ע, comp. אֵיךְ and הָמוֹן,הֵיךְ and אַדֹּרָם,אָמוֹן, 1 Kings 12:18 and הַדֹּרָם, 2 Chronicles 10:18; (See Gesen.Thes. p2). Ezekiel too has in Isaiah 43:15 got from our אֲרִיאֵל his הַרְאֵל. In Isaiah 29:8 the Prophet compares the departure of the Assyrians from Jerusalem to the awaking of a hungry or thirsty man who perceives that he has only dreamt that he has been eating or drinking. The term נֶפֶשׁ as in Isaiah 5:14; Isaiah 32:6. שׁוֹקֵקָה ( Psalm 107:9) has the signification “panting for, hungry” as a derivative meaning from the radical notion “to run to and fro,” ( Isaiah 33:4). The concluding words of this verse “the multitude of all the nations that fight against Mount Zion,” which correspond exactly to what we find in Isaiah 29:7, except that there instead of “Mount Zion” the name “Ariel” occurs, furnish the key to the understanding of the enigmatical word Ariel. Can it be deemed accidental that the Prophet in Isaiah 29:8 repeats those words of Isaiah 29:7 with the sole change of substituting for “Ariel” the words “Mount Zion?” Is not this a hint which the Prophet at the close gives to assist in understanding his meaning? And the first who understood this hint was Ezekiel ( Isaiah 43:15).

5. Stay yourselves——not learned.

Isaiah 29:9-12. The prediction contained in Isaiah 29:1-8, must have been received by the hearers of the Prophet with very mingled feelings, because it holds out to them the prospect of deliverance, but deliverance in a way not agreeable to them. For the saying מעם יהוה תפקד Isaiah 29:6 did not please them. Although then the Prophet is aware that he does not say what corresponds to their wishes, still they must just hear it for their punishment. Yes, stop and wonder, whether it please you or not, whether you comprehend it or not; it is so as I have said to you. The Hithpael התמהמה (to stand questioning, refusing, delaying Genesis 43:10; Psalm 119:60 et saepe) is found only here in Isaiah. תמה to be astonished, to wonder (conjoined with התמהמה in Habakkuk 1:5 as here) occurs further in Isaiah 8:8. Both verbs denote amazement at what is offered, with unwillingness to receive it. The Hithpael השׁתעשׁע stands Psalm 119:16; Psalm 119:47 undoubtedly in the signification oblectari, delectari. Many expositors would take the word here too in this meaning, while they consider the two imperatives as marking an antithesis (be joyous and yet blind). But we do not perceive from the context why they should be joyful. It is better therefore to take השׁתעשׁע in the original signification of Kal which is “permulsum, oblitum esse” (comp. Isaiah 6:10). Hence the significations “oblectari” ( Isaiah 11:8; Isaiah 66:12) and “to become blind” are equally derived. Kal occurs only in this passage where it has this last signification. The threatening of a punishment, which should first affect the spirit, is here announced to the Israelites. But this punishment will also produce its outward and visible effects. Because these effects follow in the way of punishment, the Prophet speaks of them no more in the imperative, but in the perfect. He sees the people reel and stagger like drunken men, although this intoxication does not proceed from wine. יין with שׁכרו is the accusative of the instrument. Where a capacity to receive the divine word is wanting, there it works an effect the very opposite of what it should properly produce; it hardens, blinds, stupefies. It is as if the spirit of understanding had become in those who do not desire the knowledge of the truth, a spirit of stupefaction, of stupidity. תרדמה, which is found only here in Isaiah, has here this spiritual sense. עָצַם is used Isaiah 33:15 of the binding up of the eyes, but in Isaiah 31:1 in its usual signification of being strong. That these two significations are closely connected in other cases also is well known. Compare חָזַק,חוּל ( Isaiah 22:21) קָשַׁר ( Genesis 30:42), ἴσχω, ἰσχύω. The Piel עִצֵּם, which is used by Jeremiah ( Jeremiah 50:17) as a denominative in the sense of “to break the bones, to bone,” occurs only here in Isaiah. The words prophets and seers, if omitted, would not be missed in Isaiah 29:10. For this reason it is utterly improbable that they are an interpolation of a glossator. They obscure the meaning, instead of making it more apparent. We might almost conjecture that there were Prophets of a first, and of a second rank. The latter would have been the interpreters of the former, as in the New Testament the speech of those who spoke with tongues was explained by interpreters ( 1 Corinthians 12:10; 1 Corinthians 12:30; 1 Corinthians 14:5; 1 Corinthians 14:13). Not as if these prophets of the second rank or interpreters had an official position. For there is no trace of this. But there were persons who, when the meaning of the prophetic utterances was the subject of conversation among the people, pushed themselves in the foreground, claiming to be specially endowed with the capacity of explaining what the prophets had spoken; and perhaps they acquired as such here and there a certain authority. The prophetic word of the great Isaiah may have been often thus interpreted to the people by such prophets. But these subordinate prophets, although perhaps their possession of a certain physical gift of prophecy was not to be disputed, (comp. Saul, 1 Samuel 10:10 et saepe) stood yet in a nearer relation to the people than to the Lord. Therefore their prophetic gift was often not sufficient; often it was even abused by them (comp. 1 Corinthians 14:32; 1 Kings 22:6 sqq.). Isaiah alludes here to this state of matters. The people were often puzzled by the prophecy of Isaiah, and even their prophets who were wont to be their eyes for such things, had as it were bound-up eyes or covered heads. נָבִיא and חֹזֶה, comp. נביא and רֹאֶה, 1 Samuel 9:9. The figure employed in Isaiah 29:11-12 suits very well to the explanation proposed. Reading was an art which was not understood by every one. He who could not himself read, must request another to read to him. Thus was it too with the prophecy of Isaiah. The people must apply to their prophets to interpret it for them. But it happened then, says Isaiah, as it often happens to one who applies to another in order to have a writing read to him. It can be the case that the person asked is able to read, but yet cannot read the document reached to him, because it is sealed. But what can this mean? If any one reaches me a sealed paper, in order that I may read it to him, he must unite with his request the permission to unseal it. Or, were there seals which could not be removed by every one? It appears to me, that the comparison here made use of is purely imaginary. It is very unlikely that any one could not comply with the request to read a document, because it was sealed. The Prophet only imagines such a case. But what he meant to intimate thereby was most real. The words of Isaiah were to many among those prophets of the people sealed words, i.e., intelligible as to their verbal meaning, but incomprehensible as to their inner signification. To others, or partially perhaps even to all, they were not intelligible even in their verbal meaning. They did not know what to make of them. They stood before them as one who cannot read stands before what is written. It seems that this prophecy regarding Ariel proved to be one of the most obscure prophecies of Isaiah. This gives occasion to the Prophet’s expressing himself in this manner regarding the reception and understanding of his prophecies. חזות הכל denotes not merely the immediately preceding prediction, but the prophecy of Isaiah in general. For why should it have happened thus with only those words that immediately precede? חזות (comp. Isaiah 21:2; Isaiah 28:18) is synonymous with חָזוֹן Isaiah 1:1.

Footnotes:

FN#1 - Or, O Ariel, that Isaiah, the lion of God.

FN#2 - Or, of the city.

FN#3 - let the feasts complete a revolution.

FN#4 - Heb. cut off the heads.

FN#5 - then.

FN#6 - post.

FN#7 - of the spirit of one dead.

FN#8 - Heb. peep, or, chirp.

FN#9 - But.

FN#10 - she shall be visited (delivered).

FN#11 - Or, take your pleasure and riot.

FN#12 - blind yourselves and be blind.

FN#13 - Heb. heads.

FN#14 - Or, letter.

FN#15 - knows writing.


Verses 13-24

2. THE SECRET COUNSEL OF MEN, AND THE SECRET COUNSEL OF GOD

Isaiah 29:13-24

13 Wherefore the Lord said,

Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth,

And with their lips do honor me,

But have removed their heart far from me,

And their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men;

14 Therefore, behold, [FN16]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.

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?

16 [FN17]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?

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?

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.

19 The meek also [FN18]shall increase their joy in the Lord,

And the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.

20 For the terrible one is brought to nought,

And the scorner is consumed,

And all that watch for [FN19]iniquity are cut off:

21 That make a man an offender [FN20]for a word,

And lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate,

And turn aside the just [FN21]for a thing of nought.

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.

23 [FN22]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.

24 They also that erred in spirit [FN23]shall come to understanding,

And they that murmured shall learn doctrine.

TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL

Isaiah 29:13. That we are to read not נִגַשׂ (with the Targum and many MSS. and Editions, in the sense of “to urge, trouble, torment one’s self,”) but נִגַשׁ, is shown by the antithetic רִחַק. That contrary to the accentuation בפיו is to be connected with נגשׁ, is apparent from this, that the people are to be reproached, not with drawing near to God in general, but with the outward, deceitful approach to Him. The great liberty which in Hebrew is indulged in with reference to person and number, is seen from כבדוני and יראתם in relation to בפיו, שׂפּתיו and לבו. We have to take רחק as a causative, and at the same time intensive Piel (to make removal with zeal = to strive to get away).

[יוֹסִף is the third person of the future. There is an ellipsis to be supplied: Behold, I (am he who) will add, etc.—D. M.]. אֵת after הפליא is not the sign of the accusative, but is the preposition. Instead of a second infinitive, a noun of the same stem פלא is attached to the infinitive absolute (comp. Isaiah 22:17-18; Isaiah 24:19).

Isaiah 29:15. חעמיק is the proper causative Hiphil=to make a deepening, a sinking. At the same time the construction with מִן is a pregnant one; but לסתיר [syncopated Hiphil comp. Isaiah 23:11—D. M.] is not a statement of the design, but is the ablative or gerundine infinitivus modalis, which when united with a causative conjugation, can be expressed by us by a verb with any adverb, as here: who deep from Jehovah hide, etc. Comp. Jeremiah 49:8; Jeremiah 49:30, and as to the usus loquendi Isaiah 7:11; Isaiah 30:33; Isaiah 31:6. אִם in Isaiah 29:16 corresponds to the Latin an, and marks the second member of a disjunctive question, the first of which is to be supplied.

Isaiah 29:20. שָׁקֵד σπουδάζειν, alacrem esse, vigilare, invigilare, is elsewhere always construed with עַל ( Jeremiah 1:12; Jeremiah 5:6; Jeremiah 31:28; Jeremiah 44:27; Proverbs 8:34; Job 21:32). This word is found in Isaiah only here. The construction in this place is to be judged according to such forms of expression as שָׁבֵי פֶשַׁע ( Isaiah 59:20), חֲלוּץ צָבָא ( Numbers 32:27) and similar phrases. The form יְקשׁוּן might, considered by itself, be the perfect (comp. יָקשְׁתִּי Jeremiah 50:24), as the form יָקשֽׁוּ with the primitive ן must be יְקשֽׁוּן according to the rule that a closed syllable can be without the tone only when it has a short vowel, and an open syllable precedes (comp. יְקוּמֽוּן—יָֽקוּמוּ Ewald, § 85, a; 88, c). But if we have regard to the syntax, the imperfect (future) is more correct, because the Prophet has in his mind not merely single definite facts, but the permanent habit of those people. The form is in this case to be derived from קוֹשׁ, which occurs only here.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

1. The Prophet urges the people to fear Jehovah, and to trust in Him alone. Even in Hezekiah’s times the people were not pleased to do so. On this account the preceding announcement ( Isaiah 29:1-8), notwithstanding the glorious promise with which it ends, was to so many an offence ( Isaiah 29:9-12). The Prophet, therefore, directs now his discourse against those who honor the Lord with merely external, ceremonial service, and not from the heart ( Isaiah 29:13), and announces that the Lord will deal strangely with them, and that their wisdom will be brought to shame ( Isaiah 29:14). He further reproves those who imagine that they can carry out in the most profound secresy the plans of their untheocratic policy ( Isaiah 29:15), by reminding them that the clay can never be equal to the potter, or the work formed from clay be able to deny the potter, or accuse him of ignorance ( Isaiah 29:16). A great change will soon happen: Assyria, which is like Lebanon, shall be brought low; Judah, which resembles only Carmel, shall be highly exalted. Then people will understand the words of the Prophet, which they had before despised, and will perceive that they are true and salutary. But behind that deliverance, which belongs to the history of the nation, the Prophet discerns also Messianic blessing. The comparison has therefore this meaning also for him, that the wilderness shall become uncultivated land, while uncultivated land shall become a wilderness ( Isaiah 29:17). This means that a poor condition of external nature shall be remedied by the divine favor, and, conversely, a condition of high culture shall, by the withdrawal of the divine favor, pass into a state of wildness; the deaf shall hear, the blind see ( Isaiah 29:18); the poor and oppressed shall become strong and joyful in the Lord ( Isaiah 29:19). The violent and false shall be exterminated ( Isaiah 29:20-21). For the Lord, who redeemed Abraham will bring Jacob to honor ( Isaiah 29:22). For when Jacob shall see the Lord’s wonderful work for his salvation, he will sanctify the Lord ( Isaiah 29:23), and understand what makes for his peace ( Isaiah 29:24).

2. Wherefore the Lord said——be hid.

Isaiah 29:13-14. By means of ויאמר the Prophet connects what he has to say with the immediately foregoing. He indicates by this verbal form that what follows is occasioned by the stupid and perverse behaviour of the people ( Isaiah 29:9-10). That perversity had its root in the people trusting more in themselves and their wisdom than in the Lord. They, therefore, thought that they could satisfy the Lord, whose worship Hezekiah lately imposed on them, by the performance of outward ceremonial service. For the rest, in what concerned their life and conduct, and especially in their policy, they went their own ways. The Lord had already said ( Deuteronomy 6:4 sqq.), that He is not satisfied with mere ceremonial service, but desires hearty love from His people. But it was this chief and greatest commandment ( Matthew 22:38) which Israel never learned. Hence till the time of the exile the inclination to idolatry prevailed, and if they at times served the Lord, this was only as a pause in the song. And the reformations of Hezekiah and Josiah were no expression of the mind of the people, and were consequently not of long duration. Manasseh followed Hezekiah, and Jehoiakim and Zedekiah followed Josiah. But Isaiah here takes up earlier utterances ( Psalm 50; Amos 5:21 sqq.; Micah 6:6 sq.). He afterwards returns to this subject ( Isaiah 58:2 sqq, comp. Isaiah 1:11 sqq.). The expression מצוה מלמדה is found only here. When we compare such expressions as עֶגְלָה מלמדה. Hosea 10:11, מְלֻמּדֵי שִׁיר, 1 Chronicles 25:7, מלמדי מלהמה, Song of Solomon 3:8, we perceive that in מלמדה as here used, there lies the idea of training, of external discipline and accustoming. [The complaint is that their religion, instead of being founded on the authority of God’s word, rested on human ordinances.—D. M.]. The punishment for this hypocritical conduct of the people towards Jehovah is that the Lordcontinues to deal with them in a wonderful way. Wonderful had been all the ways which the Lord had from the beginning pursued towards the people. The Prophet seems to wish by the word הסתתר to prepare the transition to Isaiah 29:15. From the Wisdom of Solomon, which must hide itself, because it is brought to disgrace, he passes over to the wisdom which desires to hide itself, while it cannot do so.

3. Woe unto them——understanding.

Isaiah 29:15-16. We clearly perceive here how significant was the position of the great Prophets. They might be said to be the eye and the mouth of Jehovah. They watched over the course of the theocracy, and the leaders of it could not but respect them. If then the policy approved by the leaders was untheocratic, they must fear the word of the Prophets. For their word was the word of Jehovah. When, therefore, there was a consciousness of an untheocratic aim, care was taken to conceal the political measures from the Prophets. Thus Ahaz sought to hide from Isaiah his Assyrian policy (7). Here likewise Hezekiah tries to keep secret his Egyptian policy. For even Hezekiah does not seem to have risen to the height of the only truly theocratic policy, which must consist in having the Lord alone as their support. והיה וגו׳. Not merely is the plan secretly concocted, but the execution of it, too, takes place with all secresy. מחשׁך, in Isaiah besides only Isaiah 42:16. מעשׂיהם, so far as the form is concerned, might be singular. But as the copula הָיָה precedes, מעשׂיחם can also be the plural, and this view corresponds better to the usus loquendi elsewhere ( Isaiah 41:29; Isaiah 59:6; Isaiah 66:18). הפככם Isaiah 29:16 is an exclamation: O your perverting! That Isaiah, how ye pervert things! They Acts, as if their wisdom were greater than the wisdom of God, as if they could therefore review, determine, and according to their pleasure influence and direct the thoughts of the Lord, while they are but clay in the hand of the potter. The word הפככם (on account of the Dagesh lene, not from the Infin Kal, but from the substantive הֹפֶךְ, which occurs only here, comp. הֵפֶך הֶפֶךְ, Ezekiel 16:34) is to be taken in an active signification, so that it marks not so much perversity, as the perversion of ideas which proceeds from perversity, as is in Isaiah 29:15 implicitly, and in Isaiah 29:16 explicitly evinced. If the potter were clay, and the clay were potter, then the clay could determine and direct the potter, could for this purpose lead him astray, deceive him, etc. Either, then, the Israelites are perverse, or the potter is not clay. If indeed the clay were potter, then the former could justly say: Hebrews, the potter made me not,—or he understands and observes nothing. This is what Israel says in imagining that he is able to lead astray the Prophet, that Isaiah, the omniscient Lord Himself. While the politicians forge Hezekiah’s plans, they think that they knead them, as potters do their vessels, according to their pleasure, and unobserved by the Lord, while they themselves are yet but clay.

4. Is it not yet——a thing of nought

Isaiah 29:17-21. An end will be put to this evil condition. The Lord Himself will reform His people, and that thoroughly. Then the deaf will hear, and the blind see, and to the poor the Gospel will be preached. But those proud, imperious and infatuated politicians, who forcibly suppress all opposition against their line of action, will go to ruin. When the Prophet holds out the prospect of this reformation within a brief period, he does this in the exercise of that prophetic manner of contemplation which reckons the times not according to a human but a divine measure. For in fact the Prophet here beholds along with, and in what is proximate the time of the end. The prospect of blessedness which he presents belongs also to the days of the Messiah, as we clearly perceive from Isaiah 29:18-19. The expression עוד מעט מזער is used thus in Isaiah 10:25 also. Comp. Isaiah 26:20; Isaiah 54:7. In a short time, therefore, Lebanon shall become a fruitful field, and the fruitful field a forest. The expression can be variously explained. It seems to me to denote primarily that the Lord can bring down that which is high, and raise that which is low. And in this sense the word was fulfilled in the overthrow of Sennacherib. Then Assyria, the lofty Lebanon, became the low Carmel; but Judah, which was a little mount, and low plain, became a lofty wooded mountain-range. Thereby it became at the same time evident how false the untheocratic policy was in its calculation, and how truly the Lord’s mouth spoke by the Prophet. Lebanon and the forest represent wild nature, or the natural wilderness; the fruitful field again represents a state of culture ( Isaiah 10:18; Isaiah 37:24). All depends on the essential character, the nature of a thing. What in its nature and essence is good, although it looks rough and wild as the wooded mountain-range, shall yet gradually, even in outward appearance, become a fruitful cultivated land; but what is in its nature rough and wild, even when it appears to be cultivated, will certainly sooner or later manifest its true nature as a wilderness, in a corresponding external appearance. In short, the true nature of things must at last be manifest. [“The only natural interpretation of the verse, is that which regards it as prophetic of a mutual change of condition, the first becoming last and the last first.”—Alexander. D. M.].

This form of speech was probably proverbial, and seems to me in the form in which it here lies to bear the meaning assigned to it. That it was used in yet another form, and then naturally in a signification modified as the case required, we can see from Isaiah 32:15. Instead of שָׁב we find וְהָיָה in Isaiah 32:15. The passage before us seems to be the only one in which שׁוּב is undoubtedly employed in this wider signification = to turn one’s self from one direction to another (it properly signifies; to turn one’s self back). The definite article before כרמל and יער is the generic (comp. Isaiah 29:11). כרמל is used nine times by Isaiah 10:18; Isaiah 16:10; Isaiah 29:17 (bis); Isaiah 22:15-16; Isaiah 33:9 and Isaiah 35:2 (proper name); Isaiah 37:24. The expression יֵחָשֵׁב לְ is not meant to affirm that the fruitful field is merely esteemed as a forest, without really being such. That it really is such, is what the Prophet means to affirm. In the following verses the proverbial and figurative expression, Isaiah 29:17, is illustrated. The deaf shall in that day (i. e., in the time indicated by מעט מזער) hear words of the writing, and the blind will see out of obscurity, and out of darkness.—When the bound senses of the deaf and dumb can freely unfold themselves, when the love of life, which is kept under in the poor and wretched, can display itself without impediment, then Lebanon, the wooded mountain range, has become a fruitful field, for then nature has advanced from neglected disorder to a well-ordered, cultivated condition. When it is said that the deaf will hear, דברי ספר, the word ספר seems superfluous. But the Prophet alludes evidently to Isaiah 29:11, from which it is at the same time clear that he is not speaking of physical deafness, etc. It was there declared of the people present that the Lord had poured out upon them a spirit of sleep (in which, as all know, one does not hear), and bound up their eyes so that the prophecy was to them as the words of a sealed book. When then Lebanon has become a fruitful field, and nature shall have given place to grace, then too the ears of the people that were previously deaf will be opened, and they will understand the דִּבְרֵי סֵפֶר הֶחָתוּם, i. e., the words of the prophecy proceeding from the Lord through His Prophets, and will emerge from gloom. (אֹפֶל only here in Isaiah) and darkness, (in which they hitherto were with their eyes bound up by the Lord), so as to behold the light (comp305). They will, therefore, perceive also the errors of their policy, and see that the word of the Prophet which shocked them, pointed out the true way of safety. They who were deaf and blind were also unhappy, just for this cause. When they hear and see, then are they happy men, delivered from oppression and distress, and joyful in their God. ענוים outwardly and inwardly oppressed, in Isaiah besides Isaiah 11:4; Isaiah 61:1; [ענו means meek, and is to be distinguished from עניpoor.D. M.]. יספו comp. Isaiah 37:31; they obtain joy not only once, but continually, i. e., they increase joy.ביהוה comp. ἐν κυρίῳ in the New Testament; it is therefore not merely = through, but = in the Lord, namely as those who are rooted and grounded in the Lord. The expression אביוני אדם is found only here, comp. Exodus 23:11. קדושׁ י׳ comp. on Isaiah 1:4. יגילו,—the rejoicing too has the Lord first for its basis, afterwards for its object ( Isaiah 41:16). Is not the purport of these two verses, 18,19, reproduced in the saying of Christ, “The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the Gospel preached to them” ( Matthew 11:5; Luke 7:22)? In this passage in the Gospel allusions are commonly found only to Isaiah 35:5; Isaiah 61:1. Without wishing to deny these references, we yet remark that Isaiah 29:18-19 contains the ideas conjoined, which the other places present apart. And when the Lord in dealing with John, who had fallen into doubt regarding His Messiahship, describes His works by pointing to this passage, are we not justified in saying that this passage is of Messianic import? We of course admit that Matthew 11:5 is not an exact quotation of our passage. The joy of the pious has as its condition the removal of the wicked, whose unchecked display of themselves is identical with the deterioration of the fruitful field into a forest. Hence Isaiah 29:20-21, which explain Isaiah 29:17 b, are connected by כִּי with what immediately precedes. אָפֵס besides only Isaiah 16:4. לֵץ only here in Isaiah, but comp. Isaiah 28:14; Isaiah 28:22. Hiphil החטיא to make, to declare a sinner, ( Deuteronomy 24:4; Ecclesiastes 5:5), only here in Isaiah. They make people sinners by words,i. e., they bring about their condemnation not by actual proofs, but merely by lying words. [The rendering of the E.V. is much more easy and natural: that make a man an offender for a word, and is justly preferred by Ewald, Alexander and Delitzsch.—D. M.]. מוֹכִיחַ the reprover, reprehensor, he who maintains the truth. Comp. Job 32:12; Job 40:2; Proverbs 9:7; Proverbs 24:25, et saepe; Ezekiel 3:26. Isaiah seems to have had specially before him Amos 5:10. הִטָּה with the accusative of the thing ( Deuteronomy 27:19; Proverbs 17:23; Amos 2:7), or the person ( Proverbs 18:5; Amos 5:12), to designate a violent deed perpetrated by wresting judgment, is of frequent occurrence. But where it is joined with בְּ, it denotes the sphere in which, or the means by which the wresting of judgment is accomplished, not the terminus in quem. As moreover תֹּהוּ denotes everywhere in Isaiah what is null, vain, empty, and is synonymous with רוּחַ (wind) אֶפֶם,הֶבֶל (comp. Isaiah 24:10; Isaiah 34:11; Isaiah 40:17; Isaiah 40:23; Isaiah 41:29; Isaiah 44:9; Isaiah 45:18-19; Isaiah 49:4; Isaiah 59:4), we have to regard תֹּהוּ as designating the empty lying accusations which were brought against the Prophet.

5. Therefore thus saith—doctrine.

Isaiah 29:22-24. These verses contain the comprehensive close. According to verses13,14, Israel had omitted to serve the Lord in the proper manner, and according to verse15, they had omitted to trust in the Lord alone. That on this double sin a double crisis must follow, which will make the good elements of the people ripe for salvation, the bad elements ripe for judgment, had been declared Isaiah 29:16-21. Now the close follows: As the ancestor of Israel had been delivered from the danger of idolatry like a brand plucked from the fire, so shall Israel also be delivered, when it shall have seen that judgment on the wicked. It will sanctify the name of the Lord, it will learn the true Wisdom of Solomon, and that will be its safety. אֶל־בֵּית י׳ Isaiah 29:22 = in reference to the house of Jacob (comp. Genesis 20:2; Psalm 2:7 et saepe), for in what follows it is spoken of in the third person. The clause אשׁר פדה וגו׳ refers to יהוה. That God, who had formerly saved Abraham, the progenitor of Israel, from the snares of idolatry ( Joshua 24:2; Joshua 24:14-15), will also redeem Israel from the internal and external dangers which now threaten him. Israel will in the end not be put to shame ( Isaiah 19:9; Isaiah 20:5; Isaiah 37:27; Isaiah 45:16-17; Isaiah 54:4 et saepe). חָוַר candidum esse, pallescere isἅπ. λεγ. Delitzschhere observes “that people whose faces are of a bronze color know in their language only of a growing pale for shame, and not of a blushing for shame.” Both the correction ( Isaiah 29:20-21), and the deliverance ( Isaiah 29:18-19), will bear fruit. The Prophet intends both when he speaks of the work of Jehovah among the people. When Israel (i.e., not the patriarch but his descendants, ילדיו is added by way of explanation to בראותו to obviate any misunderstanding) shall see this, he will sanctify the Lord,i. e., regard Him as holy (comp. on Isaiah 8:13, and the first petition of the Lord’s prayer). [But the E.V, which puts the work of my hands in apposition to his children, is better, comp. Isaiah 49:18-21.—D. M.]. The Prophet states in Isaiah 29:23 b, that the effect of the sanctification of the name of God will be that the people will esteem as holy the Holy One of Jacob, and will fear the God of Israel. Beside the variation of Jacob and Israel, which is so frequent in the second part of Isaiah, mark how the Prophet distinguishes between sanctifying the name of God, and sanctifying the Holy One of Jacob. This sanctification must be substantially one and the same. But when the Holy One of Jacob and the God of Israel is named as object of the second sanctification ( Isaiah 29:23 b), a sanctifying seems to be thereby intended, which gives in a way which all men can perceive, the glory to this God above the gods of the heathen. The fruit of the inward disposition of heart which is externally perceptible and operative, seems to be thereby intended. As יּקדישׁו שׁמי refers to Isaiah 8:13, so יעריצו refers to Isaiah 8:12. Thus Israel will become truly wise. That wisdom which they thought they must conceal from God, was both foolishness and destruction. But when they shall have learnt to sanctify the Lord, then they who hitherto erred in spirit (comp. Psalm 95:10), will attain the true Wisdom of Solomon, and they who heretofore murmured against God’s counsel and direction (רגן Kal only here), will be satisfied with the discipline of God, and let it have its effect upon them (לֶקַח what one takes, Proverbs 1:5; Proverbs 4:2 et saepe, only here in Isaiah).

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. On Isaiah 29:1-8. The Prophet designates Jerusalem as Ariel in a four-fold sense. Taking Ariel as denoting the city of God, the name suits Jerusalem as the holy, separated dwelling-place in which the church of God, and all saving ordinances have their seat and centre. Taking Ariel as the lion of God, the names applies to Jerusalem as the ecclesia militans, as the host of God fighting against the worldly power and conquering it. Taking Ariel as denoting the Altar of God, it sets forth Jerusalem as the place in which reconciliation with God, and the bestowal of all the gifts of His grace take place. And, lastly, Jerusalem appears as Ariel in the signification of Mount of God, because it is the height of God which overtops all other heights, in which He manifests His glory to all the world, and to which all nations flow in order to worship Him ( Isaiah 2:2 sqq.). But when Jerusalem forgets these her high honors, and neglects the obligations thereby laid upon her, she is corrected and humbled as any other city. [There may be an allusion made by the Prophet to the two-fold meaning of Ariel as lion of God, and hearth of God, but sober exegesis will be slow to admit the other meanings attached to the name of Ariel, and supposed to be here significantly alluded to by Isaiah.—D. M.].

2. [“It was the enemy’s army that encamped against Jerusalem; but God says that He will do it, for they are His hand, He does it by them. God had often, and long, by a host of angels, encamped for them round about them, for their protection and deliverance; but now He was turned to be their enemy, and fought against them: The siege laid against them was of His laying, and the forts raised against them were of His raising. Note, when men fight against us, we must, in them, see God contending with us.” Henry.—D. M.].

3. On Isaiah 29:7 sq. “A very consolatory comparison. The Romans and all enemies of the church are as blood-thirsty dogs. But when they have drunk up a part of the blood of the saints, and imagine, that they have swallowed up the church, it is only a dream. Since we see, that Christ and His Christians are, thank God, not yet destroyed.”—Cramer.

4. On Isaiah 29:9-12. “Awful description of the sorest punishment from God, which is spiritual, confirmed blindness; which is at this day so manifest in the Jews. For although they are confuted by so many clear and plain Scriptures of the Prophets, although they must themselves confess that the time is past, the place no more in existence, the lineage of David extinct, so that they can have no certain hope of a Messiah, they yet remain so hardened and obstinate in their opinion, as if they were drunken, mad and drowned in the snares of the devil by which they are bound, and could not come to sober and rational thoughts. This we ought to take as a mirror of the wrath of God, that we, while the book is yet open to us, may freely and diligently look into it, that it may not be closed and sealed before our eyes also.—Cramer.

5. On Isaiah 29:9-12. To all those who bring to the reading of the Holy Scripture not the Spirit, from whom it proceeded, but the opposite spirit, the spirit of the world, the Scripture must be a sealed book, into which they can stare with plastered eyes, which see and yet do not see, which watch and yet at the same time sleep ( Isaiah 6:9-10; Luke 8:10; Acts 28:26-27).

6. On Isaiah 29:13. Ah! how pious people would be, if only piety consisted in lip-service, and external behavior! Dévotion aisée, convenient religion, that is the business of all those who would willingly give to God what is God’s, and to the devil, what is the devil’s; that Isaiah, who would like to have a religion because it is required by a voice within the breast, and the power of custom and example, without thereby paining the flesh. Comp. Isaiah 1:11 sqq.; Isaiah 58:2 sqq.; Amos 5:23; Matthew 15:7 sqq.

7. On [“They did one strange thing, they removed all sincerity from their hearts; now God will go on and do another, He will remove all sagacity from their heads: the wisdom of their wise men shall perish. They played the hypocrite, and thought to put a cheat upon God, and now they are left to themselves to play the fool; and not only to put a cheat upon themselves, but to be easily cheated by all about them …. This was fulfilled in the wretched infatuation which the Jewish nation were manifestly under, after they had rejected the gospel of Christ … Judgments on the mind, though least taken notice of, are to be most wondered at.—Henry, D. M.].

8. [Formalism in worship is here assigned as the cause of the judicial blindness which has happened to Israel. Mark the logical connection between Isaiah 29:13-14. The same judgment inflicted for the same reason, has befallen a large part of the nominal Christian Church. They who worship God must worship Him in spirit and in truth. We are amazed at the ignorance in matters of religion displayed by men of great mental capacity and learning, who have appeared among the Jews, and professors of a corrupt Christianity. That which excites our astonishment is here accounted for.—D. M.].

9. On Isaiah 29:18 sqq. “Here everything is reversed. Before, he had said, the wise shall be blind. Here he says, the blind shall see. The scope of all that is said is that they who were in office and were called priests and Levites, together with the bulk of the people, should be blinded for their unbelief. On the other hand, the poor, wretched people, that had neither office nor reputation, together with the heathen, shall be called, and shall be the people of God, who truly know God, invoke His name, and have joy, comfort and help in Him.” Veit. Dietrich.

10. On [“The emphatic mention of the Holy One of Jacob and the God of Israel, as the object to be sanctified, implies a relation still existing between all believers and their spiritual ancestry, as well as a relation of identity between the Jewish and the Christian church. Alexander.—D. M.].

HOMILETICAL HINTS

On Isaiah 29:1-8. How the Lord regards and deals with His church. 1) She is precious in His eyes, a. as the city of God; b. as the lion of God; c. as the altar of God; d. as the mount of God2) He brings her very low ( Isaiah 29:2-6). 3) He delivers her wonderfully ( Isaiah 29:7-8).

2. On Isaiah 29:9-12. As the light of the sun does not illuminate, but dazzles and closes an eye which is not adapted for receiving it (e. g., that of the mole), so also the word of God is for those who are not born of God and cannot receive the Spirit of God, by no means a light which enlightens their inner sense, but rather an element which dazzles their mental eye, and confuses their senses, so that they stand before the word as one who can read stands before a sealed book, or as one who cannot read before a writing which is handed to him.

3. On Isaiah 29:13-14. Warning against hypocrisy. 1) Its nature (it consists in honoring God with self-invented, external, ceremonial service, while yet the heart is far from Him); 2) its punishment (the wisdom which is self-asserting and forgets God will come to shame).

4. On Isaiah 29:15-24. Every man has his task in this life. Some, however, are minded to transact their affairs without God. For either they do not believe that there is a God, or if they believe it, they wish to be independent of Him. They wish to execute everything according to their own mind and their own lusts. But when they imagine that they can carry out their plans as it were behind God’s back, unobserved by Him, this cannot be ( Isaiah 29:15-16). This is great folly, too. For such a work cannot succeed. Therefore the Prophet utters a woe on such an attempt, Isaiah 29:15. They, on the other hand, who do everything with God, partake of the most manifold blessing; the deaf hear, the blind see, the wretched rejoice, the poor are enriched, the oppressed and despised are delivered.

Footnotes:

FN#16 - Heb. I will add.

FN#17 - O your perverting! Or is the clay esteemed like the potter, that the work should say to its maker, etc.

FN#18 - Heb; shall add.

FN#19 - mischief.

FN#20 - by word.

FN#21 - by deceit.

FN#22 - For when Hebrews, when his children, see the work of my hands, etc.

FN#23 - Heb. shall know understanding.

 


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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition available at BibleSupport.com. Public Domain.

Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Isaiah 29:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/isaiah-29.html. 1857-84.

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