Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
PROBABLY TO THE
SUMMER OF 714
B.C., AS THE
CHAPTER TO THE
Jewish ambassadors were now on their way to Egypt to seek aid against
(Isa 30:2-6, 15; 31:1).
Isaiah denounces this reliance on Egypt rather than on Jehovah. God had
prohibited such alliances with heathen nations, and it was a leading
part of Jewish polity that they should be a separate people
1. take counsel--rather, as
Isa 30:4, 6
imply, "execute counsels."
cover . . . covering--that is, wrap themselves in
reliances disloyal towards Jehovah. "Cover" thus answers to "seek to
hide deeply their counsel from the Lord"
But the Hebrew is literally, "who pour out libations"; as it was
by these that leagues were made
translate, "who make a league."
not of--not suggested by My Spirit"
that they may add--The consequence is here spoken of as
their intention, so reckless were they of sinning: one sin
entails the commission of another
2. walk--are now setting out, namely, their ambassadors
Pharaoh--the generic name of the kings of Egypt, as Cæsar was
at Rome. The word in Egyptian means "king"
[JOSEPHUS, Antiquities, 8.6,2].
Phra, "the sun," was the
hieroglyphic symbol and title of the king.
shadow--image from shelter against heat: protection
(Ps 121:5, 6).
3. shame--disappointment. Egypt, weakened by its internal dissensions,
can give no solid help.
4. his--Judah's (compare
at Zoan--are already arrived there on their errand to Pharaoh (see
came to Hanes--are come there. West of the Nile, in central Egypt:
Egyptian Hnes; the Greek Heracleopolis: perhaps the Anysis of
HERODOTUS (2.137); according to
GROTIUS, Tahpanhes contracted
the seat of a reigning prince at the time, as was Zoan, hence the
Jewish ambassadors go to both.
6. burden--the prophecy as to, &c.
[MAURER]; so the Septuagint, the
fresh inscription here marks emphatically the prediction that
follows. Or, rather, Isaiah sees in vision, the ambassador's beasts
burdened with rich presents travelling southwards (namely, to
Da 11:5, 6),
and exclaims, Oh, the burden of treasure on the beasts! &c.
(Ho 8:9; 12:1).
land of trouble--the desert between Palestine and Egypt, destitute of
water and abounding in dangerous animals
a species which springs like a dart from trees, on its prey.
will carry--rather, present, "carry," namely, as presents to Egypt
young asses--rather, "full-grown asses"
7. "Egypt is vanity, and to no purpose will they help"
[G. V. SMITH].
strength--Hebrew, Rabah, a designation for Egypt
implying her haughty fierceness; translate, "Therefore I call
her Arrogance that sitteth still." She who boasted of the help she
would give, when it came to the test, sat still
English Version agrees with
8. table--a tablet
which should be set in public, containing the prophecy in a briefer
form, to be read by all.
a book--namely, a parchment roll, containing the prophecy in full,
for the use of distant posterity. Its truth will be seen hereafter when
the event has come to pass. See on
for ever and ever--rather read, "For a testimony for ever"
LOWTH]: "testimony is often joined to the notion
(De 31:19, 21, 26).
9. lying--unfaithful to Jehovah, whose covenant they had taken on them
as His adopted children
(Mic 2:6, 11; 3:5).
See not--as you now do, foretelling misfortune.
Prophesy not . . . right things--Not that they avowedly requested
this, but their conduct virtually expressed it. No man,
professedly, wished to be deceived; but many seek a kind of teaching
which is deceit; and which, if they would examine, they might know to be
The Jews desired success to be foretold as the issue of their league
with Egypt, though ill had been announced by God's prophet as the
result; this constituted the "deceits."
11. Depart from the true "way" (so in
Ac 19:9, 23)
cause . . . to cease--Let us hear no more of His name. God's
holiness is what troubles sinners most.
12. Holy One--Isaiah so little yields to their wicked prejudices that
he repeats the very name and truth which they disliked.
this word--Isaiah's exhortation to reliance on Jehovah.
oppression--whereby they levied the treasures to be sent to conciliate
perverseness--in relying on Egypt, rather than on Jehovah.
13. Image from a curve swelling out in a wall
when the former gives way, it causes the downfall of the whole wall; so
their policy as to Egypt.
14. he--the enemy; or rather, God
It--the Jewish state.
potter's vessel--earthen and fragile.
sherd--a fragment of the vessel large enough to take up a live
pit--cistern or pool. The swell of the wall is at first imperceptible
and gradual, but at last it comes to the crisis; so the decay of the
15. returning and rest--turning back from your embassy to Egypt, and
ceasing from warlike preparations.
quietness--answering to "wait for Him (God)"
16. flee--not as fugitives, but we will speed our course;
namely, against the Assyrians, by the help of cavalry supplied by Egypt
This was expressly against the Mosaic law
shall . . . flee--literally, "before your enemies"; their sin and its
17. One thousand--A thousand at once, or, "As one man"
rebuke--the battle cry.
shall ye--at the rebuke of five shall ye, namely, all (in
contrast to the "one thousand") flee so utterly that even two shall not
be left together, but each one shall be as solitary "as a signal
staff" [G. V. SMITH], or "a banner on a
(Isa 5:26; 11:12).
The signal staff was erected to rally a nation in war. The remnant of
Jews left would be beacons to warn all men of the justice of God, and
the truth of His threatenings. GESENIUS (from
arbitrarily inserts "ten thousand." "At the rebuke of five shall ten
thousand of you flee."
18. therefore--on account of your wicked perverseness
(Isa 30:1, 2, 9, 15, 16),
Jehovah will delay to be gracious [HORSLEY]. Rather, wait or delay in
punishing, to give you time for repentance
(Isa 30:13, 14, 17)
[MAURER]. Or, "Yet therefore" (namely,
because of the distress spoken of in the previous verses; that distress
will lead the Jews to repentance, and so Jehovah will pity them)
be exalted--Men will have more elevated views of God's mercy; or else,
"He will rise up to pity you" [G. V. SMITH].
Or (taking the previous
clause as MAURER, "Therefore Jehovah will delay" in punishing you,
"in order that He may be gracious to you," if ye repent), He will be
far removed from you (so in
far above out sight); that is, He will not immediately descend
to punish, "in order that He may have mercy," &c.
judgment--justice; faithfulness to His covenant.
wait, namely, for His times of having mercy.
The restoration from Babylon only typifies the full
accomplishment of the prophecy
weep no more--
(Isa 26:8, 9;
20. Rather, "The Lord will give"; the "though" is not in the original.
bread of adversity--He will not deny you food enough to save you in
be removed--rather, "hide themselves"; they shall no more be forced
to hide themselves from persecution, but shall be openly received with
reverence [MAURER]. Contrast with this
21. word--conscience, guided by the Holy Spirit
22. covering of . . . images--rather, "images" (formed of wood or
potter's clay, and) "covered with silver." Hezekiah, and afterwards
Josiah, defiled them
(2Ki 23:8, 10, 14, 16;
23. rain of--rather, "for thy seed." Physical prosperity
accompanies national piety; especially under the Old Testament. The
early rain fell soon after the seed was sown in October or November;
the latter rain in the spring, before the ripening of the corn. Both
were needed for a good harvest.
fat--bread made of the best wheat flour (compare
24. ear--that is, till. Asses were employed in tillage, as well
clean--rather, salted provender
[GESENIUS]. The Arab proverb is,
"Sweet provender is as bread to camels--salted provender as
confectionery." The very cattle shall share the coming felicity. Or
else, well-fermented maslin, that is, provender formed of a mixture
of various substances: grain, beans, vetches, hay, and salt.
winnowed--not as it is usually given to cattle before it is separated
from the chaff; the grain shall be so abundant that it shall be given
shovel--by which the grain was thrown up in the wind to separate it
from the chaff.
fan--an instrument for winnowing.
25. Even the otherwise barren hills shall then be well-watered
the day, &c.--when the disobedient among the Jews shall have been
slain, as foretold in
"towers," that is, mighty men
Or else, the towers of the Assyrian Sennacherib, or of
Babylon, types of all enemies of God's people.
26. Image from the heavenly bodies to express the increase of spiritual
light and felicity. "Sevenfold" implies the perfection of that
felicity, seven being the sacred number. It shall also be literally
fulfilled hereafter in the heavenly city
(Isa 60:19, 20;
Re 21:23, 24; 22:5).
breach--the wound, or calamity, sent by God on account of their sins
27. name of . . . Lord--that is, Jehovah Himself
(Ps 44:5; 54:1);
represented as a storm approaching and ready to burst over the
(Isa 30:30, 31).
burden . . . is heavy--literally, "grievousness is the flame," that is,
the flame which darts from Him is grievous. Or else (as the Hebrew means an "uplifting")
the uprising cloud is grievous [G. V. SMITH];
the gathering cloud gradually rising till it bursts.
reach . . . neck--the most extreme danger; yet as the head, or
capital of Judah, was to be spared
so the head, or sovereign of Assyria, Sennacherib, should escape.
sieve of vanity--Rather, "the winnowing fan of destruction"
bridle in . . . jaws--as prisoners are represented in the Assyrian
causing . . . to err--
"People," Hebrew, "peoples," namely, the various races composing
the Assyrian armies
29. the night . . . solemnity--As in the passover night ye celebrate
your deliverance from Egypt, so shall ye celebrate your rescue from
Assyrian bondage. Translate, "the solemnity"
goeth with a pipe--or flute. They used to go up to Jerusalem ("the
mountain of the Lord," Zion) at the three feasts with music and gladness
30. Jehovah's "glorious voice," raised against the enemy
is again mentioned here, in contrast to the music
with which His people shall come to worship Him.
lighting down of . . . arm--
The descent of His arm in striking.
scattering--namely, a blast that scatters, or an "inundation"
31. The Assyrian rod which beat shall itself be beaten, and that by
the mere voice of the Lord, that is, an unseen divine agency
(Isa 10:5, 24).
32. grounded--rather, "decreed," "appointed"
staff--the avenging rod.
him--the Assyrian; type of all God's enemies in every age. Margin and
MAURER construe, "Every passing through (infliction,
of the appointed rod, which, &c., shall be with tabrets," that is,
accompanied with joy on the part of the rescued peoples.
battles of shaking--that is, shock of battles
compare "sift . . . sieve,"
with it--namely, Assyria.
33. Tophet--literally, "A place of abomination"; the valley of the
sons of Hinnom, southeast of Jerusalem, where Israel offered human
sacrifices to Moloch by fire; hence a place of burning
Latterly Gehinnom or Gehenna, that is, valley of Hinnom, was the
receptacle of the refuse of the city, to consume which fires were
constantly burning. Hence it came to express hell, the place of
torment. In the former sense it was a fit place to symbolize the
funeral pyre of the Assyrian army (not that it actually perished
there); the Hebrews did not burn, but buried their dead, but the
heathen Assyrians are to be burnt as a mark of ignominy. In the latter
sense Tophet is the receptacle "prepared for the devil (antitype to the
and his angels," and unbelieving men
(Mt 5:22; 25:41;
Mr 9:43, 44).