This chapter treats of the same subject with the foregoing. God, by his prophet, tells the Jews, who valued themselves much on their temple and pompous worship, that the Most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; and that no outward rites of worship, while the worshippers are idolatrous and impure, can please him who looketh at the heart, 1-3. This leads to a threatening of vengeance for their guilt, alluding to their making void the law of God by their abominable traditions, their rejection of Christ, persecution of his followers, and consequent destruction by the Romans. But as the Jewish ritual and people shadow forth the system of Christianity and its professors; so, in the prophetical writings, the idolatries of the Jews are frequently put for the idolatries afterwards practiced by those bearing the Christian name. Consequently, if we would have the plenitude of meaning in this section of prophecy, which the very content requires, we must look through the type into the antitype, viz., the very gross idolatries practised by the members of Antichrist, the pompous heap of human intentions and traditions with which they have encumbered the Christian system, their most dreadful persecution of Christ's spiritual and true worshippers, and the awful judgments which shall overtake them in the great and terrible day of the Lord, 4-6. The mighty and sudden increase of the Church of Jesus Christ at the period of Antichrist's fall represented by the very strong figure of Sion being delivered of a man-child before the time of her travail, the meaning of which symbol the prophet immediately subjoins in a series of interrogations for the sake of greater force and emphasis, 7-9. Wonderful prosperity and unspeakable blessedness of the world when the posterity of Jacob, with the fulness of the Gentiles, shall be assembled to Messiah's standard, 10-14. All the wicked of the earth shall be gathered together to the battle of that great day of God Almighty, and the slain of Jehovah shall be many, 15-18. Manner of the future restoration of the Israelites from their several dispersions throughout the habitable globe, 19-21. Perpetuity of this new economy of grace to the house of Israel, 22. Righteousness shall be universally diffused in the earth; and the memory of those who have transgressed against the Lord shall be had in continual abhorrence, 23,24. Thus this great prophet, after tracing the principal events of time, seems at length to have terminated his views in eternity, where all revolutions cease, where the blessedness of the righteous shall be unchangeable as the new heavens, and the misery of the wicked as the fire that shall not be quenched. Notes on Chapter 66
This chapter is a continuation of the subject of the foregoing. The Jews valued themselves much upon their temple, and the pompous system of services performed in it, which they supposed were to be of perpetual duration; and they assumed great confidence and merit to themselves for their strict observance of all the externals of their religion. And at the very time when the judgments denounced in verses 6 and 12 of the preceding chapter Isaiah 65:6,12were hanging over their heads, they were rebuilding, by Herod's munificence, the temple in a most magnificent manner. God admonishes them, that "the Most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands;" and that a mere external worship, how diligently soever attended, when accompanied with wicked and idolatrous practices in the worshippers, would never be accepted by him. This their hypocrisy is set forth in strong colours, which brings the prophet again to the subject of the former chapter; and he pursues it in a different manner, with more express declaration of the new economy, and of the flourishing state of the Church under it. The increase of the Church is to be sudden and astonishing. They that escape of the Jews, that is, that become converts to the Christian faith, are to be employed in the Divine mission to the Gentiles, and are to act as priests in presenting the Gentiles as an offering to God; see Romans 15:16. And both, now collected into one body, shall be witnesses of the final perdition of the obstinate and irreclaimable.
These two chapters manifestly relate to the calling of the Gentiles, the establishment of the Christian dispensation, and the reprobation of the apostate Jews, and their destruction executed by the Romans.-L.
And all those things have been-"And all these things are mine"
A word absolutely necessary to the sense is here lost out of the text: li, mine. It is preserved by the Septuagint and Syriac.
He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man-"He that slayeth an ox killeth a man"
These are instances of wickedness joined with hypocrisy; of the most flagitious crimes committed by those who at the same time affected great strictness in the performance of all the external services of religion. God, by the Prophet Ezekiel, upbraids the Jews with the same practices: "When they had slain their children to their idols, then they came the same day into my sanctuary to profane it," Ezekiel 23:39. Of the same kind was the hypocrisy of the Pharisees in our Saviour's time: "who devoured widows' houses, and for a pretence made long prayers," Matthew 23:14.
The generality of interpreters, by departing from the literal rendering of the text, have totally lost the true sense of it, and have substituted in its place what makes no good sense at all; for it is not easy to show how, in any circumstances, sacrifice and murder, the presenting of legal offerings and idolatrous worship, can possibly be of the same account in the sight of God.
He that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine's blood-"That maketh an oblation offereth swine's blood"
A word here likewise, necessary to complete the sense, is perhaps irrecoverably lost out of the text. The Vulgate and Chaldee add the word offereth, to make out the sense; not, as I imagine, from any different reading, (for the word wanted seems to have been lost before the time of the oldest of them, as the Septuagint had it not in their copy,) but from mere necessity.
Le Clerc thinks that maaleh is to be repeated from the beginning of this member; but that is not the case in the parallel members, which have another and a different verb in the second place, " dam, sic Versiones; putarem tamen legendum participium aliquod, et quidem zabach, cum sequatur cheth, nisi jam praecesserat."-SECKER. Houbigant supplies achal, eateth. After all, I think the most probable word is that which the Chaldee and Vulgate seem to have designed to represent; that is, makrib, offereth.
In their abominations.
ubeshikkutseyhem, "and in their abominations;" two copies of the Machazor, and one of Kennicott's MSS. have ubegilluleyhem, "and in their idols." So the Vulgate and Syriac.
Your brethren that hated you-said-"Say ye to your brethren that hate you"
The Syriac reads imru laacheychem; and so the Septuagint, Edit. Comp. ειπατεαδελφοις υμων and MS. Marchal. has αδελφοις and so Cyril and Procopius read and explain it. It is not easy to make sense of the reading of the Septuagint in the other editions; ειπατεαδελφοιημωντοις μισουσινυμας but for ημων, our, MS. I. D. II. also has υμων your.
A voice of noise from the city, a voice from the temple, a voice of the Lord
It is very remarkable that similar words were spoken by Jesus, son of Ananias, previously to the destruction of Jerusalem. See his very affecting history related by Josephus, WAR, B. vi., chap. v.
Who hath seen-"And who hath seen"
Twenty MSS., (four ancient,) of Kennicott's, and twenty-nine of De Rossi's, and two ancient of my own, and the two oldest editions, with two others, have umi, adding the conjunction vau; and so read all the ancient versions. AND who hath seen?
Shall I bring to the birth
haani ashbir, num ego matricem frangam; MONTANUS. The word means that which immediately precedes the appearance of the fetus-the breaking forth of the liquor amnii. This also is an expression that should be studiously avoided in prayers and sermons.
With the abundance of her glory-"From her abundant stores."
For mizziz, from the splendour, two MSS. and the old edition of 1488, have mizziv; and the latter zain is upon a rasure in three other MSS. It is remarkable that Kimchi and Sal. ben Melec, not being able to make any thing of the word as it stands in the text, say it means the same with mizziv; that is, in effect, they admit of a various reading, or an error in the text. But as Vitringa observes, what sense is there in sucking nourishment from the splendour of her glory? He therefore endeavours to deduce another sense of the word ziz; but, as far as it appears to me, without any authority. I am more inclined to accede to the opinion of those learned rabbins, and to think that there is some mistake in the word; for that in truth is their opinion, though they disguise it by saying that the corrupted word means the very same with that which they believe to be genuine. So in Isaiah 41:24they say that apha, a viper, means the same with ephes, nothing; instead of acknowledging that one is written by mistake instead of the other. I would propose to read in this place mizzin or mizzen, which is the reading of one of De Rossi's MS., (instead of meziz,) from the stores, from zun, to nourish, to feed; see Genesis 45:23; ; 2 Chronicles 11:23; ; Psalms 144:13. And this perhaps may be meant by Aquila, who renders the word by απο παντοδαπιας with which that of the Vulgate, ab omnimoda gloria, and of Symmachus and Theodotion, nearly agree. The Chaldee follows a different reading, without improving the sense; meyin, from the wine.-L.
Like a river, and-like a flowing stream-"Like the great river, and like the overflowing stream"
That is, the Euphrates, (it ought to have been pointed cannahar, ut fluvius ille, as the river,) and the Nile.
Then shall ye suck-"And ye shall suck at the breast"
These two words al shad, at the breast, seem to have been omitted in the present text, from their likeness to the two words following; al tsad, at the side. A very probable conjecture of Houbigant. The Chaldee and Vulgate have omitted the two latter words instead of the two former. See Clarke on Isaiah 60:4.
The Lord will come with fire-"JEHOVAH shall come as a fire"
For baesh, in fire, the Septuagint had in their copy kaesh, as a fire; ωςπυρ.
To render his anger with fury-"To breathe forth his anger in a burning heat"
Instead of lehashib, as pointed by the Masoretes, to render, I understand it as lehashshib, to breathe, from nashab.
Behind one tree-"After the rites of Achad"
The Syrians worshipped a god called Adad, Plin. Nat. Hist. xxxvii. 11; Macrob. Sat. i. 23. They held him to be the highest and greatest of the gods, and to be the same with Jupiter and the sun; and the name Adad, says Macrobius, signifies one; as likewise does the word Achad in Isaiah. Many learned men therefore have supposed, and with some probability, that the prophet means the same pretended deity. achad, in the Syrian and Chaldean dialects, is chad; and perhaps by reduplication of the last letter to express perfect unity, it may have become chadad, not improperly expressed by Macrobius Adad, without the aspirate. It was also pronounced by the Syrians themselves, with a weaker aspirate, hadad, as in Benhadad, Hadadezer, names of their kings, which were certainly taken from their chief object of worship. This seems to me to be a probable account of this name.
But the Masoretes correct the text in this place. Their marginal reading is achath which is the same word, only in the feminine form; and so read thirty MSS. (six ancient) and the two oldest editions. This Le Clerc approves, and supposes it to mean Hecate, or the moon; and he supports his hypothesis by arguments not at all improbable. See his note on the place.
Whatever the particular mode of idolatry which the prophet refers to might be, the general sense of the place is perfectly clear. But the Chaldee and Syriac, and after them Symmachus and Theodotion, cut off at once all these difficulties, by taking the word achad in its common meaning, not as a proper name; the two latter rendering the sentence thus: οπισωαλληλωνενμεσω εσθιοντωντοκρεαςτοχοιρειον; "One after another, in the midst of those that eat swine's flesh." I suppose they all read in their copies achad achad, one by one, or perhaps achad achar achad, one after another. See a large dissertation on this subject in Davidis Millii Dissertationes Selectae, Dissert. vi.-L.
I know not what to make of this place; it is certain that our translation makes no sense, and that of the learned prelate seems to me too refined. Kimchi interprets this of the Turks, who are remarkable for ablutions. "Behind one in the midst" he understands of a large fish-pond placed in the middle of their gardens. Others make achad a deity, as above; and a deity of various names it is supposed to be, for it is Achad, and Chad, and Hadad, and Achath, and Hecat, an Assyrian idol. Behynd the fyrst tree or the gate withine forth.-Old MS. Bible.
For I know their works
A word is here lost out of the present text, leaving the text quite imperfect. The word is yodea, knowing, supplied from the Syriac. The Chaldee had the same word in the copy before him, which he paraphrases by kedemi gelon, their deeds are manifest before me; and the Aldine and Complutensian editions of the Septuagint acknowledge the same word επισταμαι, which is verified by MS. Pachom. and the Arabic version. I think there can be little doubt of its being genuine. The concluding verses of this chapter refer to the complete restoration of the Jews, and to the destruction of all the enemies of the Gospel of Christ, so that the earth shall be filled with the knowledge and glory of the Lord. Talia saecla currite! Lord, hasten the time!
It shall come-"And I come"
For baah, which will not accord with any thing in the sentence, I read ba, with a MS.; the participle answering to yodea, with which agree the Septuagint, Syriac, and Vulgate. Perhaps it ought to be veba, when I shall come, Syr.; and so the Septuagint, according to Edit. Ald. and Complut., and Cod. Marchal.
That draw the bow
I much suspect that the words moshechey kesheth, who draw the bow, are a corruption of the word meshek, Moschi, the name of a nation situated between the Euxine and Caspian seas; and properly joined with tubal, the Tibareni. See Bochart, Phaleg. iii. 12. The Septuagint have μοσοχ, without any thing of the drawers of the bow: the word being once taken for a participle, the bow was added to make sense of it kesheth, the bow, is omitted in a MS. and by the Septuagint.
That have not heard my fame-"Who never heard my name"
For shimi, my fame, I read, with the Septuagint and Syriac, shemi, my name.
And in chariots-"And in counes"
There is a sort of vehicle much used in the east, consisting of a pair of hampers or cradles, thrown across a camel's back, one on each side; in each of which a person is carried. They have a covering to defend them from the rain and the sun. Thevenot calls them counes, i. p. 356. Maillet describes them as covered cages hanging on both sides of a camel. "At Aleppo," says Dr. Russell, "women of inferior condition in longer journeys are commonly stowed, one on each side of a mule, in a sort of covered cradles." Nat. Hist. of Aleppo, p. 89. These seem to be what the prophet means by the word tsabbim. Harmer's Observations, i. p. 445.
And for Levites
For laleviyim, fifty-nine MSS., (eight ancient,) have velaleviyim, adding the conjunction vau, which the sense seems necessarily to require: and read all the ancient versions. See Joshua 3:3, and the various readings on that place in Kennicott's Bible.
For their worm shall not die
These words of the prophet are applied by our blessed Saviour, Mark 9:44, to express the everlasting punishment of the wicked in Gehenna, or in hell. Gehenna, or the valley of Hinnom, was very near to Jerusalem to the south-east: it was the place where the idolatrous Jews celebrated that horrible rite of making their children pass through the fire, that is, of burning them in sacrifice to Moloch. To put a stop to this abominable practice, Josiah defiled, or desecrated, the place, by filling it with human bones, 2 Kings 23:10,14; and probably it was the custom afterwards to throw out the carcasses of animals there, when it also became the common burying place for the poorer people of Jerusalem. Our Saviour expressed the state of the blessed by sensible images; such as paradise, Abraham's bosom, or, which is the same thing, a place to recline next to Abraham at table in the kingdom of heaven. See Matthew 8:11. Coenabat Nerva cum paucis. Veiento proximus, atque etiam in sinu recumbebat. "The Emperor Nerva supped with few. Veiento was the first in his estimation, and even reclined in his bosom." Plin. Epist. iv. 22. Compare John 13:23; for we could not possibly have any conception of it but by analogy from worldly objects. In like manner he expressed the place of torment under the image of Gehenna; and the punishment of the wicked by the worm which there preyed on the carcasses, and the fire that consumed the wretched victims. Marking however, in the strongest manner, the difference between Gehenna and the invisible place of torment; namely, that in the former the suffering is transient:-the worm itself which preys upon the body, dies; and the fire which totally consumes it, is soon extinguished:-whereas in the figurative Gehenna the instruments of punishment shall be everlasting, and the suffering without end; "for there the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched."
These emblematical images, expressing heaven and hell, were in use among the Jews before our Saviour's time; and in using them he complied with their notions. "Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God," says the Jew to our Saviour, Luke 14:15. And in regard to Gehenna, the Chaldee paraphrase as I observed before on Isaiah 30:33, renders everlasting or continual burnings by "the Gehenna of everlasting fire." And before his time the son of Sirach, Sirach 7:17, had said, "The vengeance of the ungodly is fire and worms." So likewise the author of the book of Judith, Judith 16:17: "Wo to the nations rising up against my kindred: the Lord Almighty will take vengeance of them in the day of judgment, in putting fire and worms in their flesh;" manifestly referring to the same emblem.-L.
Kimchi's conclusion of his notes on this book is remarkable:-
"Blessed be God who hath created the mountains and the hills, And hath endued me with strength to finish the book of salvation: He shall rejoice us with good tidings and reports; He shall show us a token for good:- And the end of his miracles he shall cause to approach us."
Several of the Versions have a peculiarity in their terminations:-
And they shall be to a satiety of sight to all flesh. VULGATE.
And thei schul ben into fyllyng of sigt to all fleshe. Old MS. BIBLE.
And they shall be as a vision to all flesh. SEPTUAGINT.
And the wicked shall be punished in hell till the righteous shall say,-It is enough. CHALDEE.
They shall be an astonishment to all flesh; So that they shall be a spectacle to all beings. SYRIAC.
The end of the prophecy of Isaiah the prophet. Praise to God who is truly praiseworthy. ARABIC.
One of my old Hebrew MSS. after the twenty-first verse repeats the twenty-third: "And it shall come to pass that from one new moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord."
MASORETIC NOTES Number of verses in this book, 1295. Middle 33:21. Masoretic sections, 26. chazak, Be strong.
In the course of these notes the reader will have often observed two MSS. of the Septuagint referred to by Bp. Lowth, and marked I. B. II., I. D. II. They are both in the British Museum. The former contains the prophets, and was written about the tenth or eleventh century; and because it once belonged to Pachomius, patriarch of Constantinople, in the beginning of the sixteenth century, the bishop often quotes it by the title MS. Pachom. The other contains many of the historical books, beginning with Ruth, and ending with Ezra; and has also the Prophet Isaiah. This MS. consists of two parts,-one apparently written in the eleventh or twelfth century; the other, in the beginning of the fourteenth. Dr. Grabe and Dr. Woide, as well as Bp. Lowth, considered these MSS. of great value and authority.
It may be necessary to say something of the Hebrew MSS. which I have also frequently quoted. The collations of Kennicott and De Rossi have been long before the public, and to describe them would be useless. The collections of the latter Bp. Lowth had never seen, else he could have strengthened his authorities: these, for the first time, I have in the preceding notes incorporated with Bishop Lowth's references, and thus added double strength to the learned prelate's authorities. But of my own I should say something, as they form no part of the above collections; and yet are among the oldest MSS. known to exist. Independently of rolls, which contain only the Megillah, Esther, and the Pentateuch, they are ten in number, and formerly belonged to the Rev. Cornelius Schulting, a Protestant minister of Amsterdam. After his death in 1726, they were sold by public auction, and came into the possession of the Rev. John Van der Hagen, a reformed minister of the same place.
In 1733, Jo. Christ. Wolf described these MSS. in the fourth volume of his Bibliotheca Hebraea, p. 79. A few years ago I had the singular good fortune to purchase the whole of these at Utrecht; a collection of MSS., which Dr. Kennicott complains that he could not by any entreaties obtain the privilege of collating. These are his own words,-"Wolfius, (Bib. Heb. iv. 79-82,) memorat codices 10. olim penes Schultingium; quorum plurimi postea erant penes Rev. Joh. Van der Hagen. Usum Codd. Hagenianorum obtinere nulla potuit a me precatio." Dissert. Gener. p. 78. sub Cod. 84. Dr. Kennicott supposed that three of those MSS. had been collated for him: but in this I believe he was mistaken; as he was also in supposing that only the greater part of the ten MSS. of Schulting had fallen into the hands of Mr. Van der Hagen; for the fact is, the whole ten were purchased by Van der Hagen, and the same ten are now in my library, being precisely those described by Wolfius, as above. I have collated the Prophet Isaiah throughout, in two of the most ancient of these MSS.; and have added their testimony in many places to the various readings collected by Kennicott and De Rossi. The very bad state of my health, and particularly of my eyes, prevented a more extensive collation of these very ancient and invaluable MSS. Some of the oldest are without any date. They are marked with the ten first letters of the alphabet. Cod. C. was written A.D. 1076,-D. in 1286,-G. in 1215,-H. in 1309,-I. in 1136. In most of these there is an ample harvest of important various readings.
Bishop Lowth, in giving an account of his labours on this prophet, takes a general view of the difficulties and helps he met with in his work. This being of considerable importance, I shall lay an abstract of it before the reader, as a proper supplement to the preceding sheets. He observes:-
"The Masoretic punctuation,-by which the pronunciation of the language is given, and the forms of the several parts of speech, the construction of the words, the distribution and limits of the sentences, and the connexion of the several members, are fixed,-is in effect an interpretation of the Hebrew text made by the Jews of late ages, probably not earlier than the eight century; and may be considered as their translation of the Old Testament. Where the words unpointed are capable of various meanings, according as they may be variously pronounced and constructed, the Jews by their pointing have determined them to one meaning and construction; and the sense which they thus give is their sense of the passage, just as the rendering of a translator into another language is his sense. The points have been considered as part of the Hebrew text, and as giving the meaning of it on no less than Divine authority. Accordingly our public translations in the modern tongues, for the use of the Church among Protestants, and so likewise the modern Latin translations, are for the most part close copies of the Hebrew pointed text, and are in reality only versions at second hand, translations of the Jews' interpretation of the Old Testament.
"To what a length an opinion lightly taken up, and embraced with a full assent without due examination, may be carried, we may see in another example of much the same kind. The learned of the Church of Rome, who have taken the liberty of giving translations of Scripture in the modern languages, have for the most part subjected and devoted themselves to a prejudice equally groundless and absurd. The Council of Trent declared the Latin translation of the Scriptures, called the Vulgate, which had been for many ages in use in their Church, to be authentic; a very ambiguous term, which ought to have been more precisely defined than the fathers of this council chose to define it. Upon this ground many contended that the Vulgate Version was dictated by the Holy Spirit; at least was providentially guarded against all error; was consequently of Divine authority, and more to be regarded than even the original Hebrew and Greek texts.
"But a very fruitful source of error proceeded from the Jewish copyists consulting more the fair appearance of their copy than the correctness of it, by wilfully leaving mistakes uncorrected, lest by erasing they should diminish the beauty and the value of the transcript, (for instance, when they had written a word or part of a word wrong, and immediately saw their mistake, they left the mistake uncorrected, and wrote the word anew after it;) their scrupulous regard to the evenness and fulness of their lines, which induced them to cut off from the ends of lines a letter or letters for which there was not sufficient room, (for they never divided a word, so that the parts of it should belong to two lines,) and to add to the ends of lines letters wholly insignificant, by way of expletives to fill up a vacant space: their custom of writing part of a word at the end of a line, where there was not room for the whole, and then giving the whole word at the beginning of the next line.
"These circumstances considered, it would be the most astonishing of all miracles, if the Hebrew writings of the Old Testament had come down to us through their hands absolutely pure, and free from all mistakes whatsoever.
"The ancient VERSIONS, as the principal sources of emendation, and highly useful in rectifying as well as in explaining the Hebrew text, are contained in the London Polyglot.
"The Greek Version, commonly called the Septuagint, or of the seventy interpreters, probably made by different hands, (the number of them uncertain,) and at different times, as the exigence of the Jewish Church at Alexandria and in other parts of Egypt required, is of the first authority. and of the greatest use in correcting the Hebrew text, as being the most ancient of all; and as the copy from which it was translated appears to have been free from many errors which afterwards by degrees got into the text. But the Greek Version of Isaiah is not so old as that of the Pentateuch by a hundred years and more, having been made in all probability after the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, when the reading of the prophets in the Jewish synagogues began to be practised; and even after the building of Onias' temple to favour which there seems to have been some artifice employed in a certain passage of Isaiah 19:18) in this Version. And it unfortunately happens that Isaiah has had the hard fate to meet with a Greek translator very unworthy of him, there being hardly any book of the Old Testament so ill rendered in that Version as this of Isaiah.
"The Arabic Version is sometimes referred to as verifying the reading of the Septuagint, being, for the most part at least, taken from that Version.
"The Chaldee paraphrase of Jonathan ben Uzziel, made about or before the time of our Saviour, though it often wanders from the text in a wordy allegorical explanation, yet very frequently adheres to it closely, and gives a verbal rendering of it; and accordingly is sometimes of great use in ascertaining the true reading of the Hebrew text.
"The Syriac Version stands next in order of time, but is superior to the Chaldee in usefulness and authority, as well in ascertaining as in explaining the Hebrew text. It is a close translation of the Hebrew language into one of near affinity to it. It is supposed to have been made as early as the first century.
"The fragments of the three Greek Versions of Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion, all made in the second century, which are collected in the Hexapla of Montfaucon, are of considerable use for the same purpose.
"The Vulgate, being for the most part the translation of Jerome, made in the fourth century, is of service in the same way, in proportion to its antiquity.
"In referring to Dr. Kennicott's Collections, I have given the whole number of manuscripts or editions which concur in any particular reading; what proportion that number bears to the whole number of collated copies which contain the Book of Isaiah, may be seen by comparing it with the catalogue of copies collated, which is given at the end of that book in the doctor's edition of the Hebrew Bible.
"Among the manuscripts which have been collated, I consider those of the tenth, eleventh and twelfth centuries as ancient, comparatively and in respect of the rest. Therefore in quoting a number of manuscripts, where the variation is of some importance, I have added, that so many of that number are ancient, that is, are of the centuries above mentioned.
"The design of the notes is to give the reasons and authorities on which the translation is founded; to rectify or to explain the words of the text; to illustrate the ideas, the images, and the allusions of the prophet, by referring to objects, notions, and customs which peculiarly belong to his age and his country; and to point out the beauties of particular passages. If the reader would go deeper into the mystical sense, into theological, historical, and chronological disquisitions, there are many learned expositors to whom he may have recourse, who have written full commentaries on this prophet to which title the present work has no pretensions. The sublime and spiritual uses to be made of this peculiarly evangelical prophet, must be all founded on a faithful representation of the literal sense which his words contain. This is what I have endeavoured closely and exactly to express."
IN conclusion, it may be necessary to give some account of what I have ventured to superadd to the labours of this very learned prelate. After consulting the various commentators, who have spent much time and labour in their endeavours to illustrate this prophet, I found their interpretations of many of the most important prophecies strangely different, and often at variance. Former commentators have taken especial care to bring forth in the most prominent point of view all those passages which have been generally understood to refer to our blessed Lord, and the Christian dispensation. Later critics, especially those on the continent, have adopted the Jewish plan of interpretation, referring the parts belonging to the Messiah in his sufferings,
in their state of suffering; and those passages which speak of the redemption of the world, and the glorious state of the Christian Church, they apply to the deliverance of the Israelites from the Babylonish captivity. It is really painful to see what labour and learning these critics spend to rob the prophet of his title of evangelical; and to show that even the sacred writers of the New Testament, in their application of select passages to our Lord, only followed the popular custom of accommodating passages of the Sacred Writings to occurrences and events, to which their leading circumstances bore some kind of resemblance, the application being only intended to convey the idea of similitude, and not of identity.
While I have cautiously handled those passages, the application of which was dubious, I have taker care to give my opinion with firmness on those which seem to have no other meaning than what they derive from their application to the great work of redemption by Jesus Christ, and the glory that should follow the outpouring of his Spirit. Many readers will no doubt suppose that I should have dwelt more on the spiritual parts of this inimitable book; but to this there would be scarcely any end. Who could exhaust the stores of this prophet! and if any thing were left unsaid, some would still be unsatisfied, to say nothing of the volume being thereby swollen beyond all reasonable bounds. I have marked enough for the reader's meditation; and have thrown out a sufficient number of hints to be improved by ministers of the word of God. To another class it may appear too critical; but this chiefly applies to the learned bishop, whose plan, as by far the best in my judgment, I have followed; and whose collection of various readings I felt it my duty to complete, a thing that none of his editors have attempted before. I have therefore added the various readings collected by De Rossi to those of Dr. Kennicott, which the bishop had cited as authorities, on which he built his alterations and critical conjectures.