Isaiah Translated and Explained

by Joseph Addison Alexander

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The Creation Concept

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 Vol II Introduction 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 Alexander's Works


The great enigma of Israel's simultaneous loss and gain is solved by a prediction of the calling of the gentiles, v. 1. This is connected with the obstinate unfaithfulness of the chosen people, v. 2. They are represented under the two main aspects of their character at different periods, as gross idolaters and as Pharisaical bigots, vs. 3-5. Their casting off was not occasioned by the sins of one generation but of many, vs. 6, 7. But even in this rejected race there was a chosen remnant, in whom the promises shall be fulfilled, vs. 8-10. He then reverts to the idolatrous Jews and threatens them with condign punishment, vs. 11, 12. The fate of the unbelieving carnal Israel is compared with that of the true spiritual Israel, vs. 13-16. The gospel economy is described as a new creation, v. 17. Its blessings are described under glowing figures borrowed from the old dispensation, vs. 18, 19. Premature death shall be no longer known, v. 20. Possession and enjoyment shall no longer be precarious, vs. 21-23. Their very desires shall be anticipated, v. 24. All animosities and noxious influences shall cease forever, v. 25.

1. I have been inquired of by those that asked not; I have been found by those that sought me not; I have said, Behold me, behold me, to a nation (that) was not called by my name. There is an apparent inconsistency between the first two members of the sentence in the English Version, arising from the use of the same verb (sought) to express two very different Hebrew verbs. The exact sense seems to be, I allowed myself to be consulted, I afforded access to myself for the purpose of consultation. This is not a mere conjectural deduction from the form of the Hebrew verb or from general analogy, but a simple statement of the actual usage of this very word, as when Jehovah says again and again of the ungodly exiles that he will not be inquired of or consulted by them (Ez. 14:3. 20:3), i. e. with effect or to any useful purpose. In this connection it is tantamount to saying that he will not hear them, answer them, or reveal himself to them; all which or equivalent expressions have been used by different writers in the translation of the verse before us. There is nothing therefore incorrect in substance, though the form be singular, in the Septuagint version of this verb, retained in the New Testament, ... ... , I became manifest, i. e. revealed myself. The object of the verb asked, if exact uniformity be deemed essential, may be readily supplied from the parallel expression sought me. Behold me, or as it is sometimes rendered in the English Bible, here I am, is the usual idiomatic Hebrew answer to a call by name, and when ascribed to God contains an assurance of his presence rendered more emphatic by the repetition. (See above, ch. 52:6. 58:9.) It is therefore equivalent to being inquired of and being found. This last expression has occurred before in ch. 55:6, and as here in combination with the verb to seek. A people not called by my name, i. e. not recognized or known as my people. (See above. ch. 48:2.) All interpreters agree that this is a direct continuation of the foregoing context, and most of them regard it as the answer of Jehovah to the expostulations and petitions there presented by his people. The modern Germans and the Jews apply both this verb and the next to Israel. The obvious objection is that Israel even in its worst estate could never be described as a nation which had not been called by the name of Jehovah. It is a standing characteristic of the Jews in the Old Testament, that they were called by the name of Jehovah; but if they may also be described in terms directly opposite, whenever the interpreter prefers it, then may anything mean anything. In all their alienations, exiles, and dispersions, the children of Israel have still retained that title as their highest glory and the badge of all their tribe. An obvious and natural application may be made to the gentiles generally, whose vocation is repeatedly predicted in this book, and might be here used with powerful effect in proof that the rejection of the Jews was the result of their own obstinate perverseness, not of God's unfaithfulness or want of power. This is precisely Paul's interpretation of the passage in Rom. 10:20, 21, where he does not, as in many other cases, merely borrow the expressions of the Prophet, but formally interprets them, applying this verse to the gentiles and then adding, 'but to Israel (or of Israel) he saith' what follows in the next verse. The same intention to expound the Prophet's language is clear from the apostle's mention of Isaiah's boldness in thus shocking the most cherished prepossessions of the Jews.

2. I have spread (or stretched) out my hands all the day (or every day) to a rebellious people, those going the way not good, after their own thoughts (or designs). The gesture mentioned in the first clause is variously explained as a gesture of simple calling, of instruction, of invitation, of persuasion. All agree that it implies God's gracious offer of himself and of his favour to the people. Whether all the day or every day be the correct translation, the idea meant to be conveyed is evidently that of frequent repetition, or rather of unremitting constancy. The rebellious people is admitted upon all hands to be Israel. The last clause is an amplification and explanatory paraphrase of the first. Going and way are common figures for the course of life. A way not good is a litotes or meiosis for a bad or for the worst way. (See Ps. 36:4. Ezek. 36:31.) Thoughts, not opinions merely, but devices and inventions of wickedness. (See above, on ch. 55:7.) With this description compare that of Moses, Deut. 32:5, 6.

3. The people angering me to my face continually, sacrificing in the gardens, and censing on the bricks. We have now a more detailed description of the way not good, and the devices mentioned in the foregoing verse. The construction is continued, the people provoking me etc. being in direct apposition with the rebellious people going etc. To my face, not secretly or timidly (Job 31:27), but openly and in defiance of me (ch. 3:9. Job 1:11), which is probably the meaning of before me in the first commandment (Ex. 20:3). Animal offerings and fumigations are combined to represent all kinds of sacrifice. As to the idolatrous use of groves and gardens, see above, on ch. 57:5. The Hebrew word garden denotes any enclosed and carefully cultivated ground, whether chiefly occupied by trees or not. Of the last words, on the bricks, there are four interpretations. The first is that of many older writers, who suppose an allusion to the prohibition in Exod. 20:24, 25. But bricks are not there mentioned, and can hardly come under the description of "hewn stone," besides the doubt which overhangs the application of that law, and especially the cases in which it was meant to operate. A second explanation supposes bricks to mean roofing tiles (Mark 2:4. Luke 5:19), and the phrase to be descriptive of idolatry as practised on the roofs of houses (2 Kings 23:12. Jer. 19:13. 32:29. Zeph. 1:5.) A third supposes an allusion to some practice now unknown, but possibly connected with the curiously inscribed bricks found in modern times near the site of ancient Babylon. Much the simplest and most natural supposition is, that the phrase means nothing more than altars, or at most altars slightly and hastily constructed. Of such altars bricks may be named as the materials, or tiles as the superficial covering.

4. Sitting in the graves, and in the holes they will lodge, eating the flesh of swine, and broth of filthy things (is in) their vessels. All agree that this verse is intended to depict in revolting colours the idolatrous customs of the people. Nor is there much doubt as to the construction of the sentence, or the force of the particular expressions. But the obscurity which overhangs the usage referred to has originated various archaeological discussions which throw no light on the drift of the passage, nor even on the literal translation of the words, but are investigated merely for their own sake or their bearing upon other objects. Such are the questions, whether these idolaters sat in the graves or among them; whether for necromantic purposes, i. e. to interrogate the dead, or to perform sacrificial rites to their memory, or to obtain demoniacal inspiration; whether the Hebrew word means monuments, or caves, or temples; whether these were lodged in for licentious purposes, or to obtain prophetic dreams; whether they are charged with simply eating pork for food, or after it had been sacrificed to idols; whether swine's flesh was forbidden for medicinal reasons, or because the heathen sacrificed and ate it, or on other grounds; whether ... means broth or bits of meat, and if the former, whether it was so called on account of the bread broken in it, or for other reasons, etc. The only question of grammatical construction which has found a place among these topics of pedantic disquisition is of small importance with respect to the interpretation of the passage. It is the question whether vessels is to be governed by a preposition understood or explained as an accusative of place, or as the predicate of the proposition, broth of abominable meats are their vessels. Even if we should successively adopt and then discard every one of the opinions some of which have now been mentioned, the essential meaning of the verse would still remain the same, as a highly wrought description of idolatrous abominations.

5. The (men) saying, Keep to thyself, come not near to me, for I am holy to thee, these (are) a smoke in my wrath, a fire burning all the day (or every day). The literal translation of the second phrase is approach to thyself, implying removal from the speaker. The common English version (stand by thyself) suggests an idea not contained in the original, viz. that of standing alone, whereas all that is expressed by the Hebrew phrase is the act of standing away from the speaker, for which Lowth has found the idiomatic equivalent (keep to thyself). Another unusual expression is the one which may be represented by the English words, I am holy thee, i. e. I am holy with respect to thee; and as this implies comparison, the same sense is attained as by the old construction. As to the question who are here described, there are two main opinions: first, that the clause relates to the idolaters mentioned in the foregoing verses; the other, that it is descriptive of a wholly different class. The latter explanation is substantially the true one. The great end which the Prophet had in view was to describe the unbelieving Jews as abominable in the sight of God. His manner of expressing this idea is poetical, by means of figures drawn from various periods of their history, without intending to exhibit either of these periods exclusively. To a Hebrew writer, what could be more natural than to express the idea of religious corruption by describing its subjects as idolaters, diviners, eaters of swine's flesh, worshippers of outward forms, and self-righteous hypocrites? Of such the text declares God's abhorrence. Smoke and fire may be taken as natural concomitants and parallel figures, as if he had said, against whom my wrath smokes and burns continually. Or the smoke may represent the utter consumption of the object, and the fire the means by which it is effected, which appears to have been Luther's idea.

6, 7. Lo, it is written before me. I will not rest except I repay, and I will repay into their bosom your iniquities and the iniquities of your fathers together, saith Jehovah, who burned incense on the mountains and on the hills blasphemed me, and I will measure their first work into their bosom. The particle at the beginning calls attention both to the magnitude and certainty of the event about to be predicted. The figure of writing has been variously understood. Some think that what is said to be written is the eternal law of retribution. Others understand by it a book of remembrance (Mal. 3:16), i. e. a record of the sins referred to afterwards, by which they are kept perpetually present to the memory of Jehovah (Daniel 7:10). Most later writers understand by it a record, not of the crime, but of its punishment, or rather of the purpose or decree to punish it (Dan. 5:5, 24), in reference to the written judgments of the ancient courts (ch. 10:1). This last interpretation does not necessarily involve the supposition that the thing here said to be written is the threatening which immediately follows, although this is by no means an unnatural construction. I will not rest or be silent, an expression used repeatedly before in reference to the seeming inaction or indifference of Jehovah. (See above, ch. 42:14. 57:11, and compare Ps. 50: 21. Hab. 1:13.) For repay into their bosom, we have in the seventh verse measure into their bosom, which affords a clue to the origin and real meaning of the figure; as we read that Boaz said to Ruth, Bring the veil (or cloak) that is upon thee and hold it, and she held it, and he measured six (measures of) barley and laid it on her (Ruth 3:15). Hence the phrase to measure into any one's bosom, i e. into the lap or the fold of the garment covering the bosom. (See above, on ch. 49:22.) The same figure is employed by Jer. 32:18 ind in Ps. 79:12, and has been explained as implying abundance, or a greater quantity than one could carry in the hand. (Compare Luke 6:38.) But others understand the main idea to be not that of abundance, but of retribution, anything being said to return into one's own bosom, just as it is elsewhere said to return upon his own head (Judg. 9:57. Ps. 7:16). Both these accessory ideas are appropriate in the case before us. The sudden change from their to your at the beginning of v. 7, has been commonly explained as an example of the enallage personae so frequently occurring in Isaiah. This supposition is undoubtedly sufficient to remove all difficulty from the syntax. It is possible, however, that the change is not a mere grammatical anomaly or license of construction, but significant, and intended to distinguish between three generations. I will repay into their bosom (that of your descendants) your iniquities and the iniquities of your fathers. If this be not a fanciful distinction, it gives colour to the opinion that the previous description brings to view successively the gross idolatry of early times and the pharisaical hypocrisy prevailing at the time of Christ. Supposing his contemporaries to be the immediate objects of address, there would then be a distinct allusion to their idolatrous progenitors, the measure of whose guilt they filled up (Matt. 23:32), and to their children, upon whom it was to be conspicuously visited (Luke 23:28). But whether this be so or not, the meaning of the text is obvious, as teaching that the guilt which had accumulated through successive generations should be visited, though not exclusively, upon the last. The whole of idolatry is here summed up in burning incense on the mountains, which are elsewhere mentioned as a favourite resort of those who worshipped idols (ch. 57:7 Jer. 3:6. Ez. 6:13. 18:6. Hos. 4:13), and blaspheming God upon the hills, which may either be regarded as a metaphorical description of idolatry itself, or strictly taken to denote the oral expression of contempt for Jehovah and his worship, which might naturally be expected to accompany such practices. Their former work, i. e. its product or reward, as in ch. 40:10. (See above, p. 77.) The only sense in which it can be thus described is that of ancient, as distinguished not from the subsequent transgressions of the fathers, but from those of the children who came after them. According to the sense which the Apostle puts upon the two first verses of this chapter, we may understand those now before us as predicting the excision of the Jews from the communion of the church and from their covenant relation to Jehovah, as a testimony of his sore displeasure on account of the unfaithfulness and manifold transgressions of that chosen race throughout its former history, but also on account of the obstinate and spiteful unbelief with which so many later generations have rejected the Messiah, for whose sake alone they ever had a national existence and enjoyed so many national advantages.

8. Thus saith Jehovah, As (when) juice is found in the cluster and one says, Destroy it not, far a blessing is in it, so will I do for the sake, of my servants, not to destroy the whole. A blessing is in it seems to mean something more than that it has some value. The idea meant to be suggested is, that God has blessed it, and that man should therefore not destroy it. The image presented by the Prophet is that of a good cluster in which juice is found, while others are unripe or rotten. I will do is by some understood as meaning I will act, or I will cause it to be so; but this is not the usage of the Hebrew verb, which rather means precisely what the English I will do denotes in such connections, i. e. I will do so, or will act in the same manner. My servants is by some understood to mean the patriarchs, the fathers, for whose sake Israel was still be loved (Rom. 11:28). It is more natural, however, to apply it to the remnant according to the election of grace (Rom. 11:5), the true believers represented by the ripe and juicy cluster in the foregoing simile. The construction of the last words is the same as in ch. 48:9. The whole is a literal translation of the Hebrew phrase, and at once more exact and more expressive than the common version, them all.

9. And I will bring forth from Jacob a seed and from Judah an heir of my mountains, and my chosen ones shall inherit it, and my servants shall dwell there. This is an amplification of the promise, I will do so, in the foregoing verse. My mountains denotes the whole of Palestine, as being an uneven, hilly country. See the same use of the plural in ch. 14:25, and the analogous phrase, mountains of Israel, repeatedly employed by Ezekiel (36:1, 8. 38:8). The corresponding singular, my mountain (ch. 11:9. 57:13), is by many understood in the same manner. The adverb at the end of the sentence properly means thither, and is never perhaps put for there except in cases where a change of place is previously mentioned or implied. If so, the sense is not merely that they shall abide there, but that they shall first go or return thither, which in this connection is peculiarly appropriate. Of the promise here recorded there are three principal interpretations. The first, embraced by nearly all the modern Germans, is that the verse predicts the restoration of the Jews from Babylon. The second may be stated in the words of Henderson, viz. that "the future happy occupation of Palestine by a regenerated race of Jews is here clearly predicted." The third is that the verse foretells the perpetuation of the old theocracy or Jewish church; not in the body of the nation, but in the remnant which believed on Christ; and which, enlarged by the accession of the gentiles, is identical in character and rights with the church of the old dispensation, the heir to all its promises, and this among the rest, which either has been or is to be fulfilled both in a literal and figurative sense; in the latter, because the Church already has what is essentially equivalent to the possession of the land of Canaan under a local ceremonial system; in the former, because Palestine is yet to be recovered from the Paynim and the Infidel, and rightfully occupied, if not by Jews, by Christians, as the real seed of Abraham, partakers of the same faith and heirs of the same promise (Heb. 11:9); for the promise that he should be the heir of the world was not to Abraham, or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith (Rom. 4:13). If it should please God to collect the natural descendants of the patriarch in that land and convert them in a body to the true faith, there would be an additional coincidence between the prophecy and the event, even in minor circumstances, such as we often find in the history of Christ. But if no such national restoration of the Jews to Palestine should ever happen, the extension of the true religion over that benighted region, which both prophecy and providence encourage us to look for, would abundantly redeem the pledge which God has given to his people in this and other parts of Scripture.

10. And Sharon shall be for (or become) a home of flocks, and the Valley of Achor a lair of herds, for my people who have sought me. This is a repetition of the promise in the foregoing verse, rendered more specific by the mention of one kind of prosperity, viz. that connected with the raising of cattle, and of certain places where it should be specially enjoyed, viz. the valley of Achor and the plain of Sharon. Two reasons have been given for the mention of these places, one derived from their position, the other from their quality. As the valley of Achor was near Jericho and Jordan, and the plain of Sharon on the Mediterranean, between Joppa and Cesarea, some suppose that they are here combined to signify the whole breadth of the land, from East to West. And as Sharon was proverbial for its verdure and fertility (see above, ch 33:9. 35:2), it is inferred by some that Achor was so likewise, which they think is the more probable because Hosea says that the valley of Aobor shall be a door of hope (Hos. 2:15). But this may have respect to the calamity which Israel experienced there at his first entrance on the land of promise (Josh. 7:26), so that where his troubles then began his hopes shall now begin. For these or other reasons Sharon and Achor are here mentioned, in Isaiah's characteristic manner, as samples of the whole land, or its pastures, just as flocks and herds are used as images of industry and wealth, derived from the habits of the patriarchal age. That this is the correct interpretation of the flocks and herds, is not disputed even by the very writers who insist upon the literal construction of the promise that the seed of Jacob shall possess the land, as ensuring the collection of the Jews into the region which their fathers once inhabited. That to seek Jehovah sometimes has specific reference to repentance and conversion, on the part of those who have been alienated from him, may be seen by a comparison of ch. 9:12 (13) and 55:6.

11. And (as for) you, forsakers of Jehovah, the (men) forgetting my holy mountain, the (men) setting for Fortune a table, and the (men) filling for Fate a mingled draught. This is only a description of the object of address; the address itself is contained in the next verse. The class of persons meant are first described as forsakers of Jehovah and forgetters of his holy mountain. The description of the same persons in the last clause is much more obscure, and has occasioned a vast amount of learned disquisition and discussion. Many interpreters have understood the two most important words as common nouns denoting troop and number (the former being the sense put upon the name Gad, in Gen. 30: 11), and referred the whole clause either to convivial assemblies, perhaps connected with idolatrous worship, or to the troop of planets and the multitude of stars, as objects of such worship. But as the most essential words in this case are supplied, the later writers, while they still suppose the objects worshipped to be here described, explain the descriptive terms in a different manner. Luther retains the Hebrew names Gad and Meni, which are also given in the margin of the English Bible; but most interpreters explain them by equivalents. One opinion is that Gad is the planet Jupiter (identical with Bel or Baal). and Meni the planet Venus (identical with Ashtoreth), which are called in the old Arabian mythology the Greater and Lesser Fortune or Good Luck, while Saturn and Mars were known as the Greater and Lesser Evil Fortune or Ill Luck. Others understand the planets here intended to be Jupiter and Saturn; others still the Sun and Moon. Amidst this diversity of theories and explanations it is satisfactory to find that there is perfect unanimity upon the only point of exegetical importance, namely, that the passage is descriptive of idolatrous worship. This being settled, the details still doubtful can be interesting only to the philologist and antiquarian. The kind of offering described is supposed to be identical with the lectisternia of the Roman writers, which consisted in the spreading of a feast for the consumption of the gods. Herodotus mentions a ... ... (table of the sun) as known in Egypt; and Jeremiah twice connects this usage with the worship of the queen of heaven. (Jer. 7:18. 44:17.) The last word in Hebrew denotes mixture, and may either mean spiced wine, or a compound of different liquors, or a mere preparation or infusion of one kind. (See above, on ch. 5:22.) As to the application of the passage, there is the usual division of opinion among the adherents of the different hypotheses. The true sense of the passage seems to be the same as in vs. 3-7, where the Prophet contemplates his description of the wickedness of Israel, by circumstances drawn from different periods of his history, such as the idolatrous period, the pharisaical period, etc.

12. And I have numbered you to the sword, and all of you to the slaughter shall bow; because I called and ye did not answer, I spake and ye did not hear, and ye did the (thing that was) evil in my eyes. and that which I desired not ye chose. The strict sense of numbering or counting is not only admissible, but necessary to express a portion of the writers meaning, namely, the idea that they should be cut off one by one, or rather one with another, i. e. all without exception. (See ch. 27:12.) In the use of the Hebrew verb to number there is evident allusion to its derivative in the preceding verse, which some of the German writers try to make perceptible to German readers by combining cognate nouns and verbs. The same effect, if it were worth the while, might be produced in English by the use of destiny and destine. Bowing or stooping to the slaughter is submitting to it either willingly or by compulsion. The remainder of the verse assigns the reason of the threatened punishment. The first expression bears a strong resemblance to the words of Wisdom, in Prov. 1:24-31. As to the application of the words, there is the usual confidence and contradiction; but the most probable explanation is that which understands the passage as predicting the excision of the Jewish nation from the Church, not only for the crowning sin of rejecting Christ, but for their aggregate offences as idolaters and hypocrites, as rebels against God and despisers of his mercy, with which sins they are often charged in the Old Testament (e. g. ch. 50:2. 65:2. 66:4. Jer. 7:13, 26), and still more pointedly by Christ himself in several of his parables and other discourses, some of which remarkably resemble that before us both in sentiment and language. (See Matt. 23:37. 22:7. Luke 19:27, and compare Acts 13:46.) Besides the countenance which this analogy affords to this exposition, it is strongly recommended by its strict agreement with what we have determined, independently of this place, to be the true sense of the whole foregoing context. Interpreted by these harmonious analogies, the verse, instead of threatening the destruction of the Babylonish Jews before the advent, or of the wicked Jews and Antichrist hereafter, is a distinct prediction of a far more critical event than either, the judicial separation of the Jewish nation and the Israel of God, which had for ages seemed inseparable, not to say identical.

13, 14. Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Lo! my servants shall eat and ye shall hunger; lo, my servants shall drink and ye shall thirst; lo, my servants shall rejoice and ye shall be ashamed; lo, my servants shall shout from gladness of heart, and ye shall cry from grief of heart, and from brokenness of spirit ye shall howl. These verses merely carry out the general threatening of the one preceding, in a series of poetical antitheses, where hunger, thirst, disgrace, and anguish, take the place of sword and slaughter, and determine these to be symbolical or emblematic terms. The same metaphors are often used to signify spiritual joy and horror, not only in the Prophets (see above, ch. 8:21. 33:16. 55:1. 58:14), but by our Saviour when he speaks of his disciples as eating bread in the kingdom of heaven, where many shall come from the east and the west, and sit down (or recline at table) with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Matt. 8:11); and ascribes to the king in the parable the solemn declaration, I say unto you none of those men that were bidden shall taste of my supper (Luke 14:24). Thus understood, the passage is a solemn prediction of happiness to the believing and of misery to the unbelieving Jews. The latter are directly addressed, the former designated as my servants. Gladness of heart, literally goodness of heart, which in our idiom would express a different idea, on account of our predominant use of the first word in a moral sense. For the Hebrew expression see Deut. 28:47. Judg. 19:6, 22. For brokenness of spirit, compare ch. 61:1 and Pa. 51:17. To be ashamed, as often elsewhere, includes disappointment and frustration of hope.

15. And ye shall leave your name for an oath to my chosen ones, and the Lord Jehovah shall slay thee, and shall call his servants by another name. (literally, call another name to them). The object of address is still the body of the Jewish nation, from which the believing remnant arc distinguished by the names my chosen and my servants. Oath is here put for curse, as it is added to it in Dan. 9:11, and the two are combined in Num. 5:21, where the oath of cursing may be regarded as the complete expression of which oath is here an ellipsis. To leave one's name for a curse, according to Old Testament usage, is something more than to leave it to be cursed. The sense is that the name shall be used as a formula of cursing, so that men shall be able to wish nothing worse to others than a like character and fate. This is clear from Jer. 29:22 compared with Zech. 3:2, as well as from the converse or correlative promise to the patriarchs and their children that a like use should be made of their names as a formula of blessing (Gen. 22:18. 48:20). As in other cases where the use of names is the subject of discourse, there is no need of supposing that any actual practice is predicted, but merely that the character and fate of those addressed will be so bad as justly to admit of such an application. As the phrase your name shows that the object of address is a plurality of persons bearing one name, or in other words an organized community, so the singular form slay thee is entirely appropriate to this collective or ideal person. Of the last clause there are three interpretations. The rabbinical expounders understand it as the converse of the other clause. As your name is to be a name of cursing, so my servants are to have another name, i. e. a name of blessing, or a name by which men shall bless. Others give it a more general sense, as meaning their condition shall be altogether different. A third opinion is that it relates to the substitution of the Christian name for that of Jew, as a distinctive designation of God's people. The full sense of the clause can only be obtained by combining all these explanations, or at least a part of each. The first is obviously implied, if not expressed. The second is established by analogy and usage, and the almost unanimous consent of all interpreters. The only question is in reference to the last, which is of course rejected with contempt by the neologists, and regarded as fanciful by some Christian writers. These have been influenced in part by the erroneous assumption that if this is not the whole sense of the words, it cannot be a part of it. But this is only true in cases where the two proposed are incompatible. The true state of the case is this: According to the usage of the prophecies the promise of another name imports a different character and state, and in this sense the promise has been fully verified. But in addition to this general fulfilment, which no one calls in question, it is matter of history that the Jewish commonwealth or nation is destroyed; that the name of Jew has been for centuries a by-word and a formula of execration, and that they who have succeeded to the spiritual honours of this once favoured race, although they claim historical identity therewith, have never borne its name, but another, which from its very nature could have no existence until Christ had come, and which in the common parlance of the Christian world is treated as the opposite of Jew. Now all this must be set aside as mere fortuitous coincidence, or it must be accounted for precisely in the same way that we all account for similar coincidences between the history of Christ and the Old Testament in minor points, where all admit that the direct sense of the prophecy is more extensive. As examples, may be mentioned John the Baptist's preaching in a literal wilderness, our Saviour's riding on a literal ass, his literally opening the eyes of the blind, when it is evident to every reader of the original passage that it predicts events of a far more extensive and more elevated nature. While I fully believe that this verse assures God's servants of a very different fate from that of the unbelieving Jews, I have no doubt that it also has respect to the destruction of the Jewish state and the repudiation of its name by the true church or Israel of God.

16. (By) which the (man) blessing himself in the land (or earth) shall bless himself by the God of truth, and (by which) the (man) swearing in the land (or earth) shall swear by the God of truth, because forgotten are the former enmities (or troubles), and because they are hidden from my eyes. Two things have divided and perplexed interpreters in this verse, as it stands connected with the one before it. The first is the apparent change of subject, and the writer's omission to record the new name which had just been promised. The other is the very unusual construction of the relative. The first of these has commonly been left without solution, or referred to the habitual freedom of the writer. The other has been variously but very unsuccessfully explained. All objections may be obviated by referring the relative to an expressed antecedent, viz. name, a construction given both in the Septuagint and Vulgate versions, although otherwise defective and obscure. Another advantage of this construction is that it removes the abrupt transition and supplies the name, which seems on any other supposition to be wanting. According to this view of the place, the sense is that the people shall be called after the God of truth, so that his name and theirs shall be identical, and consequently whoever blesses or swears by the one blesses or swears by the other also. The form in which this idea is expressed is peculiar, but intelligible and expressive: 'His people he shall call by another name, which (i. e. with respect to which, or more specifically by which) he that blesseth shall bless by the God of truth,' etc. Most interpreters understand by blessing himself, praying for God's blessing, and by swearing, the solemn invocation of his presence as a witness, both being mentioned as acts of religious worship and of solemn recognition. ... is properly an adjective meaning sure, trustworthy, and therefore including the ideas of reality and faithfulness, neither of which should be excluded, and both of which are comprehended in the English phrase, the true God, or retaining more exactly the form of the original, the God of truth. This Hebrew word is retained in the Greek of the New Testament, not only as a particle of asseveration, but in a still more remarkable manner as a name of Christ (Rev. 1.18. 3:14), with obvious reference to the case before us; and there must be something more than blind chance in the singular coincidence thus brought to light between this application of the phrase and the sense which has been put upon the foregoing verse, as relating to the adoption of the Christian name by the church or chosen people. As applied to Christ, the name has been well explained to describe him as very God, as a witness to the truth, as the substance or reality of the legal shadows, and as the fulfiller of the divine promises. The last clause gives the reason for the application of the title, God of truth, viz because in his deliverance of his people he will prove himself to be the true God in both senses, truly divine and eminently faithful. This proof will be afforded by the termination of those evils which the sins of his own people once rendered necessary.

17. For lo I (am) creating (or about to create) new heavens and a new earth, and the former (things) shall not be remembered, and shall not come up into the mind (literally, on the heart). Of the whole verse there are several distinct interpretations. One understands it as predicting an improvement in the air and soil, conducive to longevity and uninterrupted health; just as a modern writer might describe the vast improvement in any European country since ancient times, by saying that the heaven and the earth are new. A second explanation of the verse is that which makes it a prediction of the renovation of the present earth with its skies, etc. after the day of judgment. A third is that which regards it as a figurative prophecy of changes in the church, according to a certain systematic explication of the several parts of the material universe as symbols. Better than all these, because requiring less to be assumed, and more in keeping with the usage of prophetic language, is the explanation of the verse as a promise or prediction of entire change in the existing state of things, the precise nature of the change and of the means by which it shall be brought about forming no part of the revelation here. That the words are not inapplicable to a revolution of a moral and spiritual nature, we may learn from Paul's analogous description of the change wrought in conversion (2 Cor. 5:17. Gal. 6:15). and from Peter's application of this very passage. "Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness (2 Peter 3:13)." That the words have such a meaning even here, is rendered probable by the last clause, the oblivion of the former state of things being much more naturally connected with moral and spiritual changes than with one of a material nature.

18. But rejoice and be glad unto eternity (in) that which I (am) creating, for lo I (am) creating Jerusalem a joy, and her people a rejoicing, i. e. a subject or occasion of it. It would be highly arbitrary to explain what I create in this place, as different from the creation in the verse preceding. It is there said that a creation shall take place. It is here enjoined upon God's people to rejoice in it. But here the creation is declared to be the making of Jerusalem a joy and Israel a rejoicing. Now the whole analogy of the foregoing prophecies leads to the conclusion that this means the exaltation of the church or chosen people; and the same analogy admits of that exaltation being represented as a revolution in the frame of nature. On the other hand, a literal prediction of new heavens and new earth would scarcely have been followed by a reference merely to the church; and if Jerusalem and Zion be explained to mean the literal Jerusalem and the restored Jews, the only alternative is then to conclude that as soon as they return to Palestine, it and the whole earth are to be renewed, or else that what relates to Jerusalem and Israel is literal, and what relates to the heavens and the earth metaphorical, although, as we have just seen, the connection of the verses renders it necessary to regard the two events as one. From all these incongruities we are relieved by understanding the whole passage as a poetical description of a complete and glorious change.

19. And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people; and there shall not be heard in her again the voice of weeping and the voice of crying. Considered as the language of the Prophet himself, this would express his sympathetic interest in the joyous changes which awaited his people. But such an application would be wholly arbitrary, as Jehovah is undoubtedly the speaker in the foregoing verse, where he claims creative power; and even here there is an implication of divine authority in the promise that weeping shall no more be heard in her. There is something very beautiful in the association of ideas here expressed. God shall rejoice in his people. and they shall rejoice with him. They shall no longer know what grief is, because he shall cease to grieve over them; their former distresses shall be forgotten by them and forever hidden from his eyes.

20. There shall be no more from there an infant of days. and an old man who shall not fulfil his days; for the child a hundred years old shall die, and the sinner a hundred years old shall be accursed. The strict translation thence (from there) is not only admissible but necessary to the sense. It does not, however, mean springing or proceeding thence, but taken away thence, or carried thence to burial. It thus denotes that none shall die there in infancy. All the modern writers are agreed as to the literal meaning of this last clause, though they differ as to the relation of its parts. Some regard it as a synonymous parallelism, and understand the sense to be that he who dies a hundred years old will be considered as dying young, and by a special curse from God, interrupting the ordinary course of nature. Others make the parallelism antithetic, and contrast the child with the sinner. Perhaps the true view of the passage is, that it resumes the contrast drawn in vs. 13-15 between the servants of Jehovah and the sinners there addressed. Vs. 16-19 may then be regarded as a parenthetical amplification. As if he had said: My servants shall eat, but ye shall be hungry; my servants shall drink, but ye shall be thirsty; my servants shall rejoice, but ye shall mourn; my servants shall be just beginning life when ye are driven out of it; among the former, he who dies a hundred years old shall die a child among you, he who dies at the same age shall die accursed. On the whole, however, the most natural meaning is the one already mentioned as preferred by most modern writers. Premature death, and even death in a moderate old age, shall be unknown; he who dies a hundred years old shall be considered either as dying in childhood, or as cut off by a special malediction. The whole is a highly poetical description of longevity, to be explained precisely like the promise of new heavens and a new earth in v. 17.

21, 22. And they shall build houses and inhabit (them), and shall plant vineyards and eat the fruit of them, they shall not build and another inhabit, they shall not plant and another eat; for as the days of a tree (shall be) the days of my people, and the work of their hands my chosen ones shall wear out (or survive.) This is a promise of security and permanent enjoyment, clothed in expressions drawn from the promises and threatenings of the Mosaic law. By the age of a tree is generally understood the great age which some species are said to attain, such as the oak, the banyan, etc. The essential idea is in that of permanent continuance, and the figures here used to express it make it still more probable that in the whole foregoing context the predictions are to be figuratively understood.

23. They shall not labour in vain, and they shall not bring forth for terror; for the seed of the blessed of Jehovah are they, and their offspring with them. The sense of sudden destruction given to ... by some modern writers, is a mere conjecture from the context, and no more correct than the translation curse, which others derive from an Arabic analogy. The Hebrew word properly denotes extreme agitation and alarm, and the meaning of the clause is that they shall not bring forth children merely to be subjects of distressing solicitude.

24. And it shall be (or come to pass), that they shall not yet have called and I will answer, yet (shall) they (be) speaking and I will hear. A strong expression of God's readiness to hear and answer prayer, not a mere promise that it shall be heard (like that in Jer. 29:12. Zech. 13:9), but an assurance that it shall be granted before it is heard. The nearest parallel is Matt. 6:8, where our Lord himself says, Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. (Compare ch. 30:19. 58:9. Ps. 145:18, 19.)

25. The wolf and the lamb shall feed as one, and the lion like the ox shall eat straw, and the serpent dust (for) his food. They shall not hurt and they shall not corrupt (or destroy) in all my holy mountain, saith Jehovah. The promise of a happy change is wound up in the most appropriate manner by repeating the prophecy in ch. 11:6-9, that all hurtful influences shall forever cease in the holy hill or church of God. Some suppose an allusion to the popular belief that serpents feed on dust because they creep upon the ground, and understand the prophecy to be that they shall henceforth be contented with this food and cease to prey on men or other animals. But this would be too low a promise for the context, since a very small part of the evils which men suffer can arise from this cause. The true sense seems to be that in accordance with the serpent's ancient doom, he shall be rendered harmless, robbed of his favourite nutriment, and made to bite the dust at the feet of his conqueror. (Gen. 3:15. Rom. 16:20. 1 John 3:8. Compare Isaiah 49: 24.) The last clause resolves the figures of the first. The verbs are therefore to be understood indefinitely, as in ch. 11:9; or if they be referred to the animals previously mentioned, it is only a symbolical or tropical expression of the same idea. The form of expression is the same in either case, except that what begins a verse in the eleventh chapter here concludes one.