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porary suspension of his moral life.
Fortunately, we have a prophecy of
his in which he has described his
state when under the prophetic im-
pulse with pictorial vividness (chap,
vi.) It is remarkable that Ezekiel,
living in the decline of the higher
prophecy, shows a preference for a
form of speech characteristic of the
primitive stage, and rare among the
greater prophets. See Ezek. i. 3,
iii. 22, xxxvii. i, and especially iii.
14, viii. 3. 'The Hand' only occurs
again in Isaiah in xiv. 26, and ac-
cording to Del. in xxviii. 2, which

I doubt. Tbe way of tUls

people] i.e., the low religious
views of the Israelties (both of
north and of south ; see v. 14).
Just as the Gospel-religion is called
'this way' in Acts ix. 2. Kocher
( Vindicia, p. 64) asks, How could
Isaiah be in danger of idolatry ?
But he seems to be here described
as the head of a little society, some
of whom may have needed this ex-
hortation more than Isaiah.

12-14 Ye shall not call every-
tbingr . . . ] Isaiah and his dis-
ciples — in fact, the 'church' with-
in the nation — are the persons ad-

CHAP, vni.]



people calleth a ''holy thing/ and the object of their fear ye
shall not fear, nor account it dreadful. '^ Jehovah Sabdoth,
him shall ye count holy, and let him be your fear, and him
your dread. '" And he shall s' shew himself as holy,*^ and as a
stone for striking against and a rock of stumbling to both the
houses of Israel, as a gin and a snare to the inhabitants of
Jerusalem : '^ and many ^ shall stumble at it,'' and fall, and be
broken, and snared, and taken.'

'^ ' Bind thou up the admonition, seal the instruction among
my disciples ' . . . '^ And I will wait for Jehovah, who hideth

e Be for a sanctuary, Ew., Del., Naeg., Weir.

■i Among them shall stumble, Ew., Del., Naeg. (see crit. note).

dressed. The warning corresponds
to that against necromancy in v.
19. There is to be no compromise
between the worship of Jehovah
and the rights and practices of a
lower type of religion. Indeed,
Jehovah will soon prove His ex-
clusive right to the title of ' holy,'
by the terrible ruin which, by
their own fault, shall overtake the
two houses of Israel. He will be
a ' stone of stumbling' to the unbe-
lievers (comp. Luke xx. 18), but (as
we may supply from xxviii. 16), a
sure support to the faithful ; and
from the suddenness of his inter-
position, will be like unto 'a gin
and a snare ' (Luke xxi. 35). No
other view of this passage seems
to me even plausible, and Gratz
deserves much credit for having
revived the forgotten emendation
of Seeker. Isaiah could not forbid
his disciples to banish the word
'confederacy' (or rather 'conspi-
racy') from their vocabulary — for
this is what the ordinary view
(see /. C. A., p. 32), amounts to —
' this people ' would not be likely to
misapply such a word; while the
theory of Roorda, Del., and Kay,
that the court party accused Isaiah
and his friends of having conspired
(comp. Am. vii. 10), is refuted by
the simple observation already
made above, that not the opponents,
but the disciples of Isaiah are the
persons here addressed.

^^ Sbew bimself as holy] Lit.
'become a hallowed thing;' — be-

come = shew himself as (so often,
e.g., I Sam. iv. 9). Alt. rend, is
against the connection, and if sanc-
tuary = asylum, against usage.

'* Bind thou up ... ] ' But
thou, O Daniel, shut up the words,
and seal the book to the time of the
end,' Dan. xii. 4, comp. viii. 26.
This parallel passage shews who
the speaker is, viz., Jehovah, who
enjoins the prophet not to trust so
important an oracle to the memory
alone, but to write it down (this is
implied as in Dan. /. c), and lay
it up, carefully bound and sealed,
among his disciples (comp. xxx. 8).
So already the Targum. 'Jehovah's
disciples' are of course Isaiah's
disciples, whose relation to the
highest of teachers has been
already recognised by the plural
form of the address in^'. 12 ; comp.

liv. 13. The admonition] The

word rendered ' to testify,' ' admon-
ish,' or ' solemnly declare,' is often
used of Jehovah and the prophets,

e.g., Ps. 1. 7, Deut. viii. 19. The

instruction] i.e., the prophetic
teaching or revelation (see on i. 10)
referring here to the oracle in w.
12-15. There is surely nothing to in-
dicate a reference to the Mosaic law:
Torah has a far wider meaning.

" And I will wait . . . ] Isaiah
is evidently the speaker, but how
strangely abrupt is his language !
We should at least have expected,
'And as for me I will wait,' &c.,
and even this would be only a
degree less abrupt. Has not a



[chap. VIII.

his face from the house of Jacob, and hope in him. '* Behold
I and the children whom Jehovah hath given me are for signs
and for omens in Israel from Jehovah Sabdoth who dwelleth
on mount Zion. '^ And when they shall say unto you, ' Re-
verse dropped out between vv. i6
and 17? Considering the unsatis-
factory state of the remainder of
the chapter, the supposition can-
not be called a violent one. An
attempt has indeed been made to
bridge over vv. 16 and 17 by sup-
posing that the prophet speaks in
his own person in both verses (so
Kimchi, Urechsler, Del., Perowne).
As Dr. Perowne puts it,^ in the
former verse he utters a command,
or a petition ; in the latter, he de-
clares his own attitude in reference
to it. But in either case, it seems
impossible to make sense of ' in my
disciples.' Were the passage a
command of Isaiah, we should ex-
pect ' O my disciples ! ' were it a
petition, ' in the hearts of my dis-
ciples ' (comp. li. 7, Prov. vii. 3).
Del., indeed, supposes the latter to
be the meaning of the existing
text ; but it is doubtful whether
even the fuller form suggested would
admit the desired interpretation.

1^ Isaiah confirms his faith by
the thought that he and his
children are divinely appointed.' — - —
Sli^ns and omens] The meaning
is plain from Ezek. xii. 11, 'Say, I
am your omen ; like as I have done,
so shall it be done unto them ; they
shall remove and go into captivity ;'
and from Zech. iii. 8, where the
high-priest Joshua and his fellovi's
are called 'men of omen.' The
conception is, that God selects cer-
tain men to be shadows or types
of still greater men or things to
come. By the prophetic announce-
ments of their birth, and by their
divinely appointed significant names
{nomen omen), the two children of
Isaiah, like those of Hosea, were
living prophecies : and so, too, by
his steadfast faith, by his symbolic
acts (see on xx. 3), and perhaps by

circumstances in his life not known
to us, was Isaiah himself.^ The last
words of the verse evidently close a
section, and confirm the impression
that the preceding passage is in-

1^ The prophet warns his dis-
ciples not to give way to the solici-
tations of the soothsaying party.
The apodosis, however, is wanting.
Either it has been lost, or, like Paul
on similar occasions, the prophet
breaks off from inner excitement.
From the beginning of the sentence,
' And when they shall say unto you,'
we may infer that he meant to con-
clude with something like ' Heark-
en not unto them.' See on v. 20.

Resort to tlie necromancers

. . . ] Magic and necromancy
seem to have been specially pre-
valent in S. Israel. The various
kinds are named in Deut. xviii.
10, II. A vivid picture of a ne-
cromantic consultation is given in

I Sam. xxviii. 1-20. Tbat cblrp

and tbat mutter] i.e., that imitate
the ' squeaking and gibbering ' of
ghosts ; comp. xxix. 4 ; 11. xxiii.
loi ; ^ti. vi. 492 ; Tylor, Primi-
tive Culture, i. 408. ' Chirping '
reminds us first of all of birds, and
in the Babylonian Legend of Ishtar
(line 10) the spirits are compared
to birds.' It may also allude to
the voice of children, and H. Spen-
cer quotes a passage about the
Zulu diviners, ' The voice (of the
supposed spirits) was like that of
a very little child.' According to
Sept., the phrase is descriptive of
ventriloquism (as if obh = ' bottle '),
'Read Captain Lyons' account of
the scene in the cabin with the
Esquimaux bladder or conjurer ; it
is impossible not to be reminded
of the Witch of Endor' (Coleridge).
Sbould not people resort to

1 Sermons (1874) ; Exposition of Isa. viii. i6-ix. 7.

* We might add the significant name of Isaiah himself = 'salvation (is) Jehovah."
But such names were not uncommon, comp. Joshua, Hosaiah, Ehshua.
' Comp. quotations in H. Spencer's Principles of Sociology, p 356.




sort to the necromancers and the wizards, that chirp and
that mutter '....* Should not a people resort to its God .■•
on behalf of the living (should it apply to) the dead ? '
'"' To the instruction and to the admonition 1 ^ Surely they
shall speak according to this word when there is no dawning
for them. ^ ^^ And he shall look unto the earth, and behold,
distress and darkness, gloom of affliction, and ' thick darkness
driven (upon him) ; ' ^' and he shall pass through it hard-prest

' (Do not the people [always] resort to their gods, instead of the living to the
dead?). Ew. — Should not a people resort to their gods, on behalf of the living to
the dead? I.C.A. {1870), and so Buhl {in Luthardt's ZHtschrift, 1883, p. 230).

'' So Weir ; Perowne also 'when' (see crit. note). — Surely, &c., who have no day-
break, Hitz. , Ew.^Or shall they not speak thus for whom, &c. , Knob. Reuss, Del.
ed. 2 and 3 (corresponding question to that in v. 19). — If they speak not thus, they
are a people for whom there is no daybreak. Del. ed. i (after Luther).

' Darliness spread abroad, Saad., Luz., Naeg. — Into darkness is he driven, Rashi,
Ew., Del. (Text uncertain).

ttaelr God ?] This and the following
words seem to me a parenthetical
remark of the prophet, half serious,
half ironical. To take them as a
reply suggested for Isaiah's disci-
ples is surely rather forced; they
sound more like the words of an
interested bystander. ' Their God,'
i.e., the national God, Jehovah
(comp. Mic. iv. 5). Formerly (see
crit. note) I explained Elohim of
the spirits of the dead (comp. i
Sam. xxviii. 19), as if the people
naively exposed the absurdity of
their own conduct. Plausible ; but
would the shades be called the
Elohim of a people} 'The dead'
does not here mean idol-gods (as
Ps. cvi. 28), but the spirits of the
dead (see Deut. xviii. 11).

*o To tlie Instruction . . . ] i.e.,
Let us rather edify ourselves by
the true oracle laid up in our
midst [v. 16). In form the words
remind us of Judg. vii. 18, 'To Je-
hovah and to Gideon ! ' Surely

they sball speak . . . ] 'The
general import of this and the fol-
lowing verses cannot be mistaken ;
but the language is so compressed
and elliptical that it is not easy to
make out the meaning and connec-
tion of several of the clauses . . .
The second clause admits of two le-
gitimate renderings : If they speak
not thus, or, Surely they shall speak

thus. The objection to the former
rendering is that the prophet had
already supposed them to speak
quite otherwise {^. 19) . . . The
latter is therefore much more ap-
propriate. The time will come when
even they who had once despised
the law and the testimony shall turn
to it in despair ' (Dr. Weir). Com-
pare for the use of the relative pro-
noun for the relative adverb ' when,'
Lev. iv. 22, Num. v. 29, i Kings
viii. 33, 38 ; and for the sentiment,
Ps. cvii. 11-14, Ixxviii. 34. But
though the former despisers of re-
velation turn to it now in despair,
it does not follow that their appeal
to Jehovah is in vain. We might,
indeed, expect that it would be so,
comp. xxviii. 19, Am. viii. 11, 12;
but ix. I, 2 tells a different tale.
Dawning:] = hope of better days,

comp. lix. 9, 10. For tbem] Lit.,

for him.

'"■ This and the following verses
form the most difficult part of the
prophecy. They are not only ob-
scure in themselves, but, at first
sight at least, inconsistent with the
opening verses of chap. ix. Here,
hopeless gloom and distress ; there,
light and prosperity. How are
these two opposite descriptions to
be reconciled .■■ The easiest way is
probably that adopted above, which
was suggested by Dr. Siegfried.'

1 Zeitschnft fur wissensckaftliche Theologie, 1B72, p. 280.



and hungry ; and it shall come to pass, when he is hungry,
that he shall be deeply angered, and curse " by his king and
by his god,™ and shall look upwards.

■" His king and his god, Hitz. Naeg. (comp. ii. 20).

It involves, no doubt, a transposi- not yet told what vision meets their

tion, but this is no novelty in criti- eyes when they turn them towards

cal editions of ancient texts ; for heaven. (See crit. note). And

other instances of misplaced verses, he staall look. . . ] viz., the people

see on xxxviii. 22. Dr. C. Taylor's personified. For the change of

ingenious theory' (partly antici- person, in the preceding verse in

pated by A. E.),that ^/z/. 21,22 are the Hebr.), comp. x. 4, &c.

a continuation of vv. 7, 8, and Tbrougb It] i.e., through the
describe the fate of the Assyrian earth (see v. 22). -Hungry] Fa-
invaders {;vv. 9-20 being a digres- mine being a frequent consequence
sion suggested by the words Im- of invasion, see on xxx. 23, and

manu El), must, I almost fear, be Lev. xxvi. 26. Curse toy his

rejected, because the picture in w. king and toy his grod] He first

21, 22 is so much more suitable to curses his enemies by his god

.a people suffering from invasion (comp. i Sam. xvii. 43), and then

than to the invaders, and because looks up to his god for help. ' King '

. it so evidently contrasts with the and ' god ' may either be taken as

vision of light in chap. ix. i, 2." synonymous (as Am. v. 26, Hebr.,

22,21 -j-jje unfortunate Jews look comp. Ps. v. 2), or as meaning

first downward to the earth, and respectively the earthly and the

then upward to heaven. No cheer- heavenly ruler,
ing sight meets them below ; we are

1 Journal of Philology, vol. vi. pp. 149-159.

2 I do not argue against Dr. Taylor on the ground of the length of the digression.
There seem to be several instances of insertions being made by the prophetic writers
themselves, owing to after-thoughts. Take, e.g., xlii. 1-7. As Duhm has pointed
out, xlii. 8 fits on much better to the end of chap. xli. than to the verse which now
precedes it. Dr. Taylor will observe that I have spoken above with some hesitation.
I wish to allow room for the possibility that a passage has fallen out of the text, before
•v. 21, which accounted for and led up to the description of the Assyrians [ex hyp.) m


Vv. 1-7. The conclusion of the prophecy. The mystery in the dealings
of Jehovah with His people shall be cleared up. The light of His favour
shall return, and those parts of the land of Israel which bore the first
brunt of Assyrian hostility shall be proportionately glorified. For the
Messiah shall appear, and bring the tyranny of Israel's foes to an end.
Under him the empire of David shall be restored on an indestructible
foundation. — The tenses in the Hebr. are ' factitive,' or perhaps prophetic

' Surely there is (now) no (more) gloom to her whose lot

* Surely there Is (now) no mute petition of the upturned eye
(more) gloom . . . ] Alluding to has been granted. In a moment
the expressions in viii. 21. The the condition of Israel is reversed.

ctrAP. IX.]



was affliction. At the former time he brought shame on the
land of Zebulun and on the land of Naphtali, but in the latter
he hath brought honour on the way by the sea, the other side
of Jordan, the district of the nations. ^ The people that walk
in darkness see a great light ; they that dwell in the land of
deadly shade, light shineth brilliantly upon them. ^Thou
hast multiplied * exultation, thou hast increased joy : " they
rejoice before thee as with the joy in the harvest, as men
exult when they divide spoil. '' For the yoke of his burden,
and the staff of his back, the rod of his task-master, thou

» So Kr., Selwyn &c. (conj.) ; the nation, not increased (=removed) joy, Text,
Hengst. Kay ; the nation, unto it thou hast increased joy, Heb. raarg., MSS., Pesh.,
Targ., and most moderns. See crit. note.

The clouds are lifted, and a bril-
liant day dawns suddenly (as in Ix.
i). 'To her,' i.e., to Palestine,
where a hard-pressed remnant of
Israelites has been ' walking in
darkness.' Tlie land of Zebu-
lun and tbe land of Uapbtali]
i.e., the later Upper and Lower
Galilee. These were the districts
despoiled by Tiglath-Pileser, 2
Kings XV, 29, comp. Zech. x. 10.
Isaiah does not mean that these
parts shall enjoy more prosperity
than others, but that the contrast
between the past and the present
shall be greater in their case than
in others. All Israel shall rejoice,
but those parts which have suffered

longest shall rejoice most. Tbe

way by tbe sea] i.e., the district
on the W. of the Sea of Galilee, as
opposed to 'the other side of
Jordan,' and the ' circle of the na-
tions,' i.e. the frontier districts
nearest to Phoenicia, including
'the land of Cabul' (i Kings ix.
11-13), which formed part of the
later Upper Galilee. Via Marts,
M. Renan observes, was the name
of the high road from Acre to Da-
mascus, as late as the Crusades.
•Way,' however, here means re-
gion, comp. Iviii. 12, Job xxiv. 4 ;
'the sea' is the Sea of Galilee
(John vi. i), called the Sea of Kin-
nereth in Num. xxxiv. 11.

^ In tbe land of deadly sbade]
' Deadly shade ' (Heb. qalmdvetj^
is properly a title of the Hebrew

Hades (Ps. xxiii. 4, Job xxxviii.
17, see crit. note). There is no
need here (as in some places) to
weaken the sense into ' obscurity ' ;
comp. passages like Ps. Ixxxviii.
4-6. A night like that of Hades is
followed by a blissful dawn {nogah,
see on Ixii. i), somewhat as Ps.
xlix. 14.

° IWuItlplied exultation] Joy
naturally follows upon light (see Ix.
1-5). Selwyn's correction removes
the one flaw in the symmetry of
the parallelism. Otherwise the
sense of the text-reading is good ;
a supernatural increase of the
population being a common fea-
ture in Messianic descriptions, see
xxvi. 15, 18, 19, Jer. xxxi. 27, Ezek.
xxxvi. II. Before tbee] Allud-
ing to the sacrificial meals, comp.
XXV. 6, and see Deut. xii. 7, 12, 18,
xiv. 26. A religious harvest festival
goes back to the most remote
Semitic antiquity. But the phrase
has received a deeper meaning.
It is the presence of Jehovah on
which their joy depends (Vitr.).

VTlien tbey divide spoil]

comp. xxxiii. 23, Ps. cxix. 162.

* Tbou bast broken] Through
the Messiah, as a second and

greater Gideon. The yoke of

bis burden] i.e., the yoke which

burdened him Tbe staff of bis

back] i.e., the staff with which he

was beaten. His task-master]

Lit., his driver. Same word and
idiom in Ex. v. 6. Tbe day of



[chap. IX.

hast broken, as in the day of Midian. ^ Yea, every boot of
him that stamped '' with noise, and the cloak rolled in blood
^they are to be burned up as fuel of fire. ^ For a child is

I" In the noise (of battle), Ew., Del.

Mldlan] 'Day' = battle, whether
this lasts one day or more, as fre-
quently in Arabic. Comp. x. 17.

* Isaiah wishes to describe the
permanence of Israel's redemption.
As long as war exists, there must
be conquest and slavery. Hence
war must be destroyed; the very
emblems of war broken for ever
(comp. Milton, ' Ode on the Nati-
vity'). So Zech. ix. 10, Ezek.
xxxix. 9, Ps. xlvi. 9 (10), Ixxvi. 3
(?), where, however, the emblems
mentioned are the various weapons,
whereas here we have the military
boot and cloak. The selection is a
happy one, as it lends itself to a
strikingly picturesque contrast. We
are shown first the warrior stalking
along in his blood-stained cloak
and boots well set with nails, and
seeming to shake the earth with
his sounding tread ; then both cloak
and boots supplying fuel for a bon-
fire. Homeric vigour and simpli-
city. ■With noise] Lit., with

shaking; comp. Jer. viii. 16.

Rolled in blood] Sometimes ex-
plained as a metaphor, crimson
being the colour of the military
cloak, comp. Nah. ii. 4, Matt, xxvii.
28. But it is better taken literally.
The prophets do not mince their
language in depicting Israel's
enemies, comp. Ixiii. 2, 3, Rev.
xix. 13.

^ A further security for the per-
manence of the redemption. A
prince of a new ' order ' has arisen,
with supernatural qualities and
privileges. — - A cbild is born
unto us] We must not separate
this passage from the context, and
infer that the Messiah had, accord-
ing to the prophet, already been
born at the date of the delivery or
writing down of this discourse. The
prophet is unrolling a picture of
the future, and each part of it is
introduced with a ' factitive ' perfect
tense. He is designedly vague;

the word rendered ' child ' {ye'kd),
will serve equally well for a new-
bom infant (Ex. i. 17, ii. 3, 6), and
for a youth or young man (Gen.
xlii. 22). It is, therefore, quite un-
certain what interval is to elapse
between the birth of the child and
his public manifestation as the
Messiah. We are not told anything
about his origin ; it is only an in-
ference that he was expected to
come from the Davidic family. The
prophet is entirely absorbed in his
wonderful character and achieve-
ments. The e^overnment] Not

that of Israel and Judah alone but,
as the parallel passage Mic. v. 3-5
shows, that of the world. A small
world, it may be said, was the
orbis Hehrceis notus, but probably
it did not seem such to Isaiah :
' conosciuto il mondo Non cresce,

anzi si scema' (Leopardi). Upon

bis back] Government being re-
garded as a burden — comp. vizier
(w^^fr) = burdened. See xxii. 22.
And his name is called] If we
took this literally, we might com-
pare the not unfrequent practice
of Assyrian kings of bearing two
names (Smith, Assurbanipal, p.
323). But of course Isaiah merely
wishes to describe the character of
the ideal king, name and character
standing in such close relation in
the Oriental mind ; other examples
occur in i. 26, vii. 14 (probably), Ix.
14, Jer. xi. 16, xxiii. 6, Ezek. xlviii.
35. The lengfth of the name in the
present instance may be intended
to suggest the extraordinary cha-
racter of its bearer. It reminds us
of the long honorific names of
Egyptian kings (e.g., in the Treaty
of Peace, R. P., iv. 27, where the
royal titles of Rameses II. take up
six lines). — As to the exegesis of
the details, three views have a spe-
cial claim to be mentioned. Luz-
zatto, a great Jewish scholar (died'
1865), puts the name of the Child




born unto us, a son is given unto us, and the government
resteth upon his back, and his name is called, Wonder-Coun-

into a sentence, and renders ' De-
creta prodigi Iddio potente, il
sempre padre, il signor della pace.'
This is, at least, plausible. It can
be supported by the analogy of
many (short) Hebrew names (see
my ' Index of Proper Names, with
Explanations,' in Eyre & Spottis-
woode's Variorum Teacher's Bible),
and of the Assyrian and Babylo-
nian royal names, nine out of ten
of which form a complete sentence,
though none so long a one as this.
But the meaning which it gives is
unnatural. If the intention is to
emphasise the Divine wisdom, why
accumulate epithets of God which
do not contribute to that object?
And, above all, why employ the par-
ticiple instead of the usual verbal
form, viz., the imperfect or perfect ?
But Luzzatto is right on one impor-
tant point, viz., that allwhich follows
the words 'And his name is called,'
constitutes (virtually) a single name
(though not, as he wrongly repre-
sents it, a complete sentence).
Del., though very instructive on
other points, seems to me less con-
vincing on this. He thinks (with the
older commentators) that the Mes-
siah here receives not merely one
but five names, 'Wonder, Counsel-
lor, MightyGod,EverlastingFather,
Prince of Peace,' thus avoiding the
necessity of supposing what he calls
(and with justice as against Luz-
zatto's sentence-theory) a ' sesqui-
pedalian' name; and he justifies
such a name as ' Wonder ' by the
reply of the Angel of Jehovah to
Manoah in Judg. xiii. i8— a rather
doubtful argument, however, since
the Angel does not say that his name
is ' Wonderful,' but actually refuses
to tell it, ' seeing that it is wonder-
ful' (i.e., unspeakable). Two consi- ■
derations, however, seem to me con-
clusive against Del., (i) that Isaiah
leads us to expect a name, and not

Online LibraryT. K. (Thomas Kelly) CheyneThe prophecies of Isaiah; → online text (page 9 of 50)