(Chapter 13)

BIBLICAL APOCALYPTICS

Milton Terry
©1898 by
Eaton & Mains, New York
Reprinted 1988 by
Baker Book House
ISBN 0-8010-8888-7

APOCALYPSES 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[1] 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 and forgotten.

I. ISAIAH 6.

    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[2] filling the temple. Seraphim were standing above him,[3] 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.[4] And one called to another and said,

Holy, holy, holy,[5] Jehovah of hosts,
The fullness of all the earth is his glory.

And 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 is covered.

    Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?[6] And I said, Lo, here am I; send me. And he said, Go, and thou shalt say unto this people,

Hear ye continually but do not understand;
And keep on seeing but do not perceive.
Make the heart of this people fat,[7]
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,[8] 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.[9]

    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.[10]

    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. Isa. 11:1-10).

    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” (1:26, 27).

    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.”

II. ISAIAH 13-23

    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:

Sound 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 the land.
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 their light.
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.

Behold 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,[11]
And they shall fight each man against his brother and each against his neighbor.
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” (24, 25).

    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[12] 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),[13] 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,[14] 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 shield!”

    Then the picture receives another setting.[15] 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.

III. 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[16] 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[17] 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[18] seems inclined to favor this view, although he confesses that the exact point of time of the writer is very uncertain. Vatke and Hilgenfeld[19] 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.

I. THE COMING DESOLATION.

  1. Lo, Jehovah is about to empty the earth[20] and waste it,
    And he will twist its face, and scatter its inhabitants;

  2. 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.

  3. All emptied is the earth, and spoiled, all spoiled,
    For Jehovah has declared this very word.

  1. Mourns, fades the earth; droops, fades the world away;
    They droop—the lofty people of the earth;

  2. And the earth has become foul under its inhabitants.
    For they have transgressed laws, passed statutes by,
    Broken an everlasting covenant;

  3. Therefore a 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.

  1. The new wine mourns, the vine is drooping low,
    They groan within them all of merry heart.

  2. The joy of tabrets rests, the proud exulters’ noise has ceased,

  3. The joy of harps rests, in the song they drink not wine.
    Bitter is strong drink unto them that drink it.

  1. The city of chaos[21] has been broken down,
    Shut up is every house that none may enter.

  2. An outcry o’er the wine is in the street,
    Dark is all mirth, the joy of the earth is gone into exile.

  3. What is left in the city is a desolation,
    And into ruins is the gateway smitten.

II. SONGS AND TRIUMPH THROUGH JUDGMENT.

  1. For thus shall it be in the earth, in the midst of the peoples,
    Like beating of olives, like gleanings[22] when vintage is ended;
  2. Those will lift up their voice, they cry for joy,
    At Jehovah’s grandeur shout they from the sea.
  3. Therefore in east-lands[23] glorify ye Jehovah,
    In the isles of the sea the name of Jehovah, God of Israel.
  1. From the edge of the earth have we heard songs—“Glory for the righteous.”[24]
    But I say, Famine for me, famine for me, alas for me!
    Spoilers have spoiled, yea, spoil did spoilers spoil.
  2. Fear and pit and snare are on thee, O dweller in the land!
  3. 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[25] from on high,
          And the foundations of the earth do shake.

  1. Broken, utterly broken is the earth;
    Shattered, utterly shattered is the earth;
    Shaken, utterly shaken is the earth;
  2. 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.
  1. 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,[26]
  2. And they shall be assembled, captives for the pit,
    And they shall be imprisoned in the prison,
    And after many days be visited.
  3. 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.

III. 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,[27]
          Counsels from long ago, truth, verity.
    2.   For from a city thou hast made a heap,[28]
          A fortified city—to a ruined pile,
          Palace of strangers—city now no more,
          Forever it shall not be builded up.

  1. Therefore shall a strong people honor thee,[29]
    A city of the nations shall fear thee.
  2. 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[30] was the tyrant’s blast.
  3. As beat in drought thou quellest noise of strangers,
    As heat in shade of clouds the tyrant’s song sinks low.
  1. 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;
  2. 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;
  3. He swallows up forever death itself,
    And the Lord Jehovah wipes tears from all faces,
    And turns his people’s shame from all the earth;
    For Jehovah has declared it.[31]
  1. 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.
  2. For in this mountain Jehovah’s hand will rest,
    And Moab[32] shall be trodden under him,
    Like treading straw in the water of a dungpit;
  3. 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.
  4. And the high places of thy walls he hurls,
    Casts down, makes touch the earth, even to the dust.

 IV. CELEBRATION OF GOD'S JUDGMENTS.

    26:1 In that day shall be sung this song in the land of Judah:
         
A city Strong[33] is ours; salvation he will set for walls and rampart.
    2.    Open, ye gates, and let a righteous nation enter,
    3.    Guardian[34] of faithfulness, in thought sustained.
           Thou[35] wilt keep peace, peace; for in thee they trust.
    4.    Put ye your trust forever in Jehovah:
           For in Jah Jehovah is the Rock of Ages.

  1. For 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.
  2. A foot shall tread it down,—
    Feet of the wretched, footsteps of the weak.
  3. The pathway for the just is evenness,
    Straight wilt thou smooth the highway of the just.
  1. Also in the path of thy judgment, O Jehovah, we have waited for thee.[36]
    Toward thy name and thy memorial there is longing of soul;
  2. 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.
  1. 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.
  2. Jehovah, thy hand is high, (but) they will not see;
    Let them see,—[37] and with shame, zeal for a people;
    Yea, even the fire of thy foes shall devour them.

V. ISRAEL’S RESURRECTION SONG.

  1. Jehovah, thou wilt establish peace for us,
    For also all our works thou hast wrought for us.

  2. Jehovah, our God, lords besides thee have ruled us;
    Alone in thee we celebrate thy name.

  3. The dead ones[38] shall not live; the shades shall not rise up,
    Therefore didst thou visit and destroy them,
    And cause all memory of them to perish.

  1. Thou hast, O Jehovah, added[39] to the nation;
    Thou hast added to the nation; thou art honored;
    Far hast thou set all limits of the land.

  2. O Jehovah, in distress they visited thee,
    They poured out prayer when thou wast scourging them.

  3. 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.

  4. We were with child, we writhed; thus bore we wind;
    We could not work salvation for the land,
     Nor would the world’s inhabitants fall forth.

  1. Thy dead[40] shall live; my body—they shall rise;
    Awake and sing, O dwellers of the dust;
    For dew of lights is thy dew,[41] and earth shall cast forth shades.

  2. 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.

  3. For behold, 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.

  27:1 In that day will Jehovah visit with his sword,
          The harsh, the mighty, and the violent,
          Upon Leviathan,[42] the flying serpent,
          And on Leviathan the crooked serpent,
          And slay the Dragon that is in the sea.

VI. JEHOVAH’S ASSURING WORD FOR ISRAEL.

  1. In that day, a delightful[43] vineyard,—sing to it;
  2. I Jehovah keep it,[44] water it each moment;
    Lest any harm it, night and day I keep it.
  1. Fury is not mine;[45] would that I had thorns and briers in battle,
    I would rush in them, set them all ablaze.
  2. Or—would one fasten upon my stronghold,
    Let him make peace with me, make peace with me.
  3. In coming times[46] shall Jacob strike deep root,
    Israel shall blossom, and shall put forth buds,
    And fill the surface of the world with fruit.
  1. Like the smiting of his smiter did he smite him
    Or like the slaughter of his slayers was he slain?

  2. In a measure didst thou in sending her off strive with her.
    He growled with his rough blast in the day of the east wind.

  3. Therefore 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.

  1. For a fenced city[47] has become a waste,
    A dwelling left, forsaken as the desert.
    There feeds the calf, and then lies down, and ends her boughs.

  2. When 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,[48]
    And He that formed him will not show him mercy.

  1. And in that day will Jehovah beat out (grain),
    From the flood of the river unto Egypt’s stream,
    And one by one will[49] ye be gathered, O sons of Israel.

  2. And it shall come to pass in that day that there will be blowing with a great trumpet,[50]
    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.[51]

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.”[52]

    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:

  1. Behold, the name[53] of Jehovah cometh from afar,
    Burning in his wrath, and a heavy uplifting of smoke;
    His lips are full of fury, and his tongue like devouring fire,

  2. And his breath is like an overflowing torrent that divides even to the neck,
    To swing nations in a swing of nothingness,[54]
    And a misleading bridle is on the cheeks of peoples.

  3. Your song shall be as in a night when a feast is hallowed,[55]
    And a joy of heart like one marching with flutes,
    To go to the mountain of Jehovah, unto the Rock of Israel.

  4. And 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.

  5. For by Jehovah’s voice shall Asshur be broken,
    With the rod[56] (with which) he will smite.

  6. And every passing over of the rod of destiny,
    Which Jehovah shall cause to fall upon him,
    Shall be with timbrels and with lutes,
    And with battles of swinging[57] will he fight against them.

  7. For set in order from of old is Tophetb,[58]
    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 it.

    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:

  1. Behold Zion, the city of our festal assembly;[59]
    Thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a restful dwelling.
    A tent that shall not move about,[60] its pins shall never be pulled up,
    And none of its cords shall be broken.
  2. But there majestic Jehovah will be ours;[61]
    A place of rivers, canals broad on both hands,
    In which there shall not go a boat with oars,[62]
    Nor shall majestic ship pass over it.
  3. For Jehovah is our judge, Jehovah is our commander;
    Jehovah is our king; he will save us.
  4. Loosed are thy cords,—[63]
    They hold not fast the socket of their mast,
    They cannot keep the flag outspread.
    Then is the spoil of plundering divided,
    The lame have seized upon the prey.
  5. And no one dwelling (there) shall say, I am sick;[64]
    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,

Who among us can sojourn in devouring fire?
Who among us can sojourn in eternal burnings? (verse 14.)

They 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 Rev. 21:1-8.

V. 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.[65] The first ten verses of this description are so re­markable for boldness of conception and style that we present them in the following translation:

  1. Come near, ye nations, to hear, and ye peoples, attend;
    Let the earth hear[66] and the fullness thereof,
    The world and all things that come forth of it.
  2. For Jehovah has wrath against all the nations
    And fury against all their host:
    He has laid them under ban, given them to the slaughter.
  3. And their slain shall be cast out,
    And the stink of their carcasses shall go up.
    And mountains shall be melted[67] with their blood.
  4. And all the host[68] of heaven shall molder away,
    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 tree.
  5. For in the heaven my sword[69] has drunk its fill,
    Behold upon Edom it shall come down
    And upon the people of my curse, for judgment.
  6. The sword of Jehovah is full of blood, besmeared with fat,[70]
    From blood of lambs and goats, from kidney fat of rams.
    For Jehovah has a sacrifice in Bozrah.
    And a great slaughter in the land of Edom.
  7. And the wild oxen shall come down with them,[71]
    And bullocks with strong oxen.

    And their land shall be drunken with blood,
    And their dust with fat besmeared.
  8. For it is a day of the vengeance of Jehovah,
    A year of recompenses for the controversy of Zion.[72]
  9. And its streams shall be turned to pitch and its dust to brimstone,
    And its land shall become pitch, burning by night and by day,[73]
  10. It shall not be quenched forever,
    Its smoke shall go up[74] 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 everlasting joy.

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; 64:26-28).

    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.

    Accordingly these 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).

For 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 permanently prosper.

For, 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.

End Notes

  1. Namely, chaps. 1-12, 13-23, 24-35, 36-39, and 40-66.
  2. Train. The flowing skirts of his royal robes, which seemed to the seer to fill the heavenly temple.
  3. The seraphs appear to have been in a hovering attitude, as if poised on their outstretched wings above and around the throne.
  4. These verbs in the imperfect tense here indicate the apparently continuous action of the wings.
  5. The 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.
  6. For us. Here we note again the implication of a heavenly council as in Gen. 1:26; 3:22; 1st Kings 22:19.
  7. The word of prophecy, if unheeded, becomes a means of dulling the moral sense, and is thus a savor from death unto death (2nd Cor. 2:16).
  8. That is, into foreign exile.
  9. This 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.
  10. “It 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.
  11. Comp. 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.
  12. Here 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).
  13. This 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.
  14. This 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.
  15. The 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.
  16. Einleituny in das Alt. Test., p. 293. Berlin, 1886.
  17. Prophets of the Old Testament, English translation, vol. 5, pp. 23-24. London, 1881.
  18. Der Prophet Jesaia, p. 222. Leipzig, 1890.    
  19. Zeitschrift fur wissenschaftliche Theologie, 9 Yahrg., pp. 437, 438. Comp. Vatke, Hist.-Krit. Einleitung in das Alt. Test., p. 623. Boon, 1886.
  20. Or, 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.
  21. The 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 nothingness.
  22. Here 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.
  23. Or, regions of light (____). Others read ____ islands, as in close parallelism with what follows; but east and west are poetically contrasted.
  24. That 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.
  25. Allusion 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.
  26. 21-23. 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.
  27. A 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.
  28. City 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.
  29. Honor thee. The address is to Jehovah.
  30. A 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.
  31. This 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.
  32. This ancient enemy is named as a representative of all tribes hostile to the people of God. Jehovah will tread all enemies under his feet.
  33. The “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.
  34. By 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 truth (_____            faithfulnesses, or faithful ones), being itself divinely sustained and established in heart.
  35. Here the address turns directly unto Jehovah.
  36. The 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.
  37. The 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.
  38. These 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.
  39. That 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.
  40. “Thy 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).
  41. “Thy 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 places.
  42. Two 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.
  43. Instead 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.
  44. In 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.”
  45. That is, against my vineyard; but the thorns and briers that grow up in it he would fain burn up.
  46. The 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.
  47. Allusion 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 found there.
  48. The hostile people, who persist in ignoring Jehovah, must ultimately perish with­out mercy. Such is the uniform lesson of divine revelation.
  49. In 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.
  50. Note 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.
  51. Note 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.
  52. Commentary on Isaiah, in loco.
  53. The name of Jehovah is the manifestation of Jehovah in signal judgments; “that side of Jehovah which is manifested to the world” (Cheyne).
  54. That is, one that swings nations into nothingness; reduces to annihilation.
  55. Allusion to the first passover feast in Egypt, when Israel marched out of bondage toward the mountain of God.
  56. Jehovah 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.
  57. Battles in which Jehovah swings the rod of destiny.
  58. Topheth, 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.
  59. The ideal of the heavenly Zion and Jerusalem, the city of “the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven” (Heb. 12:23).
  60. It 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.
  61. When 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).
  62. The 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.
  63. The 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.”
  64. Couip. 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.
  65. “Edom 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.
  66. Compare the similar appeal in Isa. 1:2 ; Deut. 32:1; and Psalm 49:1.
  67. The 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.
  68. Compare the language of Ezek. 32:7, 8; Joel 2:31; 3:15; Matt. 24:29; 2nd Peter 3:10; Rev. 6:13, 14.
  69. This 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.
  70. Here 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, 18.
  71. That 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.
  72. Recompense 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.
  73. We 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.
  74. Comp. Rev. 14:10, 11; 19:8, and Gen. 19:28.