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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
Isaiah 3



Verse 16

B.—The judgment upon the godless women

Isaiah 3:16 to Isaiah 4:1

16 Moreover the Lord saith,

Because the daughters of Zion are haughty,

And walk with stretched forth necks

And [FN1]wanton eyes,

Walking and [FN2]mincing as they go,

And making a tinkling with their feet:

17 Therefore the Lord will smite with a scab

The crown of the head of the daughters of Zion,

And the Lord will [FN3]discover their secret parts.

18 In that day the Lord will take away

The bravery of their tinkling ornaments about their feet,

And their [FN4]cauls, and their round tires like the moon,

19 The [FN5]chains, and the bracelets, and the [FN6]mufflers,

20 The bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands,

And the [FN7]tablets, and the earrings,

21 The rings, and nose jewels,

22 The changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles,

And the wimples, and the crisping pins,

23 The glasses, and the fine linen,

And the hoods, and the veils.

24 And it shall come to pass, that instead of sweet smell, there shall be stink;

And instead of a girdle, a rent;

And instead of well set hair, baldness;

And instead of a stomacher, a girding of sackcloth;

And burning, instead of beauty.

25 Thy men shall fall by the sword,

And thy [FN8]mighty in the war.

26 And her gates shall lament and mourn;

And she being[FN9] [FN10]desolate shall sit upon the ground.

Isaiah 4:1 And in that day seven women shall take hold of one Prayer of Manasseh, saying,

We will eat our own bread,

And wear our own apparel:

Only [FN11]let us be called by thy name,

[FN12]To take away our reproach.

[For the different renderings of the commentator see the comment itself. On the importance of them see J. A. A’s note on Isaiah 3:18 below.—Tr.]

Exegetical And Critical

1. This section, too, has for its subject an event that cannot possibly coincide with the last judgment to which2, refers. For that great day, the last of all, will not have to do with a mere sinking down from the heights of luxury and pride to the plane of poverty; it will not treat of the exchange of a girdle for a rope, of a mantle for a sack, nor of a defeat in war, nor of mournful sitting on the ruins of the city; there will be nothing said of wives wanting nothing beside the prop of a man. For in that day all will be over; the old world generally shall be out and out destroyed in order to make room for a new. Thus this section, too, makes the impression of being some declaration, meant originally to serve some special object, but inserted here in order to complete the grand picture of the future in this particular aspect. The Prophet had occasion once, and this may likely have been in the days of Uzziah or Jotham, to declare himself against the irruption of pomp of dress and luxury. This declaration, or at least a part of it, he pieces in here to his comprehensive prophecy of judgment. And he may do this. For whenever this denunciation against the arrogance of woman may have been fulfilled, such fulfilment always constitutes a part of the great whole of judgment which is to be completed with the judgment of the last day. The Prophet assumes in the prophecy that stands at the head ( Isaiah 2:2-4), that Israel itself, too, must be subjected to a judgment. For only by a great process of refining can the mountain of Jehovah rise to the height which, according to Isaiah 2:2, it must attain, and only when Zion itself is full of the Spirit of God can it become the embodied ideal for all nations. How this refining is to take place in every respect and at different times is described in what follows up to Isaiah 4:1. In this description the Prophet makes use also of older utterances, which were perhaps too short to appear independently, and that might more suitably be joined in just here than elsewhere. Thus there was a section of this sort that referred to the men, Isaiah 3:1 sqq.; so now, too, we have one that has the women for a theme. The connecting formula, “and Jehovah said,” favors the view that this is a joined on piece. It would be quite superfluous if the discourse proceeded from one mould. Comp. on this the comment on Isaiah 3:16. The order of thought is as follows: The luxurious pride of the women, too, shall be humbled ( Isaiah 3:16-17). In the day that this shall happen all their splendid garments shall be taken from them ( Isaiah 3:18-23) and replaced by wretched ones to correspond ( Isaiah 3:24). Their husbands, too, they shall lose in a brief space ( Isaiah 3:25), lamenting and desolated, they shall sit in the gates ( Isaiah 3:26); yea, their want shall be so great that seven women shall attach themselves to one Prayer of Manasseh, without demanding support from him, only thereby to escape the misfortune of being unmarried ( Isaiah 4:1).

[On Isaiah 3:16 sqq. “The Prophet here resumes the thread which had been dropped or broken at the close of Isaiah 3:12, and recurs to the undue predominance of female influence, but particularly to the prevalent excess of female luxury, not only as sinful in itself but as a chief cause of the violence and social disorder previously mentioned, and therefore to be punished by disease, widowhood, and shameful exposure. These two verses (16, 17), like the sixth and seventh, form one continued sentence. And Jehovah said (in addition to what goes before, as if beginning a new section of the prophecy), because the daughters of Zion (the women of Jerusalem, with special reference to those connected with the leading men,” etc.)—J. A. A.

On Isaiah 3:18. “As in other cases where a variety of detached particulars are enumerated simply by their names it is now very difficult to identify some of them. This is the less to be regretted, as the main design of the enumeration was to show the prevalent extravagance in dress, an effect not wholly dependent on an exact interpretation of the several items. The interest of the passage in its details is not exegetical but arch-æological.”—J. A. A.

On Isaiah 3:26. “The gates of Ziou are said to mourn, by a rhetorical substitution of the place of action for the agent, or because a place filled with cries seems itself to utter them. She is described, not as lying, but as sitting on the ground. So on one of Vespasian’s coins, a woman is represented in a sitting posture, leaning against a palm-tree, with the legend Judœa Capta.”—J. A. A.]

2. Moreover the Lord—secret parts.

Isaiah 3:16-17. The formula “and the Lord saith” occurs in Isaiah on the whole, relatively not often. It occurs in all thirty-two times; of these, sixteen times in the historical chapters36–39, where it indicates the actual exchange of words in conversation. Beside that, it is only employed where the Lord appears actually speaking, and speaks of Himself in the first person (comp. Isaiah 23:12; Isaiah 29:13; Isaiah 49:3; Isaiah 49:6; Isaiah 63:8). But in our passage Jehovah is immediately spoken of again in the third person. “The Lord will smite, the Lord will uncover” Isaiah 3:17. Moreover, in what follows, the Lord Is not introduced again as speaker. It is thus seen that by this formula what follows is only marked as God’s word so far as its contents are concerned, and not formally so. But as this is self-evident, it is further plain, that the formula is meant to serve as a transition, a link, a means of uniting. We recognize, therefore, in it a sign that here is a piece of an address, already on hand, that has been skilfully strung on here. As in Isaiah 2:11 it was said that all lofty looks shall be humbled and all haughtiness of men be bowed down, so the Prophet here with entire justice declares that also feminine arrogance must expect its share in this judgment. Are proud, etc., stands, therefore, in direct relation with the entire section Isaiah 2:6-17. What is said there in general of riches ( Isaiah 3:7), of arrogance and haughtiness ( Isaiah 3:11-12; Isaiah 3:17) of works of splendour ( Isaiah 3:16), has its special application to the proud display of the women. But our passage stands in still closer connection with מַשְׁעֵנָה supportress Isaiah 3:1. We showed there that this expression points to the second half of this chapter where the women are spoken of. That these, too, are called “supports,” staffs, refers evidently to the fact that women, even in the commonwealth of Israel, played a considerable part. Let it be remembered that the Book of Kings expressly names the mother of each king. Individual women are designated as enjoying political influence in a high degree; Deborah ( Judges 4); Bathsheba ( 1 Kings 1); Jezebel ( 1 Kings 16:31 sqq.); Athaliah ( 2 Kings 11). We are expressly informed that Solomon’s wives had a bad influence over him ( 1 Kings 11:3 sqq.). As long as a regular king ruled there must be a woman’s court household. If there were none such. then there would be surely no king. How closely kingdom and harem hung together, may be seen from the fact that the possession of the harem obtained as a sign that the royal dignity had been received. Therefore Absalom lay publicly with the coucubines of his father ( 2 Samuel 16:21). David, too, inherited the wives of Saul, and this is related in a connection ( 2 Samuel 12:8) that leads us to conclude that the fact must have been important to the recognition of David’s succession to the throne being a rightful one. Adonijah, after David’s death, begs for the hand of Abishag the Shunamite, and we see from Solomon’s reply that he regarded this request as an attempt to use the possession of the concubine as a step to the throne ( 1 Kings 2:22). Comp. Michaelis,Mos. Recht, I. p207. Saalschuets,Das Mos. Recht, p85. According to this the harem was, in some measure, a political institution, an attribute of royalty as such, and in so far in a special sense a support of the life of the state. Yet if Isaiah here has especially in mind the royal ladies, that does not exclude the other noble and proud women from a share in his reproachs.

In וַתֵּלַכְנָה the imperfect with vav. consec. is not necessarily to be construed as aorist. The word מְשַׂקְּרוֹת is ἄπαξ λεγ. The root שָׂקַר even does not again occur in all the Old Testament. The Aramaic סְקַר‏ may be most suitable to compare here, which means “intueri, conspicari.” The Piel then may have the meaning “blinking, winking:עֵינַיִם stands in the accusat, like גָּרוֹן. There is indeed a סָקַרִ that means to color, to paint, whence also, the Chald, Abarbanel and others express this idea (Luther: with painted faces). But the custom of painting the eye-brows black is so universal a custom or the Orient, that it has been justly objected, Isaiah would hardly have spoken out against it. Moreover the rest of the reproachful expressions relate to bodily gestures. Buxtorfin Lex. Chald, Talm, et Rabb., p 1542 cites the talmudic dictum: “Non creavit deus mulierum ex capite Adami, ne caput suum nimium ornaret and efferret; negue ex oculo, ne essetסַקְרָנִית, oculis omnia observans.”Hitzig, justly cites Plaut. Aulul. I:1, Isaiah 2 : “circumspectatrix cum oculis tuis emissiciis,” although this is spoken of an old tramp with thievish propensities. Also טָפַף (from which טַףToppler, Tripler, Child) is ἄπ. λεγ. The tripping short steps are the necessary consequences of the step-chains which were fastened by means of a ring (עֶכֶם, Isaiah 3:18, again only in Proverbs 7:22) surrounding the leg above the ankle joint. The little chains themselves were called צְעָדוֹת Isaiah 3:20. The verb עִכֵּם, which occurs only here, is denominative. According to the context the meaning can be nothing else than; rattling the rings to make a noise, to clink. Comp. Herzog’sR. Encycl. VII. p731. As chastisement for such arrogance the daughters of Zion shall be punished with disgraceful disorders. Their proud head shall become scurfy, covered with scabs, thus loathsomely unclean ( Leviticus 13:2; Leviticus 13:6-8; Leviticus 14:56). שִׂפַּח, (which, written with שׂ, occurs here only), is according to some a denominative from מִסְפַּחַת,סַפַּחַת, scab. scurf (vid. Leviticus 13:14) Still it is possible שִׂפַח means, to make flow, suppurate, and thus deprive of the hair, and that, so derived, ספחת means the fluid scab or scurf. Comp, at Isaiah 37:30. Their shame, to whose impure pleasure those luxurious gestures were meant to minister, shall be disgracefully exposed ( Isaiah 47:3; Jeremiah 13:22; Jeremiah 13:26; Ezekiel 16:37, etc.). The singular פֹּת (from פּוּת,פָּתָה פָתַח, pat-ere) occurs only here; the plural 1 Kings 7:50 of the cardo femina from an obvious resemblance.—עָרָה (from which עֶרְוָה and עָרוֹתloca nuda ( Isaiah 19:7) which does not occur in the Kal, means nudum esse, hence Piel to make bare, (in Isaiah again only Isaiah 22:6); Hiphil, (because what has been hitherto concealed, when it is laid bare, is at the same time poured out) effundere, ( Isaiah 53:12), Niphal, effundi ( Isaiah 32:15).

Without excluding the literal rendering of Isaiah 3:17, we may still construe the language first in an inexact sense and generalize it. In the day of judgment loathsome uncleanness shall take the place of the splendor of Zion’s daughters; disgrace and shame the place of their prond display. The Prophet has in this expressed something in general which he proceeds to specify in what follows. Feminine interest revolves chiefly around two poles: the decking out of the body and the surrender of the body to the husband; therefore about dress and husbands. Therefore the disgrace of the daughters of Zion in what follows is portrayed in these two respects. And first it is shown of what they shall be deprived in the way of dress ( Isaiah 3:18-23), and what shall be given them instead ( Isaiah 3:24).

3. In that day—instead of beauty.

Isaiah 3:18-24 “In that day,” refers back immediately to Isaiah 3:17. But we showed above that not the day of the last judgment is meant here, but only a prelude to it, which, of course, however, combines with the last judgment to make a unity of divine world-judgment. In that day, then, the Lord will take away the adornment (תפארת). All that follows is summed up-under this word. The word is found often in both parts of Isaiah 4:2; Isaiah 10:12; Isaiah 13:19; Isaiah 44:13; Isaiah 52:1; Isaiah 62:3; Isaiah 63:14, etc.). Concerning the עכסים comp, at Isaiah 3:16. Concerning the שׁביסים there are two views held. From Schroeder down a number of expositors (Rosenmueller, Winer, Ewald, Knobel, Drechsler) have taken the word for a kindred form of the Arabic schumeisa (diminutive of schems, the sun), the letters m and b being interchanged, as is common between these two kindred letters: Schroeder proves, besides, from Theoph,hist. pl. IX:4 and Plin. H. N. XII:14, Σαβις to have been a name of the sun among the Arabians. The meaning then would be little suns i.e., a metallic ornament shaped like a sun. That would suit very well to the following שׁהרן, crescents, as generally to the words that precede and follow, all of which designate metal ornaments. In as much as in the following list occur several expressions borrowed from the Arabic (comp. Drechsler on Isaiah 2:6), and this word in Hebrew is ἄπ λεγ., and even the root שָׁבַם does not again occur, so that word and thing both appear to be of foreign origin, I prefer this view. The other view takes שָׁבָם in the sense of שָׁבָץ and (Aram,) שְׁבָשׁplectere, to braid,” and שָבִים therefore, for opus reticulatum (LXX ἐμπλόκια) network. hair net: (Delitzsch, “ribbons for the forehead worn underneath the hair net, and braided of gold or silver thread:” Buxtorf, Lex. Chald, p2315, “Ornamentum,” etc., a peculiar ribbon ornament, extending in front from one ear to the other”). The שׂהרנים are lunulœ, μηνίσκοι, moonshaped, or rather half-moon shaped decorations. They are mentioned Judges 8:21; Judges 8:26 as neck ornaments of camels. That they had a moon shape appears from this, that sahro in the Syriac, schahr in the Arabic mean the moon. Here, too, therefore word and thing are certainly of foreign origin. ־וֹן is a diminutive ending, comp. אִישׁוֹן; Ewald § 167, a.—נְטִפוֹת ( Judges 8:26) from נָטַףto drop (comp. Exodus 30:34, dropping resin, and Job 36:27) are a drop shaped ornament, as they were likely worn as pendants from the ears (ear drops). שֵׁרוֹת (ἄπ. λεγ,) from שָׁרַרtorquere, to twist, is torques, a collar, chain, not for the neck, however, but an armlet, bracelet, as is to be seen from the dialects. Onkelos,e.g., translates, Genesis 24:22; Genesis 24:30; Genesis 24:47, the Hebrew word צָמִיד (the proper word for bracelet for the arm) by שֵׁירָא. Comp, too, שַׁרְשְׁרָה and שַׁרשָׁהchainsExod. Isaiah 28:14; Isaiah 28:22.—רְעָלוֹת (ἄπ. λεγּ) from רָעַלto tremble, wave, are veils, and that, as appears, of a costly kind: viz.Herzog,R. Encycl. VII. p728.—פְּאֵרִים are diadems, tiarœ., that are also elsewhere named as part of the head ornament of the priesthood ( Exodus 39:28; Ezekiel 44:18), or of the dress of a bridegroom ( Isaiah 61:10). What part of the head covering or what sort, is not clear.—צְעָדָה from צָעַד, to march, pace, on account of the etymology seems most naturally to mean the step chains (comp. on תּעכסנה, Isaiah 3:16). But 2 Samuel 5:24 and 1 Chronicles 14:15, where the word occurs, it seems to mean “the stepping, walking along;” and Numbers 31:50; 2 Samuel 1:10אֶצְעָדָה designates arm bands, arm clasps, as one sees clearly in 2 Samuel 1:10 from the עַל־זְרֹעוֹ. Hence many expositors, both old and new, (among the last, Ewald), translate “arm clasps.” And yet it is only אֶצְעָדָה that has this meaning. The circumstance that צִעָדָה occurs twice in the sense of “walking along” is no obstacle to its meaning step-chainlets. For the abstract word could easily be taken in a concrete sense; the walking in the sense of the instrument of walking.—קִשֻּׁרִים from קָשַׁרto bind) are, according to Jeremiah 2:32, comp. Isaiah 49:18, mentioned as pieces of a bride’s outfit. But whether the girdle is meant or bandages (perhaps the breastband, στηθόδεσμος LXX. in Jeremiah 2:32) is uncertain.—בָּתֵּי הַנֶּפֶשׁ are smelling bottles. For בית often stands for receptacle, place of storage generally (comp. Exodus 26:29; Job 8:17; Ezekiel 41:9, and for the very common use of this word in Aram, and Rabb. language, see Buxtorf, Lex. p 301 sqq.). נֶפֶשׁ, however is breath, scent (comp. Niphal הִנָּפֵשׁrespirare, to breathe out, Exodus 23:12; Exodus 31:17. ‎עֲצַת נֶפִשׁ. fragrant wood, Proverbs 27:9; and the original passage Genesis 1:20; Genesis 1:30; Job 41:13). The expression occurs only here—לְחָשִׁים (comp. Isaiah 3:3; Isaiah 26:16) are instruments of magic, amulets.—טַבַּעַת from טָבַע, imprimere, is the ring, generally, and especially the signet ring. Comp. Genesis 41:42; Exodus 25:12; Exodus 25:14, and many places beside in Exodus.—נִזְמֵי הָאַף are the nose rings which are in use in the East to the present day. Comp. Proverbs 11:22; Ezekiel 16:12; WinerR. W. B. the word, nose-ring.

So far the prophet has named articles of embellishment made of metal. In what follows he chiefly enumerates articles of clothing proper.—The מַחֲלָצוֹת, according to Zechariah 3:4, are such as are the opposite of filthy garments, therefore stately, splendid clothes. According to the fundamental meaning (חָלַץ, extrahere, exuere) they are clothes that one takes off at home, comp. חֲלִיפוֹת. The expression appears to be one of general meaning, and occurs only here, and in the passage cited from Zech.—מַֽעֲטָפוֹת (properly covers, from עָטַףoperire) are mentioned only here. The word in Arabic signifies the second tunic, broader, longer and provided with sleeves, that corresponds to the Roman stola, the garment peculiar to women.—מִטְפַּחַת from טפחexpandere ( Isaiah 48:13) is the great wide over all, shawl ( Ruth 3:15, the only place beside that the word occurs). חָרִיט is found beside only 2 Kings 5:23, from which place it is seen that it means a bag or pocket that may serve to carry money.—גִּלְיֹנִים, according to LXX. would be διαΦανῆ Δακωνικά, i.e., Lacedæmonian gauze dresses that expose the body more than cover it. But גִּלָּיוֹן, Isaiah 8:1, is the smooth, polished tablet. Such served for mirrors, as the ancients knew nothing of glass mirrors. Travellers assure us that such mirrors in the form of small plates set in a ring are worn to this day. Comp. Herzog,R. Encycl. XIV, p666.—סְדִינִים are σινδόνες, i.e., garments of fine India linen. It is debated whether undergarments, such as shirts, are meant, or some sort of light thing to throw over one. The word is found again Judges 14:12 sq.; Proverbs 31:24.—צְנִיפוֹת (from צָנַף, tegere, velare) are the head-band, turban. The word bands, turbans, occurs Isaiah 62:3; Job 29:14; Zechariah 3:5.—רָדִיר (from רָדַדspread, spread under, spread out, Isaiah 45:1; Psalm 144:2; 1 Kings 6:32) is the wide veil that covered over the rest of the clothes (Arab, rida ridat) Song of Solomon 5:7.—But not only shall all תִּפְאֶרֶתadornment, Isaiah 3:18, be taken away, they shall also be replaced by worse things. Instead of בּשֶֹׁם, balsam, (product of the balsam bush, vid. Exodus 30:23; Ezekiel 27:22; 1 Kings 10:10) מַק shall be given. This latter word is only found again Isaiah 5:24, where, however, it is written מָק, which has no effect on the meaning. The root מָקַק, diffluere is used of the flowing of matter from a wound; e. g. Psalm 38:6. מַק seems therefore rather to mean matter than the dry decay. In place of חֲגוֹרָה (apron, Genesis 3:7; girdle, Isaiah 32:11; 1 Kings 2:5) shall be a rope, נִקְפָּה. The word is ἅπ. λεγ. There is conflict regarding the meaning. Some derive it from נָקַףpercutere, to strike ( Isaiah 10:34; Isaiah 17:6) and take it in the sense of vulnus (so the Chald. and the most of the Jewish expositors). But this meaning does not well suit the context. It is better to derive it from נָקַף=circuire, gyrare, circle, gyrate (see Isaiah 29:1; Hiphil הִקִּיף). נִקְפָּה would be, then, feminine of נֵקֶף or נֶקֶף=turning around, i. e., that resulting from twisting. Delitzsch derives it from קָפַה, contorquere, but this does not occur in biblical idiom, which uses only קָפָא, to contract, congeal.

Instead of the artistically curled hair, shall baldness be given. מִקְשֶׁה (ἄπ. λεγ.,) in apposition with מַֽעֲשֶׂה is synonymous with מִקְשָׁה, Exodus 25:18; Exodus 25:31; Exodus 25:36; Jeremiah 10:5, opus tornatile, twisted, turned work. Baldness, compare 2 Kings 2:23; for women it is doubly disgraceful. And instead of a splendid mantle, shall be given a girding of sackcloth. פְּתִינִיל, ἄπ. λεγ., is of uncertain derivation and meaning. Expositors waver between the derivation from פָּתַגamplum esse, with affix –ִיל (like כַּרְמִיל from כֶּרֶם) and that from פְּתִיdistance, גִּילfestival joy, and between the meanings fascia pectoralis (Vulg.) and broad mantle; yet the grammatical and hermeneutical grounds for the latter overbalance. מהגרת, too, is ἄπ. λεγ. Girding with sackcloth, as is known, is often mentioned as sign of the deepest mourning and humiliation: Genesis 37:34, Isaiah 15:3; Isaiah 22:12; Jeremiah 6:26, &c.

The conclusion of this list of mournful exchanges is made by the phrase: “Branding for beauty.” The words are strange. They appear disjointed and unsymmetrical. For וְ, and, is wanting which connects all the preceding members, and thus this small member of the sentence stands independent, and by its inversion (the thing given stands first) in contrast with all that goes before. It appears to me as if the prophet recalled a passage of the law wherein a number of exchanges or recompenses are defined by means of the preposition “instead of.” Such a passage is Exodus 21:23-25. Among these specifications occurs, “burning for burning.” כּוִיָּה תַחַת כְּוִיָּה. The Prophet, however, was not speaking of jus talionis, therefore the idem per idem or idem pro eodem, “like for like,” did not suit his purpose. He speaks of the recompense that threatened the daughters of Zion. Among the things to be taken from them he had not mentioned beauty, the direct gift of nature, which to women is of the greatest price. He had to this point spoken only of productions of art. Now as beauty is יְפִי (in Isa. again only Isaiah 33:17), he might easily happen to think of כְּוִיָּה as a suitable rhyme for it. However, כְּוִיָּה itself does not rhyme, but a word of kindred root, properly its simple masculine form, כְּוִי, which appears only to have been used in the contracted form כִּי (comp. רִי,צִי,עִי,אִי). Thus too the inversion explains itself. For as we find the words, they most resemble the passages in Exod.; much more than if they read “instead of beauty burning.” כִּי or כְּוִי is ἄπ. λεγ. Its root is כָּוָהto burn,” and means, like כְּוִיָּה, and like the Arabic kej, the branded mark, στίγμα. If even it cannot be proved that it was customary to mark captives by branding them, that does not affect the matter. It was also not customary to offer them pus instead of balsam. Such traits of poetic speech must not be pressed. Enough if the thought in itself affords a suitable meaning. I think, therefore, the established meaning “brand mark,” which indicates a strong contrast with “beauty,” is not to be departed from, and we need not with Knobel understand “scratchings.”

4. The women—our reproach.

Isaiah 3:25 to Isaiah 4:1 But the misery of the daughters of Zion is not yet exhausted. Worse things yet must happen to them. They shall be robbed, too, of the men. From the singular suffix, it is seen that the Prophet Isaiah 3:25 now addresses Zion itself, thus not “the daughters of Zion,” Isaiah 3:16, but “daughter of Zion.” The loss of splendid garments is not to be understood as if only articles of luxury would be taken from the women of Zion. It is seen from Isaiah 3:25 that the blow is to be universal, falling upon all. Therefore all shall suffer under it: but the rich and noble most of all. The loss of the men however, shall concern all in equal measure. For this reason the Prophet no longer addresses the daughters, but the daughter of Zion. מְתִים does not appear to involve the notion of strength, manhood. For it is wont to stand where inferiority, lowness are predicated of the subject man. מְתֵי מִסְפָּר, people of number, a few, Genesis 34:30, and often. מ׳ מְעַט Deuteronomy 26:5; Deuteronomy 28:62. מ׳ שָׁוְא Psalm 26:4; מ׳ אָֽוֶז Job 22:15. מ׳ רָעָכ Isaiah 5:13 : and Isaiah 41:14מְתֵי יִשְׁרָאֵל stands directly parallel with תּוֹלַעַת יַעֲקבworm Jacob. It stands then as the antithesis of גְּבוּרָתֵןְthe troops, and designates not the manhood with emphasis, but only masculine individuals (people). גְּבוּרָה (a word of frequent occurrence in Isaiah 11:2; Isaiah 28:6; Isaiah 63:15, &c.) only here stands in a concrete meaning=troops. For Jeremiah 49:35 there is no reason for taking it in any other than the usual abstract sense, strength.

And her gates, etc. Isaiah 3:26. אָנָה, to sigh, groan, occurs only here and Isaiah 19:8, where, too, it stands with אבל. The latter word is in general more frequent, and common, too, in Isaiah: 24:4, 7; Isaiah 33:9; Isaiah 66:10. Most expositors translate; “and her gates groan and lament.” With that פֶּתַחgate, is personified and used by metonymy for the assemblies in the gate, which is grammatically allowable. But I would make three objections: 1) It is surprising that we do not read, then, שַׁעַר, gate. For פֶּתַח is only the door opening (hence so often פתח השׁער, door of the gate, Joshua 20:4; Judges 9:35; Judges 9:44 : 2 Samuel 10:8; Jeremiah 1:15; Jeremiah 19:2; Proverbs 1:21, etc.), while שַׁעַר stands for gate in its emphatic, and also its comprehensive meaning2) Does it not seem strange in this exposition, that the discourse suddenly turns from the women to speak of the totality of the people? For the gates do not represent the women alone, but the entire people; whence Drechsler justly calls attention to the fact that this exposition occasions “something fluctuating in the connection of ideas.” 3) פֶּתַח, times without number, stands as acc. localis to the question where? or whither? without a preposition, vid. Lexicon and Concordances. It comes very natural therefore to translate; “and they (the women) groan and sigh at her gates.” There they await, and there they receive the mournful intelligence. The suffix in פתחיה relates naturally to Zion addressed in the verse before.

The following words are obscure. וְנִקָּתָה can be nothing else than Niph. perf 3 pers. fem, from נָקָהpurum esse. Niphal often occurs in the sense of culpa vacuum, immunem esse, which gives no sense here. Purificari here can only mean “swept out, cleared up, emptied, desolated.” In this sense the word does not again occur; only Zechariah 5:3, may in some degree be compared. Hofmann (Schriftbeweis II:2, p503) translates: “on the bareness, off on the bare ground sits she.” But נקתה is neither participial nor nominal form. If now we translate: “and she was emptied, desolated, on the ground she sits,”—we must first remark concerning the construction, that Drechsler is right in connecting the two verbs so that the first contains an adverbial qualification of the second. Sitting on the ground is the posture of those mourning: Isaiah 47:1; Job 2:13; Lamentations 2:10. The subject of נקתה as well as of תשׁב is Zion, to which also the suffixes in Isaiah 3:25-26, refer. Therefore if the widows of Zion weep at the gates, Zion itself appears desolate and lies on the ground. Yet I confess that this exposition is not entirely satisfactory, although it fits the existing text. Perhaps the text is corrupt in נקתה.

At all events, according to Isaiah 3:25, a great scarcity of men exists. For the Hebrew woman that was the greatest misfortune. For in its most ancient parts the Old Testament knows no other genuine life than that on this earth, and thus no other continuation of living after death than by means of children. To be childless was, then, the same as being deprived of continuance after death. It corresponded to the being damned of the New Testament. Physical reasons, therefore, were not all that made marriage appear as a pressing necessity. It is now said here that seven women (notice the sacred number) shall lay hold of one man and, renouncing all claim of support and clothing, beg only the right to be called his wives.—Only let thy name, etc.—As the temple was called the house that bears the name of Jehovah, without however the temple being called Jehovah Himself, Song of Solomon, among the Hebrews, the wives were not called by the same name as their husbands, which would be to transfer modern customs to the ancients; but the name of the husband was named on her, when she was called this or that man’s wife. Comp. “Sarai, Abram’s wife,” Genesis 12:17, “Rachel, Jacob’s wife,” Genesis 46:19. Gesenius quotes the beautiful parallel from Lucan, Pharsal. II:342, which was first adduced by Grotius.

——da tantum nomen inane

Connubii, Liceat tumulo scripsisse: Catonis

Marcia * * * * * * *

Give only the empty name of marriage. Let my monument be inscribed: Cato’s Marcia.

אָסַף with the meaning “auferre, demere,” bear away, like Isaiah 16:10; Isaiah 57:1. As a parallel expression comp, too Zechariah 8:23. The division of chapters is evidently incorrect here. That the words “seven women,” etc., were carried over to chap4, as Vitringa remarks, happened because it was supposed that the seven women represented the seven graces of the Holy Spirit ( Isaiah 11:1-2), thus Jerome and Cyril—or the believing women under the one man or Christ, the Branch, Isaiah 3:2.


1. On Isaiah 2:2. Domus Dei, etc. “The house of God is built on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, who, themselves, too, are mountains, quasi imitators of Christ. (They that trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Zion, Psalm 125:1) Whence, also, upon one of the mountains Christ founded the Church and said: Thou art Peter, etc., Matthew 16:18.” Jerome.——“We can understand Jerusalem by the mountain of God, for we see how the believing run thither, and how those that have accepted the testimony come thither and seize the blessing that proceeds thence. But we may also by the house of God understand the churches spread over land and sea, as we believe St. Paul, who says, ‘we are the house of God,’ Hebrews 3:6. And so we may recognize the truth of the prophecy. For the Church of God stands shining forth, and the nations, forsaking wickedness that has long had dominion over them, hasten to her and are enlightened by her.” Theodoret.——Ecclesia Esther, etc. “The church is a mountain exalted and established above all other mountains, but in spirit. For if you regard the external look of the church from the beginning of the world, then in New Testament times, you will see it oppressed, contemned, and in despair. Yet, notwithstanding, in that contempt it is exalted above all mountains. For all kingdoms and all dominions that have ever been in the world have perished. The church alone endures and triumphs over heresies, tyrants, Satan, sin, death and hell, and that by the word only, by this despised and feeble speech alone. Moreover it is a great comfort that the bodily place, whence first the spiritual kingdom should arise, was so expressly predicted, that consciences are assured of that being the true word, that began first to be preached in that corner of Judea, that it may be for us a mount Zion, or rule for judging of all religions and all doctrines. The Turkish Alcoran did not begin in Zion—therefore it is wicked doctrine. The various Popish rites, laws, traditions began not in Zion—therefore they are wicked, and the very doctrines of devils. So we may hold ourselves upright against all other religions, and comfort our hearts with this being the only true religion which we profess. Therefore, too, in two Psalm,, Psalm 2, 110, mount Zion is expressly signified: “I have set my king upon my holy hill of Zion;” likewise: “The Lord shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion.” Luther.

2. On Isaiah 2:2. Luther makes emphatic, as something pertaining to “the wonderful nature of this kingdom,” that “other kingdoms are established and administered by force and arms. But here, because the mountain is lifted up, the nation shall flow (fluent), i.e., they shall come voluntarily, attracted by the virtues of the church. For what is there sweeter or lovelier than the preaching of the gospel? Whereas Moses frightens weak souls away. Thus the prophet by the word fluent, “flow,” has inlaid a silent description of the kingdom of Christ, which Christ gives more amply when He says: Matthew 11:12, “the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence and the violent take it by force,” i.e. “they are not compelled, but they compel themselves.” “Morever rivers do not flow up mountains, but down them; but here is such an unheard-of thing in the kingdom of Christ.”—Starke.

3. Luther remarks on “and shall say: come,” etc. “Here thou seest the worship, works and efforts and sacrifices of Christians. For they do only the one work, that they go to hear and to learn. All the rest of the members must serve their neighbors. These two, ears and heart, must serve God only. For the kingdom rests on the word alone. Sectaries and heretics, when they have heard the gospel once, instantly become masters, and pervert the Prophet’s word, in that they say: Come let us go up that we may teach him his way and walk in our paths. They despise, therefore, the word as a familiar thing and seek new disputations by which they may display their spirit and commend themselves to the crowd. But Christians know that the words of the Holy Ghost can never be perfectly learned as long as we are in the flesh. For Christianity does not consist in knowing, but in the disposition. This disposition can never perfectly believe the word on account of the weakness of the sinful flesh. Hence they ever remain disciples and ruminate the word, in order that the heart, from time to time, may flame up anew. It is all over with us if we do not continue in the constant use of the word, in order to oppose it to Satan in temptation ( Matthew 4). For immediately after sinning ensues an evil conscience, that can be raised up by nothing but the word. Others that forsake the word sink gradually from one sin into another, until they are ruined. Therefore Christianity must be held to consist in hearing the word, and those that are overcome by temptations, whether of the heart or body, may know that their hearts are empty of the word.”

4. Vitringa remarks on the words, “Out of Zion goes forth the law,” Isaiah 5:3. “If strife springs up among the disciples concerning doctrine or discipline, one must return to the pattern of the doctrine and discipline of the school at Jerusalem. For יָצָא “shall go forth,” stands here only as in Luke 2:1, “There went forth a decree from Cæsar Augustus.” In this sense, too, Paul says, 1 Corinthians 14:36, “What? came the word of God out from you?” The word of God did not go forth from Corinth, Athens, Rome, Ephesus, but from Jerusalem, a fact that bishops assembled in Antioch opposed to Julius I. (Sozom. hist. eccl. III:8, “the orientals acknowledged that the Church of Rome was entitled to universal honor—although those who first propagated a knowledge of Christian doctrine in that city came from the East”). Cyril took יָצָא in the false sense of κατελἐλοιπε τὴν Σιών, “has forsaken Zion.” When the Lord opened the understandings of the disciples at Emmaus, to understand the Scriptures and see in the events they had experienced the fulfilment of what was written concerning Him in the law, Prophets and Psalm, He cannot have forgotten the present passage. Of this we may be the more assured since the words: “Thus it is written and thus it behooved Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations beginning at Jerusalem.Luke 24:46-47, point clearly to Isaiah 2:2-3 of our passage. Therefore too, Justin Martyr Apol. i. (commonly ii.), § 49, says: “But where the prophetic spirit predicts the future, he says: from Zion shall go forth the law, etc. And that this finally came to pass in fact, you may credibly assure yourselves. For from Jerusalem have men gone forth into the world, twelve in number, and these were unlearned, that knew not how to speak. But by the might of God they have proclaimed to all mankind that they were sent by Christ in order to teach all the word of God.”

“Zion is contrasted here with Mount Sinai, whence the law came, which in the Old Testament was the foundation of all true doctrine: But in the New Testament Mount Zion or Jerusalem has the privilege to announce that now a more perfect law would be given and a new Covenant of God with men would be established. Thus Zion and Jerusalem are, so to speak, the nursery and the mother of all churches and congregations of the New Testament.”—Starke.

5. Förster remarks on the end of Isaiah 2:3, that the gospel is the sceptre of Jesus Christ, according to Psalm 110:2; Psalm 45:7 (the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre). “For by the word Christ rules His church ( Romans 10:14 sqq.).”

6. On Isaiah 2:4. “Pax optima rerum.” Foerster. The same author finds this prophecy fulfilled by Christ, who is our peace, who has made of both one, and broken down the partition that was between, in that by His flesh He took away the enmity ( Ephesians 2:14). Foerster, moreover, combats the Anabaptists, who would prove from this passage that waging war is not permitted to Christians. For our passage speaks only against the privata Christianorum discordia. But waging war belongs to the publicum magistratus officium. Waging war, therefore, is not forbidden, if only the war is a just one. To be such, however, there must appear according to Thomas, part. 2 th. quœst. 401) auctoritatis principis, 2) causa justa, 3) intentio bellantium justa, or ut allii efferunt: 1) jurisdictio indicentis, 2) offensio patientis, 3) intentio finem (?) convenientis.

7. On Isaiah 2:4. Jerome regarded the time of Augustus, after his victory at Actium, as the fulfilling of this prophecy. Others, as Cocceius, refer the words, “they shall turn their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning-hooks,” to the time of Constantine the Great; and the words “nation shall not lift up sword against nation” to the period of the restoration of religious peace in Germany,—finally the words: “they shall no more learn war,” to a future time that is to be hoped for. Such interpretations are, however, just as one-sided as those that look only for a spiritual fulfilment of prophecy. For how is an inward fulfilment of this promise of peace to be thought of which would not have the outward effects as its consequence? Or how is an outward fulfilment, especially such as would deserve the name, conceivable without the basis of the inward? Or must this peaceful time be looked for only in heaven? Why then does the promise stand here? It is a matter of course that there is peace in heaven: for where there is no peace there can be no heaven. The promise has sense only if its fulfilment is to be looked for on earth. The fulfilment will take place when the first three petitions of the Lord’s prayer are fulfilled, i.e. when God’s name shall be held holy by us as it in itself is holy, when the kingdom of God is come to everything, without and within, and rules alone over all, when the will of God is done on earth as in heaven. Christendom makes this prayer quite as much with the consciousness that it cannot remain unfulfilled, as with the consciousness that it must find its fulfilment on earth. For, if referred to heaven, these petitions are without meaning. Therefore there is a time of universal inward and outward peace to be looked for on earth. “It is not every day’s evening,” i.e. one must await the event, and our earth, without the least saltus in cogitando, can yet experience a state of things that shall be related to the present, as the present to the period of trilobites and saurians. If one could only keep himself free from the tyranny of the present moment! But our entire, great public, that has made itself at home in Philistia, lives in the sweet confidence that there is no world beside that of which we take notice on the surface of the earth, nor ever was one, nor ever will be.

8. On Isaiah 2:4. Poets reverse the figure to portray the transition from peaceful to warlike conditions. Thus Virgil, Georg. I:2:506 sq.:

Non ullus aratro

Dignus honos, squalent abductis arva colonis.

Et curvæ rigidum falces conflantur in ensem.

Aeneide VII:2:635 sq.:

Vomeris huc et falcis honos, huc omnis aratri

Cessit amor; recoquunt patrios fornacibus enses.

Ovid, Fast. I:2:697 sqq.:

Bella diu tenuere viros. Erat aptior ensis

Vomere, cedebat taurus arator equo.

Sarcula cessabant, versique in pila ligones.

Factaque de rastri pondere cassia erat.

9. On Isaiah 2:5. As Isaiah puts the glorious prophecy of his fellow prophet Micah at the head, he illuminates the future with a splendid, shining, comforting light. Once this light is set up, it of itself suggests comparisons. The questions arise: how does the present stand related to that shining future? What difference obtains? What must happen for that condition of holiness and glory to be brought about? The Christian Church, too, and even each individual Christian must put himself in the light of that prophetic statement. On the one hand that will humiliate us, for we must confess with the motto of Charles V.: nondum! And long still will we need to cry: Watchman what of the night ( Isaiah 21:11)? On the other hand the Prophet’s word will also spur us up and cheer us. For what stronger impulse can be imagined than the certainty that one does not contend in vain, but may hope for a reward more glorious than all that ever came into a man’s heart? ( Isaiah 64:4; 1 Corinthians 2:9).

In the time of the second temple, in the evenings of the first days of the feast of Tabernacles, great candelabras were lighted in the forecourt of the temple, each having four golden branches, and their light was so strong that it was nearly as light as day in Jerusalem. That might be for Jerusalem a symbol of that “let us walk in the light of the Lord.” But Jerusalem rejoiced in this light, and carried on all sorts of pastime, yet it was not able to learn to know itself in this light, and by this self-knowledge to come to true repentance and conversion.

10. On Isaiah 2:8, “their land is full of idols.” “Not only images and pictures are idols, but every notion concerning God that the godless heart forms out of itself without the authority of the Scripture. The notion that the Mass is effective ex opere operato, is an idol. The notion that works are demanded for justification with God, is an idol. The notion that God takes delight in fasts, peculiar clothes, a special order of life, is an idol. God wills not that we should set up out of our own thoughts a fashion of worshipping Him; but He says: “In all places where I record My name, I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee,” Exodus 20:24—Luther.

11. On Isaiah 2:9-21. When men have brought an idol into existence, that is just to their mind, whether it be an idolum manu factum, or an idolum mente excogitatum, there they are all wonder, all worship. “Great is Diana of the Ephesians.” Then the idol has a time of great prosperity and glory. But sooner or later there comes a time when the judgment of God overtakes the idol and its servants. God suffers sin to become ripe like men let a conspiracy, like they let fruit ripen. But when the right time comes then He steps forth in such a fashion that they creep into mouse-holes to hide themselves, if it were possible, from the lightning of His eye and His hand. Where then are the turned-up noses, the big mouths, the impudent tongues? Thus it has often happened since the world began. But this being brought to confession shall happen in the highest degree to the puffed-up world at that day when they shall see that one whom they pierced, and whom they thought they might despise as the crucified One, coming in His glory to judge the world. Then they shall have anguish and sorrow, then shall they lament and faint away with apprehension of the things that draw nigh. But those that believed on the Lord in His holiness, shall then lift up their heads for that their redemption draws nigh. At that time, indeed, shall the Lord alone be high, and before Him shall bow the knees of all in heaven, on earth, and under the earth, and all tongues must confess that Christ is the Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

12. On Isaiah 2:22. Of what do men not make idols! The great industrial expositions of modern times often fill me with dismay, when I have seen how men carry on an actual idolatrous worship with these products of human science and art, as if that all were not, in the end, God’s work, too, but human genius were alone the creator of these wonders of civilization. How wickedly this Song of Solomon -called worship of genius demeans itself ! How loathsome is the still more common cultus of power, mammon and the belly!

13. On Isaiah 3:1 sqq. Causa σωστική, etc. “The saving cause of the commonwealth is the possession of men of the sort here mentioned, which Plato also knew, and Cicero from Plato, each of whom Judges, commonwealths would be blessed if philosophers, i.e., wise and adept men were to administer them.”—Foerster. The same writer cites among the causes why the loss of such men is ruinous, the changes that thence ensue. All changes in the commonwealth are hurtful. Xenoph. Hellen. Isaiah 2 : “εἰσὶ μὲν πᾶσαι μεταβολαὶ πολιτειῶν θανατηΦόροι.” Aristot. Metaph. Isaiah 2 : “ᾱἱμεταβολαὶ πάντων ταραχώδεις.”

14. On Isaiah 3:1. “The stay of bread,” etc. Vitringa cites Horat. Satir. L. II, 35:153 sq.:

Deficient inopem venœ te, ni cibus atque

Ingens accedit stomacho fultura ruenti.

And on Isaiah 3:2 sq. he cites Cicero, who, De Nat. Deorum III, calls these “prœsidia humana,” “firmamenta reipublicœ.” On Isaiah 3:6 sq. the same author cites the following passage from Livy (26 chap6): “Cum fame ferroque (Capuani) urgerentur, nec ulla spes superesset iis, qui nati in spem honorum erant, honores detrectantibus, Lesius querendo desertam et proditam a primoribus Capuam summum magistratum ultimus omnium Campanorum cepit!” On Isaiah 3:9 he quotes Seneca: De vita beata, chap. xii.: “Itaque quod unum habebant in peccatis bonum perdunt peccandi verecundiam. Laudant enim ea, quibus erubescant, et vitio gloriantur.”

15. On Isaiah 3:4; Isaiah 3:12. Foerster remarks: Pueri, etc. “Boys are of two sorts. Some are so in respect to age, others in respect to moral qualifications. Song of Solomon, too, on the contrary there is an old age of two sorts: “For honorable age is not that which standeth in length of time, nor that is measured by number of years. But wisdom is the true gray hair unto men, and an unspotted life is the true old age.” Wisdom of Solomon 4:8-9. Examples of young and therefore foolish kings of Israel are Rehoboam (“the young fool gambled away ten whole tribes at one bet” 1 Kings 12). Ahaz, who was twenty years of age when he began to reign ( 2 Kings 16:2). Manasseh who was twelve years ( 2 Kings 21:1,) and Amon who was twenty-two years ( 2 Kings 21:19).

16. On Isaiah 3:7. Foerster remarks: Nemo se, etc. “Let no one intrude himself into office, especially when he knows he is not fit for it,” and then cites: “Seek not of the Lord pre-eminence, neither of the king the seat of honor. Justify not thyself before the Lord; and boast not of thy wisdom before the king. Seek not to be Judges, being not able to take away iniquity.” Sirach 7:4-6.”—“Wen aber Gott schickt, den macht er auch geschickt.”

17. On Isaiah 3:8. “Their tongue and their doings are against the Lord.” Duplici modo, etc. “God may be honored by us in two outward ways: by word and deed, just as in the same way others come short; “to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds, which they have committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” Judges 15.—Vitringa.

18. On Isaiah 3:9. “They hide not their sin.” Secunda post, etc. “The next plank after shipwreck, and solace of miseries is to hide one’s impiety.”—Jerome.

19. On Isaiah 3:10. “Now He comforts the pious as in Psalm 2. His anger will soon kindle, but it shall be well with all that trust in Him. So Abraham, so Lot was delivered; so the apostles and the remnant of Judah when Jerusalem was besieged. For the Lord helps the righteous ( Psalm 37:17; Psalm 37:39).”—Luther.

20. On Isa 3:13-14.

“Judicabit judices judex generalis,

Neque quidquam proderit dignitas papalis,

Sive sit episcopus, sive cardinalis,

Reus condemnabitur, nec dicetur qualis.”

“Rhythmi vulgo noti,” quoted byFoerster.

21. On Isaiah 3:16 sq. Usus vestium, etc. “Clothes have a four-fold use: 1) they are the badge of guilt, or souvenir of the fall ( Genesis 3:7; Genesis 3:10; Genesis 3:21); 2) they should be coverings against the weather; 3) they may be ornaments for the body, ( Proverbs 31:22; Proverbs 31:25); 4) they may serve as a mark of rank ( 2 Samuel 13:18).—The abuse of clothes is three-fold; 1) in regard to the material, they may be costlier or more splendid than one’s wealth or rank admits of; 2) in respect of form, they may betray buffoonery and levity; 3) in respect to their object, they may be worn more for the display of luxury and pride than for protection and modest adornment.”—Foerster.

22. On Isaiah 4:2. “Germen Jehovae est nomen Messiœ mysticum, a nemine intellectum, quam qui tenet mysterium Patris et Christi. Idem valet quod filius propago Patris naturalis, in quo patris sui imago et gloria perfectissime splendet, Jessaiae in seqq. ( Isaiah 9:5) בן,ילד, filius, Joanni λόγενής τοῦ θεοῦ,ὁυἱὸς πρωὀτοκος μονογενής, processio Patris naturaλis. Est hic eruditi cujusdam viri elegans observatio, quae eodem tendit, quam non licet intactam praetermittere. Comparat ille inter se nomina Messiœ צמח דוד ( Jeremiah 23:5) et צמח יהוה in hoc loco. Cum autem prior appellatio absque dubitatione innuat, Messiam fore filium Davidis, docet posteriorem ἀναλογικῶς non posse aliud significare quam filium Jehovae, quod nomen Christi Jesu est μυστικώτερον, omni alio nomine excellentius. Addit non minus docte, personam, quae hic germen Jehovae dicitur, deinceps a propheta nostro appellari Jehovam ( Isaiah 28:5).”—Vitringa. This exposition, which is retained by most Christian and orthodox commentators, ignores too much the fundamental meaning of the word צֶמַח, “Branch.” It Isaiah, nevertheless, not incorrect so far as the broader meaning includes the narrower concentrically. If “Branch of Jehovah” signifies all that is the personal offshoot of God, then, of course, that one must be included who is such in the highest and most perfect sense, and in so far the passage Isaiah 28:5 does not conflict with exposition given by us above.

[J. A. Alexander joins with Vitringa and Hengstenberg in regarding “the fruit of the earth,” as referring to the same subject as “the branch of the Lord,” viz.: the Messiah; and thus, while the latter term signifies the divine nature of the Messiah, the former signifies His human origin and nature; or if we translate “land” instead of earth, it points to his Jewish human origin. Thus appears an exact correspondence to the two parts of Paul’s description, Romans 1:3-4, and to the two titles used in the New Testament in reference to Christ’s two natures, Son of God and Son of Man.—Tr.].

23. On Isaiah 4:3-4. Great storms and upheavals, therefore, are needful, in order to make the fulfilment of this prophecy possible. There must first come the breath of God from above, and the flame of God from beneath over the earth, and the human race must first be tossed and sifted. The earth and mankind must first be cleansed by great judgments from all the leaven of evil. [J. A. Alexander, with Luther, Calvin, Ewald, maintains concerning the word Spirit in Isaiah 4:4, that “the safest and most satisfactory interpretation is that which understands by it a personal spirit, or as Luther expresses it, the Spirit who shall judge and burn.”—Tr.]. What survives these judgments is the remnant of which Isaiah speaks. This shall be holy. In it alone shall the Lord live and rule. This remnant is one with the new humanity which in every part, both as respects body and soul, will represent the image of Christ the second Adam. This remnant, at the same time, comprehends those whose names are written in the book of life. What sort of a divine book this may be, with what sort of corporal, heavenly reality, of course we know not. For Himself God needs no book. Yet if we compare the statements of the Revelation of John regarding the way in which the last judgment shall be held, with certain other New Testament passages, I think we obtain some explanation. We read Matthew 19:28, that on the day of the regeneration, when the Son of Man shall sit on the throne of His glory, the twelve apostles, too, shall sit on twelve thrones to judge the generations of Israel. And 1 Corinthians 5:2, we read that the saints shall judge the world. But, Revelation 20:11, we find again the great white throne, whereon sits the great Judge of the living and the dead, after that, just before ( Revelation 4:4), it was said: “And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them.” Afterwards it reads ( Revelation 4:12): “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” And ( Revelation 4:15). “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” From this description there seems to me to result that the books necessarily are meant for those who are, by the Supreme Judge charged with the judgment of particular ones. To this end they need, in the first place, many books that contain the works of individuals. God has a book-keeping for the life of every man. This divine record will be produced to every single one at the day of judgment. Is he a Jew? by one of the twelve Apostles. Is he a heathen? by some other saint. No man shall be able to remonstrate against this account for it will carry the evidence of truth in itself, and in the consciences of those to be judged. Should such a protest occur, the arraigned will be referred to the book of life. This is only one. For it contains only names. After this manner will the separation be accomplished, spoken of in Matthew 25:32 sq. For those whose names are found in the book of life go to the right side; the rest to the left. Then the great Judge Himself takes up the Word in the manner described in Matthew 25:34 sqq, and calls the righteous to Himself, that they may inherit the kingdom that is prepared for them. But the wicked He repulses from Him into everlasting fire, that is prepared for the devil and his angels, in regard to which the account of the judgment in Matthew 25, as far as the end is concerned, harmonizes entirely with Revelation 20:15.

24. On Isaiah 4:5-6. “The pillar of fire and cloud belongs to the miraculous graces by which the founding of the Old Testament kingdom of God was glorified just as the New Testament kingdom was by the signs that Jesus did, and by the charismata of the Apostolic time. But that appearance was quite appropriate to the state of developed revelation of that time. This had not reached the New Testament level, and not even the prophetic elevation that was possible under the Old Testament, but only the legal in which the divine stands outwardly opposed to the human. God is present among His people, but still in the most outward way; He does not walk in a human way among men; there Isaiah, too, no inward leading of the congregation by the Holy Spirit, but an outward conducting by a visible heavenly appearance. And, for these revelations to the whole people, God makes use entirely of nature, and, when it concerns His personal manifestation, of the elements. He does Song of Solomon, not merely in distinction from the patriarchal theophanies, …, but, particularly in contrast with heathenism, in order to accustom the Israelitish consciousness from the first not to deify the visible world, but to penetrate through it to the living, holy God, who has all the elements of nature at command as the medium of His revelation.”—Auberlen.

As at the close of John’s Revelation (chaps21, 22) we see the manifestation of the Godhead to humanity return to its beginning ( Genesis 2, 3, 4), in as much as that end restores just that with which the beginning began, i.e. the dwelling of God with men, Song of Solomon, too, we see in Isaiah 4:5-6, a special manifestation of the (relative) beginning time recur again in the end time; the pillar of fire and cloud. But what in the beginning was an outward and therefore enigmatical and unenduring appearance, shall at last be a necessary and abiding factor of the mutual relation between God and mankind, that shall be established for ever in its full glory. There shall come a time wherein Israel shall expand to humanity and humanity receive power to become Israel, wherein, therefore, the entire humanity shall be Israel. Then is the tabernacle of God with men no more a pitiful tent, made of mats, but the holy congregation is itself the living abode of God; and the gracious presence of Almighty God, whose glory compares with the old pillar of fire and cloud, like the new, eternal house of God, with the old perishable tabernacle, is then itself the light and defence of His house.

25. On Isaiah 4:5-6. “But give diligence to learn this, that the Prophet calls to mind, that Christ alone is destined to be the defence and shade of those that suffer from heat and rain. Fasten your eyes upon Him, hang upon Him as ye are exhorted to do by the divine voice, ‘Him shall ye hear!’ Whoever hearkens to another, whoever looks to any other flesh than this, it is all over with him. For He alone shelters us from the heat, that comes from contemplating the majesty (i.e. from the terror that God’s holiness and righteousness inspire), He alone covers us from the rain and the power of Satan. This shade affords us a coolness, so that the dread of wrath gives way. For wrath cannot be there where thou seest the Son of God given to death for thee, that thou mightest live. Therefore I commend to you that name of Christ, wherewith the Prophet adorns Him, that He is a tabernacle for shade against the heat, a refuge and place of concealment from rain and tempest.”—Luther.—With some modification, we may apply here the comprehensive turn Foerster gives to our passage: 1) The dwelling of Mount Zion is the church; 2) the heat is the flaming wrath of God, and the heat of temptation ( 1 Peter 4:12; Sirach 2:4-5); 3) tempest and rain are the punishments of sins, or rather the inward and outward trials ( Psalm 2.; Isaiah 57:20); 4) the defence or the pillar of cloud and fire is Jesus Christ ( 1 Corinthians 10).

26. On Isaiah 5:1-7. This parable has a brother in the New Testament that looks very much like it. I might say: the head is almost the same. For the beginning of that New Testament parable ( Matthew 21:33; Mark 12:1), “A man planted a vineyard, and set an hedge about it, and digged a wine-fat and built a tower,” is manifestly imitated after our passage. But here it is the vineyard that is bad, while there, in the New Testament, the husbandmen are good for nothing. Here the Lord appears as at once owner and cultivator of the vineyard; there the owner and cultivators are distinguished. This arises from the fact that the Lord Jesus apparently had in His mind the chiefs of the people, “the high-priests and elders” ( Matthew 21:23-24). From this it is manifest that here as there the vineyard is the nation. In Isaiah, however, the vineyard, that is to say the vine itself is accused. The whole people is represented as having equally gone to destruction. In the Synoptists, on the other hand, it is the chiefs and leaders that come between the Lord and His vineyard, and would exclude Him from His property, in order to be able to obtain it wholly for themselves, and divide it amongst them. Therefore there it is more the wicked greed of power and gain in the great that is reproved; here the common falling away of the whole nation.

27. Isaiah 5:8. Here the Prophet denounces the rich, the aristocracy, and capital. Thus he takes the part of the poor and lowly. That grasping of the rich and noble, which they display sometimes like beasts of prey, at other times gratify in a more crafty and legal fashion, the Prophet rebukes here in the sharpest manner. God’s work is opposed to every sin, and ever stands on the side of those that suffer oppression, no matter what may be their rank. God is no respecter of persons ( Deuteronomy 10:17 sq.).

28. Isaiah 5:11-17. The morning hour, the hour when light triumphs over darkness, ought to be consecrated to works of light, as it is said: Aurora Musis amica, ἡώς τοι προΦέρει μἑυ, προφέρει δὲκαὶ ἕργου (Hesiod. ἑργ. κ. ήμ. 540) Morgenstund hat Gold im Mund. “It was,” says Foerster, “a laudable custom among the Persians, that the chamberlains entering in to their kings early in the morning, cried out with a loud voice: ‘Arise, O king, attend to business, as Mesoromastes commands.” On the other hand, “they that be drunken are drunken in the night,” 1 Thessalonians 5:7 sq. So much the worse, then, when men do the works of night even in the early hour, and dare to abuse the light. “Plenus venter despumat in libidines,” says Augustine. In vino ἀσωτία ( Ephesians 5:18). Corpus, opes, animam luxu Germania perdit. Melancthon. On Isaiah 5:15 Foerster cites the expression of Augustin: “God would not suffer any evil to be done in the world unless some good might thence be elicited.”

29. Isaiah 5:18. “Cords of vanity are false prejudices and erroneous conclusions. For example: no one is without sin, not even the holiest; God does not take notice of small sins; he that is among wolves must howl with them; a man cannot get along in the world with a scrupulous, tender conscience; the Lord is merciful, the flesh is weak, etc. By such like a man draws sin to him, binds his conscience fast, and resists the good motions of preventing grace. Thick cart-ropes signify a high degree of wickedness, the coarsest and most revolting prejudices. For example: God has no concern about human affairs; godliness delivers no one from misery and makes no one blessed; the threatenings of the prophets are not to be feared; there is no divine providence, no heaven, no hell ( Deuteronomy 29:17-19). Out of such a man twists and knots a stout rope, with which he draws to him manifest blasphemy, entangles himself in it, so that often he cannot get loose, but is sold as a servant under sin ( Romans 6:16; 1 Kings 21:20; 1 Kings 21:25).” Starke.

30. Isaiah 5:19. “The wicked mock at the patience and long-suffering of God, as if He did not see or care for their godless existence, but forgot them, and cast them out of mind ( Psalm 10:11), so that the threatened punishment would be omitted. They would say: there has been much threatening, but nothing will come of it; if God is in earnest, let Him, etc.; we don’t mind threats; let God come on if He will! Comp. Isaiah 22:12-13; Isaiah 28:21-22; Amos 5:18; Jeremiah 5:12; Jeremiah 8:11; Jeremiah 17:15; Ezekiel 12:21 sqq.” Starke.

31. Isaiah 5:20. “To make darkness of light, means to smother in oneself the fundamental truths that may be proved from the light of nature, and the correct conclusions inferred from them, but especially revealed truths that concern religion, and to pronounce them in others to be prejudices and errors. Bitter and sweet have reference to constitution, how it is known and experienced. To make sweet of bitter means, to recommend as sweet, pleasant and useful, what is bad and belongs to darkness, and is in fact bitter and distasteful, after one himself believes he possesses in the greatest evil the highest good.” Starke.

32. Isaiah 5:21. “Quotquot mortales” etc. As many as, taking counsel of flesh, pursue salvation with confidence of any sort of merit of their own or external privilege, a thing to which human nature is much inclined, oppose their own device to the wisdom of God, and, according to the prophet, are called wise in their own eyes ( Isaiah 28:15; Isaiah 30:1-2; Jeremiah 8:8-9; Jeremiah 9:23 sq.; Jeremiah 18:18). Vitringa.

33. Isaiah 5:26 sqq. The Prophet here expresses in a general way the thought that the Lord will call distant nations to execute judgment on Jerusalem, without having in mind any particular nation. Vitringa quotes a remarkable passage from the excerpts of John Antiochenus in Valesius (p816), where it is said, that immediately after Titus had taken Jerusalem, ambassadors from all the neighboring nations came to him to salute him as victor and present him crowns of honor. Titus refused these crowns, “saying that it was not he that had effected these things, but that they were done by God in the display of His wrath, and who had prospered his hands.” Comp. also the address of Titus to his soldiers after the taking of Jerusalem in Joseph. B. Jud. VII:19.


1. Isaiah 2:6-11. Idolatry. 1) What occasions it (alienation from God, Isaiah 2:6 a); 2) The different kinds: a. a coarse kind ( Isaiah 2:6 b, Isaiah 2:8), b. a more refined kind ( Isaiah 2:7); 3) Its present appearance (great honor of the idols and of their worshippers, Isaiah 2:9); 4) Its fate at last (deepest humiliation before the revelation of the majesty of God of all that do not give glory to Him ( Isaiah 2:10; Isaiah 2:18).

2. Isaiah 2:12-22. The false and the true eminence. 1) False eminence is that which at first appears high, but at last turns out to be low (to this belongs impersonal as well as supersensuous creatures, which at present appear as the highest in the world, but at last, in the day of the Lord of Hosts, shall turn out to be nothing); 2) The real eminence is that which at first is inconspicuous and inferior, but which at last turns out to be the highest, in fact the only high one.

3. Isaiah 3:1-9. Sin is the destruction of a people. 1) What is sin? Resisting the Lord: a. with the tongue, b. with deeds, c. with the interior being ( Isaiah 3:8-9); 2) In what does the destruction consist (or the fall according to Isaiah 3:8 a)? a. in the loss of every thing that constitutes the necessary and sure support of the commonwealth ( Isaiah 3:1-3); b. in insecure and weak props rising up ( Isaiah 3:4); c. in the condition that follows of being without a Master ( Isaiah 3:5); d. in the impossibility of finding any person that will take the governance of such a ruinous state ( Isaiah 3:6-7).

4. Isaiah 3:4. Insurrection is forbidden by God in express words, who says to Moses “that which is altogether just thou shalt follow,” Deuteronomy 16:20. Why may not God permit an intolerable and often unjust authority to rule a land for the same reason that He suffers children to have bad and unjust parents, and the wife a hard and intolerable husband, whose violence they cannot resist? Is it not expressly said by the Prophet “I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them?” “I gave thee a king in mine anger, and took him away in my wrath,” Hosea 13:11. Tholuck.

5. Isaiah 3:10-13. “Let us learn to distinguish between false and real comfort.” 1) False comfort deals in illusion: the real deals in truth; 2) The false produces a present effect; the real a lasting one; 3) The false injures the one comforted; the real is health to him.” Harms.

6. Isaiah 4:2-6. The holiness of God’s Church on earth that is to be looked for in the future. 1) Its preliminary: the judgment of cleansing and purifying ( Isaiah 4:4); 2) What is requisite to becoming a partaker? a. belonging to the remnant ( Isaiah 4:2-3); b. being written in the book of life ( Isaiah 4:3); 3) The surety of its permanence: the gracious presence of the Lord ( Isaiah 4:5-6).

7. Isaiah 5:21. The ruin of trusting in one’s own Wisdom of Solomon 1) Those that have such confidence set themselves above God, which is: a. the greatest wickedness, b. the greatest folly; 2) They challenge the Divine Majesty to maintain its right ( Isaiah 5:24).


FN#1 - Heb. deceiving with their eyes.

FN#2 - Or, tripping nicely.

FN#3 - Heb. make naked.

FN#4 - Or, networks.

FN#5 - Or, sweet balls.

FN#6 - Or, spangled ornaments.

FN#7 - Heb. houses of the soul.

FN#8 - Heb. might.

FN#9 - Or, emptied.

FN#10 - Heb. cleansed.

FN#11 - Heb. let thy name be called upon us.

FN#12 - Or, Take thou away.


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

Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Isaiah 3:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". 1857-84.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, October 19th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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