Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Isaiah 33:4

Your spoil is gathered as the caterpillar gathers; As locusts rushing about men rush about on it.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Locust;   Scofield Reference Index - Kingdom;   Thompson Chain Reference - Agriculture;   Agriculture-Horticulture;   Locusts;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Armies;   Insects;   Locust, the;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Caterpillar;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Gebim;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Caterpillar;   Insects;   Isaiah;   Leaf, Leaves;   Locust;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Jacob;   Locust;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Caterpiller;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Caterpillar;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Fall;   Locust;  

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

And your spoil - The booty that the Assyrian army bad gathered in their march toward Jerusalem, and which would now be left by them to be collected by the Jews.

Shall be gathered like the gathering of the caterpillar - The grammatical construction here is such that this may admit of two interpretations. It may either mean, as the caterpillar or the locust is gathered; or it may mean, as the caterpillar gathers its spoil. It often occurred that in countries where the locust was an article of food, they were scraped together in large quantities, and thrown into ditches, or into reservoirs, and retained to be eaten. This is the custom in some parts of Africa. But the meaning here is, undoubtedly, that the plunder of the Assyrian army would be collected by the Jews, as the locust gathered its food. The sense is, that as locusts spread themselves out over a land, as they go to and fro without rule and without molestation, gathering whatever is in their way, and consuming everything, so the Jews in great numbers, and without regular military array, would run to and fro collecting the spoils of the Assyrian army. In a country where such devastation was made by the caterpillar and locust as in Palestine, this was a very striking figure. The word rendered ‹caterpillar‘ here חסיל châseyl from חסל châsal to cut off, consume), properly denotes the devourer, and is applied usually to a species of locust. So it is understood here by most of the versions. The Septuagint renders it, ‹As if one were gathering locusts, so will they insult you.‘

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Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Isaiah 33:4". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/isaiah-33.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

"And your spoil shall be gathered as the caterpillar gathereth: as locusts leap shall men leap upon it. Jehovah is exalted; for he dwelleth on high: he hath filled Zion with justice and righteousness. And there shall be stability in thy times, abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge: the fear of Jehovah is thy treasure."

In these verses, God addresses Sennacherib directly in Isaiah 33:4, sentencing him to the same brutal treatment he had imposed upon others and promising particularly that all of his spoils would be taken from him in a manner comparable to the devastation caused by a swarm of locusts. Isaiah 33:5,6 promise stability in "thy times," that is, the times of Hezekiah, his treasures being the fear of the Lord.

The prophecy turned at once from the contemplation of victory and stability foreseen in the future to the disastrous situation revealed in Isaiah 33:7-9.

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Isaiah 33:4". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/isaiah-33.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And your spoil shall be gathered like the gathering of the caterpillar,.... This is the answer of the Lord to the prayer of his church, signifying that their enemies should flee, be scattered, and perish, and that they should be victorious, and enjoy the spoils of them; which they should gather as easily as the caterpillar or locust, as some render it, gathers and consumes herbs, and every green thing; or as easily as they are gathered, and laid on heaps, being weak and unable to defend themselves: most understand it of the Jews going into the camp of the Assyrians, after the destruction of them by the angel, and gathering their spoil. The Targum is,

"and the house of Israel shall gather the substance of the people, their enemies, as they gather a locust:'

the antichristian locusts or caterpillars are here meant, whose substance shall fall into the hands of the followers of Christ, when they shall have got the victory of them; this is the flesh of the whore, her worldly substance, which the kings of the earth, the Christian kings, shall eat or enjoy, Revelation 17:16,

as the running to and fro of locusts shall he run upon them: or "upon it"; the spoil; as these locusts, of which see Revelation 9:3 run to and fro, and pillaged them in times past, as the creatures, to whom they are compared, run to and fro and destroy the fruits of the earth, so now everyone of the followers of Christ shall run and seize upon the spoil of the antichristian states.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 33:4". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/isaiah-33.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

And your spoil shall be gathered [like] the gathering of the h caterpiller: as the running to and fro of locusts shall i he run upon them.

(h) You who as caterpillars destroyed with your number the whole world, will have no strength to resist your enemies the Chaldeans: but will be gathered on a heap and destroyed.

(i) Meaning, the Medes and Persians against the Chaldeans.

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Bibliographical Information
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Isaiah 33:4". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/isaiah-33.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

The invaders‘ “spoil” shall be left behind by them in their flight, and the Jews shall gather it.

caterpillar — rather, “the wingless locust”; as it gathers; the Hebrew word for “gathers” is properly used of the gathering of the fruits of harvest (Isaiah 32:10).

running to and fro — namely, in gathering harvest fruits.

he — rather, “they.”

them — rather, “it,” that is, the prey.

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Isaiah 33:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/isaiah-33.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And your spoil shall be gathered like the gathering of the caterpiller: as the running to and fro of locusts shall he run upon them.

Your spoil — That treasure which you have raked together, by spoiling divers people.

Gathered — By the Jews at Jerusalem, when you flee away.

Like the caterpillar — As caterpillars gather and devour the fruits of the earth.

As locusts — As locusts, especially when they are armed by commission from God, come with great force, and run hither and thither.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 33:4". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/isaiah-33.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Isaiah 33:4 And your spoil shall be gathered [like] the gathering of the caterpiller: as the running to and fro of locusts shall he run upon them.

Ver. 4. And your spoils shall be gathered.] The spoil of the Assyrian’s camp now become yours. {as 1 Samuel 30:20}

Like the gathering of caterpillars.] Quae ad hominum concursum omnes repente disperguntur, which are soon rid, when men set themselves to destroy them.

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Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 33:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/isaiah-33.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Isaiah 33:4. And your spoil shall be gathered In this apostrophe to the enemy, we have the consequence of their overthrow; which should be the collection of their spoils, without order or distinction; just as locusts, without order or fear, run over the fields and plunder them, every one of them claiming to itself what it first seizes. There are some who understand the first clause thus, Your spoil shall be gathered, as the caterpillar is gathered; that is to say, as the husbandmen collect them from their plants, &c. to destroy them; but others, and with more propriety, understand them as expressive of the depredations of the caterpillars themselves. Concerning the depredations of locusts we have had occasion to speak heretofore. See Isaiah 33:23 and 1 Maccabees 4:23.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Isaiah 33:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/isaiah-33.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Your spoil, that treasure which you have raked together by spoiling divers people,

shall be gathered by the Jews at Jerusalem, when you shall be forced to flee away with all possible speed, leaving your spoils behind you.

Like the gathering of the caterpillar; either,

1. Passively, with as much ease, and in as great numbers, as caterpillars are gathered and destroyed. Or rather,

2. Actively, as appears from the next clause; as caterpillars or locusts (for the word signifies either) gather and devour all the fruits of the earth; which was a common plague in those countries.

As the running to and fro of locusts; as locusts, especially when they are sent and armed by commission from God, come with great force, and run hither and thither, devouring all the fruits of the earth, wheresoever they find them.

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Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Isaiah 33:4". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/isaiah-33.html. 1685.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

When the Lord arose against Israel"s enemies, the battle would be over almost as soon as it had started (cf. Revelation 19:19-20). The Jerusalemites would loot the spoils of war as voraciously as caterpillars and as swiftly as locusts (cf. Isaiah 37:36-37).

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Isaiah 33:4". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/isaiah-33.html. 2012.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Them. The neglect of burying these insects has often brought on the plague. (St. Augustine, City of God iii. 31.)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Isaiah 33:4". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/isaiah-33.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

caterpiller = locusts.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Isaiah 33:4". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/isaiah-33.html. 1909-1922.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(4) Your spoil . . .—The words are addressed to the invader. He who came to spoil should find himself spoiled. As caterpillars and locusts devour the green herbage, so should he (or they, the indefinite pronoun standing for the people of Jerusalem) strip his camp of all its treasures.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Isaiah 33:4". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/isaiah-33.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And your spoil shall be gathered like the gathering of the caterpiller: as the running to and fro of locusts shall he run upon them.
your spoil
23; 2 Kings 7:15,16; 2 Chronicles 14:13; 20:25
the running
Joel 2:9,25
Reciprocal: Psalm 78:46 - the caterpillar;  Jeremiah 50:10 - all that;  Joel 1:4 - the caterpillar;  Amos 7:1 - he;  Nahum 2:9 - ye;  Habakkuk 2:8 - thou;  Revelation 9:3 - locusts

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Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Isaiah 33:4". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/isaiah-33.html.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

4.And your prey shall be gathered. Here he addresses the Assyrians, if it be not thought preferable to refer it to the Jews, and to take the word “prey” in an active sense. But the former opinion is moreappropriate; and this sudden turn of direct address imparts great vehemence to the prediction, when he openly and expressly taunts the proud adversaries. Yet it is doubtful whether it denotes the final ruin of the nation, or the defeat of King Sennacherib, when his army was destroyed by the hand of an angel before the walls of Jerusalem. (2 Kings 19:35.) The latter opinion has been adopted by almost all commentators, but it appears to me to be too limited; for I think that the Prophet, from the beginning of the chapter, intended to express something more, when he spoke of the destruction of that nation, The prophecy might even be still farther extended, as I suggested a little ago, so as to include likewise the Babylonians, who were the latest enemies of the Church; but, passing this, it is sufficiently evident that his pen is directed against the monarchy of Nineveh.

By your gathering of caterpillars. He compares that warlike nation to “caterpillars,” because they will have no power to resist, but will all tremble and faint, so that they shall be gathered into large heaps to be destroyed. The comparison is highly appropriate, and is employed also by the Prophet Nahum, (Nahum 3:15,) though in a somewhat different sense; for that insect, we know, is exceedingly destructive to trees, and exceedingly hurtful, so that it may justly be called The calamity of the earth. But as their vast number gives no power to defend themselves, even children can easily shake off, and gather, and slay them in heaps wherever they meet with them. This also, the Prophet declares, will befall those insatiable robbers; for, although they did much injury by plundering for a long period, they will at length be slain and destroyed without the smallest effort; because, deprived of manly vigor, and almost of life, they will fall into the power of their enemies; and the wealth of Nineveh, amassed by robbery, shall be carried to Babylon.

According to the running of locusts. He now adds another comparison, that the Babylonians will “run like locusts,” to devour the whole country; for those creatures, being exceedingly voracious, and moving forward without interruption, and leaping with astonishing rapidity, consume all the fruits of the earth. Some refer it to the same Assyrians, as if the Prophet compared them to “locusts,” because they will be easily dispersed; but that interpretation does not apply, for the Prophet draws up an army of “locusts,” so as completely to cover in its march the whole land; and he beautifully draws a comparison between the “caterpillars” and the “locusts,” on account of their insatiable avarice and vast numbers.

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 33:4". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/isaiah-33.html. 1840-57.