Isaiah Translated and Explained

by Joseph Addison Alexander

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The Prophet first completes his description of the prevalent iniquity, with special reference to injustice and oppression, as a punishment of which he threatens death and deportation by the hands of the Assyrians, vs. 1-4. He then turns to the Assyrians themselves, God's chosen instruments, whom he had commissioned against Israel, to punish and degrade it, but whose own views were directed to universal conquest, to illustrate which the Assyrian himself is introduced as boasting of his tributary princes and his rapid conquests, which had met with no resistance from the people or their gods, and threatening Judah with a like fate, unaware of the destruction which awaits himself, imputing his success to his own strength and wisdom, and glorying, though a mere created instrument, over his maker and his mover, vs. 5-15. His approaching doom is then described under the figure of a forest suddenly and almost totally consumed by fire, vs. 16-19. This succession of events is to have the effect of curing the propensity to trust in man rather than God, at least among the elect remnant who survive; for though the ancient promises of great increase shall certainly be verified, only a remnant shall escape God's righteous judgments, vs. 20-23. To these the Prophet now addresses words of strong encouragement, with a renewed prediction of a judgment on Assyria similar to that on Midian at Oreb and on Egypt at the Red Sea, which is then described, in the most vivid manner, by an exhibition of the enemy's approach. from post to post, until he stands before Jerusalem, and then, with a resumption of the metaphor before used, his destruction is described as the prostration of a forest—trees and thickets—by a mighty axe, vs. 24-34.

1. In these four verses, as in the different divisions of the ninth chapter, there is an accusation followed by a threatening of punishment. The sin denounced in the first two verses is that of oppression and injustice. The punishment threatened is desolation by a foreign foe, and its effect, captivity and death. Woe unto them that decree decrees of injustice, and that write oppression which they have prescribed. The metaphor of writing is used elsewhere to describe the decrees and providential purposes of God (Isai. 65:6 Job 13:26). Here the terms may include both legislative and judicial functions, which are not so nicely distinguished in ancient as in modern theories of government. The divine displeasure is expressed against all abuse of power.

2. As the first verse describes the sinners and their sin, so the second sets forth its effect upon the people. To turn aside (or exclude) from judgment the weak, and to take away (by violence) the right of the poor (or afflicted) of my people, that widows be (or so that widows are) their spoil, and the fatherless they plunder. The infinitive indicates the tendency and actual effect of their conduct. The phrase here used is to turn one aside from the judgment, and seems intended to express not so much the idea of judging wrongfully as that of refusing to judge at all. The same charge is brought against the rulers of Judah in ch. 1:23. The expression of my people intimates, not only that the sufferers were Israelites, but that they sustained a peculiar relation to Jehovah, who is frequently described in Scripture as the protector of the helpless, and especially of widows and orphans (Ps. 68:5).

3. The wicked rulers are themselves addressed, and warned of an approaching crisis, when they must be deprived of all that they now glory in. And (though you are now powerful and rich) what will ye do in the day of visitation, and in the ruin (which) shall come from far (though all may appear safe at home)? To whom will ye flee for help, and where will ye leave your glory (for safe-keeping)? The questions imply negation, as if he had said, you can do nothing to protect yourselves, there is no place of concealment for your glory. According to the usage of the Old Testament, the day of visitation is a time when God manifests his presence specially, whether in mercy or in wrath, but most frequently the latter. The word translated ruin originally signifies a noise or tumult, and is therefore peculiarly appropriate to the ruin caused by foreign invasions, such as those of the Assyrians and Babylonians, which appear to be alluded to. By glory we are to understand whatever they now boasted of and trusted in.

4. It (your glory) does not bow beneath the prisoners, and (yet) they shall fall beneath the slain—i. e. if they do not bow under the captives they shall fall under the slain—or, such of them as do not bow, etc. Beneath may either be strictly understood as meaning under their feet, or simply among them. The moat natural interpretation of this difficult and much disputed verse is that which explains it as a solemn declaration that their glory and especially their noble chiefs must either go into captivity or fall in battle. The concluding formula (for all this his wrath, is not turned back and still his hand is stretched out) again suggests the fearful thought that all these accumulated judgments would be insufficient to arrest the progress of the sinner or appease the wrath of God.

5. The Assyrian is now distinctly brought into view, as the instrument which God would use in punishing his people. But instead of simply executing this task, the Assyrians would seek their own ends and exceed their commission, and for this they must themselves be punished. The Prophet begins therefore with a woe against them. Woe unto Asshur (the Assyrian or Assyria itself), the rod of my anger, and the staff in their (the Assyrians') hand is my indignation, i. e. its instrument.

6. Upon (or against) an impious nation (i. e. Israel, including Ephraim and Judah) will I send him (the Assyrian), and against the people of my wrath (i. e. the people that provokes it and deserves it and is to experience it) I will commission him (or give him his orders), to take spoil and to seize prey (literally to spoil spoil and to prey prey), and to place (or render) it (the people) a trampling (a thing to be trodden under foot, a common figure for extreme degradation) like the mire of streets. See the same comparison in ch. 5:25 and Ps. 18:42.

7. The Assyrian is now described as an unconscious instrument in God's hand, and as entertaining in his own mind nothing but ambitious plans of universal conquest And he (Assyria personified, or the king of Assyria) not so will think (will not imagine for what purpose he was raised up, or will not in tend to execute my will), and his heart not so will think (or purpose); for (on the contrary) to destroy (is) in his heart; and to cut off nations not a few, i. e. very many nations.

8. This verse introduces the proof and illustration of his selfishness and pride. For he will say (or giving it a descriptive form, he says) are not my princes altogether kings, or at the same time kings, mere princes with respect to me, but kings as to all the world besides? By exalting his tributary princes or the nobles of his court, he magnifies himself the more. The oriental monarchs, both in ancient and modern times, have affected the title of Great King (Isai. 36:4. Hos. 8:10) and King of kings (Ezek. 26:7. Dan. 2: 37).

9. Having boasted of his princes, he now boasts of his achievements. Is not Calno like Carchemish? Have they not been equally subdued by me? Or (is) not Hamath like Arpad? Or (is) not Samaria like Damascus? Similar boastings were uttered by Rabshakeh (ch 36:19, 20. 37:12, 13). These conquests were the more remarkable because so speedily achieved, and because the Assyrians had before confined themselves within their own limits. All the towns named were further north than Jerusalem, and probably commanded the navigation of the two great rivers, Tigris and Euphrates. Carchemish was a fortified town on an island in the Euphrates, at the mouth of the Chaboras, called by the Greeks ***, and in Latin Cercusium. It had its own king (Isai. 37:13) and its own gods (Isai. 36:19), and was taken by Tiglath-pileser (2 Kings 15:29). Calno was the Ctesiphon of the Greeks, on the east bank of the Tigris, opposite Seleucia. Hamath was a city of Syria. on the Orontes, the mouth of which river, according to Keith (Land of Israel, ch. 2. § 3), is the entering into Hamath, sometimes mentioned as the northern boundary of Canaan in its widest extent (Num. 34:8. Josh. 13:5). It was also by the Greeks Epiphania. Abulfeda, the Arabian historian, reigned there about the beginning of the fourteenth century. It is now one of the largest towns in Asiatic Turkey, having about 100,000 inhabitants. Arpad, another town of Syria, near Hamath, with which it is several times named. It is mentioned last in Jer. 49:23, and is probably no longer in existence.

10. As my hand hath found (i. e reached and seized) the idol kingdoms (worshippers of idols)—and their images (i. e. whose images were more) than (those of) Jerusalem and Samaria—the apodosis of the sentence follows in the next verse.

11. Shall I not, as I have done to Samaria and to her idols, so do to Jerusalem and her gods? The interrogative particle, which properly belongs to the second verb, is placed at the beginning of the sentence, in order to give prominence to its interrogative form, which involves an affirmation.

12. To the boastful speech of the Assyrian succeeds a prediction of his fate. Although he had been suffered to proceed so far, and would be suffered to proceed still further in the work of subjugation, till he reached the very verge of Zion and the portals of Jerusalem, God had determined that the work should go no further, but be there cut short by the infliction of a signal vengeance on the selfishness and pride of the invader. And it shall be (i. e. the end of all this glorying shall be) that the Lord will cut his work short at Mount Zion and at Jerusalem. (Yes, even there) will I visit (i. e. manifest my presence for the purpose of inflicting punishment) on the fruit (or outward exhibition) of the greatness of heart (i. e. arrogance and pride) of the king of Assyria, and on the ostentation (or display) of his loftiness of eyes (or looks, a common scriptural expression for great haughtiness). His work may mean the Assyrian's work of conquest, or the Lord's own work of punishment, in reference either to Assyria or Israel. Either of these senses may be preferred without effect upon the meaning of the sentence. By the destruction of Sennacherib's army, God may be said to have cut short the work of that invader, or to have cut short his own work by accomplishing his purpose of destruction, or to have cut short his own work of punishing his people, by relieving them from danger.

13. The Assyrian is again introduced as speaking, and as arrogating to himself the two most necessary qualities of a successful ruler, energy and wisdom, military prowess and political sagacity. The last clause gives the proofs of the assertion in the first, and mentions three things which the boaster had disposed of at his pleasure, political arrangements, money, and men. For he saith (in heart and life, if not in words), by the strength of my (own) hand I have done (all this), and by my (own) wisdom, for I am wise (as well as strong), and (in the exercise of these two attributes) I remove the bounds of the nations. and rob their hoards, and bring down, like a mighty man (as I am), the inhabitants. By removing the bounds is to be understood destroying the distinctions between nations by incorporation in a single empire.

14. The rapidity and ease of the Assyrian conquests are expressed by a natural and beautiful comparison. In seizing on the riches of the nations, the conqueror had encountered no more difficulty than if he had been merely taking eggs from a forsaken nest, without even the impotent resistance which the bird. if present, might have offered, by its cries and by the flapping of its wings. My hand has found (i. e. reached and seized) the strength (or more specifically, the pecuniary strength, the wealth) of the nations, and like the gathering of (or as one gathers) eggs forsaken, so have I gathered all the earth (i. e. all its inhabitants and their possessions), and there was none that moved a wing, or opened a mouth, or chirped. The word peeped used in the English version is not only obsolete but liable to be confounded with another of the same form.

15. Yet in all this the Assyrian was but an instrument in God's hands, and his proud self-confidence is therefore as absurd as if an axe or a saw or a rod or a staff should exalt itself above the person wielding it. Shall the axe glorify itself above the (person) hewing with it? Or shall the saw magnify itself above the (person) handling it? (This is indeed) like a rod's wielding those who wield it, like a staff's lifting (that which is) no wood (but a man). The idea is not merely that of boastful opposition but of preposterous inversion of the true relation between agent and instrument, between mind and matter. The last clause of this verse has not only been very variously explained by modern writers, but given great difficulty to the old translators, as appears from the inconsistent and unmeaning versions of it.

16. Therefore (on account of this impious self-confidence) the Lord, the Lord of Hosts, will send upon his fat ones leanness, and under his glory shall burn a burning like the burning of fire. The accumulation of divine names calls attention to the source of the threatened evil, and reminds the Assyrian that Jehovah is the only rightful Sovereign and the God of battles. The sending of leanness upon them seems to be a figure for the reduction of their strength, with or without allusion to the health of individuals. Some suppose an exclusive reference to the slaughter of Sennacherib's army, others a more general one to the decline of the Assyrian power. Both are probably included, the first as one of the most striking indications of the last. By glory we are to understand magnificence and greatness in the general, civil and military, moral and material. The last clause is a lively figure for the suddenness, completeness, and rapidity of the destruction.

17. And the Light of Israel shall be for a fire (i. e. shall become one, or shall act as one), and his Holy One for a flame, and it shall burn and devour his (the Assyrian's) thorns and briers in one day (i e. in a very short time). The Light of Israel is no doubt intended as an epithet of God himself, so called because be enlightened Israel by his Word and Spirit, and cheered them by the light of his countenance. There may be an allusion to the pillar of the cloud, and some think to the angel of God's presence who was in it. The thorns and the briers are explained by most interpreters as a figure for the whole body, either in allusion to their pointed weapons or to the malice and vexation of the Jews, or to their combustible nature and fitness for the fire. Here, as in the foregoing verse, fire is mentioned as a rapid and powerful consuming agent, without express allusion to the manner or the means of the destruction threatened.

18. And the glory (i. e. beauty) of his (the Assyrian's) forest and his fruitful field, from soul to body (i. e. totally), will he (the Lord) consume, and it shall be like the wasting away of a sick man. The Prophet meant to represent the greatness of Assyria under figures borrowed from the vegetable world, and for that purpose uses terms descriptive of the most impressive aspects under which a fruitful land presents itself, forests and harvest-fields, the two together making a complete picture, without the necessity of giving to each part a distinctive import. The forest and the fruitful field, here applied to Assyria, are applied by Sennacherib himself to Israel (ch. 37:24). As the terms soul and flesh are strictly inapplicable to the trees and fields, we must either suppose that the Prophet here discards his metaphor, and goes on to speak of the Assyrians as men, or that the phrase is a proverbial one, meaning body and soul, i.e. altogether, and is here applied without regard to the primary import of the terms, or their agreement with the foregoing figures. The various ways in which the last clause is explained may serve to show how difficult and doubtful it has seemed to all interpreters, ancient and modern.

19. And the rest (or remnant) of the trees of his forest shall be few, and a child shall write them, i. e. make a list or catalogue, and by implication number them.

20. And it shall be (or come to pass) in that day (that is, after these events have taken place), that the remnant of Israel, and the escaped of the house of Jacob. shall no longer add (i. e. continue) to lean upon their smiter (him that smote them), but shall lean upon Jehovah, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. There is here an allusion to the circumstances which gave rise to this whole prophecy. Ahaz, renouncing his dependence upon God, had sought the aid of Assyria, which secured his deliverance from present danger, but subjected the kingdom to worse evils from the very power to which they had resorted. But even these oppressions were to have an end in the destruction of the hostile power; and when this should take place, Judah, now instructed by experience, would no longer trust in tyrants but sincerely in Jehovah. The reference is not to a sudden and immediate effect, but to a gradual result of the divine dispensations, so that what is here predicted, though it began to be fulfilled from the time of that catastrophe, did not receive its final consummation before Christ's appearance. On this supposition, we are better able to explain the remnant of Israel, as meaning not merely those left in Judah after the carrying away of the ten tribes—nor the Jews themselves who should outlive the Assyrian oppressions, and to whom the same phrase is applied 2 Kings 19:4, 31. 21:14—nor merely the Jews who should return from the Babylonish exile, and to whom it is applied Hagg. 1:12. Zech. 8:6—nor merely the spiritual Israel, the remnant according to the election of grace, Rom. 11:5—but all these at once, or rather in succession, should be taught the lesson of exclusive reliance upon God, by his judgments on his enemies. The verb stay used in the English Version is equivocal, like peep in v. 14. because now employed chiefly in another sense. The idea expressed by the Hebrew word is simply that of leaning for support. The phrase in truth means that they should trust God in sincerity, as opposed to a mere hypocritical profession, and with constancy, as opposed to capricious vacillation.

21. A remnant shall return, a remnant of Jacob, to God Almighty. There is an obvious allusion in these words to the name of the Prophet's son Shear-jashub, mentioned in ch. 7:3. As the people were probably familiar with this name, its introduction here would be the more significant. The remnant of Jacob means those who should survive God's judgments threatened in this prophecy, not merely the Assyrian invasion or the Babylonish exile, but the whole series of remarkable events, by which the history of the chosen people would be marked, including the destruction and dispersion of the nation by the Romans. The return here spoken of is one that was to take place at various times and in various circumstances. Under the old dispensation, the prophecy was verified in the conversion of idolatrous Jews to the worship of Jehovah, or of wicked Jews to a godly life, by means of their afflictions; under the new, in the admission of believing Jews to the Christian church, and prospectively in the general conversion of Israel to God, which is yet to be expected.

22. The Prophet now explains the use of the word remnant, and shows that the threatening which it involves is not inconsistent with the ancient promises. For though thy people, oh Israel (or Jacob), shall be like the sand of the sea (in multitude), (only) a remnant of them shall return. A consumption is decreed, overflowing (with) righteousness. The first clause relates to a certain event. but one still future (though thy people shall be or is to be). There seems, as Calvin says, to be allusion to the promises given to the Patriarchs (e. g. Gen. 13:16. 22:17), and repeated by the Prophets (e. g. Hos. 1:10), the fulfilment of which might have seemed to be precluded by the threatening in v. 21; to prevent which false conclusion, Isaiah here repeats the threatening with the promise, though thy people shall indeed be numerous, yet etc. The name Israel may be understood as that of the nation; but there is more force in the language if we suppose an apostrophe to Israel or Jacob as the common ancestor, thus keeping up a distinct allusion to the ancient promises. Thy people will then mean thy posterity, not the ten tribes exclusively, nor Judah exclusively, but the whole race without distinction. The return predicted is not merely that from the Babylonish exile, but a return to God by true repentance and conversion as the only means of salvation. That a remnant only should escape, implies of course a general destruction, which is positively foretold in the last clause.

23. This verse contains a further explanation. For a consumption, even (the one) determined, (is) the Lord, Jehovah of Hosts, making (or about to make) in the midst of all the earth. This verse and the one before it are quoted by Paul (Rom. 9:27, 28) to show that the Jews, as such, were not the heirs of the promise, which was intended for the remnant according to the election of grace.

24. The logical connection of this verse is not with that immediately preceding, but with v. 19. Having there declared the fate impending over the Assyrian, the Prophet, as it were, turned aside to describe the effect of their destruction on the remnant of Israel, and now, having done so, he resumes the thread of his discourse, as if there had been no interruption. Therefore (since this is soon to be the fate of the Assyrians) be not afraid, oh my people inhabiting Zion, of Asshur (or the Assyrian). He shall smite thee (it is true) with the rod, and shall lift up his staff upon (or over) thee in the way of Egypt. As Zion was the seat of the true religion, and the people of God are often said to inhabit Zion, not in a local but a spiritual sense. most interpreters understand the object of address to be Israel in general, while some restrict it to the pious and believing Jews. the remnant of Israel, who were now to be consoled and reassured amidst the judgments which were coming on the nation. The last words, in the way of Egypt, are ambiguous, and admit of two distinct interpretations. Some early writers, quoted by Calvin, make the phrase to mean, on the way to (or from) Egypt, in allusion to the fact, that Sennacherib attacked Judea in the course of an expedition against Egypt. The weight of exegetical authority preponderates in favour of a figurative exposition, making in the way synonymous with in the manner, after the example, as in Amos 4:10. The sense will then be this: 'Assyria shall oppress thee as Egypt did before.'

25. This verse assigns a reason for the exhortation not to fear in v. 24. For yet a very little, and wrath is at an end, and my anger (shall go forth or tend) to their destruction, i. e. the destruction of the enemy. The first clause may have reference to that destruction also. or to the restoration of God's people to his favour.

26. The suddenness and completeness of the ruin threatened are expressed by a comparison with two remarkable events in sacred history, the slaughter of the Midianites by Gideon, and the overthrow of Pharaoh in the Red Sea. And Jehovah of Hosts shall raise up against him (the Assyrian) a scourge (or instrument of vengeance), like the smiling of Midian at the rock Oreb, and his rod (Jehovah's) shall again be over the sea, and he shall lift it up (again) as he did in Egypt (literally, in the way of Egypt, as in v. 24). The rock Oreb is particularly mentioned because one of the Midianitish princes, who had escaped from the field of battle, was there slain by Gideon; and so Sennacherib, although he should survive the slaughter of his host, was to be slain at home (ch. 37:38). In the last clause there is a beautiful allusion to v. 24. As the Assyrians lifted up the rod over Israel in the manner of Egypt, so God would lift up the rod over them in the manner of Egypt. As they were like the Egyptians in their sin, so should they now be like them in their punishment. The construction of the last clause in the English Bible—and (as) his rod was upon the sea, (so) shall he lift it up etc.—puts an arbitrary meaning on the particles. According to the first construction given, his rod (shall be again) upon the sea is a poetical expression for 'his power shall again be miraculously displayed.'

27. And it shall be (happen or come to pass) in that day (when this prediction is fulfilled) that his burden (the burden imposed by him, the heavy load of Assyrian oppression, perhaps with special reference to the tribute imposed upon Hezekiah) shall depart (be removed) from thy shoulder, and his yoke (a poetical equivalent to burden) from thy neck (oh Israel!) and the yoke (itself) shall be destroyed (or broken off) because of (literally, from the face of) oil (or fatness or anointing). The only difficulty lies in the concluding words, which have been variously understood. Some suppose an allusion to the softening of the yoke with oil, or to its preservation by it. But in this interpretation, the explanatory fact is arbitrarily assumed. Others take the word in the sense of fat or fatness, and suppose an allusion to the rejection of the yoke by a fat bullock, Deut. 32:15. Hos. 4:16. 10:11, or to the bursting of the yoke by the increasing fatness of the bullock's neck, or to the wearing away of the yoke by the neck, instead of the neck by the yoke. The general meaning of the verse is plain, as a prediction of deliverance from Assyrian bondage.

28. From the time of the Assyrian's overthrow the Prophet now reverts to that of his invasion, which he describes in the most vivid manner by rapidly enumerating the main points of his march from the frontier of Judah to the gates of Jerusalem. Some regard the description as ideal and intended to express, in a poetical manner, the quarter from which the invasion was to come and its general direction, by specifying certain places as the points through which it was to pass. The same position is maintained in Robinson's Researches (vol. 2. p. 149), on the ground that the road here traced could never have been commonly used, because impracticable from the nature of the ground. If passable at all, however, it may well have been adopted in a case of bold invasion, where surprise was a main object. The difficulties of the route in question must be slight compared with those by which Hannibal and Napoleon crossed the Alps. It is therefore not impossible nor even improbable, that Isaiah intended to delineate the actual course taken by Sennacherib. At the same time this is not a necessary supposition, since we may conceive the Prophet standing in vision on the walls of Jerusalem, and looking towards the quarter from which the invasion was to come, enumerating certain intervening points, without intending to predict that he would really pass through them. In this case, the more difficult the route described, the better suited would it be to express the idea that the enemy would come in spite of all opposing obstacles. The places here enumerated seem to have belonged chiefly or wholly to the tribes of Benjamin and Judah. Some of them are still in existence, and the site of several has been recently determined by the personal observations and inquiries of Robinson and Smith. The catalogue begins at the frontier of the kingdom of Judah, and at the first place conquered by the Israelites on taking possession of the land The language is precisely that of an eye-witness describing at the moment what he actually sees. He is come to Aiath he is passed to Migronto Michmash he intrusts his baggage. Although the form Aiath nowhere else occurs, it is commonly supposed to be the same with Ai, the ancient royal city of the Canaanites, destroyed by Joshua (Josh. 8:1), and afterwards rebuilt (Ezra 2:28. Neh. 7:32). The ancient Ai was situated on a height to the north-east of Jerusalem. According to Dr. Robinson, its site is probably still marked by certain ruins, south of Deir Diwan, an hour from Bethel. The present form, he passes, represents the thing as actually taking place; the preterite, he has passed, implies that he has scarcely reached a place before he leaves it, and is therefore more expressive of his rapid movements. The precise situation of Migron is now unknown, as it is mentioned only here and in 1 Sam. 14:2, from which text it would seem to have been near to Gibeah. Michmash is still in existence under the almost unchanged name of Mukhmas, to the north-east of Jeba, on the slope of a steep valley. The place is now desolate, but exhibits signs of former strength, foundations of hewn stones and prostrate columns.

29. They have passed the pass, a narrow passage between Michmash and Geba (1 Sam. 13:3, 5 etc.), a spot no doubt easily maintained against an enemy. Their passing it implies that they met with no resistance, or had overcome it, and that there was now little or nothing to impede their march. In Geba they have taken up their lodging (literally, lodged a lodging). Geba appears from 1 Kings 15:22 to have been on or near the line between Benjamin and Judah. There is a small village now called Jeba, half in ruins, with large hewn stones and the remains of a square tower, on the opposite side of the valley from the ancient Michmash. This place Robinson and Smith supposed at first to be Geba, but afterwards concluded that it must be Gibeah of Saul, and that the site of Geba must be further down, where they heard of ruins, but had not time to explore (vol 2. pp. 114, 115). Thus far he has described what the Assyrians themselves do—they cross the line at Ajath —pass through Migron—leave their baggage at Michmash— lodge at Geba. Now he describes what the places themselves do; Ramah tremblesGibeah of Saul flees. Ramah was a city of Benjamin, near Gibeah, but further from Jerusalem. It is still in existence as Er-ram. It is about half a mile nearly due west of Jeba, but hidden from it by intervening heights (Robinson, vol. 2. pp. 108—114). It is two hours north of Jerusalem, on the eastern side of the road to Nablus. The Identity of this place with the ancient Ramah was long lost sight of, but has been clearly ascertained by Smith and Robinson. Ramah trembles (or is afraid) at the enemy's approach, a strong and beautiful personification, or the place may be simply put for its inhabitants. The trembling and flight of these towns is naturally represented as occurring while the enemy was resting at Geba. It may imply, either that Ramah was not in the direct line of the march but within sight and hearing of it, or on the contrary, that it was the next place to be reached, and trembling in apprehension of it. A still stronger metaphor is used as to the next place. Gibeah of Saul, so called because it was his birth-place and residence, and to distinguish it from others of the same name, is fled. There is here a rapid but marked climax. While Ramah trembles, Gibeah flees.

30. To terror and flight he now adds an audible expression of distress, representing one place as crying, another as listening, and according to some writers, a third as responding. At the same time he exchanges the language of description for that of direct personal address. Cry aloud, daughter Gallim (or daughter of Gallim), hearken Laishah, (ah) poor Anathoth! The site of Gallim is no longer known, but it was no doubt somewhere in the neighbourhood of Gibeah. The personification is made more distinct by the use of the word daughter, whether employed simply for that purpose and applied to the town itself, or, as in many other cases, to the population, as an individual.

31. Madmenah wanders (or removes from her place), the inhabitants of Gebim flee (or cause to flee i.e. carry off their goods). These places are no longer in existence, nor are they mentioned elsewhere. In this verse, for the first time, the inhabitants are expressly mentioned and distinguished from the place itself.

32. This verse conducts him to the last stage of his progress, to a point so near the Holy City that he may defy it thence. Yet to-day in Nob (he is) to stand (and there) will shake his hand (a gesture of menace and defiance) against the mountain of the house (or daughter) of Zion (i. e. Mount Zion itself), the hill of Jerusalem. Nob was a sacerdotal city of Benjamin near Anathoth (Neh. 11:32), and according to some, within sight of Jerusalem Robinson and Smith explored the ridge of Olivet for traces of this town, but without success. The Nob here mentioned is no doubt the same that Saul destroyed, although there was another in the plain towards Lydda.

33. To the triumphant march and proud defiance now succeeds abruptly the tremendous downfall of the enemy himself, in describing which the Prophet resumes the figure dropped at v. 19, and represents the catastrophe as the sudden and violent prostration of a forest. Behold, the Lord, Jehovah of Hosts (is) lopping (or about to lop) the branch (of this great tree) with terror (or tremendous violence), and the (trees) high of stature (shall be) felled, and the lofty ones brought low. Lofty of stature is not to be applied to men directly, as descriptive either of their pride or their appearance, but to trees, as representing the Assyrians in general or their chief men in particular.

34. And he (Jehovah) shall cut down (or away) the thickets of the forest (the Assyrian army) with iron, (i. e. with an instrument of iron, as an axe), and this Lebanon (this wooded mountain. this enormous forest, still referring to the host of the Assyrians) with (or by) a mighty one. It is clear that the iron of this verse and the fire of v. 17 denote one and the same thing, both implying that the forest was to perish, not by slow decay, but by sudden violence, which shows the absurdity of giving a specific sense to all the particulars in such a picture. Thus the thickets are probably mentioned only to complete the picture of a forest totally destroyed. The general figure of a forest is made more specific by referring to Lebanon, a mountain celebrated for its woods.