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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
Isaiah 32

 

 

Verses 1-8

3. THE FALSE AND THE TRUE NOBILITY

Isaiah 32:1-8

1 Behold, a king shall reign [FN1] in righteousness.

And princes shall rule a in judgment.

2 And a man shall be as an hiding place from the wind,

And a covert from the tempest;

As rivers of water in a dry place,

As the shadow of a [FN2] great rock in a weary land.

3 And the eyes of them that see shall not be [FN3] dim,

And the ears of them that hear shall hearken.

4 The heart also of the [FN4] rash shall understand knowledge,

And the tongue of the stammerers shall be ready to speak [FN5] plainly.

5 The [FN6] vile person shall no more be called [FN7] liberal,

Nor [FN8] the churl said to be bountiful.

6 For the c vile person will speak [FN9] villany,

And his heart will work iniquity,

To practise [FN10] hypocrisy, and to utter error against the Lord,

To make empty the soul of the hungry,

And he will cause the drink of the thirsty to fail.

7 The instruments also of the [FN11] churl are evil:

He deviseth wicked devices

To destroy the poor with lying words,

Even [FN12] when the needy speaketh right.

8 But the d liberal deviseth d liberal things;

And by d liberal things shall he [FN13] stand.

TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL

[“The use of לְ here may have been intended to suggest, that he would reign not only justly, but for the very purpose of doing justice.” J. A. A.].—לְ before שׂרים=quod attinet ad, comp. Ecclesiastes 9:4. Manifestly this unusual construction is for the sake of having the L—sound maintained, which thus occurs consecutively in five words.—–שׂרר, from which the imperfect ישׂרו, Proverbs 8:16, occurs only here in Isaiah.

Isaiah 32:2. מַחֲבֵא, “hiding corner, place of hiding,” ἅπ. λεγ., comp. 1 Samuel 23:23.—סתר comp. Isaiah 16:4; Isaiah 28:17.—פלגי מ׳ comp. Isaiah 30:25.—צָיוֹן comp. Isaiah 25:5.—צל comp. Isaiah 4:6; Isaiah 25:4-5.—ארץ עיפה again only Psalm 143:6.

Isaiah 32:3. תִּשְׁעֶינָה can hardly be derived from שָׁעָה. It comes nearer to take it in the sense of שׁעעoblinere, to close up; plaster up,” in which sense this latter verb often occurs in Isaiah 6:10; Isaiah 29:9.—קָשַׁב, probably kindred to קָצַב “to point, to prick” (the ears), occurs only here in Kal.

Isaiah 32:4. עִלֵּג, “balbus,” ἅπ. λεγ.—צֲחוֹת (comp. Isaiah 18:4) are nitentia, clara, clear, plain words.

Isaiah 32:5. Isaiah uses נבל only here; נבלה again Isaiah 9:16. כִּילַי written כֵּלַי in Isaiah 32:7 for the sake of similarity in sound with כֵּלָיו, is to be derived from נָכַל fraudulenter egit (Raschi, Kimchi, Gesen, and others), Genesis 37:18; Numbers 25:18; Psalm 105:25; Malachi 1:14, so that from נְכִיל, by rejecting the נ, as in שֹׂא,שֵׂאת,תֵּת, etc., there results כִּיל with the rare ending ־י- (comp. שַׁדַּי,גֹבַי,חֹרַי). See Green, § 194, 2, b.—שׁוֹעַ (from שׁוּעַamplus, dives fuit,” kindred to יָשַׁע) is the rich Prayer of Manasseh, independent on account of his means.

Isaiah 32:6. עָשָׂה אָוֶן occurs only here (comp. Isaiah 59:6); the idea is always expressed elsewhere by פעל און.—לעשׂות gerundive.——חֹנֶף, ἅπ. λεγ.; comp. הֲנֻפָה Jeremiah 23:15; substantive from חָנֵף Isaiah 9:16; Isaiah 10:6; Isaiah 33:14.—תּועָהerror,” comp. Isaiah 29:24; again only Nehemiah 4:2.—Hiph. החסיר again only Exodus 16:18.—The construction וְ־יַחְסִיר—לְהָרִיק is to be explained as a return of the subordinate form into the principal form.

Isaiah 32:7. A mutual attraction appears to have happened here: 1) כֵּלִים chosen for the sake of כִּילַי; 2) כִּילַי changed to כֵּלַי for the sake of כֵּלָיו—זִמָּהconsilium” ( Job 17:11) then especially consilium pravum. scelus,” occurs only here in Isaiah.—הַבֵּל “to destroy,” comp. Isaiah 13:5; Isaiah 54:16.

Isaiah 32:8. נְדִיבָה occurs again only Job 30:15.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

1. This passage, which strongly reminds one of Isaiah 29:18-24, and somewhat also of Isaiah 30:20 sqq, must necessarily be joined to what precedes, as it can neither stand alone, nor be regarded as belonging to what follows. We see in these verses an amplification of Isaiah 31:6-7. For the latter passage only presents to view in a negative way the turning back and abandonment of idolatry. But in our passage is set forth what positive forces of blessing will become operative in the entire ethical life of the nation, and especially in the relation of the powerful and nobles to the lowly. It is manifest that the Prophet, in enumerating what shall no more be, has in mind the irregularities of his own time. It is very probable that he even alludes to particular, concrete facts, in a way that his

2. Behold——speak plainly.

Isaiah 32:1-4. The king that will rule righteously must be the Messiah. For the time when Israel will be cleansed and purified, and live and be ruled according to truth and righteousness, is the Messianic time (comp. Isaiah 1:24 sqq.; Isaiah 9:6-7; Isaiah 11:11 sqq.; Isaiah 16:5; Isaiah 28:16 sqq.). Nothing justifies us in assuming that such a condition as our Isaiah 32:1-8 describe, will intervene before that time. In that time only the Messiah can be king. Of an under-king prophecy knows nothing. One must only say, that, in distinction from passages like Isaiah 9:6 sq.; Isaiah 11:1 sqq, the person of the Messianic king appears more in the background, and the Prophet depicts the admirable surrounding of the expected Messiah, rather than His personality. One may suppose that the state of things under Hezekiah furnished the occasion. The king himself was good; but his surroundings did not correspond. Hence the Prophet emphasizes here, that in the Messianic time, the glorious central figure, whom he only briefly names Isaiah 32:1, will have also a suitable environment. Thus the point of this passage is directed against the magnates that surrounded the king. Instead of oppressing the nation as heretofore ( Isaiah 1:23; Isaiah 3:15; Isaiah 10:2; Isaiah 28:15; Isaiah 29:20), each of them (the princes) will himself be a protector of the oppressed, like a sheltering, covering place of concealment protects from wind-storm and rain. Yea, they will even afford positive refreshment to the poor and wretched, as water-brooks and dense shade do to the traveller in the hot desert. The eyes of them that see, the ears of them that hear ( Isaiah 32:3), are eyes and ears that can see and hear if they will. It is well-known that there are ways of plastering up such eyes, and of making such ears deaf ( Isaiah 1:23; Isaiah 5:23; Isaiah 33:15). The like of that shall not be with these princes.

Delitzsch well remarks that, according to Isaiah 32:4, Israel shall be delivered also from faults of infirmity.

I would only so modify this remark as to make Isaiah 32:4, like that which precedes and follows, refer, not to Israel in general, but to the princes. Thus the נמהרים “the rash, reckless,” are such judges as are naturally inclined to judge hastily, and superficially (comp. on Isaiah 35:4). These will apply a reflecting scrutiny (comp. on Isaiah 11:2) in order to know what is right. The stammering are such as do not trust themselves to speak openly, because they are afraid of blundering out the truth that is known to them, and so bringing themselves into disfavor. Thus all the conditions for the exercise of right and justice will be fulfilled. The judges will be what they ought to be in respect to eyes, ears, heart and mouth.

3. The vile person—shall he stand.

Isaiah 32:5-8. From those in office the Prophet passes to the noble apart from office. In this respect there often exists in the present conditions the most glaring contradiction between inward and outward nobility. This contradiction will cease in the Messianic time. For then a fool will no longer be called a noble. A fool, נָבָל, Isaiah, according to Old Testament language, not one intellectually deficient, but one that practises gross iniquity; for sin in its essence is perverseness, contradiction, nonsense. The wicked surrenders realities of immeasurable value for a seeming good that is transitory; whereas the pious surrenders the whole world in order to save his soul, and this is at the same time the highest wisdom (comp. Deuteronomy 32:6; Jeremiah 17:11; Judges 19:23 sq.; Isaiah 20:6; 1 Samuel 25:25; 2 Samuel 13:12).—נָדִיב [Eng. Bibl.: “liberal”] undoubtedly involves originally the notion of voluntariness ( Exodus 25:2; Exodus 35:5; Exodus 35:21-22; Exodus 35:29, etc.). But he that does good from an inward, free impulse is a noble man. Thus gradually נדיב acquires the sense of noble, superior Prayer of Manasseh, and indeed so much without regard to inward nobility, that the word is used with a bad side-meaning ( Job 21:28). Isaiah uses it again only Isaiah 13:2. One will not call a swindler baron, the prophet proceeds to say, Isaiah 32:5 b.

By the following causal sentence, Isaiah 32:6, the Prophet proves the sentence “the fool will no more be called noble.” His argument may be represented by the following syllogism: In the Messianic time each will be called what he is. But in that time also there will be people that are fools. Therefore in that time these will also be called fools and not noblemen. [It is not the Prophet’s aim in Isaiah 32:6, to state what fools will do in that time, as if their doing then will be different from now, which obviously it will not be. He would say there will be fools, and they will be called fools, and nobles and they will be called nobles.—Tr.]. Of course for the Prophet the only important thought is that in the last time falsehood will no longer reign as in the present, and that accordingly a man’s being and name will no longer be in contrast, but in perfect harmony. One sees that it is a point with him to say to the cheats of his day and age how they ought to be called, if every man had his dues. The general thought of Isaiah 32:6 a, is particularized in what follows. One does and speaks folly when he practises unclean, shameful things (by which the land is defiled before God, Isaiah 24:5; Jeremiah 3:1), and utters error, (what misleads) against Jehovah. This doing and speaking is for the purpose of enriching one’s self by robbery of the poor and weak ( Isaiah 1:23). This is figuratively expressed: to make empty the soul of the hungry (i. e., to take away what can satisfy the need of the hungry, comp. Isaiah 29:8) and to “cause the drink,” etc.כלים, Isaiah 32:7, are properly instrumenta. Not the physical implements are meant here, but the ways and means in general of which the swindler makes use. [“He deviseth plots to destroy the oppressed (or afflicted) with words of falsehood, and (i. e, even) in the poor (man’s) speaking right (i. e., even when the poor-man’s claim is just, or in a more general sense, when the poor-man pleads his cause).”—J. A. Alexander].

In Isaiah 32:8 we must remark the same in regard to וְנָדִיב that we did in regard to נבל and כילי Isaiah 32:6-7. The Prophet will not in general give a characteristic of the נדיב, but he would say in what regard the namesנדיב and נבל will be held in the Messianic time. Thus Isaiah 32:6-8 are proof of Isaiah 32:5. According to these verses none will be given a name that does not become him. He that is called נבל “fool,” will also speak נבלה, and he that is called נדיב will certainly confirm his claim to this name by having noble thoughts, generosa meditatur.—קום על נדיבות can hardly mean “to stand on noble ground” (Meier), for נדיבּות are generose facta, the exhibitions of generosity, not this generosity as a moral fundamental habit. Otherwise the second נדיבות would have a meaning different from the first. Therefore יקום וגו׳ must mean: and he perseveres in his noble thoughts, i. e., he not only conceives them, but he carries them out. In bestowing the name, men will not be influenced only by the thoughts that proclaim themselves; men will make the name depend on one’s steadily adhering to them his whole life. קום often has this sense of continuing, persevering. Comp. Isaiah 40:8; Leviticus 25:30; Leviticus 27:19.

Footnotes:

FN#1 - according to.

FN#2 - Heb. heavy.

FN#3 - plastered up.

FN#4 - Heb. hasty.

FN#5 - Or, elegantly.

FN#6 - fool.

FN#7 - noble.

FN#8 - the cheat be called baron.

FN#9 - fully.

FN#10 - uncleanness.

FN#11 - cheat.

FN#12 - Or, when he speaketh against the poor in judgment.

FN#13 - Or, be established.


Verses 9-20

4.—THE PRESENT PUNISHMENT OF THE PROUD WOMEN, AND THE FUTURE GLORY OF THE NATION

Isaiah 32:9-20

9 Rise up, ye women that Ire at ease;

Hear my voice, ye careless daughters;

Give ear unto my speech.

10 [FN14] Many days and years shall ye be troubled, ye careless women:

For the vintage shall fail, the gathering shall not come.

11 Tremble, ye women that are at ease;

Be troubled, ye careless ones:

Strip you, and make you bare, and gird sackcloth upon your loins.

12 [FN15] They shall lament for the teats,

For [FN16] the pleasant fields, for the fruitful vine.

13 Upon the land of my people shall come up thorns and briars;

[FN17] Yea, upon all the houses of joy in the joyous city:

14 Because the palaces [FN18] shall be forsaken;

The multitude of the city b shall be left;

The [FN19] forts and towers [FN20] shall be for dens forever,

A joy of wild asses, a pasture of flocks;

15 Until the spirit be poured upon us from on high,

And the wilderness be a fruitful field,

And the fruitful field be counted for a forest.

16 [FN21] Then judgment shall dwell in the wilderness,

And righteousness remain in the fruitful field.

17 And the work of righteousness shall be peace;

And the [FN22]effect of righteousness quietness and assurance forever.

18 And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation

And in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places;

19 [FN23] When it shall hail, coming down on the forest;

And [FN24] the city shall be in a low place.

20 Blessed are ye that sow beside all waters,

That send forth thither the feet of the ox and the ass.

TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL

Isaiah 32:9. בֹּטֵחַ is here used absolutely as in Judges 18:7; Judges 18:10; Judges 18:27; Jeremiah 7:8; Jeremiah 12:5.——שׁאנן again Isaiah 32:9; Isaiah 32:11; Isaiah 32:18; Isaiah 33:20; Isaiah 37:29.

Isaiah 32:10. The singular שָׁנָה must be taken in the sense of one year, seeing there is nothing to indicate that it is a collective.——After the specification of time the sentence ought properly to proceed with the Vav. consec. and the perf. Yet there are also examples of the use of the imperf. with Vav. ( Exodus 12:3; Jeremiah 8:1 K’thibh) or without it ( Isaiah 27:6; Isaiah 7:8 comp. Isaiah 21:16; Jeremiah 8:1 K’ri; Genesis 40:13; Genesis 40:19). The accusative ימים responds to the question “when,” to signify the point of time where the predicted event will intervene.——On נלי comp. at Isaiah 14:6.

Isaiah 32:11. In הִרְדוּ we have the masculine as the chief form that includes the feminine, as the man rules and represents the woman: In חֲֹגֽרָה,עֹֽרָה,פְּשֹֽׁטָה,רֳגֽזָה we have also the chief form of the imperative, i. e., the masculine, with the cohortative He of motion toward. Thus these imperatives contain no individualized command, but one formed quite generally as to matter, without regard to person and number: similar to our way in giving words of command, wherein at least no regard is had to the number of those addressed as we use the infin, or past particip. [the illustration is drawn of course from the Germ. idiom.—Tr.]. This ver. shows plainly how in Hebrew the gender of words is not so rigidly fixed as in classical and modern languages, and hence it not so consistently adhered to.——Isaiah uses פשׁט only here.——Of עוּרnudum esse” he uses the Piel Isaiah 23:13.

Isaiah 32:12. The same preponderance of the masc. gender appears in ספדים that is noticed in Isaiah 32:11, and has the same explanation.——ספד as verb in Isaiah, only here; comp. Isaiah 22:12; Jeremiah 49:3,——Note the similarity in sound of עַל־שָׁדַיִם and עַל־שְׂדֵי.—חֶמֶדamoenitas, deliciae” only here in Isaiah, comp. on Isaiah 27:2; Amos 5:11—פריה comp. Isaiah 17:6; Psalm 128:3; Ezekiel 19:10.

Isaiah 32:13 קוֹץ “thorn, thorn bushes,” again in Isaiah only Isaiah 13:12, and is joined with שָׁמִיר only here. Everywhere else Isaiah joins this word with שַׁיִת ( Isaiah 5:6; Isaiah 7:23 sqq.; Isaiah 9:17; Isaiah 10:17; Isaiah 17:4). One might grammatically regard the words קוץ שׁמיר as having a genitive relation. But as the words שָׁמִיר שַׁיִת, Isaiah 27:3, occur in apposition (שׁמיר which is שׁית), we may assume the same construction here. The general notion קוֹץ (resecandum, from קָצַץ = קוּץ comp. קְוֻצּוֹת “locks”) is more exactly defined as שָׁמִיר (“prickly thing”).—The בתי משׂושׂ are not necessarily the houses of קריה עליזה. For there are such houses of pleasure, not only in the capital, but in all cities and villages of the land. Therefore I can as little take מבתי in the genitive with קריה ע׳ as I could assume that construction Isaiah 28:1. As there הלומי י׳, so here קריה ע׳ is dependent on עַל.

Isaiah 32:14. This verse is subordinated to the last clause of Isaiah 32:13, for it explains how the city has become overgrown with thorns.—There is a metonymy in the expression המון עיר עזב, the effect being put for the cause, i.e., חמון עיר stands for עיר הֹמִיָה Isaiah 22:2.

Isaiah 32:15. The expression רוח ממרום occurs only here; מרום occurs in Isaiah, often: Isaiah 22:16; Isaiah 24:18; Isaiah 40:26; Isaiah 57:15; Isaiah 58:4, etc.

Isaiah 32:17. מעשׂה (comp. Isaiah 5:2; Isaiah 4:10; Habakkuk 3:17) is "the yield;" עבדה in the sense of "fruit of service," comp. פְּעֻלָּה, occurs, as far as I can see, only here.—נָוֶה in the same sense as here Isaiah 33:20; Isaiah 34:13; Isaiah 35:7.—מבטחים in Isaiah only here.—מנוחה Isaiah 11:10; Isaiah 28:12; Isaiah 66:1.

Isaiah 32:19. The verb בָּרַד occurs only here: but comp. Isaiah 28:2; Isaiah 28:17; Isaiah 30:30—שִׁפְלָה is ἅπ. λεγ—Note that בָּרַד and שִׁפְלָה,בְּרֶדֶת and תִּשְׁפַּל on the one hand, and יַעַר and עִיר on the other correspond in assonance.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

1. As in chapter3. so here, the Prophet addresses men and women separately, having in mind especially those of the higher, and highest ranks. According to the foregoing exposition, Isaiah 32:1-8, under the guise of a glorious Messianic prophecy, contain a sharp reproof for powerful ones in Jerusalem. The second part of the chapter, on the other hand, is directed against the proud, secure women, announcing a season of disaster for them ( Isaiah 32:9-14), [“until by a special divine influence a total revolution shall take place in the character, and, as a necessary consequence, in the condition of the people.”—J. A. A, on Isaiah 32:15] ( Isaiah 32:15-20).

2. Rise up—pasture of flocks.

Isaiah 32:9-14. The form of the introduction calls to mind Isaiah 1:2; Isaiah 28:23, but more especially the address of Lamech to his wives Genesis 4:23. I do not think that “rise up” demands a physical rising up. Like our German “auf” “up,” it may signify the merely inward rousing of the spirit to give attention (comp. Numbers 23:18). שׁאנן has elsewhere also the secondary meaning of proud ease: Psalm 123:4; Amos 6:1; Zechariah 1:15. The specification of time in ימים על־שׁנה Isaiah 32:10, does not relate to the continuance of the desolation, as is evident from Isaiah 32:15 “until the spirit,” etc. According to Isaiah 29:1, which is manifestly related to our passage both as to matter and time (see the exposition there), it is probable that the Prophet means an indefinite number of days added to a year. (See Text. and Gram.). Evidently the Prophet has in mind women that have heretofore never known any want, but have continually lived in abundance and luxury. Just for this reason will trembling and dismay seize them. For they would assuredly not have dispensed with the products of the wine and fruit harvest, had not the enemy occupied the territory about Jerusalem and made gathering and plucking impossible. Thus the scarcity of those noble products, felt as a sure token of the enemy’s presence, most of all in the apartments of women of rank, will frighten the women out of their secure and proud repose. Comp. Isaiah 16:7 sqq. בציר “the wine harvest” (comp. Isaiah 24:13). אֹסֶף, elsewhere אָסִיף ( Exodus 23:16; 24:22), is “the fruit harvest” ( Micah 7:1). The word occurs again only Isaiah 33:4, and there only in its fundamental sense. That which Isaiah 32:10 is presented as in prospect, is announced in Isaiah 32:11 as the command, the will of God. Hence it must happen. Strip you,etc. The command to disrobe is that garments of mourning may replace those before worn ( Joel 1:13; Isaiah 15:3; Isaiah 22:12).

Though we may translate כִּי, Isaiah 32:13 b, by “yea” (immo), as more accordant with our speech, still there underlies it a causal relation. That the land is overgrown with thorns and thistles, will appear the more credible, when it is perceived that even the houses of pleasure, indeed the very capital grows rank with such weeds. (See Text. and Gram.). The joyous city means Jerusalem (comp. Isaiah 22:2; Zephaniah 2:15). עליז as was shown at Isaiah 22:2, has the secondary meaning “presumptuous joy.” The propriety of this sense here in reference to the women of careless ease is evident. (On the logical connection of Isaiah 32:14 see Text. and Gram.). Inasmuch as “joyous city” and “multitude of the city,” (which expressions are conjoined Isaiah 22:2), occur only in Isaiah 22:2 and our text, one properly infers a relationship between these chapters both as regards matter and time.

As not every city has an Ophel, and thus Ophel may not be taken as a general attribute of cities, but as something peculiar to Jerusalem (though not in distinction from all cities, for Samaria had an Ophel, 2 Kings 5:24), so we may understand by it the locality mentioned, 2 Chronicles 27:3; 2 Chronicles 33:14; Nehemiah 3:26 sq.; Nehemiah 11:21, “the southern steep, rocky prominence of Moriah from the south end of the temple-place to its extremest point, the ’Οφλᾶ, Ὀφλᾶς of Josephus.” (Arnold in Herzog’sR. Ency. VIII, p632).—בַּחַן (ἅπ. λεγ.) is anyway kindred to בַּחוּן or בַּחִון ( Isaiah 23:13) and must, according to the fundamental meaning of the verb בחן (probare, explorare, examinare) signify a locality suitable for this, a watch-tower, look-out. But whether towers in general or a particular tower is meant, is hard to say. בַּחַן does not occur elsewhere; yet the common word for “tower,” מגדל, signifies also watch-tower ( 2 Kings 9:17; 2 Kings 17:9, etc.), and wall-towers ( Nehemiah 3:11; Nehemiah 12:38). Perhaps this would have been used here, were only towers in general spoken of. Hence it is rather probable that this word בחן, named along with עכּל and occurring only in this passage, signifies a tower especially designated by this name, located in Ophel; perhaps “the great tower” of Nehemiah 3:27 that is mentioned in connection with Ophel. Ophel and בחן shall be pro speluncis or vice speluncarum.בִּעַד which everywhere involves the notion of something separating, has here the meaning “for, instead of.” For what intervenes for another, in a measure puts itself before it, and in this way forms a partition between it and the observer. Wild, lonely, and far remote from all human intercourse must be the caves in which the wild ass (פֶּרֶא only here in Isaiah) has as much joy as a man in his finely built dwelling ( Isaiah 32:13).

3. Until the spirit—and the ass.

Isaiah 32:15-20. As all the preceding prophecies are double-sided, including as it were day and night, such too is the case with the present one. But here, too, the Prophet does not promise immediate salvation. He sets the glorious Messianic last time over against the pernicious present time, yet in a way that overleaps the long centuries that intervene, and sees that future directly behind the present. Thus עד that begins Isaiah 32:15 is both a restriction of the hyperbolical עד־עולם (immeasurable extent of time as e.g, Isaiah 63:16; Jeremiah 2:20), and a bold bridge from the present into the remote future. He portrays the latter in that aspect that corresponds to the things he reproves in the present. Proud security now reigns, for which however there is no reason. But in that time there will reign security and repose, resting on the securest foundation. For Israel will then be filled with the spirit of God, and serve in this spirit, by which shall be assured to them God’s protection and support against all enemies. The expression יערה is very strong, meaning properly: the spirit from on high will be emptied out on us, completely poured out (comp. Isaiah 11:9, and respecting the word Genesis 24:20 comp. Isaiah 3:17; Isaiah 22:6; Isaiah 53:12). How far-reaching and comprehensive is the gaze of the Prophet here! He regards the spirit from on high not merely as an ethical and intellectual, but also as a physical life-principle. He speaks here, as he does Isaiah 11:2-9, of nature and of persons as wholly pervaded by spirit. And the wilderness will be a fruitful field,etc., which has a proverbial sound, must certainly be taken in another sense than that of Isaiah 29:17. The latter passage speaks of retrogression; here progress is meant. There is a descending climax, Lebanon, fruitful field, forest; here an ascending, desert, fruitful field, forest, in which the Prophet manifestly treats the forest, not as representing absence of cultivation, but as representing the most prodigious development of vegetation. He would say: what is now waste will then be fruitful field, and what is now fruitful field will then be forest, i.e., will stand high as a forest. Then a very different, a higher principle of life, originating from the divine δόξα will penetrate even nature. Of course, then, the personal life of men also. And how beautifully the Prophet depicts this harmony of both! He names again the wilderness and the fruitful field ( Isaiah 32:16) in order to say that judgment and righteousness shall dwell in them (comp. Isaiah 1:27; Isaiah 5:16; Isaiah 9:6; Isaiah 10:22; Isaiah 28:17). And the fruit of this spiritual right-being will in turn make its impress by a right glorious outward appearance, viz., in everlasting peace, rest and security. What a picture for the proudly secure women ( Isaiah 32:9 sqq.)! They may see why they are so called in a reproving sense. Their ease and security lack foundation.

When it shall hail,etc. I can only regard Isaiah 32:19 as the sombre foil which the Prophet uses to enhance the splendor of that future which he displayed to his people. [Some think there is an allusion to the hail in Egypt while Goshen was spared; see Exodus 9:22-26.—Tr.]. We have had several such pictures of the future with a dark background ( Isaiah 11:14 sq.; Isaiah 25:10 sqq.; Isaiah 26:5 sq, etc.). Every one admits that19a, relates to Assyria. We had the forest as emblem of Assyria Isaiah 9:17; Isaiah 10:18-19; Isaiah 10:34. This forest shall fall under a storm of hail. On ירד comp. Deuteronomy 28:52; Zechariah 11:2. It is not said that the forest shall break down by the hail, but that it shall hail when the forest breaks down. Thus this breaking down may be effected by something else, say by the blows of an axe. Anyway the forest will break down under a storm of hail, some phenomenon coming from on high and accredited as a divine instrument of judgment. Very many expositors understand the city in a low place to mean Jerusalem (Hitzig, Knobel, Caspari, Delitzsch,etc.). But why of a sudden this dark trait in the picture of light? Is not the abasement of Jerusalem sufficiently declared in Isaiah 32:13-14? Why a repetition here? or, if not repetition, why thus suddenly a new judgment in the midst of the blessed, spirit-effected condition of peace? If the forest means the world-power generally, then the city must mean the centre of it, the world-city (comp. Isaiah 24:10-12; Isaiah 25:2-3; Isaiah 25:12; Isaiah 26:5. It is worthy of remark that, Isaiah 25:12; Isaiah 26:5, the Prophet uses השׁפיל thrice in reference to the judgment on the world-city. That he does not elsewhere in28–33, mention the world-city is no reason why he may not once mention it here. Why need he mention it oftener? Is it more probable that he would not mention it at all, than that he should do so once?

In Isaiah 32:20 the Prophet returns exclusively to Israel In contrast with the desolations (near for Israel, remote for the world-power), he promises to his people the possession of the land in its widest extent, and the freest use of it for cultivation and pasture. Blessed are ye (comp. Isaiah 30:18; Isaiah 56:2) he says, who sow beside all waters, i.e., on all fruitful lands. Thus all well-watered and so fruitful land-stretches will be at Israel’s service, and Israel shall cultivate them, and raising cattle shall be unhindered (comp. Isaiah 30:23). In fact the earth shall be theirs, and they may use as much laud as they wish for either. Cattle may pasture in full freedom, unrestrained by fetters or fence. The whole land “shall be for the sending forth of oxen,” Isaiah 7:25.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. On Isaiah 31:1-2, “Against the perverted confidence and fleshly trust in human Wisdom of Solomon, power and might, because the people doubt God’s help, and because of such wicked doubt put their trust in human power, wit and skill. It is true the Scripture does not deny that one may use means and call in human aid in danger, yet so that even the heart looks rather to God, and knows that if He watches not and keeps not Israel, all other human help and means are in vain ( Psalm 127:1; Jeremiah 17:5).”—Cramer.

2. On Isaiah 31:3. “Notetur diligenter sententia isthaec prophetae: Aegyptus homo et non Deus, adeoque symboli loco semper in ore habeatur et usurpatur tum ad doctrinam, tum ad consolationem ( Psalm 62:10; Psalm 73:18 sq.).”—Foerster.

3. On Isaiah 31:4-5. The Lord, on the one hand, compares Himself to a lion, that will not suffer his prey to be torn away from him, and means by that that He will not suffer Himself to be turned from His counsel against Jerusalem by those false helpers, to which Jerusalem looks for protection against the punishments that it has deserved. But on the other hand the Lord compares Himself most touchingly and fittingly to the eagle that stretches its feathers over its young to protect them ( Deuteronomy 32:11) [see Tr’s. note on Isaiah 32:5]. Blessed is he that sits under the shelter of the Highest, and abides under the shadow of the Almighty ( Psalm 91:1; comp. Matthew 33:27).

4. On Isaiah 31:7. Foerster remarks on this verse, that it is used by the Reformed as a proof-passage against the use of images in churches. He distinguishes between imagines superstitiosae, whose use is of course forbidden, and imagines non superstitiosae, the like of which were even, permitted and used in the worship of Jehovah, e. g., the cherubim and other images of art in the Tabernacle and in the Temple.

5. On Isaiah 31:8. “God has manifold ways by which He can head off tyrants, and does not need always to draw the sword over them. Examples: Sennacherib, 2 Kings 19:35; Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel 4:30; Herod, Acts 12:23.”—Cramer.

6. On Isaiah 31:9. That the Lord has in Zion His fire and His hearth in Jerusalem is at once the strength and the weakness of the Old Covenant. It is its strength so far as, of course, it is a high privilege that Israel enjoys above all nations of the Gentile world, that the point of the earth’s surface that the Lord has made the place of His real presence on earth is the central point of their land and of their communion. But it is its weakness so far as this presence is only a transient and outward one, which, when misunderstood, can minister only to an outward worship and a false confidence (comp. Jeremiah 7:4) that affords only a treacherous point of support that is dangerous to the soul. How totally different is the real presence of the Lord in the church of the New Covenant! To it the Lord is organically joined as a member, as on the other hand the Lord joins all members of His church really to Himself by His Spirit and His sacraments.

7. On Isaiah 32:1-8. “The picture which the Prophet paints here of the church of the last time is the picture of every true congregation of Christ. In it, the will of the Lord must be the only law according to which men Judges, and not any fleshly consideration of any sort. In it, there must be open eyes and ears for God’s work and word; and if in some things precedence is readily allowed to the children of this world, still in spiritual things the understanding must be right and the speech clear. Finally, in it persons must be valued according to their true Christian, moral worth, not according to advantages that before God are rather a reproach than an honor. But the picture of the true congregation mirrors to us our own deformities. All this is not found in us. Everywhere appears worldly consideration, looking to the world, much weakness in spiritual judgment, and in speech far too much respect for the advantages that worldly position and wealth give the church member. May the Lord mend these things in us; and if only at the last He transforms the old church in its totality into the new, so let each of us pray the Lord that still He would more and more transform each worldling into a true, spiritual man.”—Weber. The Prophet Isaiah, 1875.

8. On Isaiah 32:1-4. Men of all times may learn from the Prophet’s words what sort of persons true kings, noblemen and officials ought to be. Underlying the whole discourse of Isaiah is the thought that those in authority are there for the sake of the people [comp. Luke 22:25-26.—Tr.], and that truth and honor are the first conditions of flourishing rule (comp. Herz, R-Encycl. XI. p24).

On Isaiah 32:8. Old Flattig once met the Duke of Wurtemburg on the latter’s birth day. “Well, Flattig,” inquired the Duke, what did you preach on my birth-day?” “Serene highness, what did I preach? I just preached that princes ought to have princely thoughts.” The Duke rode on without making any reply. Where there is no princely heart, there can come forth no princely thoughts. And only then does one have a princely heart when the Lord is the heart’s prince.

9. On Isaiah 32:9. “One must not suppose that it was no part of the Prophet’s office to reform women, seeing God includes all men under sin, and the proud daughters of Zion with their ostentation, were a great cause of the land being laden with sins ( Isaiah 3:6).”—Cramer.

[“The alarm is sounded to women,—to feed whose pride, vanity and luxury, their husbands and fathers were tempted to starve the poor.”—M. Henry, in loc.].

HOMILETICAL HINTS

1. On Isaiah 31:1-4. Warning against confiding in human help1) It is insulting to God2) It proves idle at last, for a, the power of men is in itself weak; b, it is wholly powerless against the strong hand of God.

2. On Isaiah 31:5-9. The Lord alone is the shelter of His Own1) He will be such ( Isaiah 32:5); 2) He must be such (ver, 9 b, His own interest demands this); 3) He alone can be such ( Isaiah 32:8); 4) He will be such on one condition ( Isaiah 32:6).

3. [On Isaiah 31:6-7 1) It is general; every one shall cast away his own idols and begin with them before trying to demolish those of other people, which there will be no need of when every man reforms himself2) It is thorough: for they shall part with their idolatry, their beloved sin, made more precious by the gold and silver devoted to it3) It is on the right principle: a principle of piety and not of policy; because idolatry was a sin and not because it was profitless (“deeply revolted,” “sinfully made idols”). After M. Henry, in loc—Tr.].

4. On Isaiah 32:1-8. As there are always poor people, so there must always be persons of power and superior rank. The latter must know that they are there for the sake of the people, as guardians of right, as protectors of the poor and weak, so to speak, as the eyes, ears and tongues of the commonwealth. But as in God’s kingdom descent from Abraham counts for nothing any more, and true worship is no more that which is offered in Jerusalem, but that which is in spirit and in truth, Song of Solomon, too, the nobility of the flesh must yield precedence to nobility of the spirit. Not he that is noble according to the flesh, but a fool according to the spirit shall be called noble. Only he that has princely thoughts shall be called a prince; for truth reigns in the kingdom of God.

5. [On Isaiah 32:2. This may be given a spiritual application by a special reference to Christ, as eminently true of Him, the King of kings. This application is old and precious. Wind and tempest, rain and hail and burning heat are emblems of the calamities of life, and especially of God’s judgments on sin. Distress and impending judgment make men seek shelter. Christ is the only adequate hiding-place and covert. Let men run to Him with the eagerness of travellers in the burning desert taking refuge under a rock from the coming storm. The same rock-cliff often has a bountiful stream issuing just there where its cavernous recess affords the best shelter. While the traveller is safe from the tempest, he may rest and refresh himself from the distress he has endured. The rock “not only excludes the rays of the sun, but it has itself a refreshing coolness that is most grateful to a weary traveller.”—Barnes. “Some observe here, that as the covert, and hiding-place, and the rock, do themselves receive the battering of the wind and storm, to save those from it that take shelter in them, so Christ bore the storm Himself to keep it off from us.”—M. Henry. Tr.].

6. On Isaiah 32:9-11. When a land goes to ruin a great part of the blame of it rests on the women. For they are more easily prompted to evil, as they are to good. Where evil has once taken root, they are the ones that carry it to an extreme. “Und geht es zu des Bösen Haus, das Weib hat tausend Schritt voraus.” Therefore the punishment falls the hardest on them. As the weaker and more delicate, they suffer the most under the blows of misfortune.

7. On Isaiah 32:15 sqq. When once the Spirit of God is poured out on all flesh ( Joel 3:1) then the personal and impersonal creation will be glorified. Then Satan will be bound, and the Lord alone will rule in men, and in nature. Then at last will it be beautiful on earth. For then right and righteousness will reign on earth, and peace, and that rest that is promised to the people of God ( Hebrews 4:9).

Footnotes:

FN#14 - Heb. Days above a year.

FN#15 - They beat on the breasts for.

FN#16 - Heb. the fields of desire.

FN#17 - Or, Burning upon, etc.

FN#18 - is.

FN#19 - Or, clifts and watchtowers.

FN#20 - are.

FN#21 - And.

FN#22 - service.

FN#23 - And it will hail when the forest falls.

FN#24 - Or, the city shall be utterly abased.

 


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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 32:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/isaiah-32.html. 1857-84.

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