Eaton & Mains, New York
Reprinted 1988 by
Baker Book House
IN THE BOOK OF ISAIAH.
The Book of Isaiah, as
it has come down to us, is a compilation. The last twenty-seven chapters
have no natural connection with the preceding portions of the book, and
their historical standpoint is not the time of Isaiah the son of Amoz. They
are preceded by four chapters of historical matter (Isa. 36-39), which
appear much more appropriately in 2nd Kings 18:13 – 2nd
Kings 22, with which they are in substance identical. Whatever the
authorship of these historical chapters, the poetical “writing of
Hezekiah” in chap. 38:9-20, is not a composition of Isaiah. Other chapters
also, as we shall see, contain evidences of a date later than the days of
Isaiah. Aside from smaller subdivisions there are five easily distinguished
sections of the book, and these might
have been originally put together as a pentateuch in order to form a
collection of prophecies coordinate with the five books of law and five
books of psalms. In the absence of any certain data it is at least a
plausible hypothesis that the first threefold collection of holy
writing among the Jews consisted of three pentateuchs, each bearing the name
of the most representative man in the laws, the psalms, and the prophecies
of the chosen nation. This might have taken place in the days of Ezra, whose
proficiency as “a ready scribe in the law of Moses” (Ezra 7:6),
determined the form and limits of the books of the law; while the
pentateuchs of David and Isaiah were afterward supplemented by many other
books which were felt to be “profitable for instruction in
righteousness” (2nd Tim. 3:16). In this manner the original
pentateuchal character of the prophets and the psalms may have been ignored
The sixth chapter of
Isaiah contains the prophet’s own account of his divine call. His vision
of Jehovah of hosts, seated upon his throne in the midst of winged seraphim,
is a word-picture of remarkable sublimity. It is dated in the year that King
Uzziah died. That old monarch, after a prosperous reign of two and fifty
years, was dying of leprosy in his separate house (2nd Kings
15:5). The princes and chief men of Judah had grown proud and voluptuous,
and had introduced strange customs from foreign lands. The daughters of Zion
gloried in excessive displays of jewelry, and walked abroad with
outstretched throat and ogling eyes. Divine judgments were beginning to fall
upon the proud kingdom of Samaria, and the colossal world-power of Assyria
was beginning to show its ominous form like a dark storm-cloud on the
distant horizon. In the midst of such external conditions the prophetic
call of Isaiah took the form of an apocalyptic vision. We are scarcely
competent, with Delitzsch, to say that God enabled Isaiah when awake, and
not when sleeping and dreaming, to look into the invisible world and
behold as a supersensible reality what he describes. It may have been a
dream or vision of the night. But whether waking or sleeping the prophet
seems to have been standing in the court of the temple, where he had
probably often stood and gazed upon the great folding doors, on which were
carved the figures of “cherubim and palm trees and open flowers” (1st
Kings 6:35). Suddenly in his vision the doors were opened, and the intervening
veils were parted, and he beheld with open face the interior of the holy of
holies. Bat the objects seen were not the material symbols which occupied
that inner sanctuary. The prophetic rapture carried the vision of the
prophet to the throne of God in heaven, and revealed a theophany of
overwhelming grandeur and sublimity. The vision holds so high a rank among
apocalyptic scenes that we transcribe and annotate the entire chapter:
In the year that King
Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and
his train filling the temple. Seraphim
were standing above him, six wings to
every one; with twain he was covering his face, and with twain he was covering
his feet, and with twain he was flying.
And one called to another and said,
holy, holy, Jehovah of hosts,
The fullness of all the earth is his glory.
the foundations of the thresholds moved to and fro by reason of the voice of
him that called, and the house was full of smoke.
Then said I, Woe is me!
for I am undone; for a man unclean of lips am I, and in the midst of a
people unclean of lips I dwell: for mine eyes have seen the King, Jehovah of
hosts. And there flew unto me one of the seraphim, and in his hand a live
coal, which he had taken from the altar; and he touched my mouth, and said,
Lo, this hath touched thy lips, and thy iniquity is taken away and thy sin
Then I heard the voice
of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?
And I said, Lo, here am I; send me. And he said, Go, and thou shalt say unto
ye continually but do not understand;
And keep on seeing but do not perceive.
Make the heart of this people fat,
And their ears make heavy and their eyes besmear,
Lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears,
And their heart understand, and turn, and be healed.
Then said I, How long, O
Lord? And he said, Until cities are laid waste without inhabitant, and
houses without man, and the land shall become an utter desolation, and
Jehovah shall remove men far away, and
great shall be the deserted space in the midst of the land.
And yet in it (shall be)
a tenth, and it in turn shall be again for burning: as a terebintb, and as
an oak, in which, when they are felled, a stump (remains); (so) is a holy
seed its Stump.
This apocalyptic vision
is to be compared with that of Micaiah in 1st Kings 12:19-22,
that of Ezekiel (chap. 1), and that of John (Rev. 1:12-20, and 4). The
comparison will show the originality and superior qualities of Isaiah. The
reader cannot fail to admire the magnificent conception and execution of
this scripture as a piece of literature. But we regard it as something more
than a mere creation of poetic genius. Its inspiration was from heaven. It
records an experience that was profoundly real to Isaiah. His divine call
took vivid form as a revelation from the very throne of God. But like all
the great and gifted souls, who have been called of God and sent forth on
epoch-making ministries, Isaiah has clothed his divine concepts in his own
human style. So did Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, and all the rest. Isaiah was
probably a young man when he received his call. Ezekiel was in his thirtieth
year when “the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw visions of God”
(Ezek. 1:1). Moses was an old man of eighty years when he beheld the vision
of the burning bush, and was called to deliver Israel. But Samuel was a
little child when he first heard the word of Jehovah, announcing, “Behold
I am about to do a thing in Israel at which both the ears of every one that
heareth it shall tingle” (1st Sam. 3:11). Jeremiah also was but
a child when “Jehovah put forth his hand, and touched his mouth, and
said, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth: see, I have this day set
thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down,
and to destroy and to overthrow; to build and to plant” (Jer. 1:9, 10). We
may not enter into the psychological details of the method of receiving such
epoch-making calls, nor is it competent for us to say just how far the
writer’s own human genius has embellished the form of the heavenly vision
that accompanied his call.
It is important to
observe the immediate effect of this vision upon the prophet. It wrought an
overpowering conviction of the holiness of God. That look within the veil,
that awful vision of the heavenly King upon his throne, the splendor and the
voices of the seraphim, crying, “Holy, holy, holy,” and the trembling of
“the foundations of the thresholds,” all together so overwhelmed the
youthful seer that he cried out, “Woe is me!” No sinful man can face
such majesty and live (comp. Gen. 32:30; Exod. 33:20; Judg. 6:22; 13:22),
and the cry of the prophet was therefore but the natural exclamation of a
feeling heart enrapt with such a vision of the Holy One. A personal
conviction of the enormity of sip, as it appears in the light of infinite
holiness, is indispensable to the highest style of prophet, and it is
interesting to note that “the Holy One of Israel” is a frequent
expression in Isaiah. “The whole Book of Isaiah,” says Delitzsch,
“bears traces of the impression of this ecstasy.” We note further that
when the burning coal from the heavenly altar touches the lips of the
prophet, and removes the sin so deeply felt, he at once becomes obedient to
the divine call.
The word of the Lord to
Isaiah was like an oracle of doom to the sinful nation. It was to prove “a
savor from death unto death.” At this dark forecast the prophet cried,
“How long, O Lord?” and he is told that the judgments will come, one
after another, until the cities of the land become a spectacle of
desolation, and the people go into some far-off region of exile. But the
concluding statement (verse 13) contains a germ of hope. After the land of
Israel has been made a desolation, and when only a tenth part of the people
are left, even that little tenth shall again be subjected to the purging
fire of divine chastisement, until the Holy One of Israel shall have secured
to himself “a holy seed.” The surviving remnant will be like the stock
or stump of a strong tree, which, though felled by the Woodman’s ax, still
has its roots deep in the soil and retains germs of life from which shall
come forth shoots and branches of glorious promise for the after time (comp.
This idea of an
imperishable seed accords with many a Messianic promise and finds further
expression in Isaiah’s prophecies. The doctrine of “a holy seed,” a
surviving “remnant,” was made prominent in the name Shear-jashub (a
remnant shall return), which the prophet gave his son (7:3; 10:21, 22).
It was significant that this child must be taken with him when he was sent
to meet Ahaz, for the assurance that a remnant should survive all judgments
was one ground of Isaiah’s confidence and boldness before the king. In the
symbolical name Immanuel of chap. 7:15; 8:8, we may discern another aspect
of the same blessed hope. The virgin that was then about to bear a son might
well call the newborn child GOD WITH US, for, before the child should become
old enough to choose between good and evil, God would interpose in behalf
of Judah, and overthrow the kingdoms of Damascus and Samaria. Again, in the
name of Maher-shalal-hash-baz (9:4) we have another sign of the speedy
coming of the Lord in judgment to carry into Assyrian exile “the riches of
Damascus and the spoil of Samaria.” And yet, again, the man child of the
wonderful name in chap. 9:6, is a symbolical word-picture of the highest
ideal of the “holy seed,” who is destined to bruise the serpent’s
head, draw all nations unto himself, redeem. All Israel, reestablish “the
throne of David,” and “uphold it with judgment and righteousness
forever.” So all these symbolical names idealize some aspect of the holy
seed referred to in Isaiah’s opening vision. Like the lesson taught Moses
at the burning bush; like the “still small voice” heard by Elijah
after the wind, the earthquake, and the fire, they are so many signs that
the true Israel of God will survive all the fires of judgment. Ephraim may
vex, and Syria threaten, and Assyria roll in like a flood, and Babylon lead
the daughter of Zion into captivity; but “Zion shall be redeemed in
judgment, and be called the city of righteousness, the faithful city”
The series of symbolical
names ends with that of chap. 9:6, in which the Messianic ideal is
preeminent. But the thought of a surviving remnant as “a holy seed” is
taken up again in chap. 11:1, and the figure of a new shoot, springing out
of an old stump, is, as already observed, another picture of the assurance
given in chap. 6:13. Near the close of the New Testament Apocalypse (Rev.
22:16), the great Revealer of the mystery of God announces himself as
“the root and the offspring of David, the bright, the morning star.”
1. In the collection of
prophetic oracles against heathen nations which constitutes Isa. 13-23 there
are a few passages so apocalyptical in style as to deserve our attention.
The first is the highly wrought picture of the day of Jehovah in chap.
13:4-13. That day is one of judgment upon Babylon, “the glory of kingdoms,
the beauty of the Chaldeans’ pride” (verse 19). The fiftieth and
fifty-first chapters of Jeremiah should be read in connection with this
entire oracle of the fall of the great Chaldean capital. So great an event
as the overthrow of that terrible oppressor of many nations is as notable a
judgment “as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah” (verse 19). The
prophet therefore portrays it in the following style:
of a multitude in the mountains, as of a great people;
Sound of a tumult of kingdoms of nations assembled!
Jehovah of hosts mustering a host to battle;
Coming from a land afar, from the end of the heavens,-
Jehovah and the weapons of his fury, to lay waste all
Howl ye, for the day of Jehovah is at hand;
As a destruction from Shadday shall it come.
Therefore shall all hands become slack,
And every heart of man shall melt,
And they shall be dismayed; writhing and throes shall seize them;
As the travailing woman shall they twist in pain;
Each at his neighbor they shall look aghast, their faces all aflame.
Behold the day of Jehovah cometh, cruel, with wrath and burning of anger,
To make the land a desolation, and destroy her sinners out of her.
For the stars of the heavens and their constellations shall not shed forth
Dark is the sun in his going forth,
And the moon shall not cause her light to shine.
And I will visit evil on the world,
And on the wicked their iniquity.
And I will cause the arrogance of the proud to cease,
And the haughtiness of the lawless I bring low;
And I will make men rarer than fine gold,
And mankind than the solid gold of Ophir.
Therefore will I make the heavens to tremble,
And the earth shall be shaken out of her place,
In the overflowing wrath of Jehovah of hosts,
And in the day of the burning of his anger (Isa. 13:4-13).
This concept of “the
day of Jehovah” is an elaboration of what is briefly expressed in Amos
5:18, and is to be compared with Jer. 30:7; Zeph. 1:7, 14-17, and Joel 1:15;
2:1, 2, 11; 3:14-16. The day of Jehovah is the occasion when he executes his
“sore judgment” (comp. Ezek. 14:21) upon a land or nation that deserves
punishment for its sins. It may be a day of judgment on Israel as well as on
a heathen city. “The day of Jezreel” (Hosea 1:11) was the momentous
event of God’s avenging the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu and
putting an end to the “kingdom of the house of Israel in the valley of
Jezreel” (verses 4, 5). “The day of Midian” (Isa. 9:4) was “the
slaughter of Midian at the rock of Oreb” (Isa. 10:26), when “Jehovah set
every man’s sword against his fellow,” and cut off the hosts of the
Midianites (Judg. 7:22, 25). In harmony with this conception the prophets
regard the victorious armies which execute the judgment as a part of
Jehovah’s hosts, and the battle itself is Jehovah’s as truly as if
“the stars in their courses” (Judg. 5:20) and the sun and the moon took
part in the. terrible conflict.
2. Another passage in
this collection of prophecies demanding our special attention is the oracle
against Egypt in chap. 19. The prophecy exhibits the two sides of
apocalyptic visions; first, the impending judgment upon Egypt (verses
1-15), and secondly, the salvation that shall come to Egypt afterward. The
opening words of the oracle depict a coming of Jehovah in the clouds of
heaven (comp. Psalm 18:9, 10; 104:3; Dan. 7:13; Matt. 24:30; 26:64; Rev.
1:7), and so assume the special language of an apocalypse.
Jehovah riding upon a swift cloud and coming into Egypt,
And the idols of Egypt shall tremble at his presence,
And the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of it.
And I will stir up Egyptians against Egyptians,
And they shall fight each man against his brother and each against his
City against city, kingdom against kingdom.
The description goes on
to detail the various ways in which Jehovah will overturn the power and
wisdom of the Egyptians, a1l which are spoken of (in verse 16) as the
swinging of Jehovah’s hand against them. The last part of the chapter
(verses 16-25) falls into six short strophes, each of which declares some
remarkable result of the smiting of Egypt, and all of which together form
a unique ideal of the Messianic future:
(1) Egypt shall
thereafter be in awe of the land of Judah “because of the counsel of
Jehovah of hosts” (16, 17).
(2) Five cities of Egypt
shall speak the language of Canaan (18).
(3) An altar and
pillar of witness shall be a sign in Egypt that Jehovah will deliver from
oppressors (19, 20).
(4) The Egyptians shall
know Jehovah, offer acceptable worship, and be healed (21, 22).
(5) There shall be a
highway between Egypt and Assyria, and these rival nations shall have a
common worship (23).
(6) Israel shall be a
third with Egypt and Assyria, “a blessing in the midst of the earth”
In this remarkable
picture of judgment on Egypt, and of such world-wide revolution and
conversion that Assyria as well as Egypt shall become a part of Jehovah’s
inheritance, we are, of course, to understand the names as prophetico-symbolic.
Egypt and Assyria disappeared long ago from among the nations; Israel is
scattered to the four winds; but the Messianic ideal of the prophecy abides.
The true Israel reappears in the Church of Jesus Christ, and Christianity is
today bringing together the commerce and worship of the most distant
nations, the antitypes of Egypt and Assyria.
3. A third passage to
which we call attention in this connection is in chap. 21. The fall of
Babylon is presented in this chapter as
a “vision,” and the picturesque and symbolical aspect of the entire
oracle entitles it to consideration in the study of apocalyptics. The
questions of date and authorship need not detain us, but the contents
clearly imply the time when Babylon is about to perish at the hands of the
Medes (Elam), and this we know was true
in the closing years of the Babylonian exile. The feast, depicted in verse
5, is well illustrated by Daniel’s description of Belshazzar’s revelry
on the night when the city fell into the hands of the Medes and Persians
(Dan. 5), and the confirmatory statements of Herodotus (1:191) and Xenophon
(Cyrop., 7:23). The destruction is first spoken of as a sweeping
tempest from the south land, such as
might be supposed to rush up from a southeastern quarter to strike upon
Babylon, which, according to Jer. 51:13, was dwelling upon many waters. The
violence, treachery, and barbarity of the siege make it a severe vision to
the prophet, and fill him for the time with anguish and terror (comp. Isa.
15:5; 16:9, 11). He sees the nobles preparing the feast of revelry; they eat
and drink, when suddenly comes the cry, “Arise, ye princes, anoint the
Then the picture
receives another setting. A watchman is
set upon his tower to announce what he beholds. Troops of horsemen and asses
and camels pass before him and disappear, and he waits and listens for some
announcement of their mission until, weary of the long waiting, he cries and
groans like a lion, and complains that he stands and watches continually, by
day and by night, and hears nothing from the long line of troops that he had
seen marching away into the distance. At length he sees a troop of men
approaching, and soon comes the announcement, “Fallen, fallen is
Babylon!” And this fall of Babylon and her idols is announced as a special
message from “Jehovah of hosts, the God of Israel,” to the people whom
he has threshed and winnowed in the land of exile. The fall of Babylon is
the signal of restoration for the exiled house of Jacob (comp chap. 14:1,
2), and so, in the New Testament Apocalypse, the fall of Babylon the great
prepares the way for the coming of the King of righteousness and the
establishment of the New Jerusalem.
APOCALYPSE OF GENERAL JUDGMENT. ISAIAH 24-27.
These four chapters,
which follow immediately after the group of oracles against the nations (Isa.
13-23), form one complete composition, and are regarded by all exegetes as
an apocalyptic song. They occupy a front rank in Messianic prophecy, exhibit
consummate art in their rhetorical structure, but furnish no clew for
ascertaining the exact period of their composition.
Accordingly, on the
questions of date and authorship critical opinion has been much divided.
Those who maintain the Isaianic authorship claim that the confusion and
desolation consequent upon the Assyrian invasions furnish a suitable
historical occasion. The overthrow and general ruin described in Isa. 1:7,
8, might well have afforded the prophet a sufficient ground for all this
picture of ultimate salvation and triumph to be attained only through
purging fires of judgment. Few recent critics, however, accept the Isaianic
authorship. The language, the scope, and the entire range of conception
and structure point to another age and another writer. According to Bleek
the author lived and wrote in Judea in the time of Josiah, and just after
the overthrow of the Assyrian empire. In the fall of Nineveh, and the great
world-power it represented, the prophet recognized the symbol of a general
judgment on the earth, to be followed by the glorifieation of Israel.
According to Gesenius, De Wette, and Umbreit, the author lived among the
exiles of Babylon and wrote this oracle just before the overthrow of the
Chaldean metropolis. Knobel and Davidson place the composition in Judea,
soon after the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar. Ewald
holds that the fall of Babylon is presupposed as complete, and that the
prophecy belongs to the time when Cambyses was preparing for his Egyptian
campaign. Dillmann also seems inclined
to favor this view, although he confesses that the exact point of time of
the writer is very uncertain. Vatke and Hilgenfeld
also place the composition in the Persian period, the latter conjecturing
that the destruction of Tyre by Alexander may be referred to. Stade and
others have assigned the work to the Grecian period.
It must in all fairness
be admitted that the data for determining the exact historical position of
the writer do not exist. In the fourth edition of his commentary, even the
conservative Delitzsch writes: “The author is not Isaiah himself, but a
disciple of Isaiah’s, who, in this case, surpasses his master. Isaiah is
great in himself, greater still in his disciples, as rivers are greater than
the source from which they issue. It must, however, always appear strange
that tradition has been so careless as to let the name of a prophet who,
like the author of Isa. 24-27, played so important a part in the history of
thought on the subject of salvation, sink into oblivion.” But is this any
more strange than that the Book of Job should be anonymous?
The frequent reference
to Zion and Jerusalem, and the words “this mountain” (25:6, 10), are
evidence that the writer was an inhabitant of Jerusalem, and the language of
24:16, 17, imply that he was dwelling in a land that was undergoing terrible
spoliation. The fear of pit and snare was pressing hard upon all such as
should be left in the land. The exclamation “Behold” (____), followed
by the active participle of the verb which introduces the principal
announcement, as in 24:1, most naturally points to some catastrophe which is
about to come. There were times during Hezekiah’s reign when these oracles
would have found suitable occasion; and also later, in the reign of Josiah,
and especially in the days of Jeremiah, when the Chaldean desolation was
imminent. But the scope of the prophecy so far transcended the immediate
occasion as to throw the latter comparatively out of sight. The judgments
and the salvation herein conceived seem rather ideal, and take in the entire
period of the Messianic reign. Only by a long series of judgments and
triumphs is the true Israel of God to attain glorification.
A satisfactory analysis
of these chapters is difficult. There is repetition of sentiment, but not so
uniform as to help determine the order of thought designed by the author.
Briggs, in his Messianic Prophecy (pages 295-308), divides the whole
into twelve strophes, but the theory of just so many lines to each strophe
obliges him to make points of division not in accord with the sentiment, and
to refer the last five lines to another writer. We do not find that in all
the great Hebrew poems (especially the prophetic) the successive strophes
contain an equal number of lines. But the principle of dividing into
strophes may lead us to the best analysis. 1. The first twelve verses
contain matter which may well come under one caption. They portray a picture
of widespread desolation. 2. The next eleven verses present another picture,
containing some repetition from the first (for example, verses 18-20), but
noticeably varied. We have, first, notes of joy, and songs in praise of the
righteous, coming from the ends of the earth (14-16). But over against these
songs the prophet sets the dismal situation in the midst of which he lives
(16-18), and then goes on to show that this desolation is a judgment of
heaven, to be consummated upon the powers above and below, and result in
bringing glory to Jehovah, who reigns in Mount Zion (19-23). Here then we
may observe two passages of about equal length, the second repeating
elements of the first with such notable variations as we often find in
apocalyptic composition. 3. We find, moreover, that the next twelve verses
(15:1-12) have a unity of thought, and are in fact a song of triumph over
the fall of the enemy of God and his people. 4. The eleven verses which
succeed (26:1-11) are another song of triumph, celebrating with varied
thought and expression the same world-judgment as before. 5. Next follows a
somewhat longer section of thirteen verses (26:12-27:1), a magnificent song
of redeemed Israel, declaring how, through suffering and judgment, Jehovah
will restore his people, and make that restoration even a resurrection of
the dead. This analysis leaves yet another section (6) of about equal length
(27:2-13), which takes on the prophetic form in which the writer speaks in
the person of Jehovah, and concludes with the idea which is common to all
the apocalypses—Jehovah and his people dwelling in the holy mountain and
the city of God.
We accordingly divide
into six sections of about equal length, each of which may, if one desires,
be subdivided into minor strophes of from six to eight lines each. The first
two announce the desolation and coming judgments; the next two are songs
corresponding in sentiment to the suggestions of the judgment, and celebrate
the certain triumph of God and his people; the fifth is the personified
people of God, exulting in the glorious redemption as a life from the dead,
and the sixth and last is the very word of Jehovah declaring the principles
and results of his judgments, and assuring his people of ultimate
glorification in the holy mountain.
THE COMING DESOLATION.
is about to empty the earth and
And he will twist its face, and scatter its inhabitants;
And like the
people so the priest shall be,
Slave like his lord, maid-servant like her mistress,
Buyer like seller, borrower like the lender,
Like him that takes so he that makes a loan.
is the earth, and spoiled, all spoiled,
For Jehovah has declared this very word.
fades the earth; droops, fades the world away;
They droop—the lofty people of the earth;
earth has become foul under its inhabitants.
For they have transgressed laws, passed statutes by,
Broken an everlasting covenant;
curse has eaten up the earth,
And guilty are the inhabitants therein.
Therefore the earth’s inhabitants are burned,
And that which is left—a few feeble men.
The new wine
mourns, the vine is drooping low,
They groan within them all of merry heart.
The joy of tabrets
rests, the proud exulters’ noise has ceased,
The joy of
harps rests, in the song they drink not wine.
Bitter is strong drink unto them that drink it.
The city of
chaos has been broken down,
Shut up is every house that none may enter.
o’er the wine is in the street,
Dark is all mirth, the joy of the earth is gone into exile.
What is left
in the city is a desolation,
And into ruins is the gateway smitten.
SONGS AND TRIUMPH THROUGH JUDGMENT.
- For thus shall it be in
the earth, in the midst of the peoples,
Like beating of olives, like gleanings
when vintage is ended;
- Those will lift up their
voice, they cry for joy,
At Jehovah’s grandeur shout they from the sea.
- Therefore in east-lands
glorify ye Jehovah,
In the isles of the sea the name of Jehovah, God of Israel.
- From the edge of the earth
have we heard songs—“Glory for the righteous.”
But I say, Famine for me, famine for me, alas for me!
Spoilers have spoiled, yea, spoil did spoilers spoil.
- Fear and pit and snare are on
thee, O dweller in the land!
- And it shall be that whoso
flees from the noise of the fear falls in the pit,
And whose rises from the pit is taken in the snare.
For windows have been opened from on
And the foundations
of the earth do shake.
- Broken, utterly broken is
Shattered, utterly shattered is the earth;
Shaken, utterly shaken is the earth;
- Reeling the earth reels
like the drunken man,
And dangles like the hammock to and fro;
And heavy upon it is its transgression,
And it is fallen and shall not rise again.
- And in that day will
Jehovah visit doom on the host of the high in the height,
And on the kings of the ground on the ground,
- And they shall be
assembled, captives for the pit,
And they shall be imprisoned in the prison,
And after many days be visited.
- And the white moon shall
blush, and the hot sun feel shame,
For Jehovah Sabaoth in Mount Zion reigns,
And in Jerusalem and before his elders is glory.
SONG OF TRIUMPH OVER THE ENEMY.
25:1 Jehovah, my God thou art, I will exalt thee,
I praise thy name for thou hast wrought a wonder,
Counsels from long
ago, truth, verity.
2. For from a city thou hast made a heap,
A fortified city—to
a ruined pile,
strangers—city now no more,
Forever it shall not
be builded up.
- Therefore shall a strong
people honor thee,
A city of the nations shall fear thee.
- For thou hast been a
stronghold to the weak,
A stronghold to the poor in his distress,
A refuge from the storm, a shade from heat,
For like a wall-storm was the
- As beat in drought thou
quellest noise of strangers,
As heat in shade of clouds the tyrant’s song sinks low.
- And Jehovah Sabaoth will
make for all the peoples in this mountain
A feast of fat things, feast of wines on the lees,
Fat things rubbed over, wines on the lees strained off;
- And he will swallow in
this mountain the face of the veil that covers all the peoples,
Even the covering that is spread o’er all the nations;
- He swallows up forever
And the Lord Jehovah wipes tears from all faces,
And turns his people’s shame from all the earth;
For Jehovah has declared it.
- And one will say in that
day, Lo, our God is this;
We waited for him and he rescues us;
This, this is Jehovah, we have waited for him,
We will exult and joy in his salvation.
- For in this mountain
Jehovah’s hand will rest,
And Moab shall be
trodden under him,
Like treading straw in the water of a dungpit;
- And in its midst he will
spread out his hands,
Even as the swimmer spreads his hands to swim;
But down he casts his pride with the plots of his hands.
- And the high places of thy
walls he hurls,
Casts down, makes touch the earth, even to the dust.
CELEBRATION OF GOD'S JUDGMENTS.
26:1 In that day shall be sung this song in the land of Judah:
city Strong is ours; salvation he will
set for walls and rampart.
2. Open, ye gates, and let a righteous
of faithfulness, in thought sustained.
wilt keep peace, peace; for in thee they trust.
4. Put ye your trust forever in
For in Jah
Jehovah is the Rock of Ages.
he has hurled down them that dwell on high;
The lofty city, he will cast it down,
To the earth will cast it, make it touch the dust.
foot shall tread it down,—
Feet of the wretched, footsteps of the weak.
pathway for the just is evenness,
Straight wilt thou smooth the highway of the just.
- Also in the path of thy
judgment, O Jehovah, we have waited for thee.
Toward thy name and thy memorial there is longing of
- In my soul have I longed
for thee by night,
Yea, in my spirit within me do I seek thee.
For when thy judgments reach unto the earth,
The world’s inhabitants learn righteousness.
- Let a sinner be favored,
he learns not righteousness,
In a land of right he will act wickedly,
He will not see the majesty of Jehovah.
- Jehovah, thy hand is high,
(but) they will not see;
Let them see,— and with shame,
zeal for a people;
Yea, even the fire of thy foes shall devour them.
ISRAEL’S RESURRECTION SONG.
thou wilt establish peace for us,
For also all our works thou hast wrought for us.
God, lords besides thee have ruled us;
Alone in thee we celebrate thy name.
ones shall not live; the shades
shall not rise up,
Therefore didst thou visit and destroy them,
And cause all memory of them to perish.
Thou hast, O
Jehovah, added to the nation;
Thou hast added to the nation; thou art honored;
Far hast thou set all limits of the land.
in distress they visited thee,
They poured out prayer when thou wast scourging them.
As one with
child draws near the time to bear,
She writhes, she cries out in her labor pains,
So have we been away from thee, O Jehovah.
We were with
child, we writhed; thus bore we wind;
We could not work salvation for the land,
the world’s inhabitants fall forth.
shall live; my body—they shall rise;
Awake and sing, O dwellers of the dust;
For dew of lights is thy dew,
and earth shall cast forth shades.
Go thou, my
people, enter in thy chambers,
And fasten up thy double doors behind thee;
Hide a small moment till the wrath be past.
Jehovah from his place goes forth,
To visit the guilt of earth’s inhabitants,
And the earth shall disclose her mass of blood,
And no more shall she cover up her slain.
that day will Jehovah visit with his sword,
harsh, the mighty, and the violent,
Leviathan, the flying serpent,
on Leviathan the crooked serpent,
slay the Dragon that is in the sea.
JEHOVAH’S ASSURING WORD FOR ISRAEL.
that day, a delightful
vineyard,—sing to it;
Jehovah keep it, water it each
Lest any harm it, night and day I keep it.
- Fury is not mine;
would that I had thorns and briers in battle,
I would rush in them, set them all ablaze.
- Or—would one fasten upon
Let him make peace with me, make peace with me.
- In coming times
shall Jacob strike deep root,
Israel shall blossom, and shall put forth buds,
And fill the surface of the world with fruit.
the smiting of his smiter did he smite him
Or like the slaughter of his slayers was he slain?
a measure didst thou in sending her off strive with her.
He growled with his rough blast in the day of the
by this he covers Jacob’s guilt,
And this is all the fruit of putting away his sin;
In his making all the altar stones like shattered limestones;—
The Asherim. and sun-pillars shall not rise.
a fenced city has become a waste,
A dwelling left, forsaken as the desert.
There feeds the calf, and then lies down, and ends her boughs.
her twigs become dry they shall be broken;
Women will come and set them in a blaze.
For he is not a people of understanding;
Therefore his Maker will not pity him,
And He that formed him will not show him mercy.
in that day will Jehovah beat out (grain),
From the flood of the river unto Egypt’s stream,
And one by one will ye be gathered,
O sons of Israel.
it shall come to pass in that day that there will be blowing with a
And those lost in Assyria’s land shall come,
And those that were in Egypt’s land dispersed,
And they will pay their homage unto Jehovah,
In the holy mountain, in Jerusalem.
IV. ISAIAH 28-33
The apocalypse of
general judgment is followed by another subdivision of Isaiah, which
Delitzsch calls the “Book of Woes,” but which Orelli entitles the
“Book of Zion.” Both headings may be defended, for, as Delitzsch says,
“all the independent and self-contained discourses in this prophetic
cycle begin with ‘Woe,’” and Orelli, while conceding, this fact,
observes that “as in chaps. 7-12, it was the person of the Messiah
springing from David’s house that bound the whole closely together, so
here it is the salvation established by God on Zion, more under local than
personal aspects, which serves as a leading idea to unite the several pieces
together. These two ideas (the Davidic kingdom and the abode of God on the
holy mount) were ever the pillars sustaining the prophecies whose goal was
the perfecting of God’s kingdom.”
But as the greater part
of these oracles is not strictly apocalyptic, we attend only to two short
passages, one of which (30:27-33) depicts a coming of Jehovah to execute
judgment, and the other (33:20-24) his dwelling with his people upon Mount
Zion, and acting as their judge, lawgiver, and king. The coming of Jehovah
in punitive judgment upon Assyria is thus portrayed:
the name of Jehovah cometh from
Burning in his wrath, and a heavy uplifting of smoke;
His lips are full of fury, and his tongue like devouring fire,
his breath is like an overflowing torrent that divides even to the neck,
To swing nations in a swing of nothingness,
And a misleading bridle is on the cheeks of peoples.
song shall be as in a night when a feast is hallowed,
And a joy of heart like one
marching with flutes,
To go to the mountain of Jehovah, unto the Rock of Israel.
Jehovah will cause the majesty of his voice to be heard,
And the letting down of his arm will he display,
In fury of anger and flame of devouring fire,
Cloudburst, and rain storm, and hailstones.
by Jehovah’s voice shall Asshur be broken,
With the rod (with which) he will
every passing over of the rod of destiny,
Which Jehovah shall cause to fall
Shall be with timbrels and with lutes,
And with battles of swinging will he
fight against them.
set in order from of old is Tophetb,
Even for Molech was it prepared; made deep and wide;
Its pile is fire and wood in great abundance,
The breath of Jehovah, like a torrent of brimstone, is burning within
The variety and force of
the imagery employed in this short passage deserve studious attention. In
all the displays of power and fury attendant upon the overthrow of the
Assyrian empire the prophet beholds the parousia of Jehovah. The judgment
executed is a manifestation of his Name. Accordingly, he portrays him as
coming in furious anger, breathing out a torrent of fire, yet veiled in
clouds of smoke, confounding and annihilating nations with the overpowering
brightness of his coming. His majestic voice terrifies, the hand of his
power is felt in flames of lightning, cloudburst, and hailstones; Assyria
is broken by the rod of divine anger, and her king and all the host of
oppressors are consigned to Topheth, the fires of which are kindled into
fury “like a torrent of brimstone.” How these figures of punitive wrath
are appropriated and modified by later apocalyptists we shall see when we
come to examine later prophecies.
The counterpart of the
foregoing picture of judgment is found in the concluding verses of chap. 33,
where a vision of Zion is held up to view:
Zion, the city of our festal assembly;
Thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a restful dwelling.
A tent that shall not move about,
its pins shall never be pulled up,
And none of its cords shall be broken.
there majestic Jehovah will be ours;
A place of rivers, canals broad on both hands,
In which there shall not go a boat with oars,
Nor shall majestic ship pass over it.
Jehovah is our judge, Jehovah is our commander;
Jehovah is our king; he will save us.
are thy cords,—
They hold not fast the socket of
They cannot keep the flag outspread.
Then is the spoil of plundering divided,
The lame have seized upon the prey.
no one dwelling (there) shall say, I am sick;
The people who dwell in it have
their guilt forgiven (33:20-24).
This vision of a
glorified Zion is presented to the eyes of hose sinners in Zion who are
stricken with terror at God’s judgment, and who ask,
among us can sojourn in devouring fire?
Who among us can sojourn in eternal burnings? (verse 14.)
are answered that the consuming fires of Jehovah shall have no power on
those who “walk righteously and speak uprightly,” and keep themselves
pure from all kinds of evil. Such are like the burning bush of Moses’s
vision (Exod. 3:2), and the holy seed whose stump abides and ever sprouts
anew (Isa. 6:13). Their eyes shall see the king of Judah clothed in ideal
beauty (verse 17), and the land of Israel shall again appear as it once did
in the vision of Abraham, a land stretching as far as eye could see “northward,
and southward, and eastward, and westward” (Gen. 13:14). The fierce and
barbarous people shall disappear (verse 19), and Zion and Jerusalem shall be
seen in glory, a restful dwelling for the people of Jehovah. There Jehovah
himself will dwell in majesty and keep it secure from all hostile
assaults. Though Zion now seems like a disabled vessel in the midst of
storms, then shall her people be victors over all calamity and divide
a vast amount of spoils. No sickness of body shall then be felt; no burden
of guilt shall then remain unlifted from the soul. All this is an Old
Testament prophetic parallel of what we read in more definite outline in
ISAIAH 34 AND 35.
These two chapters
present another apocalyptic picture of a great national judgment followed by
the redemption and glorification of Jehovah’s people. Jehovah’s wrath
is declared against all the nations, but the sword of his anger is drawn in
fury against the land of Edom. The first
ten verses of this description are so remarkable for boldness of
conception and style that we present them in the following translation:
near, ye nations, to hear, and ye peoples, attend;
Let the earth hear and the fullness
The world and all things that come forth of it.
Jehovah has wrath against all the nations
And fury against all their host:
He has laid them under ban, given them to the slaughter.
their slain shall be cast out,
And the stink of their carcasses shall go up.
And mountains shall be melted with
all the host of heaven shall molder
And the heavens shall be rolled up
as a scroll,
And all their hosts shall fade as
fades the leaf from the vine,
And as a fading leaf from the fig
in the heaven my sword has drunk its
Behold upon Edom it shall come
And upon the people of my curse,
sword of Jehovah is full of blood, besmeared with fat,
From blood of lambs and goats, from kidney fat of rams.
For Jehovah has a sacrifice
And a great slaughter in the land of Edom.
the wild oxen shall come down with them,
And bullocks with strong oxen.
And their land shall be drunken
And their dust with fat besmeared.
it is a day of the vengeance of Jehovah,
A year of recompenses for the
controversy of Zion.
its streams shall be turned to pitch and its dust to brimstone,
And its land shall become pitch,
burning by night and by day,
shall not be quenched forever,
Its smoke shall go up
from generation to generation,
It shall lie waste forever and ever, none passing through it.
The rest of the chapter
is filled with details of a picture of desolation, somewhat like Isa.
13:20-22. The imagery is notably of a different character from that of the
preceding verses, but it serves to show impressively how Jehovah’s
vengeance upon Edom will leave that land a scene of utter ruin and perpetual
waste. The thought and language of the first ten verses of the chapter are
sublime in the extreme, and yet the judgment described is one that was
long ago executed on the land and people of Edom.
The thirty-fifth of
Isaiah presents an ideal of beauty and excellence in striking contrast to
that of desolation in the preceding chapter. It is an apocalyptic picture of
the new earth (comp. Isa. 65:17; 66:22; 2nd Peter 3:13; Rev.
21:1), which the ransomed people of Jehovah shall inherit. All nature is to
blossom in a glorious beauty and appear like a blessed garden of delight.
No more will barren deserts and ravenous beasts be known. There will be no
sickness (comp. 33:24), for the blind shall see, the deaf shall hear, the
lame shall leap as a hart, and the dumb shall sing. A highway for God’s
released ones, and for them only, will lead them safely unto Zion, whither
they shall come with joyful songs, and from them “sorrow and sighing shall
flee away.” This glorious future is Jehovah’s “recompense for the
controversy of Zion” (34:8; comp. 35:4). He thus comes to save (comp.
35:4, and 33:22), and the salvation and glory implied in this thirty-fifth
chapter is parallel with those of chap. 33:15-24.
When the Messianic hope took form in the prophet’s soul as the full
recompense and salvation of God it was fittingly portrayed as something far
transcending the common joys of men. All that was conceived as baneful must
pass away, and all that was beautiful and glorious in thought was assured.
And so the Messianic hope was wont to connect with ideals of the
transformation of nature, the absence of all evil, and the fruition of
VI. ISAIA11 40-66
The last twenty-seven
chapters of Isaiah are not strictly apocalyptic, but they contain so many
ideals of the redemption and future glory of Jehovah’s people that we
cannot pass them without some notice. Later apocalyptists have drawn from
the metaphors and language of these chapters, and in no part of the Old
Testament do we find more glowing conceptions of the Messiah’s age and the
future of the kingdom of God.
The writer’s point of
view is the time of the Babylonian exile. He refers to Cyrus as a well-known
character, a conqueror whom Jehovah has stirred up from the sun-rising, and
given peoples and kings to trample under foot (41:2, 25); he is moved to
build God’s city and send his exiles home (45:13); he is God’s eagle
from a far country (46:11). In 44:28, and 45:1, Jehovah calls him his shepherd
and his anointed. Cyrus did not know or worship the God of
Israel, but was nevertheless employed in the providence of Him who
“removeth kings and setteth up kings” (Dan. 2:21), to conserve and
advance the interests of the Jewish people. Hence he says, “I have called
thee by thy name, I have titled thee (that is, called him shepherd and
anointed), though thou hast not known me” (45:4). It was of
God that this remarkable Persian was called to perform all his pleasure, and
to say of Jerusalem, “She shall be built; and to the temple, Thy
foundation shall be laid” (44:28).
When this great prophet
wrote the Jewish people were in exile, Judah was a desolation, and Jerusalem
and the temple were in ruins. “Thy holy cities are become a wilderness,”
he cries; “Zion is become a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation. Our holy
and beautiful house, where our fathers praised thee, is burned with fire;
and all our pleasant things are laid waste” (64:10, 11). “Our
adversaries have trodden down thy sanctuary” (63:18; comp. 42:22-25;
From this standpoint the
entire prophecy of Isa. 40-66 appears as a word of consolation. The first
verses are a blessed oracle of assuring grace: “Comfort ye, comfort ye my
people, saith your God. Speak ye to the heart of Jerusalem, and cry unto
her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned; that
she hath received from the hand of Jehovah double for all her sins” (40:1,
2). Then Jehovah is spoken of as coming to accomplish the salvation
of his people. His glory is to be revealed so that all flesh shall see it
together. “Behold,” he cries, “the Lord Jehovah as a mighty One shall
come, and his arm ruling for him. Behold, his reward is with him, and his
recompense before him. He shall feed his flock like a shepherd, he shall
gather the lambs in his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead
those that give suck.” All this contemplates a divine parousia, and its
outlook is realized only in the Messianic era.
twenty-seven chapters, summed up in a word or two, depict the glorification
of Zion, as consequent upon the downfall of Babylon. Herein is the one great
apocalyptic idea that runs through the oracle as a whole. Bel must bow down,
Nebo must stoop. The idols of Babylon are to be carried off by beasts of
burden as so much good-for-nothing rubbish. The proud daughter of Babylon is
to be humbled in the dust and exposed to bitter shame (47:1-5). But the
captive daughter of Zion is to awake and put on her beautiful garments
(comp. Rev. 21:2), go forth out of Babylon, and flee from the
Chaldeans (48:20; 52:1, 2). She shall not, however, go out in haste as at
the exodus from Egypt, for Jehovah will go before her and the God of Israel
will be her rearward (52:11, 12). The great central figure of this
redemption is Jehovah’s servant, who is led as a lamb to the slaughter,
and whose soul is made an offering for sin, but who shall see of the travail
of his soul, and be satisfied (52:13-53:12). Along with this ideal sufferer
the true Israel of God are destined alike to suffer and to triumph (comp.
2nd Tim. 2:11, 12).
a small moment have I forsaken thee;
But with great mercies will I gather thee.
In overflowing wrath I hid my face from thee a moment;
But with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee (54:7, 8).
The mighty struggles of
redemption are not the matter of a little time. They will involve danger and
loss. It is the old and age-long conflict of the woman’s and the
serpent’s seed. But the fall of Babylon is assurance that no proud
oppressor will ultimately triumph. No weapon formed to oppose Jehovah shall
behold, I create new heavens and new earth;
And the former things shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.
But be ye glad and rejoice forever in that which I create:
For, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy.
And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people:
And the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her,
nor the voice of crying (65:17-19).
In all this magnificent
picture we have an Old Testament ideal of what is more fully symbolized in
the New Testament Apocalypse of the fall of Babylon, the harlot, and the
glory of Jerusalem, the bride.
chaps. 1-12, 13-23, 24-35, 36-39, and 40-66.
The flowing skirts of his royal robes, which seemed to the seer to fill
the heavenly temple.
seraphs appear to have been in a hovering attitude, as if poised on
their outstretched wings above and around the throne.
verbs in the imperfect tense here indicate the apparently continuous
action of the wings.
entire scene, but especially this trisagion, was adapted to
impress the prophet with a deep sense of the holiness of God. It is to
be noted that “the Holy One of Israel” is a phrase that occurs often
in Isaiah, and seems like the echo of this trisagion.
us. Here we note again the implication of a heavenly council as in Gen.
1:26; 3:22; 1st Kings 22:19.
word of prophecy, if unheeded, becomes a means of dulling the moral
sense, and is thus a savor from death unto death (2nd Cor.
is, into foreign exile.
last clause is thought by Cheyne to be a postexilic addition. But such a
view is purely conjectural, and seems less probable than that it is a
fragmentary sentence of the author himself, left incomplete, at the time
of the first writing, and never afterward revised.
is in perfect harmony with the analogy of faith to suppose that the dark
speech or enigma of Isaiah’s early vision lay in his mind and
fructified, till at length he attained that full insight into its
meaning which is expressed in verses 9-13. The immediate object of the
vision was to set before Isaiah the ideal of prophecy as a lifework, as
opposed to the primitive view connecting it too closely with isolated
ecstatic moments. Isaiah stands, in consequence of this revelation,
between two schools of prophecy. To his predecessors the source of
inspiration was more or less external and intermittent; to him it was
internal and perennial.”—Cheyne, The Prophecies of Isaiah, introduction
to chap. 6.
Judg. 7:22; 1st Sam. 14:16, 20; 2nd Chron. 20:23.
Such a setting of the enemies to destroy one another is characteristic
of Jehovah’s warfare, and is made symbolical of “the valley of
decision,” or “valley of Jehoshaphat” in the Book of Joel. The
valley of judgment to the foes becomes the valley of blessing to the
friends of Jehovah.
called symbolically “the wilderness of the sea,” as situate in the
midst of lowlands often flooded by the great river Euphrates. So
Nineveh and Thebes were situate among the rivers of waters (comp. Nahum
2:8; 3:8; Jer. 51:13; Rev. 17:1). It is noticeable that this oracle
(verses 1-10) is the first of four which bear symbolical inscriptions
(comp. verses 11, 13, and 22:1).
would not well suit the siege of Sargon, as Cheyne and others have
thought; for, as Dillmann observes, Elam was at that time on the side of
Babylon, and not against it. See also Delitzsch, in loco.
no more implies that the armies of Elam would approach Babylon from the
south than the word northern, in Joel 2:20, implies that
the armies of locusts in chap. 1, 4-7 , must have come from the north.
chapter divides naturally into two equal parts. The first (verses 1-5)
presents the siege of Babylon in vision, as if impending, and ends with
a call for the chiefs to arise from careless feasting and get ready for
defensive battle. The second (verses 6-10) presents in true apocalyptic
style a repetition of the vision under other symbols. Troops pass and
disappear, and by and by comes the report of Babylon’s fall.
in das Alt. Test., p. 293. Berlin, 1886.
of the Old Testament, English translation, vol. 5, pp. 23-24.
Prophet Jesaia, p. 222. Leipzig, 1890.
fur wissenschaftliche Theologie,
9 Yahrg., pp. 437, 438. Comp. Vatke, Hist.-Krit. Einleitung in das
Alt. Test., p. 623. Boon, 1886.
the land. A Jewish prophet at Jerusalem would naturally associate
this word with his own country, for that was virtually his world. But as
his vision enlarges it mast needs take in a wider world. Comp. verse 4.
allusion is to the chaos of Gen. 1:2. The “city of chaos” is so
called in view of the confused mass of ruins into which it is about to
be reduced by the impending judgment of Jehovah. The particular city
intended would naturally be that one which, at the time of the prophet,
stood as the most prominent representative of the hostile, godless
world-power, exposed to the wrath of Jehovah of hosts. It may have been
Nineveh or Babylon, according to the date of the prophecy. But in the
true symbolical import of the oracle the “city of chaos” is every
city which is hostile to Jehovah and therefore destined to be brought to
is another figure of the elect remnant, who are called a holy seed in
Isa. 6:13. They survive all the desolating judgments of the world. They
are the ones who in the next verse are heard to shout for joy from the
lands of their dispersion.
- Or, regions
of light (____). Others read ____ islands, as
in close parallelism with what follows; but east and west are poetically
is, honor and glory are for every righteous soul who exults in
Jehovah’s majesty. The words are not an ascription to the righteous
God, nor to any one distinguished person (as Cyrus, whom Henderson
here imagines). Then the seer suddenly checks himself, and remembers
that he belongs to a generation destined to waste away and suffer from
the violence of the spoiler.
to the judgment of the flood (Gen. 7:11). The entire passage (verses
18-20) is a sublime apocalyptic description of national catastrophe.
Comp. Nahum 1:3-6.
The judgment here portrayed is without parallel in the Old Testament.
The host on high, as contrasted with “kings of the ground,” seems
obviously to refer to superhuman principalities and powers which have
some kind of rule in the heavens. Such was the “prince of Persia”
whom Michael and his associate angelic princes were wont to oppose (Dan.
10:13, 20). From this imagery the New Testament seer derived his symbols
of the dragon and his angels (Rev. 12:7-9), destined as in this vision
to be imprisoned in the pit, and afterward visited and released a little
season (Rev. 20:2, 3, 7). Indeed, the harmony of these descriptions,
with the final vision of Jehovah reigning on Zion, with his elders
before him in glory (comp. Rev. 4:4), is most striking. We recognize in
this passage, therefore, a prophetic outline of the Messianic reign,
which is destined to execute judgment on the ungodly of every class and
grade, and to issue in the final glorification of the people of God. The
ideal Jerusalem of Isaiah is also the golden Jerusalem of John.
wonder. The writer now occupies the visional standpoint suggested by
what has just preceded, namely, the day of final triumph and
glorification. The ruin of the wicked and the triumph of the godly
constitute an unspeakable wonder. Therefore he turns to glorify in song
the judgment of Jehovah.
heap. Babylon was perhaps the city first rising to the prophet’s
thought; possibly Nineveh, if Isaiah were the author. But in any case
the scope of the vision transcends any local limitation, and
contemplates the hostile city that stands in the way of Jehovah’s
triumph and of Israel’s ultimate glorification. This entire passage is
a celebration of the redemption of the true Israel.
thee. The address is to Jehovah.
sudden burst of rain and tempest against a wall that serves for a refuge
from storm and a shade from beat. Perhaps, however, instead of ____, wall,
we should read ____, cold=cold wintry storm.
strophe (verses 6-8) contemplates a glorification which nothing less
than the New Testament revelation enables us to understand. Three great
thoughts are here, (1) the joyful feast, (2) removal of the veil that
darkens the nations, and (3) the abolition of death, “the last
enemy” (1st Cor. 15:26). As a necessary consequence darkness,
weeping, and shame are removed from the people of God.
ancient enemy is named as a representative of all tribes hostile to the
people of God. Jehovah will tread all enemies under his feet.
“strong city” is the ideal Jerusalem, here set in striking contrast
with the high fortress of the enemy which is to be burled down to the
dust. So habitually, in apocalyptic visions, the hostile city is cast
down to give place to the city of God., Babylon, the harlot, falls, that
the heavenly Jerusalem may appear in her glory.
ignoring the masoretic punctuation in verses 2 and 3, and arranging the
parallelism as in our translation, we secure the more direct and
simple idea that it is the righteous nation that acts as guardian of the
faithfulnesses, or faithful ones), being itself
divinely sustained and established in heart.
the address turns directly unto Jehovah.
prophet here speaks for the devout Israel, who pray day and night for
the triumph of righteousness. The great day of the manifestation of
Jehovah is conceived as following upon the path of his judgments.
Judgment opens and closes the period of the Messiah’s reign.
construction and sense of verse 11 are obscure. Our translation is
faithful to the Hebrew text. By taking ____ and ____ as jussives, and
“zeal for a people” as accusative after these verbs, we have the
wish that those who will not see may yet have their eyes opened and be
put to shame at the zeal of God in behalf of his people. That zeal is
also a fire to devour Jehovah’s enemies.
are to be understood of the dead lords who had ruled over Israel and oppressed
them, but who are conceived as shades that shall not rise again. Observe
the contrast in verse 19: These impious dead shall not live, but
Jehovah’s dead shall live and exult in triumph.
is, multiplied the nation (comp. Isa. 9:3). In his address the prophet
here turns away from the dead lords, whose memory is blotted out, and
sets in contrast the glory of his people, who in their distress seek
Jehovah, humble themselves, and through great pain and trial obtain as
it were life from the dead.
dead” are Jehovah’s dead, and “my body” is the collective
Israel, in whose name the prophet speaks. The thought running through
the context is: Our writhings to produce a population and to save the
land were all in vain; but thy power, O Jehovah, can make thy dead ones
live again. So the nation is multiplied (verse 16) as by a resurrection
from the dead, the boundaries of the land are enlarged, and the great
body of God’s people, the multitudinous dwellers in the dust, shall
awake and sing (comp. Hosea 6:2, and Ezek. 37:1-10).
dew” is God’s dew, and called “dew of lights,” as if it were the
product of heavenly luminaries, glittering in the beams of the morning,
and suggesting the light and freshness of a new day. Such brightness
quickens the dead into life and draws forth the shades from their secret
Leviathans and the Dragon are named here as mystic designations of three
hostile powers—probably Assyria, Babylon, and Egypt. The names thus
used symbolically were appropriated from ancient myths of the monsters
of the deep (comp. Psalm 74:13, 14; Isa. 51:9, 10; Ezek. 29:3; Job 41:1,
and Psalm 104:26), but how far these Hebrew poets and prophets were
acquainted with the origin and history of the myths it is now impossible
to determine. For an interesting discussion of these names and their
mythical significance see Gunkel, Schopfuny und Chaos, pp. 41-61
and pp. 69-81.
of ____, wine, we here read with the Septuagint ____, delight.
The language of this verse is abrupt and obscure. It seems to be
the heading of the song which begins with the next verse.
this prophetic song Jehovah is the speaker, but the song is one in which
the people of Jehovah may be permitted to join “in that day.”
is, against my vineyard; but the thorns and briers that grow up in it he
would fain burn up.
Hebrew _____, the coming —, is indefinite. Days or years
is the word to be supplied, and the period intended is that of the
Messiah. Israel is destined to fill the face of the world with fruit.
The ideal is like that of Isa. 4:2-6.
to the same hostile citadel of the world-power as in 24:10; 25:2; 26:5.
It sinks into utter desolation, and becomes a place where calves may
wander and lie down, and put an end to the few green boughs that may be
hostile people, who persist in ignoring Jehovah, must ultimately perish
without mercy. Such is the uniform lesson of divine revelation.
his adding to the nation (see 26:15), and begetting an innumerable multitude,
he acquires them one by one, every man according to his individual faith
and deeds. He gathers them in as one who beats out grain on many a
threshing floor; and the regions from which they are gathered are as far
apart as are the extremities of the world known to the prophet—the
boundaries of Assyria and Egypt. Comp. Isa. 19:23, 24.
this apocalyptic symbol for the gathering of the elect of Jehovah, and
compare Matt. 24:31; 1st Thess. 4:16; 1st Cor.
15:52; Rev. 11:15.
how apocalyptic visions end with a glorification of Zion and Jerusalem,
and God and his people dwelling there. Comp. Isa. 2:3; 35:10; 66:19-24;
Jer. 3:17; Ezek. 48:36; Joel 3:17, 21; Obad. 17, 21; Zeph. 3:14, 16;
Zech. 2:10; 8:8, 22.
on Isaiah, in loco.
name of Jehovah is the manifestation of Jehovah in signal judgments;
“that side of Jehovah which is manifested to the world” (Cheyne).
is, one that swings nations into nothingness; reduces to annihilation.
to the first passover feast in Egypt, when Israel marched out of bondage
toward the mountain of God.
employed Assyria as his rod to scourge Israel (Isa. 10:5), and now
Assyria in turn feels the stroke of the rod of his anger.
in which Jehovah swings the rod of destiny.
the name of the place in the valley of Hinnom where abominable
sacrifices were offered to Molech, is here used symbolically as a
“place of burning,” deep And wide enough to burn the king of Assyria
and all his army. Jehovah’s judgment will thus be shown to be
consuming fire, burning to utter destruction the enemy of his people.
Comp. Jer. 7:81-33; 19:6-15.
ideal of the heavenly Zion and Jerusalem, the city of “the general
assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven” (Heb.
is to be the antitype of the Mosaic tabernacle, the dwelling of God
among men as declared in the vision of John (Rev. 21:3). Compare the
chapter on the symbolism of the tabernacle, p. 81, ff.
the tabernacle of God is with men, “they shall be his peoples, and God
himself shall be with them and be their God” (Rev. 21:3).
idea is that the place of Jehovah’s dwelling with his people is so
guarded by streams and canals on all sides that no kind of hostile
vessels will venture to approach it.
cords or tacklings of the ship of Zion. The figure seems to have been
suggested by the allusion to hostile vessels in verse 21. For now, as
the prophet writes, Zion is like a ship in such ill plight as scarcely
to be able to keep her mast in position; but then, in the
certain triumphs of that coming time of the vision, in spite of all
difficulties, they are seen dividing abundance of spoil. Even the lame
take the prey. So they are “more than conquerors.”
Isa. 35:5, 6; 65:19, 20; Rev. 21:4. Parallel with this freedom from
sickness is deliverance from the guilt of sin. It is a Messianic ideal,
in which body and soul are conceived as perfected in the presence of
God. Comp. 1st Thess. 5:23.
here is what Moab is in chaps. 24-27. By the side of Babylon the world
empire, whose policy of conquest led it to enslave Israel, Edom
represents the world which is hostile to Israel as the people of
Jehovah. For Edom is Israel’s brother nation, and hates Israel as the
people of the election. In this its unbrotherly, hereditary hatred, it
represents the enemies and persecutors of the Church of Jehovah as such
in their entirety. The specific counterpart to Isa. 34 is Isa. 63:1-6 Delitzsch,
Biblical Commentary on Isaiah, in loco.
the similar appeal in Isa. 1:2 ; Deut. 32:1; and Psalm 49:1.
boldness of the thought is remarkable. Blood flowing in such abundance
as to dissolve the mountains may be compared with Ezek. 32:6, and
Rev. 14:20, and contrasted with the hyperbole of Amos 9:13.
the language of Ezek. 32:7, 8; Joel 2:31; 3:15; Matt. 24:29; 2nd
Peter 3:10; Rev. 6:13, 14.
sword of Jehovah is no other than that which flamed in the Edenic
Apocalypse (Gen. 3:24), symbol of divine justice and judgment. Here the
prophet speaks of it as intoxicated with fury against the Edomites.
Comp. Jer. 46:10.
Jehovah is depicted as one who offers a great sacrifice, and the lambs,
goats, and rams are the nations slain in such masses that the sword of
their slaughter seems to be full of their blood and their fat. Compare
the similar figure in Jer. 46:10; Ezek. 39:17-19; Zeph. 1:7; Rev. 19:17,
is, to the place of slaughter. Three kinds of horned cattle are here
named to correspond to the three kinds of smaller animals, lambs, goats,
and rams, named in verse 6.
for the long strife of nations over Zion; avenging of Zion’s wrongs,
to the silencing of the reproaches which she has suffered from her
enemies. Compare the sentiment of Isa. 61:2, 3; 63:4.
follow Cheyne in connecting these words with the preceding, and in
observing that the perpetuity of the desolation is thus four times
asserted. This arrangement of clauses is favored by the fact that
adverbs denoting perpetuity usually in the Hebrew follow their verbs.
Rev. 14:10, 11; 19:8, and Gen. 19:28.