Isaiah Translated and Explained

by Joseph Addison Alexander

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The Creation Concept

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This chapter winds up the prophetic discourse with an express prediction of the change of dispensations, and a description of the difference between them. Jehovah will no longer dwell in temples made with hands, v. 1. Every sincere and humble heart shall be his residence, v. 2. The ancient sacrifices, though divinely instituted, will henceforth be as hateful as the rites of idolatry, v. 3. They who still cling to the abrogated ritual will be fearfully but righteously requited, v. 4. The true Israel, cast out by these deluded sinners, shall ere long be glorified, and the carnal Israel fearfully rewarded, vs. 5, 6. The ancient Zion may already be seen travailing with a new and glorious dispensation, vs. 7-9. They who mourned for her seeming desolation now rejoice in her abundance and her honour, vs. 10-14. At the same time the carnal Israel shall be destroyed, as apostates and idolaters, vs. 14-17. The place which they once occupied shall now be filled by the elect from all nations, v. 18. To gather these, a remnant of the ancient Israel shall go forth among the gentiles, v. 19. They shall come from every quarter and by every method of conveyance, v. 20. They shall be admitted to the sacerdotal honours of the chosen people, v. 21. This new dispensation is not to be temporary, like the one before it, but shall last forever, v. 22. While the spiritual Israel is thus replenished from all nations, the apostate Israel shall perish by a lingering decay in the sight of an astonished world, vs. 23, 24.

1. Thus saith Jehovah, The heavens (are) my throne, and the earth my footstool; where is (or what is) the house which ye will build for me, and where is (or what is) the place of my rest ? literally, the place my rest, i. e. the place which is or can be my rest or permanent abode. The same term is elsewhere applied to the temple, as distinguished from the tabernacle or moveable sanctuary. (See 2 Sam. 7 : 6. 2 Chron. 6 : 41. Ps. 132 : 8.) All interpreters agree that this question implies disapprobation of the building, as at variance with the great truth propounded in the first clause, namely, that the frame of nature is the only material temple worthy of Jehovah. This obvious relation of the clauses is sufficient of itself to set aside two of the old interpretations of the passage. The first is that which supposes that this chapter is a counterpart to the first, and that the Prophet here recurs to his original theme, the corruptions and abuses of his own age. But besides the undisputed references to the future in the latter part of this very chapter, it has been conclusively objected to the theory in question, that in the reigns of Ahaz and Hezekiah there could be no thought of building or rebuilding, nor even of repairing or adorning the temple, but rather of despoiling it. (2 Kings 16: 17,18. 18: 15.) The same objection lies against the theory, that this chapter was intended to console the pious Jews who were debarred from the customary public worship during the profanation of the temple by Antiochus Epiphanes. In neither of these cases could there be occasion for objecting to the building or rebuilding of the temple. That exposition is most probably the true one which assumes the most intimate connection of the chapters here, and is least dependent upon forced divisions and arbitrary intervals crowded with imaginary facts, e g. that in the interval between these chapters the tribes of Benjamin and Judah had resolved to exclude the others from all participation in the rebuilding of the temple, and that the passage now before us was intended to reprove them for their want of charity; as if this end could be accomplished by proclaiming the worthlessness of all material temples, which is tantamount to saying, why do you refuse to let your countrymen assist in the rebuilding of the temple, since no temples are of any value? The best refutation of this and other forced interpretations is afforded by a simple statement of the true sense. Having held up in every point of view the true design, mission, and vocation of the church or chosen people, its relation to the natural descendants of Abraham, the causes which required that the latter should be stripped of their peculiar privileges, and the vocation of the Gentiles as a part of the divine plan from its origin, the Prophet now addresses the apostate and unbelieving Jews at the close of the old dispensation, who, instead of preparing for the general extension of the church and the exchange of ceremonial for spiritual worship, were engaged in the rebuilding and costly decoration of the temple at Jerusalem. The pride and interest in this great public work, felt not only by the Herods but by all the Jews, is clear from incidental statements of the Scriptures (John 2 : 20. Matt. 24 : 1), as well as from the ample and direct assertions of Josephus. That the nation should have been thus occupied precisely at the time when the Messiah came, is one of those agreements between prophecy and history which cannot be accounted for except upon the supposition of a providential and designed assimilation. To the benefit of this coincidence the exposition which has last been given is entitled, and by means of it the probabilities, already great, may be said to be converted into certainties, or if anything more be needed for this purpose it will be afforded by the minuter points of similarity which will be presented in the course of the interpretation. One advantage of this exposition is that it accounts for the inference here drawn from a doctrine which was known to Solomon and publicly announced by him (1 Kings 8 : 27). It may be asked, then, why this truth did not forbid the erection of the temple at first, as well as its gorgeous reconstruction in the time of Christ. The answer is, that it was necessary for a temporary purpose, but when this temporary purpose was accomplished it became not only useless but unlawful. Henceforth the worship was to be a spiritual worship, the church universally diffused, and the material sanctuary no longer an earthly residence for God but a convenient place of meeting for his people.

2. And all these my own hand made, and all these were (or are), saith Jehovah; and In this one will I look, to the afflicted and contrite in spirit and trembling at my word. By all these it is universally admitted that we are to understand the heavens and the earth, of which he claims to be not only the sovereign, as in the preceding verse, but the creator. The next expression may be differently understood. The reference in the first clause is to the time of actual creation, my hand made them and they were, i. e. began to be. (See Gen. 1:3. Ps. 33:9.) Both tenses of the verb are combined to express the same idea in Rev. 4:11. It is important to the just interpretation of these verses to observe the climax in them. First the temples made by men are contrasted with the great material temple of the universe; then this is itself disparaged by Jehovah as his own handiwork, and still more in comparison with a nobler temple of a spiritual nature, the renewed and contrite heart (See ch. 57:15. 2 Cor. 6:16.) The same condescending favour is expressed for the same objects elsewhere. (Ps. 34:18. 138:6.) To look to, is to have regard to, and implies both approbation and affection. (See Gen. 4:4, 5. Ex. 2:25. Num. 16:15. Judg. 6:14. Ps. 25:16.) Contrite or broken in heart or spirit is a scriptural description of the subjects of divine grace in its humbling and subduing influences. (Ch. 61:1.)

3. Slaying the ox, smiting a mansacrificing the sheep, breaking a dog's neckoffering an oblation, blood of swinemaking a memorial of incense, blessing vanityalso they have chosen their ways, and in their abominations has their soul delighted. This translation, although scarcely English, will convey some idea of the singular form of the original, and render intelligible what is said as to the different constructions of the sentence. The first clause consists of four similar members, in each of which are coupled a form of sacrifice under the Mosaic law and an offering which according to that law was inadmissible and even revolting. The ox and the sheep represent the animal sacrifices, the *** or meal-offering and the incense those of an unbloody nature. The verbs connected with these nouns are likewise all selected from the technical vocabulary of the law. Memorial is the technical name of a certain kind of offering, especially of incense (Lev. 24:7) with or without other vegetable substances (Num. 5: 26), so called perhaps because the fumes of the incense were conceived of as ascending into heaven and reminding God of the worshipper. The same figure was then transferred to prayers and other spiritual offerings. (See Acts 10:4.) Smiting has here, as often elsewhere, the emphatic sense of wounding mortally or killing. (Gen. 4:15. Ex. 2:12. Josh. 20:5. 1 Sam. 17:26.) The dog has ever been regarded in the east as peculiarly unclean, and in that light is coupled with the swine, not only in the Bible (Matt 7:6. 2 Pet. 2:22), but by Horace, who twice names dog and swine together as the vilest animals. Swine's blood alone is without a verb to govern it. The simplest course is to repeat the leading verb of the same member. *** is commonly supposed to mean an idol, as it does in a few places; but it is better to retain its generic sense, as more expressive. This is by some understood to be vanity, nonentity, or worthlessness, as attributes of idols; by others, injustice or iniquity in general. The whole phrase is commonly explained to mean blessing (i. e. praising or worshipping) an idol, or saluting it by kissing (1 Kings 19:18. Job 31:27). The simplest syntax is to supply the verb of existence, and thus produce a series of short propositions: He that slays an ox smites a man, etc. The ancient versions all supply a particle of likeness—he that slays an ox is like one that murders a man, etc. This is adopted by most of the modern writers, but of late without supplying anything, the words being taken to assert not mere resemblance but identity, which is the strongest form of comparison. It is certainly more expressive to say that an offerer of cattle is a murderer, than to say that he is like one, though the latter may be after all the real meaning. He is a murderer, i. e. God so esteems him. The common interpretation is that the passage relates not to the actual practice of the abominations mentioned, but to the practice of iniquity in general, which renders the most regular and costly offerings as hateful to Jehovah as the most abominable rites of idolatry. The general doctrine of the text is that sacrifice is hateful in the sight of God if offered in a wicked spirit, but with a special reference to those who still adhere to the old sacrifices after the great sacrifice for sin was come and had been offered once for all. Thus understood this verse extends to sacrifices that which the foregoing verses said of the temple, after the change of dispensations.

4. I also will choose their vexations, and their fear I will bring upon them; because I called and there was no one answering, I spake and they did not hear, and they did evil in my eyes, and that which I delight not in they chose. The larger part of this verse, from because to the end, is repeated from ch. 65:12, and serves not only to connect the passages as parts of an unbroken composition, but also to identify the subjects of discourse in the two places. The common version of the first Hebrew noun (delusions) seems to be founded on a misconception of the Vulgate (illusiones), which was probably intended to suggest the idea of derision like the *** of the Septuagint. It is in the cognate sense of petulance, caprice, that it is used to denote children in ch. 3:4. Their fear is the evil which they fear, as in Prov. 10:24, where the same idea is expressed almost in the same words.

5. Hear the word of Jehovah, ye that tremble at his word. Your brethren say, (those) hating you. and casting you out for my name's sake, Jehovah will be glorified and we shall gaze upon your joyand they shall be ashamed. Trembling at (or rather to) Jehovah's word seems to mean reverently waiting for it. Ye that thus expect a message from Jehovah, now receive it. Hear the word (or promise) of Jehovah, ye that wait for it with trembling confidence: your brethren (the unconverted Jews) who hate you and cast you out for my name's sake, have said (in so doing), ' Jehovah will be glorious (or glorify himself in your behalf no doubt), and we shall witness your salvation' (a bitter irony like that in ch. 5:19); but they (who thus speak) shall themselves be confounded (by beholding what they now consider so incredible). Besides the clearness and coherence of this exposition in itself considered, and its perfect harmony with what we have arrived at as the true sense of the whole foregoing context, it is strongly recommended by remarkable coincidences with the New Testament. That the unbelieving Jews might still be called the brethren of the converts, if it needed either proof or illustration, might derive it from Paul's mode of address to them in Acts 22:1, and of reference to them in Rom. 9:3. The phrase those hating you may be compared with John 15:18. 17:14. Matt. 10:22. 1 Thess. 2:14 ; casting you out with John 10:2; for my name's sake with Matt. 24:9 ; to which may be added the interesting fact that the verb *** and its derivatives are used to this day by the Jews in reference to excommunication. Thus understood the verse is an assurance to the chosen remnant in whom the true Israel was to be perpetuated, that although their unbelieving countrymen might cast them out with scorn and hatred for a time, their spite should soon be utterly confounded. The great truth involved in the change of dispensations may be signally developed and exemplified hereafter, as in the case of the restored Jews who receive the doctrine of the gospel and their brethren who persist in endeavouring to establish the old ritual; but we must not on that account abandon the fulfilment which has actually taken place.

6. A voice of tumult from the city! A voice from the temple! The voice of Jehovah, rendering requital to his enemies! The Hebrew word *** is never applied elsewhere to a joyful cry or a cry of lamentation, but to the tumult of war, the rushing sound of armies and the shock of battle, in which sense it is repeatedly employed by Isaiah. The enemies here mentioned must of course be those who had just been described as the despisers and persecutors of their brethren, and whose confusion after being threatened generally in the verse preceding is here graphically represented in detail. The description therefore cannot without violence be understood of foreign or external enemies. In strict adherence to the usage of the words and to the requisitions of the context, both immediate and remote, the verse may be applied to the giving up of Zion and the temple to its enemies, as a final demonstration that the old economy was at an end, and that the sins of Israel were now to be visited on that generation. The assailants of Jerusalem and of the Jews were now no longer those of God himself, but rather chosen instruments to execute his vengeance on his enemies, the unbelieving Jews themselves. The tumult comprehends the whole confusion of the siege and conquest, and a better commentary on this brief but grand prediction cannot be desired than that afforded by Josephus in his narrative of what may be regarded as not only the most dreadful siege on record but in some respects the most sublime and critical conjuncture in all history, because coincident with the transition from the abrogated system of the old economy to the acknowledged introduction of the new, a change of infinitely more extensive influence on human character and destiny than many philosophical historians have been willing to admit or even able to discover.

7. Before she travailed she brought forth, before her pain came she was delivered of a male. All interpreters agree that the mother here described is Zion, that the figure is essentially the same as in ch. 49:21, and that in both cases an increase of numbers is represented as a birth, while in that before us the additional idea of suddenness is expressed by the figure of an unexpected birth. The difference between the cases is that in the other a plurality of children is described, while in this the whole increase is represented in the aggregate as a single birth. As to the specification of the sex, some regard it as a mere illustration of the oriental predilection for male children, not intended to have any special emphasis, while others make it significant of strength as well as numbers in the increase of the people. As to the application of the passage there is nothing in the terms employed which can determine it, but it must follow the sense put upon the foregoing context or the general hypothesis of the interpreter. The parturition is a figure for the whole eventful crisis of the change of dispensations, and the consequent change in the condition of the church. This indestructible ideal person, when she might have seemed to be reduced to nothing by the defection of the natural Israel, is vastly and suddenly augmented by the introduction of the gentiles, a succession of events which is here most appropriately represented as the birth of a male child without the pains of childbirth.

8. Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall a land be brought forth in one day, or shall a nation be born at once? For Zion hath travailed, she hath also brought forth her children. This verse, in the form of pointed interrogation, represents the event previously mentioned as without example. The terms of the sentence are exceedingly appropriate both to the return from Babylon and the future restoration of the Jews, but admit at the same time of a wider application to the change of dispensations as the birth of the church of the New Testament. The reference is merely to the short time required for the birth, as if he had said, she has (already) travailed, she has also brought forth.

9. Shall I bring to the birth and not cause to bring forth? saith Jehovah. Or am I the one causing to bring forth, and shall I shut up? saith thy God. The sense now put upon the figure by the general consent of interpreters, is that he who begins the work may be expected to accomplish it, to be both its author and its finisher. The reason why it is expressed in this form is not any peculiar adaptation or expressiveness in these unusual metaphors, but simply that the increase of the church had been already represented as a birth, and the additional ideas of the writer are expressed without a change of figure. The precise connection of the verse with that before it seems to be that it extenuates the wonder which had been described, by representing it as something which was to be expected in the case supposed. That is to say, if God had undertaken to supply the place of what his church had lost by new accessions, the extent and suddenness of the effect could not be matters of surprise. On the contrary, it would have been indeed surprising, if he who began the change had stopped it short, and interfered for the prevention of his own designs. With the metaphor of this verse and the one preceding, compare ch. 26:18.

10. Rejoice ye with Jerusalem and exult in her, all that love her; be glad with her with gladness, all those mourning for her. This is an indirect prediction of the joyful change awaiting Zion, clothed in the form of a command or invitation to her friends to rejoice with her. Different interpreters, according to their various exegetical hypotheses, explain this as a prophecy of Israel's ancient restoration from the Babylonish exile, or of their future restoration from the present exile and dispersion, or of the glorious enlargement of the church after the excision of the unbelieving Jews and the throes of that great crisis in which old things passed away and the new heavens and the new earth came into existence; which last I believe to be the true sense, for reasons which have been already fully stated.

11. That ye may suck and be satisfied from the breast of her consolations, that ye may milk out and enjoy yourselves from the fulness (or the full breast) of her glory. Those who have sympathized with Zion in her joys and sorrows shall partake of her abundance and her glory. The figure of a mother is continued, but beautifully varied. Suck and be satisfied, milk out and enjoy yourselves, may be regarded as examples of hendiadys, meaning suck to satiety and milk out with delight; but no such change in the form of the translation is required or admissible. Glory includes wealth or abundance, but much more, viz. all visible superiority or excellence.

12. For thus saith Jehovah, Behold I am extending to her peace like a river, and like an overflowing stream the glory of nationsand ye shall suckon the side shall ye be borne, and on the knees shall ye be dandled. By a beautiful figure the Prophet represents a river suddenly or gradually widening its channel or its flow until it reaches to a certain spot, its actual submersion being not expressed, though it may be implied. Peace is here to be taken in its frequent sense of welfare or prosperity. (See above, on ch. 48:18.) The words and ye shall suck are added to announce a resumption of the figure of the foregoing verse. The objects of address in this verse are the sons of Zion, to be gathered from all nations.

13. As a man whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you, and in Jerusalem shall ye be comforted. The image is essentially the same with that in ch. 49:15, but with a striking variation. The English Version, which, in multitudes of cases, inserts man where the original expression is indefinite, translating ***, for example, always no man, here reverses the process and dilutes a man to one. The same liberty is taken by many other versions old and new, occasioned no doubt by a feeling of the incongruity of making a full-grown man the subject of maternal consolations. The difficulty might, if it were necessary, be avoided by explaining the word to mean a man-child, as it does in Gen. 4:1. 1 Sam. 1:11, and in many other cases. But the truth is that the solecism, which has been so carefully expunged by these translators, is an exquisite trait of patriarchal manners, in their primitive simplicity. Compare Gen. 24:67. Judges 17:2. 1 Kings 2:19, 20, and the affecting scenes between Thetis and Achilles in the Iliad. In Jerusalem suggests the only means by which these blessings are to be secured, viz. a union of affection and of interest with the Israel of God, to whom alone they are promised.

14. And ye shall see, and your heart shall leap (with joy), and your bonet like grass shall sprout, and the hand of Jehovah shall be known to his servants, and he shall be indignant at his enemies. The object of address still continues to be those who had loved Zion, and had mourned for her, and whom God had promised to comfort in Jerusalem. They are here assured that they shall see for themselves the fulfilment of these promises. The hand of God is known when his power is recognized as the cause of any given effect. This clause is important as affording a transition from the promise to the threatening, in accordance with the Prophet's constant practice of presenting the salvation of God's people as coincident and simultaneous with the destruction of his enemies.

15. For lo, Jehovah in fire will come, and like the whirlwind his chariots, to appease in fury his anger, and his rebuke in flames of fire. This is an amplification of the brief phrase at the end of v. 14. In. fire, that is enveloped and surrounded by it, as on Sinai . (See above, ch. 29:6. 30:27, 30, and compare Ps. 50:3.) The second clause is repeated in Jer. 4:13. The points of comparison are swiftness and violence. The allusion is to the two-wheeled chariots of ancient warfare. Some suppose angels to be meant, on the authority of Ps. 68:17. (Compare Ps. 18 : 10. 2 Kings 2:11. 6:17. Hab. 3:8.) The English Version supplies with before his chariots, but this is forbidden by the order of the words in Hebrew, and unnecessary, as the chariots may be construed either with shall come or with the substantive verb are or shall be. God's rebuke is often coupled with his wrath as its effect or practical manifestation. (See above, ch. 17:13. 51:20. 54:9.) The whole verse represents Jehovah, considered in relation to his enemies, as a consuming fire. (Deut. 4:24. Heb. 12:29. Comp. 2 Thess. 1:8.)

16. For by fire is Jehovah striving and by his sword with all flesh, and multiplied (or many) an the slain of Jehovah. Fire and sword are mentioned as customary means of destruction, especially in war. The reflexive form has in the first clause its usual sense of reciprocal judgment, litigation, or contention in general. (See above, ch. 43:26.) A sure clue to the primary application of the verse before us is afforded by our Saviour's words in Matt. 24:22, where in speaking of the speedy destruction of Jerusalem he says that excepting the elect no flesh should be saved, i. e. no portion of the Jewish race but those who were ordained to everlasting life through faith in him. This application of Isaiah's prophecy agrees exactly with the view already taken of the whole preceding context as relating to that great decisive crisis in the history of the church and of the world, the dissolution of the old economy and the inauguration of the new. According to this view of the passage what is here said of fire, sword, and slaughter, was fulfilled not only as a figurative prophecy of general destruction, but in its strictest sense in the terrific carnage which attended the extinction of the Jewish state, and of which, more emphatically than of any other event outwardly resembling it, it might be said that many were the slain of Jehovah.

17. The (men) hallowing themselves and the (men) cleansing themselves to (or towards) the gardens after one in the midst, eaters of swine's flesh and vermin and mouse, together shall cease (or come to an end), saith Jehovah. This verse is closely connected with the one before it, and explains who are meant by the slain of Jehovah. It is almost universally agreed that these are here described as gross idolaters. But even among those who so understand it, there is no small difference of opinion in relation to particular expressions. The class of persons meant is obviously the same as that described in ch. 65:3, 5, the gardens and the swine's flesh being common to both. The reflexive participles in the first clause are technical terms for ceremonial purification under the law of Moses, here transferred to heathen rites. The words after one are those which constitute the principal difficulty of the sentence. This some have undertaken to remove by emendations of the text, so as to mean far back, one by one, or one after the other. Some, without a change of text, explain the numeral one, as agreeing either with grove, or with pool, or with tree, or with priest or priestess. This last may be given as the current explanation, in which an allusion is supposed to an idolatrous procession led by a hierophant. Others apply one to the idol, so called in contempt, one being then equivalent to the Latin quidam, nescio quem. Others treat *** as the proper name of a Syrian idol, called by Sanchoniathon *** and by Pliny and Macrobius Adad, the last writer adding expressly that the name means one. Henderson calls attention to a striking coincidence between the use of this word here and the constant application of the cognate one in Arabic by the Mohammedans to God as being One, in express contradiction to the doctrine of the Trinity. Besides the difficulty which attends the absolute use of the numeral without a noun, there is another of the same kind arising from the like use of midst without anything to limit or determine it, as meaning the interior or court of an oriental house, or the midst of the grove or garden, where the idol was commonly erected, or the midst of the crowd or procession of worshippers. As to the eating of swine's flesh, see above, on ch. 65:4. *** may either have its generic sense of abomination or abominable food, or the more specific sense of flesh offered to idols, or of the smaller unclean animals, whether quadrupeds, insects, or reptiles, to which it is specially applied in the Law. In favour of the more specific meaning is the collocation of the word between swine's flesh and the mouse, or, as the modern writers understand the word, the jerboa or oriental field-mouse, which is said to be eaten by the Arabs. The actual use of any kind of mouse in the ancient heathen rites has never been established. the modern allegations of the fact being founded on the place before us. As to the application of the passage, it is not to be expected that the advocates of any exegetical hypothesis will here abandon it if able by any means to reconcile it with the Prophet's language. I see no cause to change my previous conclusion that this prophecy relates to the excision of the Jews and the vocation of the gentiles, or in other words the change of dispensations. The apparent difficulty which arises from the description of such gross idolatry as all admit to have had no existence among the Jews after their return from exile, is removed by the consideration that the Jews were cast off not for the sins of a single generation, but of the race throughout its ancient history, and that idolatry was not only one of these, but that which most abounded in the days of the Prophet; so that when he looks forward to the great catastrophe and paints its causes, he naturally dips his pencil in the colours which were nearest and most vivid to his own perceptions, without meaning to exclude from his description other sins as great or greater in themselves, which afterwards supplanted these revolting practices as the besetting national transgressions of apostate Israel. A writer in the early days of Wilberforce and Clarkson, in denouncing God's wrath upon England, would most naturally place the oppression of the negro in the foreground of his picture, even if he had been gifted to foresee that this great evil in the course of time would be completely banished from the sight of men by new forms of iniquity successively usurping its conspicuous position, such as excessive luxury, dishonest speculation, and ambitious encroachment on the rightful possessions of inferior powers in the east. If it were really God's purpose to destroy that mighty kingdom for its national offences, he would not lose sight of ancient half- forgotten crimes, because they have long since given place to others more or less atrocious. So in reference to Israel, although the generation upon whom the final blow fell were hypocrites, not idolaters, the misdeeds of their fathers entered into the account, and they were cast off not merely as the murderers of the Lord of Life, but as apostates who insulted Jehovah to his face by bowing down to stocks and stones in groves and gardens, and by eating swine's flesh, the abomination, and the mouse. And as all this was included in the grounds of their righteous condemnation, it might well be rendered prominent in some of the predictions of that great catastrophe. Another possible interpretation of the passage, in direct application to the unbelieving Jews who were contemporary with our Saviour, is obtained by supposing an allusion to v. 3, where those who still clung to the abrogated ritual are put upon a level with the grossest idolaters, and may hero be absolutely so described, just as the rulers and people of Jerusalem in ch. 1:9 are addressed directly as rulers of Sodom and people of Gomorrah, on account of the comparison immediately preceding. This view of the passage is undoubtedly favoured by the mention of swine's flesh in both places, which would naturally make the one suggestive of the other. Neither of these exegetical hypotheses requires the assumption of imaginary facts, such as the practice of idolatry by the Jews in exile, or their return to it hereafter.

18. And Itheir works and their thoughtsit is cometo gather all the nations and the tonguesand they shall come and see my glory. This is an exact transcript of the Hebrew sentence, the grammatical construction of which has much perplexed interpreters. In this obscurity and doubt as to the syntax, there is something attractive in the theory which supplies nothing, but regards the first clause as a series of broken and irregular ejaculations, in which the expression of the thought is interrupted by the writer's feelings. Common to all these explanations is the general assumption that the words and thoughts of the persons in question are in some way represented as the cause or the occasion of the gathering mentioned in the other clause. The use of the word tongues as an equivalent to nations, has reference to national distinctions springing from diversity of language. and is founded on Gen. 10:5, 20, 31, by the influence of which passage and the one before us it became a phrase of frequent use in Daniel, whose predictions turn so much upon the calling of the gentiles. (Dan. 3:4, 7. 4:1. 5:19). To see the glory of Jehovah is a phrase repeatedly used elsewhere to denote the special manifestation of his presence and his power (ch. 40:5. 59:19. 60:2), and is applied by Ezekiel to the display of his punitive justice in the sight of all mankind (Ezek. 39:21). As we have seen that the crimes described in the foregoing verses are not those of the heathen, but of the apostate Jews, whose deeds and thoughts must therefore be intended in the first clause, the explanation most in harmony with this immediate context, as well as with the whole drift of the prophecy thus far, is that which makes the verse before us a distinct prediction of the calling of the gentiles, both to witness the infliction of God's vengeance on the Jews, and to supply their places in his church or chosen people. It is perhaps to the language of this prophecy that Christ himself alludes in Matt. 24:31. (Compare also John 5:25.)

19. And I will place in them (or among them) a sign, and I will send of them survivors (or escaped ones) to the nations, Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, drawers of the bow, Tubal and Javan, the. distant isles, which have not heard my fame and have not seen my glory, and they shall declare my glory among the nations. Most modern writers agree in determining the sense of the first phrase from that which it evidently has in Ex. 10:1, 2, where God is twice said to have placed his signs among the Egyptians, with evident allusion to the plagues as miraculous evidences of his power. Explained by this analogy, the clause before us would appear to mean, I will work a miracle among them or before them. The escaped, as in ch. 4:3, are the survivors of the judgments previously mentioned. These are sent to the nations, of whom some are then particularly mentioned. For the sense of Tarshish, see above, on ch. 60 : 9. Its use here may be regarded as decisive of the question whether it denotes the sea, since Tarshish is added to the general term nations precisely as the other names are added afterwards. The incongruity of this translation of the word is exhibited without disguise in the Vulgate, ad gentes, in mare, in Africam, etc., so that the the sea stands first in a catalogue of nations. Pul is identified by Bochart with an island in the Nile on the frontier of Ethiopia and Egypt. Others regard it as an orthographical variation or an error of the text for Put or Phut, which is elsewhere joined with Lud (Jer. 46:9. Ezek. 27:10) and repeatedly written in the Septuagint *** (Gen. 10:6. 1 Chron. 1:8), the same form which that version here employs. All agree that the name belongs to Africa, like that which follows, Lud, the Ludim of Gen. 10:13 and Jer. 46:9, elsewhere represented as warriors (Ezek 27:10. 30:5). Javan is the Hebrew name for Greece (Gen. 10:2. Dan. 8:21. Zech. 9:13), perhaps identical with Ion or Ionia. The same name essentially exists in Sanscrit. The nations specified are obviously given as a sample. This is rendered still more certain by the addition of the general expression, the remote coasts or islands; for the sense of which see above, on ch. 41:1. The suggestion is not without plausibility that some of the obscure names here used were selected for the express purpose of conveying the idea of remote and unknown regions. The restriction of the promise to the very places mentioned would be like the proceeding of a critic who should argue hereafter from the mention of Greenland, India, Africa, and Ceylon, in Heber's Missionary Hymn, that the zeal of English Protestants extended only to those portions of the heathen world. As this interpretation of the hymn would be forbidden, not only by the general analogy of figurative language and of lyric composition, but by the express use of such universal phrases as "from pole to pole" in the very same connection, so in this case it is plain that the essential meaning of the whole enumeration is that expressed in the following clause: who have not heard my fame and have not seen my glory. As to the meaning of the whole verse, or the nature of the event which it predicts, interpreters differ in exact accordance with their several hypotheses. The only way in which these seeming contradictions can be reconciled is by assuming what is in itself most natural and perfectly agreeable to usage, namely, that v. 19 does not describe the progress of (vents beyond tile time referred to in v. 18, but explains in what way the assemblage there described is to be brought about. I will gather all nations. By what means? I will send those who escape my judgments to invite them. Both verses being then collateral and equally dependent on v. 17, the pronoun them refers to the persons there described, viz. the apostate Jews, whose excision is the subject of this prophecy. The whole may then be paraphrased as follows: Such being their character, I will cast them off and gather the nations to take their place; for which end I will send forth the survivors of the nation. the elect for whose sake these days shall be shortened when all besides them perish, to declare my glory in the regions where my name has never yet been heard. Thus understood, the passage is exactly descriptive of the preaching of the gospel at the beginning of the new dispensation. All the first preachers were escaped Jews, plucked as brands from the burning. saved from that perverse generation (Acts 2:40). The sign will then denote the whole miraculous display of divine power, in bringing the old dispensation to a close and introducing the new, including the destruction of the unbelieving Jews on the one hand. and on the other all those signs and wonders and divers miracles and gifts of the Holy Ghost (Heb. 2:4), which Paul calls the signs of an apostle (2 Cor. 12:12), and which Christ himself had promised should follow them that believed (Mark 16:17). All these were signs placed among them, i. e. among the Jews. to the greater condemnation of the unbelievers, and to the salvation of such as should be saved. That there will not be hereafter an analogous display of divine power in the further execution of this promise, cannot be proved, and need not be affirmed; but if there never should be, it will still have had a glorious fulfilment in a series of events compared with which the restoration of the Jewish people to the land of Canaan is of little moment.

20. And they shall bring all your brethren from all nations an oblation to Jehovah, with horses, and with chariot, and with litters, and with mules, and with dromedaries, on my holy mountain Jerusalem, saith Jehovah, as the children of Israel bring the oblation in a clean vessel to the house of Jehovah. The verb at the beginning may be construed either with the messengers of v. 19, or indefinitely as denoting 'men shall bring your brethren,' equivalent in Hebrew usage to 'your brethren shall be brought.' Although this last construction is in perfect agreement with analogy, the other is not only unobjectionable but entitled to the preference as much more graphic and expressive. The survivors sent forth to the nations are then described as bringing back the converts to the true religion as an offering to Jehovah. Their return for this purpose is described as easy, swift, and even splendid, all the choicest methods of conveyance used in ancient times being here combined to express that idea. As to the sense of the particular expressions there is no longer any dispute or doubt. The minhah was the stated vegetable offering of the Mosaic ritual. It was commonly composed of flour with oil and incense; but the name, in its widest sense, may be considered as including fruits and grain in a crude as well as a prepared state. This oblation seems to be selected here as free from the concomitant ideas of cruelty and grossness which were inseparable from bloody sacrifices. The only general exegetical question in relation to this verse is whether your brethren means the scattered Jews or the converted gentiles. Here again, all depends upon a foregone conclusion. How inextricably this one case is implicated in the general question as to the subject and design of the prophecy, appears from the fact that those who apply this expression to the Jews content themselves with citing all the other places in Isaiah where precisely the same doubt exists as in the case before us. In favour of the other explanation may be cited Paul's description of the gentiles as an oblation which he as an officiating priest ottered up to God. (Rom. 15: 16.) Although it might be doubted whether Paul there formally explains or even quotes this prophecy, his obvious allusion to its images and terms shows at least that he considered them as bearing such an application, and in the absence of any other gives it undoubtedly a clear advantage. Another suggestion not unworthy of attention. is that there may here be special reference to the early converts from the heathen world considered as the first fruits of the spiritual harvest; which agrees well with the wide use of the technical term minhah, as already stated, and with the frequent application of the figure of first fruits to the same subject in the books of the New Testament.

21. And also of them will I take for Priests for Levites saith Jehovah. Many manuscripts supply and before the second for. The peculiar form of the common text may be intended to identify the two classes, as in point of fact the Priests were all without exception Levites. It seems at least to be implied that the distinction is in this case of no consequence, both names being given lest either should appear to be excluded. The only question here is to what the pronoun them refers The Jews of course refuse to understand it of the gentiles, except as meaning for the Priests and Levites, for their service, as hewers of wood and drawers of water! Of those who adopt the natural construction which refers of them to gentile converts, some understand this as a promise that they shall all be admitted to the spiritual priesthood common to believers. But others, on the ground that the expressions, I will take and of them, both imply selection and discrimination, refer it to the Christian ministry, to which the gentiles have as free access as Jews. There can be no doubt that this office might be so described in a strongly figurative context, where the functions of the ministry were represented in the same connection as sacerdotal functions. But the only offering here mentioned is the offering of the gentile converts as an oblation to Jehovah, and the priesthood meant seems to be merely the ministry of those by whom their conversion is effected. The most natural interpretation seems to be as follows. The mass of the Jewish people was to be cast off from all connection with the church ; but the elect who should escape were to be sent among the nations and to bring them for an offering to Jehovah, as the Priests and Levites offered the oblation at Jerusalem. But this agency was not to be confined to the Jews who were first entrusted with it; not only of them, but also of the gentiles themselves, priests and Levites should be chosen to offer this oblation, i. e. to complete the vocation of the gentiles. Should the context be supposed to require a still more general meaning, it may be that the sacerdotal mediation of the ancient Israel between Jehovah and the other nations, which was symbolized by the Levitical and Aaronic priesthood, was to cease with the necessity that brought it into being, and to leave the divine presence as accessible to one race as another.

22. For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I am making (or about to make), are standing (or about to stand) before me, saith Jehovah, so shall stand your name and your seed. To the reference of the preceding verse to the gentiles it is urged as one objection, that the verse before us does not give a reason for the promise so explained ; for how could it be said that God would put them on a level with the Jews because the name and succession of the latter were to be perpetual? But this objection rests upon the false assumption, running through the whole interpretation of this book, that the promise is addressed to Israel as a nation; whereas it is addressed to Israel as a church, from which the natural descendants of Jacob for the most part have been cut off. and the object of this verse is to assure the church that notwithstanding this excision it should still continue to exist, not only as a church, but as the church, the identical body which was clothed in the forms of the old dispensation. and which still survives when they are worn out and rejected. The grand error incident to a change of dispensations was the very one which has perverted and obscured the meaning of these prophecies, the error of confounding the two Israels whom Paul so carefully distinguishes, and of supposing that the promises given to the church when externally identified with one race are continued to that race even after its excision from the church. It was to counteract this very error that the verse before us was recorded, in which God's people, comprehending a remnant of the natural Israel and a vast accession from the gentiles, are assured that God regards them as his own chosen people, not a new one, but the same that was of old, and that the very object of the great revolution, here and elsewhere represented as a new creation, was to secure their perpetuity and constant recognition as his people. Since then he creates a new heaven and a new earth for this very purpose, that purpose cannot be defeated while these heavens and that earth endure. The Jews themselves understand this as a promise that their national pre-eminence shall be perpetual.

23. And it shall be (or come to pass) that from new-moon to new-moon (or on every new moon), and from sabbath. to sabbath (or on every sabbath), shall come all flesh to bow themselves (or worship) before me, saith Jehovah. The form of expression in the first clause is so idiomatic and peculiar that it docs not admit of an exact translation. A slavish copy of the original would be, 'from the sufficiency of new moon in its new moon and from the sufficiency of sabbath in its sabbath.' For the usage of the Hebrew phrase, see above, on ch. 28:19. It sometimes stands where we should say as often as (1 Sam. 18:30. 1 Kings 14:28). Although the form is so peculiar, there is no doubt as to the essential meaning, viz. from new moon to new moon, or at every new moon. At these stated periods of public worship under the old economy (those of most frequent recurrence being specified) all flesh shall come up to worship before me. There is no more need of excluding Jerusalem from one verse than the other, since the Prophet. in accordance with his constant practice, speaks of the emancipated church in language borrowed from her state of bondage ; and that this form of expression is a natural one, may be inferred from the facility with which it is perpetuated in the common parlance of the church and of religion, the Jerusalem or Zion of our prayers and hymns being perfectly identical with that of the prophecy before us. Thus understood, the verse is a prediction of the general diffusion of the true religion with its stated observances and solemn forms.

24. And they shall go forth and gaze upon the carcases of the men who revolted (or apostatized) from me, for their worm shall not die and their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an horror to all flesh. The first verb may be construed indefinitely, 'they, i. e. men,' without defining them ; but in so vivid a description, it is certainly more natural to give the verbs a definite subject, and especially the one that had been previously introduced, viz. the worshippers assembled from all nations to do homage at Jerusalem. The grand theme of these prophecies, as we have seen, is the relation of God's people to himself and to the world, and in the latter stages of its history, to that race with which it was once outwardly identical. The great catastrophe with which the vision closes is the change of dispensations, comprehending the final abolition of the ceremonial law and its concomitants, the introduction of a spiritual worship and the consequent diffusion of the church, its vast enlargement by the introduction of all gentile converts to complete equality of privilege and honour with the believing Jews, and the excision of the unbelieving Jews from all connection with the church or chosen people, which they once imagined to have no existence independent of themselves. The contrast between these two bodies, the rejected Jews and their believing brethren forming one great mass with the believing gentiles, is continued to the end, and presented for the last time in these two concluding verses, where the whole is condensed into a single vivid spectacle, of which the central figure is Jerusalem, and its walls the dividing line between the two contrasted objects. Within is the true Israel, without the false. Within, a great congregation, even "all flesh," come from the east and the west, and the north and the south, while the natural children of the kingdom are cast out. (Matt. 8:12.) The end of the former is left to be imagined or inferred from other prophecies. but that of the latter is described, or suggested in a way more terrible than all description. In the valley of the son of Hinnom, under the very brow of Zion and Moriah, where the children were once sacrificed to Moloch, and where purifying fires were afterwards kept ever burning, the apostate Israel is finally exhibited, no longer living but committed to the flames of Tophet. To render our conceptions more intense, the worm is added to the flame, and both are represented as undying. That the contrast hitherto maintained may not be forgotten even in this closing scene, the men within the walls are seen by the light of those funereal fires coming forth and gazing at the ghastly scene, not with delight as some interpreters pretend, but, as the text expressly says, with horror. In its primary meaning. this is a prophecy of ruin to the unbelieving Jews, apostate Israel. But as the safety of the chosen remnant was to be partaken by all other true believers, so the ruin of the unbelieving Jew is to be shared by every other unbeliever. Thus the verse becomes descriptive of the final doom of the ungodly, without any deviation from its proper sense, or any supposition of a mere allusion or accommodation in the use of the same figures by our Lord himself in reference to future torments. All that is requisite to reconcile and even to identify the two descriptions is the consideration that the state of ruin here described is final and continuous, however it may be divided, in the case of individuals, between the present life and that which is to come. Hell is of both worlds, so that in the same essential sense although in different degrees, it may be said both of him who is still living but accursed, and of him who perished centuries ago, that his worm dieth not and his fire is not quenched.