Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
CONTINUATION OF THE
PROPHECY IN THE
1. Nevertheless, &c.--rather, "For darkness shall not
(continually) be on it (that is, the land) on which there is (now)
distress" [HENGSTENBERG and
MAURER]. The "for" refers, not to the words
immediately preceding, but to the consolations in
Isa 8:9, 10, 17, 18.
Do not despair, for, &c.
when at the first, &c.--rather, "as the former time has brought
contempt on the land of Zebulun and Naphtali (namely, the deportation of
their inhabitants under Tiglath-pileser,
a little before the giving of this prophecy); so shall the after-coming
time bring honor to the way of the sea (the district around the lake of
Galilee), the land beyond (but HENGSTENBERG, "by
the side of") Jordan (Perea, east of Jordan, belonging to
Reuben, Gad, and half-Manasseh), the circle (but HENGSTENBERG, "Galilee") (that is, region) of the
"Gentiles" [MAURER, HENGSTENBERG, &c.]. Galil in Hebrew is a
"circle," "circuit," and from it came the name Galilee. North of
Naphtali, inhabited by a mixed race of Jews and Gentiles of the
bordering Phœnician race
Besides the recent deportation by Tiglath-pileser, it had been sorely
smitten by Ben-hadad of Syria, two hundred years before
It was after the Assyrian deportation colonized with heathens, by
Hence arose the contempt for it on the part of the southern Jews of
(Joh 1:46; 7:52).
The same region which was so darkened once, shall be among the first to
receive Messiah's light
(Mt 4:13, 15, 16).
It was in despised Galilee that He first and most publicly exercised
His ministry; from it were most of His apostles. Foretold in
De 33:18, 19;
Ps 68:27, 28,
Jerusalem, the theocratic capital, might readily have known Messiah; to
compensate less favored Galilee, He ministered mostly there; Galilee's
very debasement made it feel its need of a Saviour, a feeling not known
to the self-righteous Jews
It was appropriate, too, that He who was both "the Light to lighten the
Gentiles, and the Glory of His people Israel," should minister chiefly
on the border land of Israel, near the Gentiles.
2. the people--the whole nation, Judah and Israel.
shadow of death--the darkest misery of captivity.
3. multiplied . . . nation--primarily, the rapid increase of
Israelites after the return from Babylon; more fully and exhaustively
the rapid spread of Christianity at first.
not increased the joy--By a slight change in the Hebrew, its (joy) is substituted by some for not, because "not increased the
joy" seems opposite to what immediately follows, "the joy," &c.
HENGSTENBERG, retains not thus: "Whose joy thou hadst not
increased," (that is, hadst diminished). Others, "Hast thou not
increased the joy?" The very difficulty of the reading, not, makes
it less likely to be an interpolation.
HORSLEY best explains it: The
prophet sees in vision a shifting scene, comprehending at one glance the
history of the Christian Church to remotest times--a land dark and
thinly peopled--lit up by a sudden light--filled with new
inhabitants--then struggling with difficulties, and again delivered by
the utter and final overthrow of their enemies. The influx of Gentile
converts (represented here by "Galilee of the Gentiles") soon was to be
followed by the growth of corruption, and the final rise of Antichrist,
who is to be destroyed, while God's people is delivered, as in the case
of Gideon's victory over Midian, not by man's prowess, but by the
special interposition of God.
before thee--a phrase taken from sacrificial feasts; the tithe of
harvest was eaten before God
(De 12:7; 14:26).
as men rejoice . . . divide . . .
spoil--referring to the judgments on the enemies of the Lord and
His people, which usually accompany revelations of His grace.
4. The occasion of the "joy," the deliverance not only of Ahaz and
Judah from the Assyrian tribute
and of Israel's ten tribes from the oppressor
but of the Jewish Christian Church from its last great enemy.
hast--the past time for the future, in prophetic vision; it expresses
the certainty of the event.
yoke of his burden--the yoke with which he was burdened.
staff of . . . shoulder--the staff which strikes his shoulder
or the wood, like a yoke, on the neck of slaves, the badge of servitude
day of Midian--
As Gideon with a handful of men conquered the hosts of Midian, so
Messiah the "child"
shall prove to be the "Prince of peace," and the small Israel under Him
shall overcome the mighty hosts of Antichrist (compare
containing the same contrast, and alluding also to "the Assyrian," the
then enemy of the Church, as here in Isaiah, the type of the last great
enemy. For further analogies between Gideon's victory and the Gospel,
with Jud 7:22.
As the "dividing of the spoil"
was followed by that which was "not joy," the making of the idolatrous
so the gospel victory was soon followed by apostasy at the first, and
shall be so again after the millennial overthrow of Antichrist
(Re 20:3, 7-9),
previous to Satan's last doom
5. every battle, &c.--rather, "every greave of (the warrior who is)
armed with greaves in the din of battle, and the martial garment (or
cloak, called by the Latins sagum) rolled in blood, shall be for
burning, (and) fuel for fire" [MAURER].
All warlike accoutrements shall
be destroyed, as no longer required in the new era of peace
(Isa 2:4; 11:6, 7;
Mic 5:5, 10;
Zec 9:9, 10).
as to the previous burning up of the wicked.
6. For--the ground of these great expectations,
unto us--for the benefit of the Jews first, and then the Gentiles
(compare "unto you,"
son . . . given--
God's gratuitous gift, on which man had no claim
government . . . upon . . . shoulder--The ensign of office used to
be worn on the shoulder, in token of sustaining the government
Here the government on Messiah's shoulder is in marked
antithesis to the "yoke and staff" of the oppressor on Israel's
He shall receive the kingdom of the earth from the Father, to vindicate
it from the misrule of those to whom it was entrusted to hold it for
and under the Most High, but who sought to hold it in defiance of His
right; the Father asserts His right by the Son, the "Heir of all
things," who will hold it for Him
(Da 7:13, 14).
name . . . called--His essential characteristics shall be.
Ro 11:33, 34;
HORSLEY translates: "God the mighty man." "Unto us
. . . God" is equivalent to "Immanuel"
everlasting Father--This marks Him as "Wonderful," that He is "a
child," yet the "everlasting Father"
(Joh 10:30; 14:9).
Earthly kings leave their people after a short reign; He will reign
over and bless them for ever [HENGSTENBERG].
Prince of Peace--(See on
Shiloh, "The Tranquillizer"). Finally
Even already He is "our peace"
7. Of . . . increase . . . no end--His princely rule shall perpetually
increase and be unlimited
throne of David--
Ps 2:6; 132:11;
Jer 3:17, 18
Eze 34:23-26; 37:16, 22;
Lu 1:32, 33;
judgment . . . justice--It is not a kingdom of mere might, and triumph
of force over enemies, but of righteousness
Ps 45:6, 7),
attainable only in and by Messiah.
zeal, &c.--including not only Christ's hidden spiritual victory
over Satan at the first coming, but the open one accompanied with
"judgments" on Antichrist and every enemy at the second coming
PROPHECY AS TO THE
Delivered a little later than the previous one. The ninth and tenth
chapters ought to have been so divided. The present division into
chapters was made by Cardinal Hugo, in A.D. 1250; and into verses, by Robert Stephens, the famous printer of Paris, in 1551. After the
Assyrian invasion of Syria, that of Ephraim shall follow
Isa 9:8-11, 17-20,
foretell the intestine discords in Israel after Hoshea had slain Pekah
(A.D. 739), that is, just after the Assyrian
invasions, when for seven years it was stripped of magistrates and torn
into factions. There are four strophes, each setting forth Ephraim's
crime and consequent punishment, and ending with the
formula, "For all this His anger is not turned away," &c.
(Isa 9:12, 17, 21,
and Isa 10:4).
8. Heading of the prophecy;
the first strophe.
unto Jacob--against the ten tribes [LOWTH].
lighted upon--fallen from heaven by divine revelation
9. know--to their cost: experimentally
Samaria--the capital of Ephraim (compare as to phrase,
10. bricks--in the East generally sun-dried, and therefore soon
dissolved by rain. Granting, say the Ephraimites to the prophet's
threat, that our affairs are in a ruinous state, we will restore them to
more than their former magnificence. Self-confident unwillingness to
see the judgments of God
sycamores--growing abundantly on the low lands of Judea, and though
useful for building on account of their antiseptic property (which
induced the Egyptians to use them for the cases of their mummies), not
very valuable. The cedar, on the other hand, was odorous, free from
knots, durable, and precious
"We will replace cottages with palaces."
11. adversaries of Rezin--the Assyrians, who shall first attack
Damascus, shall next advance "against him" (Ephraim). This is the
punishment of Ephraim's pride in making light
of the judgment already inflicted by God through Tiglath-pileser
A second Assyrian invasion (see on
shall follow. The reading "princes" for "adversaries" in uncalled for.
join--rather, "arm"; cover with armor [MAURER].
12. Syrians--Though now allies of Ephraim, after Rezin's death they
shall join the Assyrians against Ephraim. "Together," in
refers to this. Conquering nations often enlist in their armies the
[ABEN EZRA, GESENIUS]. HORSLEY less probably
takes "Syrians before," as the Syrians to the east, that is, not
Rezin's subjects, but the Assyrians: "Aram" being the common
name of Syrians and Assyrians.
behind--from the west: in marking the points of the compass,
Orientalists face the east, which is before them: the west is
behind. The right hand is the south: the left, the north.
devour--as a ravenous beast
Jer 10:25; 30:16;
For all this, &c.--The burden of each strophe.
13-17. Second strophe.
turneth not--the design of God's chastisements; not fulfilled in their
case; a new cause for punishment
(Jer 2:20; 5:3).
14. head and tail--proverbial for the highest and lowest
(De 28:13, 44).
branch and rush--another image for the same thought
The branch is elevated on the top of the tree: the rush is coarse and
15. ancient--the older.
honourable--the man of rank.
prophet . . . lies, . . . tail--There were many such in Samaria
(1Ki 22:6, 22, 23;
compare as to "tail,"
16. leaders, &c.--(See
Margin, and see on
17. no joy--the parallelism, "neither . . . mercy," shows that this
means, He shall have no such delight in their youthful warriors,
however much they be the nation's delight and reliance, as to save them from the enemy's sword
fatherless, &c.--not even the usual objects of His pity
(Ps 10:14, 18; 68:5;
shall be spared.
hypocrite--rather, a libertine, polluted [HORSLEY].
still--Notwithstanding all these judgments, more remain.
18-21. Third strophe.
burneth--maketh consumption, not only spreading rapidly, but also
consuming like fire: sin is its own punishment.
briers . . . thorns--emblem of the wicked; especially those of low rank
forest--from the humble shrubbery the flame spreads to the vast
forest; it reaches the high, as well as the low.
mount up like . . . smoke--rather. "They
(the thickets of the forest) shall lift themselves proudly aloft
[the Hebrew is from a Syriac root, a cock, expressing
stateliness of motion, from his strutting gait, HORSLEY], in
(in passing into) volumes of ascending smoke" [MAURER].
19. darkened--namely, with smoke
The Septuagint and Chaldee render it, "is burnt up," so
MAURER, from an Arabic
root meaning "suffocating heat."
no man . . . spare . . . brother--intestine discord snapping asunder
the dearest ties of nature.
20. hungry--not literally. Image from unappeasable hunger, to picture
internal factions, reckless of the most tender ties
and insatiably spreading misery and death on every side
eat--not literally, but destroy
flesh of . . . arm--those nearest akin: their former support (helper)
21. Manasseh, Ephraim--the two sons of Joseph. So closely united as to
form between them but one tribe; but now about to be rent into factions,
thirsting for each other's blood. Disunited in all things else, but
united "together against their brother Judah"
(2Ki 15:10, 30).