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Title: Christology of the Old Testament: And a Commentary on the Messianic Predictions. Vol. 2
Author: Hengstenberg, Ernst Wilhelm, 1802-1869
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Christology of the Old Testament: And a Commentary on the Messianic Predictions. Vol. 2" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

Transcriber's Note: Images taken from the 1861 edition, found at
Books.Google.com., are the source of the text used for this ebook. This
original book was from Harvard University and digitized in 2006.

Unclear or missing punctuation marks were corrected by reference to the
1856 edition of this work.

The Latin diphthong oe is expressed by [oe].

Greek words are directly transliterated using the English equivalents
of the Greek; the Greek eta is transliterated as ê and omega as ô.
Diacritic marks are omitted with the exception of the initial hard
breathing mark which is indicated by an "h" before the initial vowel of
the word.

Hebrew words, which in this book are mainly represented without the
vowel and pronunciation points, are transcribed as follows:

Alef   = a                     Lahmed     = l
Bet    = b                     Mem        = m (final = M)
Gimel  = g                     Nun        = n (final = N)
Dalet  = d                     Samekh     = s
He     = h                     Ahyin      = i
Vav    = v                     Peh        = p (final = P)
Zayin  = z                     Tsadi      = c (final = C)
Het    = H                     Qof        = q
Tet    = T                     Resh       = r
Yod    = i                     Shin       = w
Kahf   = k (final = K)         Tav        = t

[Pg i]



                          THEOLOGICAL LIBRARY

                               NEW SERIES.
                                 VOL. II.

            Hengstenberg's Christology of the Old Testament.
                                 VOL. II.

                    T. & T. CLARK, 38, GEORGE STREET.
                         DUBLIN: JOHN ROBERTSON


[Pg ii]
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[Pg iii]



                           THE OLD TESTAMENT,

                                  AND A


                           E. W. HENGSTENBERG,
                   DR. AND PROF. OF THEOL. IN BERLIN.


                       TRANSLATED FROM THE GERMAN
                                 BY THE
                        THE REV. THEODORE MEYER.

                               VOLUME II.

                   T. AND T. CLARK, 38, GEORGE STREET.


[Pg iv]

    _This Work is copyright in this country by arrangement with the

[Pg v]

                            LIST OF CONTENTS.

      General Preliminary Remarks,                                 1
      Chap. ii.-iv.--The Sprout of the Lord,                      10
      Chap. vii.--Immanuel,                                       26
      Chap. viii. 23-ix. 6--Unto us a Child is born,              66
      Chap. ix. 1-7,                                              75
      Chap. xi., xii.--The Twig of Jesse,                         94
      On Matthew ii. 23,                                         106
      Chap. xii.,                                                133
      Chaps. xiii. 1-xiv. 27,                                    135
      Chaps. xvii., xviii.,                                      137
      Chap. xix.,                                                141
      Chap. xxiii.--The Burden upon Tyre,                        146
      Chaps. xxiv.-xxvii.,                                       149
      Chaps. xxviii.-xxxiii.,                                    154
      Chap. xxxv.,                                               158
      General Preliminary Remarks on Chaps, xl.-lxvi.,           163
      Chap. xlii. 1-9,                                           196
      Chap. xlix. 1-9,                                           226
      Chap. 1. 4-11,                                             246
      Chap. li. 16,                                              256
      Chaps. lii. 13-liii. 12,                                   259
      I. History of the Interpretation.
         A. With the Jews,                                       311
         B. History of the Interpretation with the Christians,   319
      II. The Arguments against the Messianic Interpretation,    327
      III. The Arguments in favour of the Messianic
           Interpretation,                                       330
      IV. Examination of the Non-Messianic Interpretation,       334
      Chap. lv. 1-5,                                             343
      Chap. lxi. 1-3,                                            351
   THE PROPHET ZEPHANIAH,                                        356
      General Preliminary Remarks,                               362
      Chap. iii. 14-17,                                          373
      Chap. xxiii. 1-8,                                          398
      Chap. xxxi. 31-40,                                         424
      Chap. xxxiii. 14-26,                                       459

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[Pg 1]

                           THE PROPHET ISAIAH.

                      GENERAL PRELIMINARY REMARKS.

Isaiah is the principal prophetical figure in the first period of
canonical prophetism, _i.e._, the Assyrian period, just as Jeremiah is
in the second, _i.e._, the Babylonian. With Isaiah are connected in the
kingdom of Judah: Joel, Obadiah, and Micah; in the kingdom of Israel:
Hosea, Amos, and Jonah.

The name "Isaiah" signifies the "Salvation of the Lord." In this name
we have the key-note of his prophecies, just as the name Jeremiah: "The
Lord casts down," indicates the nature of his prophecies, in which the
prevailing element is entirely of a threatening character. That the
proclamation of salvation occupies a very prominent place in Isaiah,
was seen even by the Fathers of the Church. _Jerome_ says: "I shall
expound Isaiah in such a manner that he shall appear not as a prophet
only, but as an Evangelist and an Apostle;" and in another passage:
"Isaiah seems to me to have uttered not a prophecy but a Gospel." And
_Augustine_ says, _De Civ. Dei_, 18, c. 29, that, according to the
opinion of many, Isaiah, on account of his numerous prophecies of
Christ and the Church, deserved the name of an Evangelist rather than
that of a Prophet. When, after his conversion, _Augustine_ applied to
_Ambrose_ with the question, which among the Sacred Books he should
read in preference to all others, he proposed to him Isaiah, "because
before all others it was he who had more openly declared the Gospel and
the calling of the Gentiles." (_Aug. Conf._ ix. 5.) With the Fathers of
the Church _Luther_ coincides. He says in commendation of Isaiah: "He
is full of loving, comforting, cheering words for all poor consciences,
and wretched, afflicted hearts." Of course, there is in Isaiah no want
of severe reproofs and threatenings. If it were [Pg 2] otherwise, he
would have gone beyond the boundary by which true prophetism is
separated from false. "There is in it," as Luther says, "enough of
threatenings and terrors against the hardened, haughty, obdurate heads
of the wicked, if it might be of some use." But the threatenings never
form the close in Isaiah; they always at last run out into the promise;
and while, for example, in the great majority of Jeremiah's prophecies,
the promise, which cannot be wanting in any true prophet, is commonly
only short, and hinted at, sometimes consisting only of words which are
thrown into the midst of the several threatenings, _e. g._, iv. 27:
"Yet will I not make a full end,"--in Isaiah the stream of consolation
flows in the richest fulness. The promise absolutely prevails in the
second part, from chap. xl.-lxvi. The reason of this peculiarity is to
be sought for chiefly in the historical circumstances. Isaiah lived at
a time in which, in the kingdom of Judah, the corruption was far from
having already reached its greatest height,--in which there still
existed, in that kingdom, a numerous "election" which gathered round
the prophet as their spiritual centre. With a view to this circle,
Isaiah utters the words: "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people." The
contemporary prophets of the kingdom of the ten tribes, which was
poisoned in its very first origin, found a different state of things;
the field there was already ripe for the harvest of judgment. And at
the time of Jeremiah, Judah had become like her apostate sister. At
that time it was not so much needed to comfort the miserable, as to
terrify sinners in their security. It was only after the wrath of God
had manifested itself in deeds, only after the judgment of God had been
executed upon Jerusalem, or was immediately at hand,--it was only then
that, in Jeremiah, and so in Ezekiel also, the stream of promise broke
forth without hinderance.

Chronology is, throughout, the principle according to which the
Prophecies of Isaiah are arranged. In the first six chapters, we obtain
a survey of the Prophet's ministry under Uzziah and Jotham. Chap. vii.
to x. 4 belongs to the time of Ahaz. From chap. x. 4 to the close of
chap. xxxv. every thing belongs to the time of the Assyrian invasion in
the fourteenth year of Hezekiah; in the face of which invasion the
prophetic gift of Isaiah was displayed as it had never been before. The
section, chap. xxxvi.-xxxix., furnishes us with the historical
commentary on the preceding [Pg 3] prophecies from the Assyrian period,
and forms, at the same time, the transition to the second part, which
still belongs to the same period, and the starting point of which is
Judah's deliverance from Asshur. In this most remarkable year of the
Prophet's life--a year rich in the manifestation of God's glory in
judgment and mercy--his prophecy flowed out in full streams, and spread
to every side. Not the destinies of Judah only, but those of the
Gentile nations also are drawn within its sphere. The Prophet does not
confine himself to the events immediately at hand, but in his ecstatic
state, the state of an elevated, and, as it were, armed consciousness,
in which he was during this whole period, his eye looks into the
farthest distances. He sees, especially, that, at some future period,
the Babylonian power, which began, even in his time, to germinate,
would take the place of the Assyrian,--that, like it, it would find the
field of Judah white for the harvest,--that, for this oppressor of the
world, destruction is prepared by _Koresh_ (Cyrus), the conqueror from
the East, and that he will liberate the people from their exile; and,
at the close of the development, he beholds the Saviour of the world,
whose image he depicts in the most glowing colours.

Isaiah has especially brought out the view of the Prophetic and
Priestly offices of Christ, while in the former prophecies it was
almost alone the Kingly office which appeared; it is only in Deut.
xviii. that the Prophetic office, and in Ps. cx. that the Priestly
office, is pointed at. Of the two states of Christ, it is the doctrine
of the state of humiliation, the doctrine of the suffering Christ,
which here meets us, while formerly it was the state of exaltation
which was prominently brought before us,--although Isaiah too can very
well describe it when it is necessary to meet the fears regarding the
destruction of the Theocracy by the assaults of the powerful heathen
nations. The first attempt at a description of the humbled, suffering,
and expiating Christ, is found in chap. xi. 1. The real seat of this
proclamation is, however, in the second part, which is destined more
for the election, than for the whole nation. In chap. xlii. we meet the
servant of God, who, as a Saviour meek and lowly in heart, does not
break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax, and by this
merciful love establishes righteousness on the whole earth. In chap.
xlix., the Prophet describes how the covenant-people requite with
ingratitude the faithful labours of the Servant of God, but that [Pg 4]
the Lord, to recompense Him for the obstinacy of Israel, gives Him the
Gentiles for an inheritance. In chap. l. we have presented to us that
aspect of the sufferings of the Servant of God which is common to
Christ and His people--viz., how, in fulfilling His calling. He offered
His back to the smiters, and did not hide His face from shame and
spitting. Then, finally, in chap. liii.--that culminating point of the
prophecy of the Old Testament--Christ is placed before our eyes in His
highest work, in His atoning and vicarious suffering, as the truth of
both the Old Testament high-priest, and the Old Testament sin-offering.

There are still the following Messianic features which are peculiar to
Isaiah. A clear Old Testament witness for the divinity of Christ is
offered by chap. ix. 5 (6); the birth by a virgin, closely connected
with His divinity, is announced in chap. vii. 14; according to chap.
viii. 23 (ix. 1.) Galilee, and, in general, the country surrounding the
Sea of Gennesareth, being that part of the country which hitherto had
chiefly been covered with disgrace, are, in a very special manner, to
be honoured by the appearance of the Saviour, who shall come to have
mercy upon the miserable, and to seek that which was lost. Isaiah has,
further, first taught that, by the redemption, the consequences of the
Fall would disappear in the irrational creation also, and that it
should return to paradisaic innocence, chap. xi. 6-9. He has first
announced to the people of God the glorious truth, that death, as it
had not existed in the beginning, should, at the end also, be expelled,
chap. xxv. 8; xxvi. 19. The healing powers which by Christ should be
imparted to miserable mankind, Isaiah has described in chap xxxv. in
words, which by the fulfilment have, in a remarkable manner, been

Let us endeavour to form, from the single scattered features which
occur in the prophecies of Isaiah, a comprehensive view of his
prospects into the future.

The announcement first uttered by Moses of an impending exile of the
people, and desolation of the country, is brought before us by Isaiah
in the first six chapters, in the prophecies belonging to the time of
Uzziah and Jotham, at which the future had not yet been so clearly laid
open before the Prophet as it was at a later period, at the time of
Ahaz, and, very especially, in the fourteenth year of Hezekiah. A
reference to [Pg 5] the respective announcements of the Pentateuch is
found in chap. xxxvii. 26, where, in opposition to the imagination of
the King of Asshur, that, by his own power, he had penetrated as a
conqueror as far as Judah, Isaiah asks him whether he had not heard
that the Lord, long ago and from ancient times, had formed such a
resolution regarding His people. These words can be referred only to
the threatenings of the Pentateuch, which a short-sighted criticism
endeavoured to ascribe to a far later period, without considering that
the germ of this knowledge of the future is found in the Decalogue
also, the genuineness of which is, at present, almost unanimously
conceded: "In order that thy (Israel's) days may be long in the land
which the Lord thy God giveth thee."

In the solemnly introduced short summary of the history of the
covenant-people, in chap. vi., there is, after the announcement of the
impending complete desolation of the country and the carrying away of
its inhabitants in vers. 11, 12, the indication of a _second_ judgment
which will not less make an end, in ver. 13: "But yet there is a tenth
part in it, and it shall again be destroyed;" and this goes hand in
hand with the promise that the _election_ shall become partakers of the
Messianic salvation.

The Prophet clearly sees that, by the _Syrico-Ephraemitic_ war, the
full realization of that threatening of the Pentateuch will not be
brought about, as far as Judah is concerned; that here a faint prelude
only to the real fulfilment is the point in question. Although the
allied kings speak in chap. vii. 6: "Let us go up against Judea and vex
it, and let us conquer it for us, and set a king in the midst of it,
even the son of Tabeal," the Lord speaks in chap. vii. 7: "It shall not
stand, neither shall it come to pass." And although the heart of the
king and the heart of his people were moved as the trees of the wood
are moved with the wind, the Prophet says: "Fear not, let not thy heart
be tender for the tails of those two smoking firebrands."

It is Asshur that shall do more for the realization of that divine
decree first revealed by Moses. It is he who, immediately after that
expedition against Judah, shall break the power of the kingdom of the
ten tribes, chap. viii. 4: "Before the child shall be able to cry: 'My
father and my mother,' the riches of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria
shall be carried before the King of [Pg 6] Assyria." The communion of
guilt into which it has entered with Damascus shall also implicate it
in a communion of punishment with it, chap. xvii. 3. The adversaries of
Rezin shall devour Israel with open mouth, chap. ix. 11, 12. Yea Asshur
shall, some time afterwards, put an end altogether to the kingdom of
Israel; "Within threescore and five years shall Ephraim be broken that
it shall not be a people any more," chap. vii. 8. Upon Judah also
severe sufferings shall be inflicted by Asshur. He shall invade and
devastate their land, chap. vii. 17, and chap. viii. He shall
irresistibly penetrate to the neighbourhood of Jerusalem, chap. x.
28-32. But when he is just preparing to inflict the mortal blow upon
the head of the people of God, the Lord shall put a stop to him: "He
shall cut down the thickets of the forest with iron, and Lebanon shall
fall by the mighty one," chap. x. 34. "Asshur shall be broken in the
land of the Lord, and upon His mountains be trodden under foot; and his
yoke shall depart from off them, and his burden depart from off their
shoulders," chap. xiv. 25. "And Asshur shall fall with the sword not of
a man," chap. xxxi. 8. These prophecies found their fulfilment in the
destruction of Sennacherib's host before Jerusalem,--an event which no
human ingenuity could have known even a day beforehand. But Isaiah does
not content himself with promising to trembling Zion the help of God
against Asshur in that momentary calamity. In harmony with Hosea and
Micah, he promises to Judah, in general, security from Asshur. He says
to Hezekiah, after that danger was over, in chap. xxxviii. 6: "And I
will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the King of Assyria,
and I will defend this city."

Behind the Assyrian kingdom, the Prophet beholds a new power
germinating, viz., the Babylonian or Chaldean; and he announces most
distinctly and repeatedly that from this shall proceed a comprehensive
execution of the threatenings against unfaithful Judah. According to
chap. xxiii. 13, the Chaldeans overturn the Assyrian monarchy, and
conquer proud Tyre which had resisted the assault of the Assyrians.
Shinar or Babylon appears in chap. xi. 11, in the list of the places to
which Judah has been removed in punishment. In chap. xiii. 1-xiv. 27,
Babylon is, for the first time, distinctly and definitely mentioned as
the threatening power of the future, by which Judah is to be carried
into captivity. The corresponding announcement in chap. xxxix. is so
[Pg 7] closely and intimately interwoven with the historical context,
that even _Gesenius_ did not venture to deny its origin by Isaiah, just
as he was compelled also to acknowledge the genuineness of the prophecy
against Tyre, in which the Babylonian dominion is most distinctly
foretold, and even the duration of that dominion is fixed. The 70 years
of Jeremiah have here already their foundation.

The Prophet sees distinctly and definitely that Egypt, the rival
African world's power, on which the sharp-sighted politicians of his
time founded their hope for deliverance, would not be equal to the
Asiatic world's power representing itself in the Assyrian and
Babylonian phases. He knows what he could not know from any other
source than by immediate communication of the Spirit of God, that, by
its struggle against the Asiatic power, Egypt would altogether lose its
old political importance, and would never recover it; compare remarks
on chap. xix.

As the power which is to overthrow the Babylonian Empire appear, in
chap. xxxiii. 17, the Medes. In chap. xxi. 2, Elam, which, according to
the _usus loquendi_ of Isaiah, means Persia, is mentioned besides
Media. This power, and at its head, the conqueror from the East, Cyrus,
will bring deliverance to Judah. By it they obtain a restoration to
their native land.[1] Nevertheless Elam appears in chap. xxii. 16 as
the representative of the world's power oppressing Judah in the future;
and from chap. xi. 11 we are likewise led to expect that the world's
power will in future shew itself in an Elamitic phase also, and that
the difference between Babel and Elam is one of degree only, just as,
indeed, it appeared in history; comp. Neh. ix. 36, 37.

An intimation of an European phasis of the world's power, hostile to
the kingdom of God, is to be found in chap. xi. 11.

After the Kingdom of God has, for such protracted periods, been subject
to the world's power, the relation will suddenly be reversed; at the
end of the days the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be exalted
above all the hills, and all nations shall flow into it, chap. ii. 2.

This great change shall be accomplished by the Messiah, chaps. iv.,
ix., xi., xxxiii. 17, who proceeds from the house of [Pg 8] David,
chap. ix. 6 (7), lv. 3, but only after it has sunk down to the utmost
lowliness, chap. xi. 1. With the human, He combines the divine nature.
This appears not only from the names which are given to Him in chap.
ix. 5 (6), but also from the works which are assigned to Him,--works by
far exceeding human power. He rules over the whole earth, according to
chap. xi.; He slays, according to xi. 4, the wicked with the breath of
His mouth (compare chap. l. 11, where likewise He appears as a partaker
of the omnipotent punitive power of God); He removes the consequences
of sin even from the irrational creation, chap. xi. 6-9; by His
absolute righteousness He is enabled to become the substitute of the
whole human race, and thereby to accomplish their salvation resting on
this substitution, chap. liii.

The Messiah appears at first in the form of a servant, low and humble,
chap. xi. 1, liii. 2. His ministry is quiet and concealed, chap. xlii.
2, as that of a Saviour who with tender love applies himself to the
miserable, chap. xlii. 3, lxi. 1. At first it is limited to Israel,
chap. xlix. 1-6, where it is enjoyed especially by the most degraded of
all the parts of the country, viz., that around the sea of Galilee,
chap. viii. 23 (ix. 1.) Severe sufferings will be inflicted upon Him in
carrying out His ministry. These proceed from the same people whom He
has come to raise up, and to endow (according to chap. xlii. 6, xlix.
8), with the full truth of the covenant into which the Lord has entered
with them. The Servant of God bears these suffering's with unbroken
courage. They bring about, through His mediation, the punishment of God
upon those from whom they proceeded, and become the reason why the
salvation passes over to the Gentiles, by whose deferential homage the
Servant of God is indemnified for what He has lost in the Jews, chap.
xlix. 1-9, l. 4-11. (The foundation for the detailed announcement in
these passages is given already in the sketch in chap. vi.,--according
to which an election only of the people attain to salvation, while the
mass becomes a prey to destruction.) But it is just by these
sufferings, which issue at last in a violent death, that the Servant of
God reaches the full height of His destination. They possess a
vicarious character, and effect the reconciliation of a whole sinful
world, chap. lii. 13-liii. 12. Subsequently to the suffering, and on
the ground of it, begins the exercise of the Kingly office of Christ,
chap. liii. 12. He brings law and righteousness to the [Pg 9] Gentile
world, chap. xlii. 1; light into their darkness, chap. xlii. 6. He
becomes the centre around which the whole Gentile world gathers, chap.
xi. 10: "And it shall come to pass in that day, the root of Jesse which
shall stand for an ensign of the people, to it shall the Gentiles seek,
and His rest shall be glory;" comp. chap. lx., where the delighted eye
of the Prophet beholds how the crowds of the nations from the whole
earth turn to Zion; chap. xviii., where the future reception of the
Ethiopians into the Kingdom of God is specially prophecied; chap. xix.,
according to which Egypt turns to the God of Israel, and by the tie of
a common love to Him, is united with Asshur, his rival in the time of
the Prophet, and so likewise with Israel, which has so much to suffer
from him; chap. xxiii., according to which, in the time of salvation.
Tyre also does homage to the God of Israel. The Servant of God becomes,
at the same time, the _Witness_, and the Prince and Lawgiver of the
nations, chap. lv. 4. Just as the Spirit of the Lord rests upon Him,
chap. xi. 2, xlii. 1, lxi. 1, so there takes place in His days an
outpouring of the Holy Spirit, chap. xxxii. 15, xliv. 3, comp. with
chap. liv. 13. Sin is put an end to by Him, chap. xi. 9, and an end is
put especially to war, chap. ii. 4. The Gentiles gathered to the Lord
become at last the medium of His salvation for the covenant-people, who
at first had rejected it, chap. xi. 12, lx. 9, lxvi. 20, 21. The end is
the restoration of the paradisaic condition, chap. xi. 6-9, lxv. 25;
the new heavens and the new earth, chap. lxv. 17, lxvi. 22; but the
wicked shall inherit eternal condemnation, chap. lxvi. 24.

[Footnote 1: _Vitringa_: There are no predictions in reference to the
temporal deliverance of the Jewish Church, in which the Prophet shews
himself more than in those which relate to the downfall of the
Babylonian Empire, and the deliverance of the people of God by Cyrus.]

[Pg 10]

                       THE PROPHECY--CHAP. II.-IV.
                         THE SPROUT OF THE LORD.

It has been already proved, in Vol. i., p. 416 ff., that this
discourse belongs to the first period of the Prophet's ministry. It
consists of three parts. In the first, chap. ii. 2-4, the Prophet draws
a picture of the Messianic time, at which the Kingdom of God, now
despised, should be elevated above all the kingdoms of the world,
should exercise an attractive power over the Gentiles, and should cause
peace to dwell among them; comp. Vol. i., p. 437 ff. In the second
part, from chap. ii. 5-iv. 1, the Prophet describes the prevailing
corruption, exhorts to repentance, threatens divine judgments. This
part is introduced, and is connected with the preceding, by the
admonition in ii. 5, addressed to the people, to prepare, by true
godliness, for a participation in that blessedness, to beware lest they
should be excluded through their own fault. In the third part, chap.
iv. 2-6, the prophet returns to the proclamation of salvation, so that
the whole is, as it were, surrounded by the promise. It was necessary
that this should be prominently brought out, in order that sinners
might not only be terrified by fear, but also allured by hope, to
repentance,--and in order that the elect might not imagine that the sin
of the masses, and the judgment inflicted in consequence of it, did
away with the mercy of the Lord towards His people, and with His
faithfulness to His promises. Salvation does not come without judgment.
This feature, by which true prophetism is distinguished from false,
which, divesting God of His righteousness, announced salvation to
unreformed sinners, to the whole rude mass of the people,--this feature
is once more prominently brought out in ver. 4. But salvation for the
elect comes as necessarily as judgment does upon the sinners. In the
midst of the deepest abasement of the people of God, God raises from
out of the midst of them the Saviour by whom they are raised to the
highest glory, chap. iv. 2. They are installed into the dignity of the
saints of God, after the penitent ones have been renewed by His Spirit,
and the [Pg 11] obstinate sinners have been exterminated by His
judgment, ver. 3, 4. God's gracious presence affords them protection
from their enemies, and from all tribulation and danger, ver. 5, 6.

The first part, in which Isaiah follows Micah (comp. the arguments in
proof of originality in Micah, Vol. i., p. 413 ff.), has already been
expounded on a former occasion. We have here only to answer the
question, why it is that the Prophet opens his discourse with a
proclamation of salvation borrowed from Micah? His object certainly was
to render the minds of the people susceptible of the subsequent
admonition and reproof, by placing at the head a promise which had
already become familiar and precious to the people. The position which
the Messianic proclamation occupies in Isaiah is altogether
misunderstood if, with _Kleinert_ and _Ewald_, we assume that the
passage does not, in Isaiah, belong to the real substance of the
prophecy; that it is merely placed in front as a kind of text, the
abuse and misinterpretation of which the Prophet meets in that which
follows, so that the sense would be: the blessed time promised by
former prophets will come _indeed_, but _only_ after severe, rigorous
judgments upon all who had forsaken Jehovah. It is especially ver. 5
which militates against this interpretation, where, in the words: "Come
ye and let us walk in the light of the Lord,"[1] the prophet gives an
_express declaration_ as to the object of the description which he has
placed in front, and expresses himself in regard to it in perfect
harmony [Pg 12] with Heb. iv. 1: φοβηθῶμεν οὖν μῄποτε καταλειπομένης
ἐπαγγελίας ... δοκῇ τις ἐξ ὑμῶν ὐστερηκέναι. This shows, that after the
manner of an evangelical preacher, and in conformity with his name, he
wishes to allure to repentance by pointing to the great salvation of
the future;--that the ἤγγικε ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν of the first part
serves as a foundation to the μετανοεῖτε οὗν of the second.

The threatening of punishment contained in the second part is destitute
of any particular reference. It bears a general character,
comprehending the whole of the mischief with which the Lord is to visit
the unfaithfulness of His people. Most thoroughly was the animating
idea realized in the Roman catastrophe, the consequence of which is the
helplessness which still presses upon the people. The preparatory steps
were the decay of the people at the time of Ahaz--especially the
Chaldean overthrow--and, generally, everything which the people had to
suffer in the time of the dominion of the Assyrian, Chaldean,
Medo-Persian, and Greek kingdoms. As none of these kingdoms were as yet
on the stage, or in sight, it is quite natural that the threatening
here keeps altogether within general terms; it was given to Isaiah
himself afterwards to individualize it much more.

It is with the third part only that we have here more particularly to
employ ourselves.

Ver. 2. "_In that day the Sprout of the Lord becomes for beauty and
glory, and the fruit of the land for exaltation and ornament, to the
escaped of Israel._"

Ver. 3. "_And it shall come to pass, he that was left in Zion, and was
spared in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, every one that is written to
life in Jerusalem._"

Ver. 4. "_When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of
Zion, and shall remove the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by
the spirit of right and the spirit of destruction._"

Ver. 5. "_And the Lord creates over the place of Mount Zion, and over
her assemblies clouds by day and smoke, and the brightness of flaming
fire by night, for above all glory is a covering._"

Ver. 6. "_And a tabernacle shall be for a shadow by day from the heat,
and, for a refuge and covert from storm and from rain._"

Ver. 2. "_In that day_" _i.e._, not by any means _after_ the suffering,
but _in the midst of it_, comp. chap. iii. 18; iv. 1, where, by [Pg 13]
the words "in that day," contemporaneousness is likewise expressed.
Parallel is chap. ix. 1 (2), where the people that walketh in darkness
seeth a great light. According to Micah v. 2 (3) also, the people are
given up to the dominion of the world's powers until the time that she
who is bearing has brought forth. Inasmuch as the Messianic
proclamation bears the same general comprehensive character as the
threatening of punishment, and includes in itself beginning and end,
the suffering may partly also reach into the Messianic time. It
dismisses from its discipline those who are delivered up to it,
gradually only, after they have become ripe for a participation in the
Messianic salvation.--There cannot be any doubt that, by the "_Sprout
of the Lord_" the Messiah is designated,--an explanation which we meet
with so early as in the Chaldee Paraphrast (בְּעדָּנָא הַהוּא יְהֵי מְשִׁיחָא דַיָי
לְחֶדְוָה וְלִיקָר), from which even _Kimchi_ did not venture to differ, which
was in the Christian Church, too, the prevailing one, and which
Rationalism was the first to give up. The Messiah is here quite in His
proper place. The Prophet had, in chap. iii. 12-15, in a very special
manner, derived the misery of the people from their bad rulers. What is
now more rational, therefore, than that he should connect the salvation
and prosperity likewise with the person of a Divine Ruler? comp. chap.
i. 26. In the adjoining prophecies of Isaiah, especially in chaps.
vii., ix., and xi., the person of the Messiah likewise forms the centre
of the proclamation of salvation; so that, _a priori_, a mention of it
must be expected here. To the same result we are led by the analogy of
Micah; comp. Vol. i. p. 443-45, 449. _Farther_--The representation of
the Messiah, under the image of a sprout or shoot, is very common in
Scripture; comp. chap. xi. 1-10; liii. 2; Rev. v. 5. But of decisive
weight are those passages in which precisely our word צמח occurs as a
designation of the Messiah. The two passages, Jer. xxiii. 5: "Behold,
the days come, saith the Lord, and I raise unto David a righteous
Sprout;" and xxxiii. 15: "In those days, and at that time, shall I
cause the Sprout of righteousness to grow up unto David," may at once
and plainly be considered as an _interpretation_ of the passage before
us, and as a commentary upon it; and that so much the more that there,
as well as here, all salvation is connected with this Sprout of
Jehovah; comp. Jer. xxiii. 6: "In His days Judah [Pg 14] shall be
saved, and Israel shall dwell safely, and this is His name whereby he
shall be called: The Lord our righteousness." The two other passages,
Zech. iii. 8: "Behold, I bring my servant _Zemach_," and vi. 12:
"Behold, a man whose name is _Zemach_" are of so much the greater
consequence that in them _Zemach_ (_i.e._, Sprout) occurs as a kind of
_nomen proprium_, the sense of which is supposed as being known from
former prophecies to which the Prophet all but expressly refers; or as
_Vitringa_ remarks on these passages: "That man who, in the oracles of
the preceding Prophets (Is. and Jer.) bears the name of 'Sprout.'" Of
no less consequence, _finally_, is the parallel passage, chap. xxviii.
5: "In that day shall the Lord of hosts be for a crown of glory, and
for a diadem of beauty unto the residue of His people." The words צבי
and תפארת there meet us again. The same is there ascribed to the Lord
which is here attributed to the Sprout of the Lord. That can be readily
accounted for, only if the Sprout of the Lord be the Messiah. For the
Messiah appears everywhere as the channel through which the Lord
imparts to His Church all the fulness of His blessings, as the Immanuel
by whom the promise given at the very threshold of the Old Testament:
"I dwell in the midst of them," is most perfectly realized. "This is
the name whereby He shall be called: The Lord our righteousness," says
Jeremiah, in the passage quoted.--The "Sprout of the Lord" may
designate either him whom the Lord causes to sprout, or him who has
sprouted forth from the Lord, _i.e._, the Son of God. Against the
latter interpretation it is objected by _Hoffmann_ (_Weissagung und
Erfüllung._ Th. 1, S. 214): "צמח is an intransitive verb, so that צֶמַח
may be as well connected with a noun which says, who causes to sprout
forth, as with one which says, whence the thing sprouts forth. Now it
is quite obvious that, in the passage before us, the former case
applies, and not the latter, inasmuch as one cannot say that something,
or even some one, sprouts forth from Jehovah; it is only with a thing,
not with a person, that צמח can be connected." But it is impossible to
admit that this objection is well founded. The person may very well be
conceived of as the soil from which the sprout goes forth. Yet we must,
indeed, acknowledge that the Messiah is nowhere called a Sprout of
David. But what decides in favour of the first view are the [Pg 15]
parallel passages. In Jer. xxiii. 5, xxxiii. 15, the Lord raises up to
David a righteous Sprout, and causes Him to grow up unto David. Hence
here, too, the Sprout will in that sense only be the Lord's, that he
does not sprout forth out of Him, but through Him. In Zech. iii. 8 the
Lord brings his servant _Zemach_; in Ps. cxxxii. 17, it is said: "There
I cause a horn to sprout to David," and already in the fundamental
passage, 2 Sam. xxiii. 5, which contains the first germ of our passage,
David says: "For all my salvation and all my pleasure should He not
make it to _sprout_ forth."--As the words "Sprout of the Lord" denote
the heavenly origin of the Redeemer, so do the words פרי הארץ the
earthly one, the soil from which the Lord causes the Saviour to sprout
up. These words are, by _Vitringa_ and others, translated: "the fruit
of the earth," but the correct translation is "the fruit of the
_land_." The passages, Num. xiii. 26: "And shewed them the fruit of the
land;" and Deut. i. 25: "And they took in their hands of the fruit of
the land, and brought it unto us, and brought us word again, and said,
good is the land which the Lord our God doth give us,"--these two
passages are, besides that under consideration, the only ones in which
the phrase פרי הארץ occurs; and there is here, no doubt, an allusion to
them. The excellent natural fruit of ancient times is a type of the
spiritual fruit. To the same result--that הארץ designates the definite
land, that land which, in the preceding verses, in the description of
the prevailing conniption, and of the divine judgments, was always
spoken of,--to this result we are led by the fact also, that everywhere
in the Old Testament where the contrariety of the divine and human
origin of the Messiah is mentioned, the human origin is more distinctly
qualified and limited. This is especially the case in those passages
which, being dependent upon that before us, maybe considered as a
commentary upon it; in Jer. xxiii. 5, xxxiii. 15, where the Lord raises
a Sprout unto _David_, and Zech. vi. 12, where the man whose name is
_Zemach_ (Sprout) grows up out of its soil; comp. Heb. vii. 14, where,
in allusion to the Old Testament passages of the Sprout--the verb
ἀνατέλλειν is commonly used of the sprouting forth of the plants (see
_Bleek_ on this passage)--it is said: ἐξ Ἰούδα ἀνατέταλκεν ὁ Κύριος
ἡμῶν, _Bengel_: _ut germen justitiae_; farther, Mic. v. 1 (2), where
the eternal existence of the Messiah, [Pg 16] and His birth in
Bethlehem are contrasted with one another; Is. ix. 5, (6), where the
words: "Unto _us_ a child is born, unto _us_ a son is given," are
contrasted with the various designations of the Messiah, according to
His divine majesty. This qualification and limitation which everywhere
takes place, have their ground in the circumstance that the Messiah is
constantly represented to the covenant-people as their property; and
that He, indeed, was, inasmuch as salvation went out from Jews (John
iv. 22), and was destined for the Jews, into whose communion the
Gentiles were to be received; comp. my Commentary on Revel. vii. 4.
"The Sprout of the Lord," "the fruit of the land," is accordingly He
whom the Lord shall make to sprout forth from Israel. The Sprout of the
Lord, the fruit of the land is to become to the escaped of Israel for
_beauty_ and _glory_, for _exaltation_ and _ornament_. The passages to
be compared are 2 Sam. i. 19, where Saul and Jonathan are called צבי
ישראל; _farther_, Is. xxviii. 5: "In that day shall the Lord of hosts
be for a crown of beauty, and for a diadem of ornament unto the residue
of His people," where the words צבי and תפארת are likewise used;
_finally_, chap. xxiv. 16, where, in reference to the Messianic time,
it is said: "From the uttermost part of the earth do we hear songs of
praise: beauty (צבי) to the righteous." By the appearance of Christ,
the covenant-people, hitherto despised, were placed in the centre of
the world's history; by it the Lord took away the rebuke of His people
from off all the earth, chap. xxv. 8. There is evidently in these words
a reference to the preceding threatening of punishment, especially to
chap. iii. 18: "In that day the Lord will take away the ornament," &c.:
But _Drechsler_ is wrong in fixing and expressing this reference thus:
"Instead of farther running after strange things, Israel will find its
glory and ornament in Him who is the long promised seed of Abrahamitic
descent." For it is not the position which Israel takes that is spoken
of, but that which is granted to them. The antithesis is between the
false glory which God takes away, and the true glory which He gives.
The Lord cannot, by any possibility, for any length of time, appear
merely _taking away_; He takes those seeming blessings, only in order
to be able to give the true ones. Every taking away is a prophecy of
giving.--"_To the escaped of Israel_," who, according to the idea of a
people of God, and according to [Pg 17] the promise of the Law (comp.
Deut. xxx. 1, ff.) can never be wanting, as little as it is possible
that the salvation should be partaken of by the whole _mass_ of the
people; sifting judgments must necessarily go before and along with it.
True prophetism everywhere knows of salvation for a remnant only. On
פליטה, which does not mean "deliverance," so that the abstract would
thus here stand for the concrete, but "that which has escaped," comp.
remarks on Joel iii. 5, Vol. 1, p. 338.

All which now remains is to examine those explanations of this verse
which differ from the Messianic interpretation. 1. Following the
interpretation of _Grotius_ and others, _Gesenius_, in his Commentary,
understands by the Sprout of the Lord the new growth of the people
after their various defeats. His explanation is: "Then the sprout of
Jehovah will be splendid and glorious, and the fruit of the land
excellent and beautiful for the escaped of Israel." _Fruit of the land_
he takes in its literal sense, and understands it to mean the product
of the land. The same view is held by _Knobel_: "_He becomes for beauty
and glory_,_i.e._, the people, having reformed, prosper and form a
splendid, glorious state." And _Maurer_ in his Dictionary says: "The
Sprout of Jehovah seems to be the morally improved remnant, the new,
sanctified increase of the people." But in opposition to such a view
there is, _first_, the circumstance, that according to it the ל before
לצבי and לכבור must be understood differently from what it is in לגאון,
and לתפארת which immediately follow and exactly correspond with them.
There are, _secondly_, the parallel passages chap. xxviii. 5, xxiv. 16,
according to which צבי "beauty" is conferred upon the escaped, but they
themselves do not become beauty. _Finally_--It is always most natural
to suppose that צמח יהוה and פרי הארץ correspond with one another, and
denote the same subject which is here described after his various
aspects only. For in the same manner as צמח and פרי go hand in hand,
both being taken from the territory of botany, so יהוה and הארץ also
stand in a contrast which is not to be mistaken. 2. _Hitzig_, _Ewald_,
_Meier_, and others not only refer "the fruit of the land," but also
the "Sprout of Jehovah" to that which Jehovah makes to sprout forth.[2]
It is true that, in the prophetic [Pg 18] announcements, among the
blessings of the future the rich produce of the land is also mentioned
(comp. chap. xxx. 23-25), and the same is very expressly done in the
Law also; but in not a single one of these passages does the strange
expression occur, that this fruitfulness should serve to the escaped
for beauty and glory, for exaltation and ornament, or any other that
bears the slightest resemblance to it. Against this explanation there
is, _in addition_, the circumstance that the barrenness of the country
is not at all pointed out in the preceding context. _Finally_--When we
understand this expression as referring to the Messiah, this verse,
standing as it does at the head of the proclamation of salvation,
contains the fundamental thought; and in what follows we obtain the
expansion. In the verse before us we are told that in Christ the people
attain to glory,--and, in those which follow, how this glory is
manifested in them. But according to this view, every internal
connexion of the verse before us with what follows is entirely
destroyed. 3. According to _Hendewerk_, by the "Sprout of the Lord,"
"the collective person of the ruling portion in the state during the
Messianic happy time," is designated. This opinion is the beginning of
a return to the Messianic interpretation. But then only could that
ideal person be here referred to, if elsewhere in Isaiah too it would
come out strongly and decidedly. As this, however, is not the case; as,
on the contrary, the Messiah everywhere in Isaiah meets us in shining
clearness, it would be arbitrary to give up the _person_ in favour of a
_personification_. 4. _Umbreit_ acknowledges that, in the case of צמח
יהוה, the Messianic interpretation is the only correct one. "The two
subsequent prophecies in chap. ix. and xi.," he says, "are to be
considered as a commentary on our short text." But it is characteristic
of his compromising manner that by "the fruit of the land" he
understands "the consequences of the dominion of the Messiah for the
land, the fruits which, in consequence of his appearing, the
consecrated soil brings forth,"--thus plainly overlooking the clear [Pg
19] contrast between the Sprout of the Lord, and the fruit of the land,
by which evidently the same thing is designated from different aspects.

Ver. 3. The Prophet now begins to show, more in detail, in how far the
Sprout of the Lord and the fruit of the land would serve for the honour
and glory of the Church. The words: "He that was left in Zion and was
spared in Jerusalem," take up the idea suggested by the "escaped of
Israel" in ver. 2. The double designation is intended to direct
attention to the thought that the remnant, and the remnant only, are
called to a participation in the glory. _Zion_ and _Jerusalem_, as the
centre of the covenant-people, here represent the whole; this is
evident from the circumstance that at the close of ver. 2, which is
here resumed, the escaped of _Israel_ were spoken of Ever since the
sanctuary and the royal palace were founded at Zion, it was in a
spiritual point of view, the residence of all Israel, who even
personally met there at the high festivals.--Whoever is left in Zion
"_shall be called holy_." The fundamental notion of holiness is that of
separation. God is holy, inasmuch as He is separated from all that is
created and finite, and is elevated above all that is finite; comp. my
Commentary on Rev. iv. 8. _Believers_ are holy, because they are
separated from the world as regards their moral existence and their
destiny. Here only the latter aspect is considered. Holy in a moral
sense they were already, inasmuch as it is this which forms the
condition of their being spared in the divine judgments. They became
holy because they are partakers of the beauty, of the exaltation, and
ornament which are to be bestowed upon the escaped by the Sprout of the
Lord. The circumstance that they have been installed into the dignity
of the saints of God implies that, when the Spirit of the Lord has
appeared, the world's power has no longer any dominion over them, but
that, on the contrary, they shall judge the world. In like manner we
read in Exod. xix. 6, in the description of the _reward_ for
faithfulness: "And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and a holy
nation;" comp. ver. 5: "And now if you will obey my voice and keep my
covenant, ye shall be a property unto me out of all people." In
reference to the exalted dignity and glory, holiness occurs in Deut.
vii. 6: "For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God; the Lord
thy God hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself out of
all the people that are upon [Pg 20] the face of the earth." When the
company of Korah said: "All the congregation, they are holy" (Numb.
xvi. 3), they had in view, not the moral holiness but the dignity--a
circumstance which is quite obvious from words added: "And in the midst
of them is the Lord." And so Moses likewise speaks of the dignity in
Numb. xvi. 7: "Whom the Lord shall choose, he is the holy one." In Rom.
i. 7; Heb. iii. 1, holiness is declared to consist in being loved,
called, and chosen by God.--As regards the fulfilment of this promise,
it has its _horas_ and _moras_. It began with the first appearance of
Christ, by which the position of the true Israel to the world was
substantially and fundamentally changed. It was not without meaning
that, as early as in the apostolic times, the "Saints" was a kind of
_nomen proprium_ of believers, comp. Acts ix. 13, 32. We are even now
the sons of God, and hence even already installed into an important
portion of the inheritance of holiness; but it has not yet appeared
what we shall be, 1 John iii. 2. But the beginning, and the
continuation pervading all ages, viz., God's dealings throughout the
whole of history, whereby he ever anew lifts up His Church from the
dust of lowliness, afford to us the guarantee for the completion,
which is, with graphic vividness, described in the last two chapters
of Revelation.--"_To be called_" is more than merely "to be;" it
indicates that the _being_ is so marked as to procure for itself
acknowledgment.--The words: "_Every one that is written to life in
Jerusalem_" anew point out that judgment will go before, and by the
side of grace. The meaning of חיים is, according to the fundamental
passage in Ps. lxix. 29, "not living ones" (_Hoffmann_, _Weiss._ i. S.
208), but "life." In Revelation, too, the book of life, and not the
book of the living ones, is spoken of "To be written to life" is
equivalent to being ordained to life, Acts xiii. 48; comp. my Comment.
on Ps. lxix. 29; Rev. iii. 5. Life is not naked life,--a miserable life
is, according to the view of Scripture, not to be called a life, but is
a form of death only--but life in the full enjoyment of the favour of
God; comp. my Comment. on Ps. xvi. 11, xxx. 6, xxxvi. 10; xlii. 9;
lxiii. 4. The Chaldean thus paraphrases it: "All they that are written
to eternal life shall see the consolation of Jerusalem, _i.e._ the
Messiah." Comp. Dan. xii. 1; Rev. iii. 5, xiii. 8, xx. 15, xxii. 19;
Phil. iv. 3; Luke x. 20. The bodily death of believers cannot exclude
them from a participation in being written to [Pg 21] life; for, being
a mere transition to life, it can, in truth, not be called a death.
Here, too, the word of Christ applies: "The maid is not dead but
sleepeth," Matt. ix. 24. The fact that there is no contradiction
between bodily death and life, _i.e._ a participation in the blessings
of the Kingdom of Christ, is pointed out by Isaiah himself in chap.
xxvi. 19: "Thy dead men shall _live_, my dead bodies shall arise, for a
dew of light is thy dew."

Ver. 4. The Prophet points out that before the Church is raised to the
dignity of the saints of God, a thorough change of its moral
conditions, an energetic expunging of the sin now prevailing in her,
must take place, "_When the Lord has washed away the filth of the
daughters of Zion._" The "daughters of Zion" are none other than those
whose haughtiness, luxury, and wantonness were described in chap. iii.
16 ff., and to whom the deepest abasement was then threatened. The
filth, under the image of which sin is here represented (comp. Prov.
xxx. 12); "A generation pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed
from their filthiness," forms the contrast to the splendid attire which
is there spoken of Behind this splendid attire the filthiness is
concealed. The filth is not washed away (1 Cor. vi. 11; Eph. v. 26)
from the daughters of Jerusalem,--for, inasmuch as this washing away is
accomplished by means of the spirit of destruction, it could not apply
to them--but from Jerusalem; comp. the phrase, "from the midst
thereof," which immediately follows. Jerusalem, the city of the Lord,
in which no unclean person, and no unclean thing are permitted to
dwell, is cleansed from the filth with which its unworthy daughters
contaminate it. "_And shall remove the blood of Jerusalem._" The "blood
of Jerusalem" is the blood which attaches to Jerusalem, which has been
shed in it. The connection of the punishment of the sins of avarice on
the part of the rulers, in chap. iii. 13-15, with the punishment of the
luxury and ostentation on the part of the women, is illustrative of the
relation of filth and blood to each other. Blood is shed in order to
furnish pride and vanity with the means of their gratification. The
avarice of the rulers, and their shedding of blood, are put together in
Ezek. xxii. 13; comp. ver. 27: "Her princes are in the midst thereof
like wolves ravening the prey, shedding blood, destroying souls, to get
dishonest gain." Bloodguiltiness those too incur who deprive the poor
of the necessary means of support, Mic. iii. 2, 3. The comparison of
[Pg 22] chap. i. 15: "Your hands are full of blood," and of ver. 21:
"But now murderers," compared with vers. 17, 23, 26, shews that we have
to think especially of unjust judges and avaricious rulers. Yet, there
is no reason for limiting ourselves to the nobles and rulers _alone_;
comp. Ezek. xxii. 29: "The people of the land use oppression, and
boldly practice robbery, and vex the poor and needy, and oppress the
stranger." Where sins so gross are still prevalent, where the law of
the Lord is so wantonly broken, an installation into the dignity of the
saints of God is out of the question. For that, it is absolutely
essential that exertions be made that the high destination of the
people: "Ye shall be holy for I am holy," become a truth; that in a
moral point of view it show itself as truly separated from the
world,--and that is something so infinitely great, that men are utterly
unable for it, that it can proceed from God only, with whom nothing is
impossible.--The last words of the verse are commonly explained: "by
the spirit of _judgment_, and by the spirit of destruction or burning."
In that case the putting away of the filth and blood by the judging
activity of the Lord, by the destruction of sin, would be spoken of
משפט, however, may also be taken in the sense of "right:" by the spirit
of right which lays hold of, and changes the well disposed (comp. Mic.
iii. 8: "But I am full of power by the Spirit of the Lord, and of
_right_ and might"), and by the spirit of destruction which consumes the
disobedient. In favour of the latter view are the parallel passages;
above all, chap. xxviii. 6, where it is said of the Messianic time, "In
that day the Lord will become, &c.," "And for a spirit of right to him
that sitteth for right;" farther, chap. i. 27, 28: "Zion shall be
redeemed by right, and her converts by righteousness. But the
transgressors and sinners are destroyed together, and they that forsake
the Lord are consumed." Comp. Matt. iii. 11: αὐτὸς ὑμᾶς βαπτίσει ἐν
πνεύματι ἁγίῳ καὶ πυρί, where likewise a double washing, that of grace
and that of wrath, is spoken of. In chap. xxxii. 15: "Until the Spirit
be poured out upon us from on high," Isaiah likewise points to the
regeneration which, in the Messianic time, will be accomplished by the
Spirit; and it is, according to the whole _usus loquendi_ of the Old
Testament, most natural to think of the Spirit transforming from within
The Spirit of God scarcely occurs elsewhere in the Old Testament as the
executor of God's judgments; so that the supposition is [Pg 23] very
natural that the spirit of destruction has been brought in by the
spirit of right only.--The word בער is, by some, understood as
"burning," by others, as "destruction." We ourselves decide in favour
of the latter signification, which occurs also in chap. iv. 13, for
this reason, that it is in that signification that בער is, in
Deuteronomy, used as the _terminus technicus_ of the extirpation of the
wicked. If the Church does not comply with the command: ἐξάρεῖτε τὸν
πονηρὸν ἐξ ὑμῶν αὐτῶν, 1 Cor. v. 13; Deut. xiii. 6 (5), God himself will
enforce His authority by His Spirit, who carries out the judgments of
the avenging God, just as He carries out every influence of the Creator
upon the created. On the "Spirit of the Lord," comp. my remarks on Rev.
i. 4.

Ver. 5. The image is here taken from the journey of Israel through the
wilderness. During that journey, they were guided and protected by a
symbol of God's presence, which by day presented itself as smoke, and
by night assumed the form of flaming fire. By this symbol the God of
Israel was designated as the jealous God, as the living, personal
energy, energetic in His love for His people, energetic in wrath
against His and their enemies. Comp. especially Exod. xiii. 21: "And
the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud to lead them on
the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light;" and xl.
38: "For a cloud was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by
night;" comp. Numb. ix. 15, 16. The same phenomenon is to be repeated
in future, although in a different form. In a manner the most real, the
Lord will manifest himself as the living energy of His Church, dwelling
in the midst of her, and ruling over her as a protector, so that the
world's power can no longer injure her. That such will be done in and
by His _Sprout_, in Christ, appears from the relation of the verse
under consideration to ver. 2; for the verse before us still belongs to
the expansion of the proposition placed at the head of the whole: "The
_Sprout_ of the Lord becomes for beauty and glory, and the fruit of the
land for exaltation and ornament to the escaped of Israel." Christ in
His person and Spirit is the true Shechinah, the true indwelling of God
in His Church. This indwelling is, even in the Law, designated as the
highest privilege of the covenant-people; its being raised to a higher
power is therefore to the Prophet the highest blessing of the future,
the source from which all other blessings flow. That which the heathen
in vain longed [Pg 24] for and imagined; that which Israel hitherto
possessed only very imperfectly, a _praesens numen_, whereby the
antithesis of heaven and earth is done away with, and earth is
glorified into a heaven;--that, the purified Church of the Lord
possesses in the most perfect and real manner, and in it, absolute
security against the world, a decided victory over it. The words:
"_Over her assemblies_," show that the whole life of the people shall
then bear a religious character, and shall be a continual service of
God, comp. Acts ii. 42, where, as a type of the completion of the
Church, it is said: "And they continued stedfastly in the Apostles'
doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers."
מקרא is only the name for that which is called, "the assembly," and
stands in Levit. xxiii. and Is. i. 13 of the religious assemblies which
were held on the holy days, comp. my pamphlet: _Ueber den Tag des Herrn
S_. 32. The same phenomenon is, according to its appearance by day,
designated, at the same time, as _clouds_ and _smoke_. Smoke is never
"vapour, vapoury clouds" (_Knobel_); and here the smoke by day
corresponds with the _flaming fire_ by night. If then the smoke can be
considered as a product of the fire only (comp. my remarks on Rev. xv.
8), the cloud cannot come into consideration according to its matter,
but according to its form only. The smoke assumes the form of a cloud
which affords protection from the burning sun of tribulations, as once,
in the burning desert, from the scorching heat of the natural sun,
comp. Num. x. 34: "And the cloud of the Lord was upon them;" Ps. cv.
39: "He spread a cloud for a covering;" Is. xxv. 5. The cloud which
thus affords protection to the Church turns a threatening face towards
her enemies. Rev. xv. 8.--The words: "_For above all glory is a
covering_," point to the ground of the protecting, gracious presence of
God in the Church. Several interpreters explain the sense thus: "As we
cover and preserve precious things more carefully, in order that they
may not be injured, so does God in His grace surround His Church, which
has been adorned with glorious virtues, and raised to the high dignity
of the saints of God, and protects her from every danger." Others
understand by כל־כבוד the whole glory mentioned in the preceding
context; but in that case we should expect the article. One may also
supply the limitation: For, _in the Kingdom of God_, there is a
covering over all glory.

[Pg 25]

Ver. 6. God--this is the same sense--protects His Church from every
danger and calamity. By His gracious presence in His Sprout, He affords
to them that protection which a hut does from sun, storms, and rain.
Luther says: "In this passage, accordingly, Christ is held up to us as
He who in all tribulations, bodily as well as spiritual, is our
protection." There is an allusion to the 21st verse of Ps. xxxi. (which
was written by David): "Thou hidest them in the secret of thy
countenance from the conspiracy of every one; thou keepest them
secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues." The pavilion in
this Psalm is a spiritual one, viz., God's grace and protection. That
word of David shall be gloriously fulfilled when the Sprout of the Lord
shall appear.--The "_Sun_" comes into consideration in its scorching
quality; and the "_heat_" is in Scripture the image of temptations,
sufferings, and trials; comp. remarks on Rev. viii. 12, xvi. 8; Song of
Sol. i. 6; Ps. cxxi. 6; Matt. xiii. 6, compared with v. 21; Is. xlix.
10, xxv. 4; and, according to the last passage, we must especially have
in view the enmity and assaults of the world's power. The "_rain_"
appears as an image of tribulation in the Song of Sol. ii. 11; Is. xxv.
4: "The spirit of the terrible ones (the passions of the kings of the
world, and conquerors) is like a violent shower against the wall;"
xxxii. 2.--A comparison of the Messianic prophecy in chap ii. with that
which we have now considered shows very clearly how necessary it is to
regard the single Messianic prophecies as fragments only, supplementing
one another, inasmuch as commonly a few aspects only were presented to
the spiritual eye of the Prophet. Just as the description in chap. ii.
receives an important supplement from the passage now considered,
inasmuch as the latter contains the mention of the personal Messiah, so
it, again, supplements that before us by announcing the participation
by the Gentiles in the blessings of the Messianic Kingdom.

[Footnote 1: Light is the image of salvation; to walk in the light is
to enjoy a participation in it. Israel is not wantonly to wander away
from the path of light which the Lord has opened up to them, into the
dark desolation of misery. In the words לכו ונלכה there is a clear
reference to לכו ונעלה of the Gentile nations in ver. 3. If the
Gentiles apply with such zeal for a participation in the blessings of
the Kingdom of God, how disgraceful would it be if you, the people of
the covenant, the children of the Kingdom, should lose your glorious
possession by your ungodly walk. In vers. 6-11 the Prophet states the
grounds of his admonition to the people to walk in the light of the
Lord which he had expressed in the preceding verse. This admonition
implies that there existed a danger of losing a participation in the
light; and it is this danger which the Prophet here more particularly
details. It is not without reason, so the words may be paraphrased,
that I say: "Walk ye in the light of the Lord," for at present the Lord
has _forsaken_ the people on account of their sins, and with that, a
participation in His light is incompatible. By being full of heathenish
superstition, of false confidence in earthly things, yea, even of the
most disgraceful that can be imagined for Israel, viz., gross idolatry,
they rather become more and more ripe for the divine judgment which
will break in irresistibly upon them.]

[Footnote 2: So _Gesenius_ also in the _Thesaurus_: "The whole earth
shall be holy and shall more beautifully bloom and be adorned with
plenty of fruits and corn for the benefit of those who have escaped
from those calamities." _Gesenius'_ wavering clearly shows how little
satisfaction the non-Messianic explanation affords to its own abettors.
Besides the explanations of צמח יהוה by "the new growth of the people,"
and "the rich produce of the country," he advances still a third one,
viz., "a divinely favoured ruler,"--an explanation which has even the
grammar against it, as we are at liberty to translate only: "The Sprout
of the Lord;" and likewise the analogy of פרי הארץ, according to which
the Genitive can have a reference to the _origin_ only.]

[Pg 26]

                         THE PROPHECY, CHAP. VII.

A crisis of the most important nature in the history of Israel is
formed by the Syrico-Ephraemitic war, by the expedition of the allied
kings, Rezin of Damascus, and Pekah of Samaria, which had been already
prepared under the reign of Jotham, and which broke out in the first
years of Ahaz. It was in consequence of this war that Asshur came
into the land. The inroad of the Assyrian King, Pul, under Menahem
of Israel, had been transitory only, comp. Vol. 1. p. 165. It was
only with the invasion under Ahaz that the tendency of Asshur began
of making lasting conquests on the other side of the Euphrates,
which could not fail to bring about a collision with the Egyptian
power. The succeeding powers in Asia and Europe followed Asshur's
steps. "Hitherto,"--so says _Caspari_, in his pamphlet on the
Syrico-Ephraemitic war, S. 17 ff.--"hitherto Israel had to do with the
small neighbouring nations only,--now, in punishment of their sins,
oppressed by them; then, in reward of their obedience, oppressing and
ruling over them. And the Syrico-Ephraemitic war itself had been a link
only in the chain of these attacks--its last link. Israel, having
arrived at the point of being hardened, and having entered upon a path
in accordance with this tendency, required another more severe
corrective--its being crushed by the mighty world's power. The
appearance of these mighty powers, just at the period when Israel
entered upon their hardening, is most providential.--The beginning of
the end of the kingdom of the ten tribes had come, and the breaking up
of its independent political existence had commenced. As enmity to
Judah had given its origin to the kingdom of the ten tribes, so also
did it bring about its destruction; born out of it, it died of it. It
owed its existence to the incipient enmity; when the latter was
accomplished (Isa. vii. 6,) it caused its death.--The Assyrians came to
the help of Judah, but charged a high price for their help, viz.,
Judah's submission and fealty. Thirty heavy years of servitude, and, to
a great part, of [Pg 27] fears of the worst, 2 Kings xvi. 18; Is.
xxxiii. 18 (?); xxxvii. 3, followed for this kingdom also; and when, at
the close of this period, it freed itself from them after the fashion
of the kingdom of Israel, it shared nearly the same fate, 2 Kings
xviii. 31 ff. It was only to the mercy of the Lord, who looked
graciously upon the feeble beginnings of conversion, that it owed its
deliverance. The Assyrian power, which had put an end to the kingdoms
of Damascus and Israel, and which was the first power that appeared on
the stage of history and came into conflict with the people of God,
became a significant sign of the final fate of the world's power in its
attacks upon the Kingdom of God. But, as a prelude to the long series
of visitations which it had to endure from the world's power in its
different phases, Judah was even now led to the very brink of
destruction; there came a period, the 14th year of Hezekiah, when
almost nothing more of it was to be seen by the outward eye than its
metropolis exposed to the utmost danger."

A remarkable proof of the fact that the spirit which filled the
prophets was a higher one than their own, is the fact that Isaiah
recognized so distinctly and clearly the importance of the decisive

In close connection with the great crisis at which the history of the
people of God had arrived, stands the richer display of the Messianic
announcement which begins with the chapter before us. Messiah is
henceforth represented to Judah as an Immanuel against the world's
powers, as the surety for its deliverance from the severe oppressions
hanging over it, as He who at last, at His appearance, would conquer
the world, and lay it at the feet of the people of God.

After these general introductory remarks, let us turn more particularly
to the contents of the chapter before us. It was told to the house of
David: "Aram is encamped in Ephraim." The position of Ahaz was, humanly
considered, desperate. His enemies were far superior to him, and he
could scarcely hope for help from heaven, for he had an evil
conscience. The idea of seeking help from Asshur was natural. Isaiah
received a commission to oppose this idea before it became a firm
resolution. In doing so he, by no means, occupies the position of an
ingenious politician. On the contrary, the whole commission is [Pg 28]
forced upon him. It can scarcely be doubted that the Assyrians would
have penetrated to Western Asia, even if Ahaz had not called them to
his assistance. The expedition of the Syrians and Ephraimites with the
view of making conquests, could not but turn their attention to that
quarter. As the instruments of the judgments upon Damascus and Samaria,
which Isaiah announced as impending under any circumstances, we can
surely think of none but Asshur. But if once they came into these
regions, in order to chastise the haughtiness of the Syrians and
Ephraimites, who would set up as a new conquering power, then was Judah
too threatened by them. _In a political point of view it did not make
any great difference whether Ahaz sought help from the Assyrians, or
not_; on the contrary, the king of Asshur could not but be more
favourably disposed towards him for so doing. _Isaiah, throughout,
rather occupies the position of the man of God._ The kings of the
people of God were, in general, not prevented from forming alliances;
but such alliances must belong to the category of permitted human
resources. Such, however, was not the case here. Asshur was a
conquering power, altogether selfish. His help had to be purchased with
dependance, and with the danger of entire destruction; to stay upon him
was to stay upon their destroyer, Is. x. 20. Such an alliance was a _de
facto_ denial of the God of Israel, an insult to His omnipotence and
grace. If Ahaz had obeyed Him; if he had limited himself to the use of
the human means granted to him by the Lord without trusting in them,
and had placed all his confidence in the Lord, He would have delivered
him in the same manner as He afterwards delivered Hezekiah, in the
first instance from Aram and Ephraim, and then from Asshur also. But
although Ahaz did not follow the prophet, his mission was by no means
in vain. Even before the mission, this result lay open before the Lord
who sent him. The great point was to establish, before the first
conflict of Israel with the world's power, thus much, that this
conflict had been brought about by the sin of the house of David, and
that hence it did not afford any cause for doubting the omnipotence and
mercy of the Lord whose help had been offered, but rejected.

The Prophet seeks out the king at a place to which he had been  driven
by his despairing disquietude which was clinging convulsively to human
resources. He endeavours, first, to exert [Pg 29] an influence upon him
by taking with him his son, whose symbolical name, containing a
prophecy of the future destinies of the people, indicated that the
king's fear of a total destruction of the State was without foundation.
After the king has thus been prepared, he endeavours to make a deeper
impression upon him by the announcement, distinct and referring to the
present case, that the enemies should not only entirely fail in their
intention of conquering and dividing between themselves the kingdom of
Judah; but that the kingdom of Ephraim was itself hastening towards
that destruction which it was preparing for its brethren, and that
after sixty-five years it should altogether lose its national
independence and existence, ver. 1-9. But Ahaz makes no reply; and his
whole deportment shows that he does not follow the Prophet's
exhortation to "take heed and be quiet," and that the words: "If ye do
not believe, ye shall not be established," with which the Prophet
closes his address, have not made any impression upon him. In order
that the greatness of the king's hardness of heart may become manifest,
the Prophet offers, in the commission of the Lord, to confirm the
certainty of his statement by a miraculous sign, which the king himself
is called upon to fix, without any restriction, in order that any
suspicion of imposition may be removed. "But Ahaz, the unbeliever, is
afraid of heavenly communications, has already chosen his help, wishes
that every thing should go on in an easy human manner, and refuses the
Lord's offer in a polite turn which even refers to the Law. A sign is
then forced upon him, because as the king of Judah, he must see and
hear for all Judah that the Lord is faithful and good."[1] The Prophet,
in ver. 14, points to the birth of the Saviour by a Virgin. How then
was it possible that in the present collision that people should be
destroyed, among whom, according to former promises. He was to be born;
that that family should be extinguished from which he was to be
descended? The name "Immanuel," by which the future Saviour is
designated as "He in whom the Lord is, in the truest manner, to be with
His people," is a guarantee for His help in the present distress also.
The Prophet then states the time in which the land shall be entirely
delivered from its present enemies. The contemporaries, as the
representative of whom [Pg 30] the child appears (the Prophet, in the
energy of his faith, has transferred the birth of this child from the
future to the present), shall, after the short space of about two
years, again obtain the full enjoyment of the products of the land,
ver. 15. For, before this period has elapsed, destruction will fall
upon the hostile kings in their own land, ver. 16. The danger,
however--and this is pointed out in ver. 17-25--will come from just
that quarter from which Ahaz expects help, viz., from Asshur. But the
security for deliverance from this danger also--the conqueror of the
world's power which was soon to begin its course in Asshur, is none
other than Immanuel, whom the Prophet, in the beginning of the
humiliation of the people of God, makes, so to say, to become man, in
order that, during the impending deep humiliation of the people of God,
He may accompany it in its history during all the stages of its
existence, until He should really become man. He is, however in this
discourse, not yet pointed out as the deliverer from Asshur, and the
world's power represented by him. The darkness of the misery to be
inflicted by Asshur should not, and could not, in the meantime, be
cleared up for Ahaz; the picture must end in night. But in the
following discourse, chap. viii. 1, ix. 6 (7), which serves as a
necessary supplement to the one before us, the Saviour is depicted
before the eyes of those despairing in the sight of Asshur; and the
two-fold repetition of His name Immanuel, in chap. viii. 8, 10, serves
to show that the two discourses are intimately connected, and form one

Ahaz persevered in his unbelief, according to 2 Kings xvi. 7, 8. He
sent messengers with large presents to Tiglath-pileser, King of
Assyria, saying: "I am _thy servant_ and _thy son_ (a word as ominous
as that: 'We have no king but Cæsar,' in John xix. 35); come up and
save me out of the hand of the King of Aram, and out of the hand of the
King of Israel which rise up against me." But before the asked-for help
came, king and people had to endure very severe sufferings from Aram
and Ephraim. Ahaz, after having first made preparations to secure
Jerusalem against the impending siege, sent out his armies. They met
with a twofold heavy defeat from the divided armies of the allied
kings,[2] from which he might have been spared by [Pg 31] being still,
and hoping. The hostile armies then came up to Jerusalem, and laid
siege to it. It was probably by the intelligence of the advance of
Asshur that they were induced to raise the siege. It was now confirmed
that the Prophet had been right in designating the two hostile kings as
mere tails of smoking firebrands. Damascus was taken by the King of
Ophir; the inhabitants were carried away into exile to Kir; Rezin was
slain, 2 Kings xvi. 9: the land of Israel was devastated; a portion of
its inhabitants was carried away into exile; the king was made
tributary, 2 Kings xv. 29. Exactly at the time fixed by the Prophet,
the overthrow of the two hostile kingdoms took place; but the
deliverance which, without any farther sacrifice, Ahaz would have
obtained, if he had believed the Prophet, had now to be purchased by
very heavy sacrifices; and with perfect justice it is said in 2 Chron.
xxviii. 20, 21, that the king of Asshur did not help him, but rather,
by coming unto him, distressed him. Ahaz purchased this help at the
price of his independence, and had probably to submit to very hard
claims being made upon him. (_Caspari_, S. 60.) The world's power, to
which Ahaz had offered a finger, seized, more and more, the whole hand,
and held it by a firm grasp. Under Hezekiah, faith broke through the
consequences of the sin of the family; but this interruption lasted as
long only as did the faith. In addition to that which Ahaz had, for his
unbelief, to suffer from Aram, Ephraim, and Asshur, came the rebellion
of the neighbouring nations,--of the Edomites, according to 2 Chron.
xxviii. 17, and of the Philistines, according to ver. 18.

Ver. 1. "_And it came to pass in the days of Ahaz, the son of Jotham,
the son of Uzziah, that Rezin, the king of Aram, and Pekah the son of
Remaliah, the king of Israel, went up toward Jerusalem, to war  against
it, and could not fight against it._"

In thus tracing back the pedigree of Ahaz to Uzziah, there is a
reference to chap. vi. 1: "In the year that King Uzziah [Pg 32] died,"
&c. These two chapters stand related to each other as prophecy and
fulfilment. It was in the year of Uzziah's death that the Prophet had
been seized with fearful forebodings; and by the divine word these
fearful forebodings had soon been raised into a clear knowledge of the
threatening judgments which were impending. Under Ahaz, the second
successor of Uzziah, this knowledge began to be realized, keeping pace
with the hardening which in Ahaz had become personified. He, the type
of the unbelieving Jewish people, did not hear and understand, did not
see and perceive; and the announcement of the Prophet served merely to
increase his hardening. Even as early as that, the germ of the carrying
away of the people, announced by the Prophet in chap. vi., was
formed.--The circumstance of the hostile kings being introduced as
_going up_ implies the spiritual elevation of Jerusalem; comp. remarks
on Ps. xlviii. 3; xlviii. 17. The city of God is unconquerable unless
her inhabitants and, above all, the anointed one of God, make, by their
unbelief, their glorious privilege of no avail. In the last words:
"_And could not fight against it_," (the singular יכל because Rezin is
the chief person, Rezin and Pekah being identical with Rezin with
Pekah, comp. Esth. iv. 16), the result of the siege is anticipated; and
this is easily accounted for by the consideration that ver. 1 serves as
an introduction to the whole account, stating, in general terms, the
circumstances which induced the Prophet to come publicly forward. In
the following verses, the share only is mentioned which the Prophet
took in the matter; and the account is closed after he has discharged
his commission. The apparent contradiction to 2 Kings xvi. 5, according
to which Jerusalem was really besieged,--a contradiction which occurs
also in that passage itself: "And they besieged Ahaz, and could not
fight"--is most simply reconciled by the remark that a fruitless
struggle can, as it were, not be called a struggle, just as, _e. g._,
in the Old Testament, such as have a name little known are spoken of as
being without a name.

Ver. 2, "_And it was told to the house of David, saying: Aram rests
upon Ephraim. Then his heart trembled, and the heart of his people,
like as the trembling of the trees of the wood before the wind._"

The representative of the house of David was, according to [Pg 33] ver.
1, Ahaz, to whom the suffix in לבבו refers. It is thereby intimated
that Ahaz does not come into consideration as an individual, but as a
representative of the whole Davidic family, of which the members were
responsible, conjunctly and severally, and which in Ahaz denied their
God, and gave themselves up to the world's power,--a deed of the family
from the consequences of which a heroic faith only, like that of
Hezekiah, could deliver, but in such a manner only that it at once
became valid again when this faith ceased, until at length in Christ
the house of David was raised to glory. Ver. 19 shows that נוח must be
taken in the signification "to let oneself down," "to sit down," "to
encamp." The anguish of the natural man, who has not his strength in
God at the breaking in of danger, is most graphically described.

Ver. 3. "_And the Lord said to Isaiah: Go out to meet Ahaz, thou and
Shearjashub thy son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool, in
the highway of the fuller's field._"

Why is the Prophet to seek out the king just at this place? The answer
is given by chap. xxii. 2. "And a reservoir you make between the two
walls for the waters of the old pool: and not do ye look unto him who
makes it (viz., the impending calamity), and not do ye regard him who
fashioned it long ago." When a siege of Jerusalem was imminent, in the
lower territory, the first task was to cut off the water from the
hostile army. This measure Hezekiah, according to 2 Chron. xxxii. 3,
took against Sennacherib: "And he took counsel with his princes and his
mighty men, to stop the waters of the fountains which were without the
city, and they helped him." That might be done in faith; but he who,
like Ahaz, did not stand in the faith, sought in it, _per se_, his
safety; his despairing heart clung to such measures. The stopping of
the fountains was, in his case, on a level with seeking help from the
Assyrians. It is thus in the midst of his sin that the Prophet seeks
out the king, and recalls to his conscience: "take heed and be quiet."
But why did the Prophet take his son Shearjashub with him? It surely
cannot be without significance; for otherwise it would not have been
recorded, far less would it have been done at the express command of
the Lord. As the boy does not appear actively, the reason can only be
in the signification of the name. According to chap. viii., the Prophet
was accustomed to give to [Pg 34] his sons symbolical names which had a
relation to the destinies of the nation. They were, according to chap.
viii. 18, "for signs and for wonders in Israel." But as an
interpretation of the name, the passage chap. x. 21 is to be
considered: "The remnant shall return, the remnant of Jacob unto the
mighty God." The word שוב can, accordingly, be understood of returning
to the Lord, of repentance only, comp. chap. i. 27; Hos. iii. 5. But
with repentance the recovery of salvation is indissolubly connected.
The reason why it is impossible that they who commit the sin against
the Holy Ghost shall never recover salvation lies solely in the
circumstance, that it is impossible that they should be renewed to
repentance. The fundamental passage, which is comprehended in the name
of the Prophet's son: "And thou returnest unto the Lord thy God.... And
the Lord thy God turneth thy captivity (_i.e._, thy misery), and hath
compassion upon thee, and returneth and gathereth thee from all the
nations" (Deut. xxx. 2, 3), emphatically points out the indissoluble
connection of the return to the Lord, and of the return of the Lord to
His people. This connection comes out so much the more clearly, when we
consider that, according to Scripture, repentance is not the work of
man but of God, and is nothing else but the beginning of the bestowal
of salvation; comp. Deut. xxx. 6: "And the Lord thy God circumciseth
thine heart, and the heart of thy seed to love the Lord thy God with
all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live;" Zech.
xii. 10. King and people feared entire destruction; and it was at this
that their powerful enemies aimed. Isaiah took his son with him, "as
the living proof of the preservation of the nation, even amidst the
most fearful destruction of the greater part of it." After having in
this manner endeavoured to free their minds from the extreme of fear,
he seeks to elevate them to joyful hopes, by the prophetical
announcement proper, which showed that, from this quarter, not even the
future great judgment, which would leave a portion only, was to be

Ver. 4. "_And say unto him: Take heed and be quiet; fear not, nor let
thy heart be tender for the two ends of these smoking firebrands, for
the fierce anger of Rezin and Aram, and of the son of Remaliah._"

[Pg 35]

The words "_Take heed_" point to the dangerous consequences of fear;
comp. ver. 9: "If ye do not believe, ye shall not be established." On
the words "_be quiet_," lit., make quiet, viz., thy heart and walk,
comp. chap. xxx. 15: "For thus saith the Lord: By returning and rest ye
shall be saved; in _quietness_ and confidence shall be your strength;
and ye would not." Such as he was, Ahaz could not respond to the
exhortations to be quiet. Quietness is a product of _faith_. But the
way of faith stood open to Ahaz every moment, and by his promising word
and by his example, the Prophet invited him to enter upon it. In the
words: "Fear not," &c., there is an unmistakable reference to Deut. xx.
1, ff., according to which passage the priest was, on the occasion of
hostile oppression, to speak to the people: "Let not your hearts be
tender, and be not terrified." That which, in the Law, the priest was
commanded to do, is here done by the Prophet, who was obliged so often
to step in as a substitute, when the class of the ordinary servants
fell short of the height of their calling.--The "firebrand" is the
image of the conqueror who destroys countries by the fire of war, comp.
remarks on Rev. viii. 8. The Prophet is just about to announce to the
hostile kings their impending overthrow; for this reason, he calls them
_ends_ of firebrands, which no longer blaze, but only glimmer. He calls
them thus because he considers them with the eye of _faith_; to the
bodily eye a bright flame still presented itself, as the last words:
"For the fierce anger," &c., and vers. 5 and 6 show. _Chrysostom_
remarks: "He calls these kings 'firebrands,' to indicate at the same
time their violence, and that they are to be easily overcome; and it is
for this reason, that he adds 'smoking,' _i.e._, that they were near
being altogether extinguished."

Vers. 5, 6. "_Because Aram meditates evil against thee, Ephraim and the
son of Remaliah, saying: Let us go up against Judah, and drive it to
extremity, and conquer it for us, and set up as a king in the midst of
it the son of Tabeal._"

We have here, farther carried out, the thought indicated by the words:
"for the fierce anger," &c. The interval, in the original text, between
vers. 6 and 7, is put in to prevent the false connection of these
verses with ver. 7 (_Hitzig_ and _Ewald_).--קוץ always means "to
loathe," "to experience disgust;" here, [Pg 36] in Hiph., "to cause
disgust," "to drive to extremity;" comp. my work on Balaam, Rem. on
Num. xxii. 3.--בקע means always: "to cleave asunder," "to open," "to
conquer."--The words: "_For us_," show that Tabeal is to be the vassal
only of the two kings. The absolute confidence with which the Prophet
recognizes the futility of the plan of the two kings, forms a glaring
contrast to the modern view of Prophetism, Ver. 2 shows in what light
ordinary consciousness did, and could not fail to look on the then
existing state of things.

Ver. 7. "_Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: It shall not stand, neither
shall it come to pass._" (A plan stands when it is carried out.)

Ver. 8. "_For the head of Aram is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is
Rezin, and in threescore and five years more, Ephraim shall be broken,
and be no more a people._"

Ver. 9. "_And the head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria
is Remaliah's son. If ye believe not, ye shall not be established._"

Each of these two verses forms a complete whole.--The words: "For the
head of Aram," &c., to "Rezin" receive their explanation from the
antithesis to vers. 5 and 6, where the king of Aram and the king of
Ephraim had declared their intention of extending their dominion over
Judah. As, concerning this intention and this hope, the Lord has
declared His will that it shall not be, we must understand: Not as
regards Judah, and not as regards Jerusalem. It is in vain that men's
thoughts exalt themselves against the purposes of God. From Aram, the
Prophet turns, in the second part of the verse, to Ephraim: "And even
Ephraim! What could it prevail against the Lord and His Kingdom! It
surely should give up all attempts to get more; its days are numbered,
the sword is already suspended over its own head." But inasmuch as it
is possible, although not likely, that Ephraim, before its own
overthrow, may still bring evil upon Judah, this is expressly denied in
ver. 9: Samaria, according to the counsel of God, and the limit
assigned to it, is the head of Ephraim only, and not, at the same time,
of Judah, &c. With this are then connected the closing words: "If ye
believe not, ye shall not be established" (properly, the consequence
will be that ye do not continue), which are equivalent to it: it is
hence not Samaria [Pg 37] and the son of Remaliah that you have to
fear; the enemy whom you have to dread, whom you have to contend
against with prayer and supplication, is in yourselves. Take heed lest
a similar cause produce a similar effect, as in the last clause of ver.
8 it has been threatened against Ephraim.--This prophecy and warning,
one would have expected to have produced an effect so much the deeper,
because they were not uttered by some obscure fanatic, but by a worthy
member of a class which had in its favour the sanction of the Lawgiver,
and which in the course of centuries had been so often and so
gloriously owned and acknowledged by God.[3]

[Pg 38]

Vers. 10, 11. "_And the Lord spoke farther unto Ahaz, saying, Ask thee
a sign of the Lord thy God; ask it from the depth, or above from the

Ahaz observed a dignified silence after those words of the Prophet; but
his whole manner shews the Prophet that they have not made any
impression upon him. If David's spirit had rested on Ahaz, he would
surely, if he had wavered at all, have, on the word of the Prophet,
thrown himself into the arras of his God. But in order that the depth
of his apostacy, the greatness of his guilt, and the justice of the
divine judgments may become manifest, God shows him even a deeper
condescension. The Prophet offers to prove the truth of his
announcement by any miraculous work which the king himself should
determine, and from which he might, at the same time, see God's
omnipotence, and the Divine mission of the Prophet. As Ahaz refused the
offered sign, the word 2 Tim. ii. 12, 13: εἰ ἀρνούμεθα, κἀκεῖνος
ἀρνήσεται ἡμᾶς• εἰ ἀπιστοῦμεν, ἐκεῖνος πιστὸς μένει·--ἀρνήσασθαι γὰρ
ἑαυτὸν οὐ δύναται came into application. According to Deut. vii. 9 ff.
the truth and faithfulness of God must now manifest itself in the [Pg
39] infliction of severe visitations upon the house of David.--The
character of a _sign_ is, in general, borne by everything which serves
for certifying facts which belong to the territory of faith, and not to
that of sight. 1. In some instances, the sign consists in a mere naked
word; thus in Exod. iii. 12: "And this shall be the sign unto thee that
I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt,
ye shall serve God upon this mountain." Moses' doubts of the truth of
his Divine mission originated in the consciousness of his own
unworthiness, and in the condition of those to whom he was sent. From
these doubts he was delivered by the announcement that, at the place
where he had been called, he, at the head of the delivered people,
should serve his God. This was to him a _sign_ that God was in earnest
in calling him. 2. In other instances the assurance given by the sign
consists in its perceptibility and corporeality; so that the word
assumes, as it were, flesh and blood. A case of this kind it is,
_e.g._, when, in chap. viii. 18, Isaiah calls his two sons, to whom, at
the command of God, he had given symbolical names, expressive of the
future salvation of the covenant-people, "Signs and wonders in Israel;"
farther, chap. xx. 3, where the Prophet walks naked and barefoot for a
sign of the calamity impending over Egypt and Ethiopia in three years.
3. In another class of signs, a fact is announced which is, in itself,
natural, but not to be foreseen by any human combination, the coming to
pass of which, in the immediate future, furnishes the proof that, at a
distant future, that will be fulfilled which was foretold as impending.
The wonderful element, and the demonstrative power do not, in such a
case, lie in the matter of the sign, but in the telling of it
beforehand. It is in this sense that, in 1 Sam. x., Samuel gives
several _signs_ to Saul, that God had destined him to be king, _e.g._,
that in a place exactly fixed, he would meet two men who would bring
him the intelligence that the lost asses were found; that, farther
onwards, he would meet with three men, one of whom would be carrying
three kids, another, three loaves of bread, and another, a bottle of
wine, &c. In 1 Sam. ii. 34, the sudden death of his two sons is given
to Eli as a sign that all the calamities threatened against his family
should certainly come to pass. In Jer. xliv. 29, 30, the impending
defeat of Pharaoh-Hophras is given as a _sign_ of the divine vengeance
breaking in upon the Jews in Egypt. Even before the [Pg 40] thing came
to pass, it could not in such a case, be otherwise than that the
previous condition and foundation brought before the eyes in a lively
manner (Jer. xliv. 30: "_Behold_, I give Pharaoh-Hophras into the hands
of his enemies") gave a powerful shock to the doubts as to whether the
fact in question would come to pass. 4. In other cases, the assurance
was given in such a manner, that all doubts as to the truth of the
announcement were set at rest by the immediate performance of a
miraculous work going beyond the ordinary laws of nature. Thus, _e.g._,
Isaiah says to Hezekiah, in chap. xxviii. 7: "And this shall be the
sign unto thee from the Lord, that the Lord will do this thing which He
has spoken," and, as a _sign_ that the Lord would add fifteen years to
the life of the King, who was sick unto death, he makes the shadow on
the sun-dial of Ahaz to go back ten degrees. Of this description were
also the signs granted to Gideon, and, in many respects, the plagues in
Egypt also. In the passage before us, no other sign can possibly be
spoken of than one of the _two last classes_. For it was a real,
miraculous sign only which could possibly exert any influence on a mind
so darkened as was that of Ahaz, and it was the vain offer of such an
one only which was fitted to bring to light his obduracy. If, then, the
Prophet was willing and able to give a real, miraculous sign, why,
then, is the answer of Ahaz so unsuitable? And we can surely not
suppose, as _Meier_ does, that he should have intentionally
misunderstood the Prophet. The temptation of the Lord by the children
of Israel, to which the word of the Lord, Deut. vi. 16, quoted by Ahaz,
refers, consisted, according to Exod. xvii., in their having asked
_water_, as a _miraculous sign_ that the Lord was truly in the midst of
them. How could the Prophet reproach Ahaz with having offended, not men
merely, but God, unless he had offered to prove, by a fact which lay
absolutely beyond the limits of nature, the truth of his announcement,
the divinity of Him who gave it, the divinity of his own mission, and
the soundness of his advice? _Hendewerk_ is of opinion that "it is
difficult to say what the author would have made to be the sign in the
heavens; probably, a very simple thing." But in making this objection
it is forgotten that Isaiah gives _free choice_ to the king. _Hitzig_
says: "Without knowing it, Isaiah here plays a very dangerous game. For
if Ahaz had accepted his proposition, Jehovah would [Pg 41] probably
have left His servant in the lurch, and he would have begun to doubt of
his God and of himself." In these words, at all events, it is conceded
that the prophets themselves would not be what people in modern times
would have them to be. If such was their position towards _miracles_,
then, in their own convictions, _prophecies_, too, must be something
else than general descriptions, and indefinite forebodings. But how
should it have been possible that an order could have maintained itself
for centuries, the most prominent members of which gave themselves up
to such enthusiastic imprudence and rashness? Moreover, it is
overlooked that afterwards, to Hezekiah, our Prophet grants that in
reality which here he offers to Ahaz in vain,--העמק and הגבה are
_Infin. absol._ "going high," "going low." The Imperat. שאלה must be
understood after הגבה also. Some explain שאלה by "to hell," "down to
hell;" but this is against the form of the word, which it would be
arbitrary to change. Nor does one exactly see how, if we except,
perhaps, the apparition of one dead, Isaiah could have given to the
king a sign from the Sheol; and in other passages, too (comp. Joel iii.
3 [ii. 30]), signs in the heavens and in the earth are contrasted with
one another. _Theodoret_ remarks that both kinds of miracles, among
which the Lord here allowed a choice to Ahaz, were granted by Him to
his pious son, Hezekiah, inasmuch as He wrought a phenomenon in
_heaven_ which affected the going back of the shadow on the sun-dial of
Ahaz; and on _earth_, inasmuch as He, in a wonderful manner, destroyed
the Assyrians, and restored the king to health. _Jerome_ farther
remarks, that, from among the plagues in Egypt, the lice, frogs, &c.,
were signs on earth; the hail, fire, and three day's darkness, were
signs in the heaven. It is on the passage before us that the Pharisees
take their stand, when in Matt. xvi. 1 they ask from the Lord that He
should grant them a sign from heaven. If even the Prophet Isaiah
offered to prove in such a manner his divine mission, then, according
to their opinion, Christ was much more bound to do this, inasmuch as He
set up far higher claims. But they overlooked the circumstance that
enough had already been granted for convincing those who were well
disposed, and that it can never be a duty to convince obstinate
unbelief in a manner so palpable.

[Pg 42]

Ver. 12. "_And Ahaz said: I will not ask, neither will I tempt the

Ahaz declines the offer by referring to Deut. vi. 16., and thus
assuming the guise of reverence for God and His commandment. "He
pretends," says _Calvin_, "to have faith in the words of the Prophet,
and not to require anything besides the word." The same declarations of
the Law, the Lord opposes to Satan, when the latter would induce Him to
do something for which he had no word of God, Matt. iv. 7. That would
really have been a tempting of God. Ahaz had no doubt that the miracle
would really be performed; but he had a dislike to enter within the
mystical sphere. Who knows whether the God who grants the miracle is
really the highest God? comp. Is. x. 10, 11, xxxvi. 18-20, xxxvii.
10-12. Who knows whether He is not laying for him a trap; whether, by
preventing him from seeking the help of man. He is not to bring upon
him the destruction which his conscience tells him he has so richly
deserved? At all events the affording of His help is clogged with a
condition which he is resolved not to fulfil, viz., his conversion. A
better and easier bargain, he thought, could be struck with the
Assyrians; how insatiable soever they might be, they did not ask the
heart. How many do even now-a-days rather perish in sin and misery,
than be converted!

Ver. 13. "_And he said: Hear ye now, O house of David: Is it too little
for you to provoke man, that you provoke also my God?_"

When Ahaz had before refused to believe in the simple announcement of
the Prophet, his sin was more pardonable; for, inasmuch as Isaiah had
not proved himself outwardly as a divine ambassador, Ahaz sinned to a
certain degree against man only, against the Prophet only, by unjustly
suspecting him of a deceitful pretension to a divine revelation. Hence,
Isaiah continues mild and gentle. But when Ahaz declined the offered
sign, _God himself_ was provoked by him, and his wickedness came
evidently to light. It is substantially the same difference as that
between the sin against the _Son of Man_, the Christ coming outwardly
and as a man only (Bengel: _quo statu conspicu, quatenus aequo tum loco
cum hominibus conversabatur_), and the sin against the Holy Ghost who
powerfully glorifies Him outwardly and inwardly. It is the antithesis
[Pg 43] of the relative ignorance of what one is doing, and of the
absolute unwillingness which purposely hardens itself to the truth
known, or easy to be known. We say _relative_ ignorance; for an element
of obduracy and hardening already existed, if he did not believe the
Prophet, even without a sign. For the fact that the Prophet was sent by
God, and spoke God's word, was testified to all who would hear it, even
by the inner voice, just as in every sin against the Son of Man there
is always already an element of the sin against the Holy Ghost.--The
truth that godlessness is the highest folly is here seen in a very
evident manner. The same Ahaz who rejects the offer of the living God,
who palpably wishes to reveal to him that He is a living God,
sacrifices his son to the dead idol Moloch, who never yet gave the
smallest sign of life! In this mirror we may see the condition of human
nature.--The circumstance that it is not Ahaz, but the house of David
that is addressed, indicates that the deed is a deed of the whole
house.--The Prophet says, "_My God_," _i.e._, the God whose faithful
servant I am, and in whom ye hypocrites have no more any share. In Ver.
11, the Prophet had still called Him the God of Ahaz.

Ver. 14. "_Therefore the Lord himself giveth you a sign: Behold the
Virgin is with child, and heareth a Son, and thou callest his name

Ahaz had refused the proffered sign; the whole depth of his apostacy
had become manifest; no further regard was to be had to him. But it was
necessary to strengthen those who feared God, in their confidence in
the Lord, and in their hope in him. For this reason, the Prophet gives
a sign, even against the will of Ahaz, by which the announcement of the
deliverance from the two kings was confirmed. Your weak, prostrate
faith, he says, may erect itself on the certain fact that, in the Son
of the Virgin, the Lord will some day be with us in the truest manner,
and may perceive therein a guarantee and a pledge of the lower help in
the present danger also.--"Therefore"--because ye will not fix upon a
sign. _Reinke_, in the ably written Monograph on this passage, assigns
to לכן the signification, "nevertheless," which is not supported by the
_usus loquendi_.--יתן must be translated as a Present; for the
pregnancy of the Virgin and birth of Immanuel are present to [Pg 44]
the Prophet; and the fact cannot serve as a sign, in so far as it
manifests itself outwardly, but only in so far as, by being foretold,
it is realized as present.--הוא _He_, _i.e._, of His own accord without
any co-operation, such as would have taken place if Ahaz had asked the
sign.--לכם refers by its form to the house of David; but in determining
the sign, it is not the real condition of its representative at that
time which is regarded, but as he ought to be. In substance, the sign
given to ungodly Ahaz is destined for believers only.--הנה "behold"
indicates the energy with which the Prophet anticipates the future; in
his spirit it becomes to him the immediate present. Thus it was
understood as early as by _Chrysostom_: μόνον γὰρ οὐκ ὁρῶντος ἦν τὰ
γινόμενα καὶ φανταζομένου καὶ πολλὴν ἔχοντος ὑπερ τῶν εἰρημένων
πληροφορίαν, τῶν γὰρ ἡμετέρων ὀφθαλμῶν ἐκεῖνοι σαφέστερον τὰ μὴ ὁρώμενα
ἔβλεπον.--The article in העלמה cannot refer to _the_ virgin _known_ as
the mother of the Saviour; for, besides the passage before us,
it is only Micah v. 2 (3) which mentions the mother of the Saviour,
and it is our passage only which speaks of her as a _virgin_. In
harmony with הנה, the article in העלמה might be explained from the
circumstance that the Virgin is present to the inward perception of the
Prophet--equivalent to "the virgin there." But since the use of the
article in the _generic_ sense is so general, it is most natural to
understand "the virgin" as forming a contrast to the married or old
woman, and hence, in substance, as here equivalent to _a_ virgin. To this
view we are led also by the circumstance that, in the parallel passage, Mic. v.
2 (3) יולדה "a bearing woman" is used without the article.--עלמה is, by
old expositors, commonly derived from עלם in the signification "to
conceal" A virgin, they assume, is called a _concealed_ one, with
reference to the customs of the East, where the virgins are obliged to
lead a concealed life. Thus it was understood by _Jerome_ also:
"_Almah_ is not applied to girls or virgins generally, but is used
emphatically of a hidden and concealed virgin, who is never accessible
to the look of males, but who is with great care watched by the
parents." But all parties now rightly agree that the word is to be
derived from עלם, in the signification, "to grow up." To offer here any
arguments in proof would be a work of supererogation, as they are
offered by all dictionaries. But with all that, _Luther's_ remark is
even now in full force: "If [Pg 45] a Jew or a Christian can prove to
me that in any passage of Scripture _Almah_ means 'a married woman,' I
will give him a hundred florins, although God alone knows where I may
find them." It is true that עלמה is distinguished from בתולה, which
designates the virgin state as such, and in this signification occurs
in Joel i. 8. also where the bride laments over her bridegroom whom she
has lost by death. Inviolate chastity is, in itself, not implied in the
word. But certain it is that עלמה designates an unmarried person in the
first years of youth; and if this be the case, un violated chastity is
a matter of course in this context; for if the mother of the Saviour
was to be an _unmarried_ person, she could be a virgin only; and, in
general, it is inconceivable that the Prophet should have brought
forward a relation of impure love. In favour of "an unmarried person"
is, in the first instance, the derivation. Being derived from עלם, "to
grow up," "to become marriageable," עלמה can denote nothing else than
_puella nubilis_. But still more decisive is the _usus loquendi_. In
Arabic and Syriac the corresponding words are never used of married
women, and _Jerome_ remarks, that in the Punic dialect also a virgin
proper is called עלמה. Besides in the passage before us, the word
occurs in Hebrew six times (Gen. xxiv. 43; Exod. ii. 8; Ps. lxviii. 26;
Song of Sol. i. 3, vi. 8; Prov. xxx. 19); but in all these passages the
word is undeniably used of unmarried persons. In the two passages of
the Song of Solomon, the עלמות designate the nations which have not yet
attained to an union with the heavenly Solomon, but are destined for
this union. In chap. vi. 8, they are, as _brides_, expressly contrasted
with the _wives_ of the first and second class. Marriage forms the
boundary; the _Almah_ appears here distinctly as the anti-thesis to a
married woman. It is the passage in Proverbs only which requires a more
minute examination, as the opponents have given up all the other
passages, and seek in it alone a support for their assertion that עלמה
may be used of a married woman also. The passage in its connection runs
as follows: Ver. 18. "There be three things which are too wonderful for
me, and four which I know not. Ver. 19. The way of an eagle in the air,
the way of a serpent upon the rock, the way of a ship in the heart of
the sea, and the way of a man with a maid. Ver. 20. This is the way of
an adulterous woman; she [Pg 46] eateth, and wipeth her mouth and
saith: I have done no wickedness." According to _De Wette_, _Bertheau_,
and others, the _tertium comparationis_ for every thing is to lie in
this only, that the ways do not leave any trace that could be
recognized. But the traceless disappearing is altogether without
foundation; there is not one word to indicate it; and it is quite
impossible that that on which every thing depends should have been left
to conjecture. Farther,--instead of the eagle, every other bird might
have been mentioned, and the words "in the air" would be without
meaning, as well as the words "in the heart of the sea" mentioned in
reference to the ship. But the real point of view is expressly stated
in ver. 18. It is the _incomprehensible_. It is thus only that ver. 20,
for which the other verses prepare the way, falls in with the tendency
of the whole. In the way of the adulteress, that which is pointed out
is not that it cannot be known, but the moral incomprehensibility that
she, practising great wickedness which is worthy of death, and will
unavoidably bring destruction upon her, behaves as if there were
nothing wrong, as if a permitted enjoyment were the point in question,
that she eats the poisoned bread of unchaste enjoyment as if it were
ordinary bread; comp. ix. 17, xx. 17; Ps. xiv. 4. Four incomprehensible
things in the natural territory are made use of to illustrate an
incomprehensible thing in the ethical territory. The whole purpose is
_to point out the mystery of sin_. In the case of the _eagle_, it is
the boldness of his flight in which the miraculous consists. The speed
and boldness of his flight is elsewhere also very commonly mentioned as
the characteristic of the eagle; it is just that which makes him the
king of birds. In the case of the _serpent_, the wonder is that,
although wanting feet, it yet moves over the smooth rock which is
inaccessible to the proud horse; comp. Amos vi. 12: "Do horses run upon
the rock." In the _ship_, it is the circumstance that she safely
passes over the abyss which, as it would appear, could not fail to
swallow her up. _The way of a man with a maid_ occupies the last place
in order to intimate that דרך, as in the case of the adulteress,
denotes the _spiritual_ way. What is here meant is the relation of the
man to the virgin, _generally_, for if any _particular_ aspect had been
regarded, _e. g._, that of boldness, cunning, or secrecy, it [Pg 47]
ought to have been pointed at. The way of the man with the maid is the
secret of which mention is made as early as in Gen. ii. 24,--the union
of the strong with the weak and tender (comp. the parallel passage,
Jer. xxxi. 22), the secret attraction which connects with one another
the hearts, and at last, the bodies. The end of the way is marriage. It
is the _young_ love which specially bears the character of the
mysterious; after the relation has been established, it attracts less
wonder.--הָרָה is the femin. of the verbal adj. הָרֶה. The fundamental
passage, Gen. xvi. 11, where the angel of the Lord says to Hagar:
"Behold thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his
name Ishmael, because the Lord has heard thy affliction," shows that we
must translate: The virgin _is_ with child, and not: becomes with
child. The allusion to that passage in Genesis is very significant. In
that case, as well as in the one under consideration, salvation is
brought into connection with the birth of a child. To the birth of
Ishmael, the despairing Hagar is directed as to a security for the
divine favour; to the birth of Immanuel, the desponding people are
directed as to the actual proof that God is with them. If the _Almah_
represents herself to the Prophet as being already with child, then
passages such as Is. xxix. 8, Matt. xi. 5, are not applicable. A virgin
who is with child cannot be one who was a virgin.--The form קראת may be
3d fem. for קראה, comp. Jer. xliv. 23; but the fundamental passage in
Gen. xvi. 11 is decisive for considering it as the 2d fem.: "_thou_
callest," as an address to the virgin; in which case the form is
altogether regular. It was not a rare occurrence in Israel that mothers
gave the name to children, Gen. iv. 1, 25, xix. 37, xxix. 32. The
circumstance, therefore, that the giving of the name is assigned to the
mother (the virgin) affords no ground for supposing, as many of the
older expositors do, that this is an intimation that the child would
not have a human father. "Thou callest" can, on the contrary, according
to the custom then prevalent, be substantially equivalent to: they
shall name, Matt. καλέσουσι, _Jerome_: _vocabitur_. The name is, of
course, not to be considered as an ordinary _nomen proprium_, but as a
designation of his nature and character. It may be understood in
different ways. Several interpreters, _e. g._, _Jerome_, referring to
passages such as Ps. xlvi. 8, lxxxix. 25, Is. xliii. 2, Jer. i. 8, see
[Pg 48] in it nothing else than an appeal to, and promise of divine
aid. According to others, the name is to be referred to God's becoming
man in the Messiah; thus _Theodoret_ says: "The name reveals the God
who is with us, the God who became man, the God who took upon Him the
human nature." In a similar manner _Irenaeus_, _Tertullian_,
_Chrysostom_, _Lactantius_, _Calvin_, and others, express themselves.
But those very parallel passages just quoted show that the name in
itself has no distinct reference to the incarnation of God in Christ.
But from the passage chap. ix. 5, (6), which is so closely connected
with the one before us, and in which the Messiah is called _God-hero_,
(the mighty God), and His divine nature so emphatically pointed out
(comp. also Mic. v. 1 [2],) it plainly appears that the Prophet had in
view the highest and truest form of God's being with His people, such
as was made manifest when the word became flesh. (Chrysostom says:
"Then, above all, God was with us on earth, when He was seen on earth,
and conversed with man, and manifested so great care for us.")

According, then, to the interpretation given, this verse before us
affirms that, at some future period, the Messiah should be born by a
virgin, among the covenant people, who in the truest manner would bring
God near to them, and open the treasures of His salvation. In Vol. I.
p. 500 ff., we proved that this explanation occurs already in the
Gospel according to St. Matthew. According to the interpretation of the
Apostle, the passage can refer to Christ only, and finds in him not
only the highest, but the only fulfilment. In the Christian Church,
throughout all ages, the Messianic explanation was the prevailing one.
It was held by all the Fathers of the Church, and by all other
Christian commentators down to the middle of the 18th century,--only
that some, besides the higher reference to the Messiah, assumed a lower
one to some event of that period. With the revival of faith, this view,
too, has been revived. It is proved by the parallel passage, chap. ix.
5 (6). That passage presents so remarkable an agreement with the one
now under consideration, that we cannot but assume the same subject in
both. "Behold, a virgin is with child, and beareth a son"--"A child is
born unto us, a son is given;"--"They call him Immanuel," _i.e._, Him
in whom God will be with us in the truest manner--"They call Him [Pg
49] Wonder-Counsellor, the God-Hero, Ever-Father, the Prince of Peace."
Both of these passages can the less be separated from one another, that
chap. viii. 8 is evidently intended to lead from the one to the other.
In this passage it is said of the _world's power_, which in the
meantime, and in the first place, was represented by _Asshur_: "And the
stretchings out of his wings are the fulness of the breadth of thy
land, Immanuel," i. e., his wings will cover the whole extent of thy
land,--the stretching of the wings of this immense bird of prey,
Asshur, comprehends the whole land. In the words: "Thy land, O
Immanuel," the prophecy of the wonderful Child, in chap. viii. 23-ix. 6
(ix. 1-7), is already prepared. The land in which Immanuel is to be
born, which belongs to Him, cannot remain continually the property of
heathen enemies. Every destruction is, at the same time, a prophecy of
the restoration. A look to the wonderful Child, and despair must flee.
Behind the clouds, the sun is shining. Every attempt to assign the
Immanuel to the lower sphere, must by this passage be rendered futile.
For how, in that case, could Canaan be called _His_ land? The
signification "native country" which ארץ, it is true, sometimes
receives by the context, does not suit here. For the passage just
points out the contrast of reality and idea, that the world's power
takes possession of the land which _belongs_ to Immanuel, and hence
prepares for the announcement contained in that which follows, viz.,
that this contrast shall be done away with, and that this shall
be done as soon as the legitimate proprietor comes into His kingdom.
Farther,--Decisive in favour of the Messianic explanation is also the
passage Mic. v. 1, 2, (2, 3), where, in correspondence to _virgin_ here,
we have, _she who is bearing_. The latter, indeed, is not expressly called
a virgin; but it follows, as a matter of course, that she be so, as she
is to bear the Hero of Divine origin ("_of eternity_"), who, hence,
cannot have been begotten by any mortal. Both of the prophecies
mutually illustrate one another. "Micah designates the Divine origin of
the Promised One; Isaiah, the miraculous circumstances of His birth"
(_Rosenmüller_) Just as Isaiah holds up the birth of Immanuel as the
pledge that the covenant-people would not perish in their present
catastrophe; just as he points to the shining form of Immanuel,
announcing the victory over the [Pg 50] world, in order to comfort them
in the impending severe oppression by the world's power (viii. 8);--so
Micah makes the oppression by the world's power continue only until the
time that she who is bearing brings forth. As Micah, in v. 1 (2),
contrasts the divine dignity and nature with the birth in time, so, in
Isaiah, Immanuel, He in whom God will most truly be with His people, is
born by a virgin.

The arguments which the Jews, and, following their example, the
rationalistic interpreters, especially _Gesenius_, and with them
_Olshausen_, have advanced against the Messianic explanation, prove
nothing. They are these:

1. "A reference to the Messiah who, after the lapse of centuries, is to
be born of a virgin, appears to be without meaning in the present
circumstances." This argument proves too much, and, hence, nothing. _It
would be valid against Messianic prophecies in general_, the existence
of which certainly cannot be denied. Do not Jeremiah and Ezekiel, at
the time when the people were carried away into captivity, comfort them
by the announcement that the kingdom of God should, in a far more
glorious manner, be established by Messiah, whose appearance was yet
several centuries distant? The highest proof of Israel's dignity and
election, was the promise that, at some future time, the Messiah was to
be born among them. How, indeed, could the Lord leave, without the
lower help in the present calamity, a people with whom He was to be, at
some future period, in the truest manner? The Prophet refers to the
future Saviour in a way quite similar to that in which the Apostle
refers to Him, after He had appeared: "Who did not spare His only
begotten Son, but gave Him up for us all, how should He not in Him give
us all things freely?" Let us only realize the truth that the hope in
the Messiah formed the centre of the life of believers; that this hope
was, by fear, repressed only, but not destroyed. All which was needed,
therefore, was to revive this hope, and with it the special hope for
the present distress also was given--the assurance, firm as a rock,
that in it the covenant-people could not perish. This revival took
place in this way, that in the mind of the Prophet, the Messianic hope
was, by the Holy Spirit, rekindled, so that at his light all might
kindle their lights. The Messianic idea here meets us in such
originality [Pg 51] and freshness, as if here were its real fountain
head. The faith already existing is only the foundation, only the point
of connexion. What is essential is the new revelation of the old truth,
and that could not fail to be affecting, overpowering to susceptible

2. "The ground of consolation is too _general_. The Messiah might be
born from the family of Ahaz without the Jewish state being preserved
in its then existing condition, and without Ahaz continuing on the
throne. The Babylonish captivity intervened, and yet Messiah was to be
born. Isaiah would thus have made himself guilty of a false sophistical
argumentation."--We answer: What they, at that time, feared, was the
total destruction of state and people. This appears sufficiently from
the circumstance that the prophet takes his son Shearjashub with him;
and indeed the intentions of the enemy in this respect are expressed
with sufficient clearness in ver. 6. It is this _extreme_ of fear which
the Prophet here first opposes. Just as, according to the preceding
verses, he met the fear of entire destruction by taking with him his
son Shearjashub, "the remnant will be converted," without thereby
excluding a temporary carrying away, so he there also prepares the mind
for the announcement contained in vers. 15, 16, of the near deliverance
from the present danger, by first representing the fear of an entire
destruction to be unfounded. A people, moreover, to whom, at some
future period, although it may be at a very remote future, a divine
_Saviour_ is to be sent, must, in the present also, be under special
divine protection. They may be visited by severe sufferings, they may
be brought to the very verge of destruction,--whether that shall be the
case the Prophet does not, as yet, declare,--but one thing is sure,
that to them all things must work together for good; and that is the
main point. He who is convinced of this, may calmly and quietly look at
the course of events.

3. "The sense in which אות is elsewhere used in Scripture, is
altogether disregarded by this interpretation. For, according to it,
אות would refer to a future event; but according to the _usus loquendi_
elsewhere observed, אות 'is a prophesied second event, the earlier
fulfilment of which is to afford a sure guarantee for the fulfilment of
the first, which is really the point at issue.'" But, in opposition to
this, it is sufficient to [Pg 52] refer to Exod. iii. 12, where Moses
receives this as a sign of his Divine mission, and of the deliverance
of the people to be effected by him: "When thou hast brought forth my
people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain." In chap.
xxxvii. 30, our Prophet himself, as a confirmation of the word spoken
in reference to the king of Asshur: "I make thee return by the way by
which thou earnest," gives this sign, that, in the third year after
this, agriculture should already have altogether returned into its old
tracks, and the cultivation of the country should have been altogether
restored.[4] The fact here given as a sign is later than that which is
to be thereby made sure. The sign consists only in this, that the idea
is vividly called up and realized in the mind, that the land would
recover from the destruction; and this of course, implies the
destruction of the enemy. But in our chapter itself,--the name of
Shearjashub affords the example of a sign (comp. chap. vii. 18), which
is taken from the territory of the distant future. It is time that
_commonly_ אות is not used of future things; but this has its reason
not in the idea of אות, but solely in the circumstance that,
ordinarily, the future cannot serve as a sign of assurance. But it is
quite obvious that, in the present case, the Messianic announcement
_could_ afford such a sign, and that in a far higher degree than the
future facts given as signs in Exod. iii., and Isa. xxxvii. The kingdom
of glory which has been promised to us, forms to us also a sure pledge
that in all the distresses of the Church, the Lord will not withhold
His help from her. But the Covenant-people stood in the same relation
to the first appearance of Christ, as we do to the second.

(4.) "The passage, chap. viii. 3, 4, presents the most marked
resemblance to the one before us. If _there_ the Messianic explanation
be decidedly inadmissible, it must be so _here_ also. The name and
birth of a child serves, there as here, for a sign of the deliverance
from the Syrian dominion. If then _there_ the mother of the child be
the wife of the Prophet, and the child a son of his, the same must be
the case _here_ also." But it is _a priori_ improbable that the Prophet
should have given [Pg 53] to two of his sons names which had reference
to the same event. To this must be added the circumstance, that the
_time is wanting_ for the birth of two sons of the Prophet. Before
Immanuel knows to refuse the evil and choose the good, the country of
both the hostile kings shall be desolated, chap. vii. 15; before
Mahershalalhashbaz knows to cry My Father, My Mother, the riches of
Damascus and the spoil of Samaria shall be carried before the king of
Assyria, chap. viii. 4. The two births hence coincide. At all events,
it is impossible to find the time for a double birth by the same
mother. Several interpreters (_Gesenius_, _Hitzig_, _Hendewerk_,)
assume the identity of Immanuel and Mahershalalhashbaz; but this is
altogether inadmissible, even from the difference of the names. It is
the less admissible to assume a double name for the child, as the name
Shearjashub plainly enough shews that the Prophet was in earnest with
the names of his children; and indeed, unless they had been real proper
names, there would have existed no reason at all for giving them to
them. To have assigned several names to one child would have weakened
their power. The agreement must, therefore, rather be explained from
the circumstance, that it was by the announcement in chap. vii. 14 that
the Prophet was induced to the symbolical action in chap. viii. 3, 4.
He has, in chap. vii. 14, given to the despairing people the birth of a
child, who would bring the highest salvation for Israel, as a pledge of
their deliverance. The birth of a child and its name were then required
as an actual prophecy of help in the present distress,--a help which
was to be granted with a view to that Child, who not only indicates,
but grants deliverance from all distresses, and to whom the Prophet
reverts in chap. ix., and even already in chap. viii. 8.--Moreover,
besides the agreement there is found a thorough difference. In chap.
vii. the mother of the child is called העלמה, whereby a virgin only can
be designated; in chap. viii., "the prophetess." In chap. vii. there is
not even the slightest allusion to the Prophet's being the father;
while in chap. viii. this circumstance is expressly and emphatically
pointed out. In chap. vii. it is the mother who gives the name to the
child; in chap. viii. it is the Prophet. Far closer is the agreement of
chap. ix. 5 (6) with chap. vii. 14. It especially appears in the
circumstances that in neither of them [Pg 54] is the father of the
child designated; and, farther, in the correspondence of Immanuel with
אל גבור, God-Hero.

(5.) "Against the Messianic explanation, and in favour of that of a son
of the Prophet, is the passage chap. viii. 18, where the Prophet says
that his sons have been given to him for signs and wonders in Israel."
But although Immanuel be erroneously reckoned among the sons of the
Prophet, there still remain Shearjashub and Mahershalalhashbaz. The
latter name refers, _in the first instance only_, to Aram and Ephraim
specially; or the general truth which it declares is applied to this
relation only. But, just as the name Shearjashub announces new
_salvation_ to the prostrate _people of God_, so the second name
announces near _destruction_ to the triumphing _world_ hostile to God;
so that both the names supplement one another. As _signs_, these two
sons of the Prophet pointed to the future deliverance and salvation of
Israel, and the defeat of the world; and the very circumstance that
they did so when, humanly viewed, all seemed to be lost, was a subject
for wonder. But that we can in no case make Immanuel a third son of the
Prophet, we have already proved.

Ver. 15. _Cream and honey shall he eat, when he knows to refuse the
evil and choose the good._ Ver. 16. _For before the boy shall know to
refuse the evil and choose the good, the country shall be forsaken of
the two kings of which thou standest in awe._

The older Messianic explanation has, in these two verses, exposed
itself to the charge of being quite arbitrary. Most of the interpreters
assume that, in ver. 15, the true humanity of the Saviour is announced.
The name Immanuel is intended to indicate the divine nature; the eating
of milk and honey the human nature. Milk and honey are in this case
considered as the ordinary food for babes; like other children. He
shall grow up, and, like them, gradually develope. Thus _Jerome_ says:
"I shall mention another feature still more wonderful: That you may not
believe that he will be born a phantasm. He will use the food of
infants, will eat butter and milk." _Calvin_ says: "In order that here
we may not think of some spectre, the Prophet states signs of humanity
from which he proves that Christ, indeed put on our flesh." In the same
manner _Irenænus_, _Chrysostom_, _Basil_, and, in our century,
_Kleuker_ and _Rosenmüller_ speak.--But this explanation [Pg 55] is
altogether overthrown by ver. 16. Most interpreters assume, in the
latter verse, a change of subject; by נער, not Immanuel, but
Shearjashub, who accompanied the Prophet, is to be understood.
According to others, it is not any definite boy who is designated by
נער; but it is said in general, that the devastation of the hostile
country would take place in a still shorter time than that which
elapses between the birth of a boy and his development. Such is
_Calvin's_ view. But the supposition of a change of subject is
altogether excluded, even by the circumstance that one and the same
quality, the distinction between good and evil, is in both verses
ascribed to the subject. Others, like _J. H. Michaelis_, refer ver. 16
also to the Messiah, and seek to get out of the difficulty by a _jam
dudum_. It is not worth while to enter more particularly upon these
productions of awkward embarassment. All that is required is, to remove
the stone of offence which has caused these interpreters to stumble.
Towards this a good beginning has been made by _Vitringa_, without,
however, completely attaining the object. In ver. 14, the Prophet has
seen the birth of the Messiah as present. Holding fast this idea, and
expanding it, the Prophet makes him who has been born accompany the
people through all the stages of its existence. We have here an _ideal
anticipation of the real incarnation_, the right of which lies in the
circumstance, that all blessings and deliverances which, before Christ,
were bestowed upon the covenant-people, had their root in His future
birth, and the cause of which was given in the circumstance, that the
covenant-people had entered upon the moment of their great crisis, of
their conflict with the world's powers, which could not but address a
call to invest the comforting thought with, as it were, flesh and
blood, and in this manner to place it into the midst of the popular
life. What the Prophet means, and intends to say here is this, _that,
in the space of about a twelvemonth, the overthrow of the hostile
kingdoms would already have taken place_. As the representative of the
cotemporaries, he brings forward the wonderful child who, as it were,
formed the soul of the popular life. _At the time when this child knows
to distinguish between good and bad food, hence, after the space of
about a twelvemonth, he will not have any want of nobler food,_ ver.
15, _for before he has entered upon this stage, the land of_ [Pg 56]
_the two hostile kings shall be desolate._ In the subsequent prophecy,
the same wonderful child, grown up into a warlike hero, brings the
deliverance from Asshur, and the world's power represented by it.--We
have still to consider and discuss the particular. _What is indicated
by the eating of cream and honey?_ The erroneous answer to this
question, which has become current ever since _Gesenius_, has put
everything into confusion, and has misled expositors such as _Hitzig_
and _Meier_ to cut the knot, by asserting that ver. 15 is spurious.
Cream and honey can come into consideration as the noblest food only;
the eating of them can indicate only a _condition of plenty and
prosperity_. "A land flowing with milk and honey" is, in the books of
Moses, a standing expression for designating the rich fulness of noble
food which the Holy Land offers. A land which flows with milk and honey
is, according to Numb. xiv. 7, 8, a "very good land." The _cream_ is,
as it were, a gradation of _milk_. Considering the predilection for fat
and sweet food which we perceive everywhere in the Old Testament, there
can scarcely be anything better than cream and honey; and it is
certainly not spoken in accordance with Israelitish taste, if _Hofmann_
(_Weiss_, i. S. 227) thus paraphrases the sense: "It is not because he
does not know what tastes well and better (cream and honey thus the
evil!), that he will live upon the food which an uncultivated land can
afford, but because there is none other." In Deut. xxxii. 13, 14, cream
and honey appear among the noblest products of the Holy Land. Abraham
places cream before his heavenly guests, Gen. xviii. 8. The plenty in
honey and cream appears in Job xx. 7, as a characteristic sign of the
divine blessing of which the wicked are deprived. It is solely and
exclusively vers. 21 and 22 that are referred to for establishing the
erroneous interpretation. It is asserted that, according to these
verses, the eating of milk and honey must be considered as an evil, as
the sad consequence of a general devastation of the hind. But there are
grave objections to any attempt at explaining a preceding from a
subsequent passage; the opposite mode of proceeding is the right one.
It is altogether wrong, however, to suppose that vers. 21, 22, contain
a threatening. In those verses the Prophet, on the contrary, allows, as
is usual with him, a _ray of light_ to fall upon the dark picture of
the [Pg 57] calamity which threatens from Asshur; and it could, indeed,
_a priori_, be scarcely imagined that the threatening should not be
interrupted, at least by such a gentle allusion to the salvation to be
bestowed upon them after the misery (comp. in reference to a similar
sudden breaking through of the proclamation of salvation in Hosea, Vol.
I., p. 175, and the remarks on Micah ii. 12, 13); but then he returns
to the threatening, because it was, in the meantime, his principal
vocation to utter it, and thereby to destroy the foolish illusions of
the God-forgetting king. It is in the subsequent prophecy only, chap
viii. 1; ix. 6 (7) that that which is alluded to in vers. 21, 22 is
carried out. The little which has been left--this is the sense--the
Lord will bless so abundantly, that those who are spared in the divine
judgment will enjoy a rich abundance of divine blessings. Parallel is
the utterance of Isaiah in 2 Kings xix. 30: "And the escaped of the
house of Judah, that which has been left, taketh root downward, and
beareth fruit upward."--If thus the eating of cream and honey be
rightly understood, there is no farther necessity for explaining, in
opposition to the rules of grammar, לדעתו by "(only) until he knows"
(comp. against this interpretation _Drechsler's Comment._). לדעתו can
only mean: "belonging to his knowledge, _i.e._, when he knows." _Good_
and _evil_ are, as early as Deut. i. 39: "Your sons who to-day do not
know good and evil," used more in a physical than in a moral sense.
Michaelis: "_rerum omnium ignari_." The parallel expression, "not to be
able to discern between the right hand and the left hand," in Jonah iv.
11 (Michaelis: "_discretio rationis et judicii, ut sciant utra manus
sit dextra aut sinistra_") likewise loses sight of the moral sense. But
good and evil are very decidedly used in a physical sense in 2 Sam.
xix. 36 (35), where Barzillai says: "I am this day fourscore years old,
can I discern between good and evil, or has thy servant a taste of what
I eat or drink, or do I hear any more the voice of singing men or
singing women?" The connection with the eating of cream and honey, by
which the good and evil is qualified, clearly proves that good and evil
are, in our passage, used in a similar sense. To the same result we are
led by the circumstance also, that the evil _precedes_, which must so
much the rather have a meaning, that nowhere else is this the case with
this phrase. The evil, the [Pg 58] bad food in the time of war,
precedes; the good follows after it: Cream and honey, the good, he will
eat when he knows to refuse the evil and choose the good, _i.e._, when
he is beyond the time where he does not yet know to make any great
difference between the food, and in which, therefore, the evil, the bad
food, is felt as an evil. If the good and the evil be understood in a
physical sense, then, in harmony with chap. viii. 4, we must think of
the period of about one year. Moral consciousness develops much later
than sensual liking and disliking.--The construction of מאס and בחר
with ב points to the affection which accompanies the action.--כי in
ver. 16 suits very well, according to the view which we have taken, in
its ordinary signification, "for." The full enjoyment of the good
things of the land will return in the period of about twelve months (in
chap. xxxvii. 30 a longer terra is fixed, because the Assyrian
desolation was much greater than the Aramean); _for_, even before the
year has expired, devastation shall be inflicted upon the land of the
enemies. האדמה comprehends at the same time the Syrian and Ephraimitish

From ver. 17-25 the Prophet describes how the Assyrians, the object  of
the hope of the house of David, and also the Egyptian attracted by
them, who, however, occupy a position altogether subordinate, shall
fill the land, and change it into a wilderness. The fundamental
thought, ever true, is this: He who, instead of seeking help from his
God, seeks it from the world, is ruined by the world. This truth,
which, through the fault of Ahaz, did not gain any _saving_ influence,
obtained an _accusing_ one; it stood there as an incontrovertible
testimony that it was not the Lord who had forsaken His people, but
that they had forsaken themselves. It was a necessary condition of the
blessed influence of the impending calamity that such a testimony
should exist; without it, the calamity would not have led to
repentance, but to despair and defiance.--From the circumstance that in
ver. 17, which contains the outlines of the whole, upon the words: "The
Lord shall bring upon thee and thy people," there follow still the
words: "And upon thy father's house," it appears that the fulfilment
must not be sought for in the time of Ahaz only. In the time of Ahaz,
the _beginning_ only of the calamities here indicated can accordingly
be sought for,--the _germ_ from which all that followed [Pg 59] was
afterwards developed. Nor shall we be allowed to limit ourselves to
that which Judah suffered from the Assyrians, commonly so called. It is
significant that, in 2 Kings xxiii. 29, Nebuchadnezzar is called King
of Asshur. Asshur, as the first representative of the world's power,
represents the world's power in general.

                           * * * * * * * * * *

We have still to submit to an examination those explanations of vers
14-16 which differ, in essential points, from that which we have given.
Difference of opinion--the characteristic sign of error--meets us here,
and that in a very striking manner, in those who oppose the convictions
of the whole Christian Church.

1. _Rosenmüller_ expressed his adherence to the Messianic explanation,
but supposed that the Prophet was of opinion that the Messiah would be
born in his time. Even _Bruno Bauer_ (_Critik der Synopt._ i. S. 19)
could not resist the impression that Immanuel could be none other than
the Messiah. But he, too, is of opinion that Isaiah expected a Messiah,
who was to be born at once, and to become the "deliverer from the
collision of that time." This view has been expanded especially by
_Ewald_. "False," so he says, "is every interpretation which does not
see that the Prophet is here speaking of the Messiah to be born, and
hence of Him to whom the land really belongs, and in thinking of whom
the Prophet's heart beats with joyful hope, chap. viii. 8, ix. 5, 6 (6,
7)." But not being able to realize that which can be seen only by
faith--a territory, in general, very inaccessible to modern exposition
of Scripture--he, in ver. 14, puts in the _real_ Present instead of the
_ideal_, and thinks that the Prophet imagined that the conception and
birth of the Messiah would take place at once. By עלמה he understands,
like ourselves, a virgin; but such an one as is so at the present
moment only, but will soon afterwards cease to be so;--and in supposing
this, he overlooks the fact that the virgin is introduced as being
already with child, and that her bearing appears as present. In ver.
15, the time when the boy knows &c., is, according to him, the maturer
juvenile age from ten to twenty years. It is during this that the
devastation of the land by the Assyrians is to take place, of which [Pg
60] the Prophet treats more in detail afterwards in ver. 17 ff. But
opposed to this view is the circumstance that, even before the boy
enters upon this maturer age (ver. 16), hence in a few years after
this, the allied Damascus and Ephraim shall be desolated; so little are
these two kings able to conquer Jerusalem, and so certain is it that a
divine deliverance is in store for this country in the immediate
future. And, in every point of view, this explanation shows itself to
be untenable. The supposition that a _real_ Present is spoken of in
ver. 14 saddles upon the Prophet an absurd hallucination; and nothing
analogous to it can be referred to in the whole of the Old Testament.
According to statements of the Prophet in other passages, he sees yet
many things intervening between the Messianic time and his own;
according to chap. vi. 11-13, not only the entire carrying away of the
whole people, (and he cannot well consider the Assyrians as the
instruments of it, were it only for this reason, that he is always
consistent in the announcement that they should not succeed in the
capture of Jerusalem), but also a later second divine judgment.
According to chap. xi., the Messiah is to grow up as a twig from the
stem of Jesse completely cut down. This supposition of His appearance,
the complete decay of the Davidic dynasty, did not in any way exist in
the time of the Prophet. According to chap. xxxix., and other passages,
the Prophet recognised in Babylon the appearance of a new phase of the
world's power which would, at some future period, follow the steps of
the Assyrian power which existed at the time of the Prophet, and which
should execute upon Judah the judgment of the Lord. We pointed out
(Vol. I. p. 417 ff.) that in the Prophet Micah also, the contemporary
of Isaiah, there lies a long series of events between the Present and
the time when she who is bearing brings forth. _Farther_--In harmony
with all other Prophets, Isaiah too looks for the Messiah from the
house of David, with which, by the promise of Nathan in 2 Sam. vii.
salvation was indissolubly connected, and the high importance of which
for the weal and woe of the people appears also from the circumstance
of its being several times mentioned in our chapter. Hence it would be
a son of Ahaz only of whom we could here think; and then we should be
shut up to Hezekiah, his first-born. But in that case there arises the
difficulty which Luther already brought forward against the Jews: [Pg
61] "The Jews understand thereby Hezekiah. But the blind people, while
anxious to remedy their error, themselves manifest their laziness and
ignorance; for Hezekiah was born nine years before this prophecy was
uttered!"--"The eating of cream and honey" is, in this explanation,
altogether erroneously understood as a designation of the devastated
condition of the land. From our remarks, it sufficiently appears that
the expression "to refuse the evil," &c., cannot denote the maturer
juvenile age. And many additional points might, in like manner, be

2. Several interpreters do not indeed deny the reference to the
Messiah, but suppose that, _in the first instance_, the Prophet had in
view some occurrence of his own time. They assume that the Prophet,
while speaking of a boy of his own time, makes use, under the guidance
of divine providence, of expressions, which apply more to Christ, and
can, in an improper and inferior sense only, be true of this boy. This
opinion was advanced as early as in the time of Jerome, by some
anonymous author who, on that account, is severely censured by him:
"Some Judaizer from among us asserts that the Prophet had two sons,
Shearjashub and Immanuel. Immanuel too was, according to him, born by
the prophetess, the wife of the Prophet, and a type of the Saviour, our
Lord; so that the former son Shearjashub (which means 'remnant,' or
'converting') designates the Jewish people that have been left and
afterwards converted; while the second son Immanuel, 'with us is God,'
signifies the calling of the Gentiles after the Word became flesh and
dwelt among us." This explanation was defended by, among others
_Grotius_, _Richard Simon_, and _Clericus_; and then, in our century,
by _Olshausen_, who says: "The unity of the reference lies in the name
Immanuel; the son of Isaiah had the _name_ but Christ the _essence_. He
was the visible God whom the former only represented." In a modified
form, this view is held by _Lowth_, _Koppe_, and _von Meyer_, also.
According to them, the Prophet is indeed not supposed to speak of a
definite boy who was to be born in his time, but yet, to connect the
destinies of his land with the name and destinies of a boy whose
conception he, at the moment, imagines to be possible. "The most
obvious meaning which would present itself to Ahaz," says _von Meyer_,
"was this: If now a girl was to marry, to become [Pg 62] pregnant, and
to bear a child, she may call him 'God with us,' for God will be with
us at his time." But the prophecy is, after all, to have an ultimate
reference to Christ. "The prophecy," says _Lowth_, "is introduced in so
solemn a manner; the sign, after Ahaz had refused the call to fix upon
any thing from the whole territory of nature according to his own
choice, is so emphatically declared to be one selected and given by God
himself; the terms of the prophecy are so unique in their kind, and the
name of the child is so expressive; they comprehend in them so much
more than the circumstances of the birth of an ordinary child require,
or could even permit, that we may easily suppose, that in minds, which
were already prepared by the expectation of a great Saviour who was to
come forth from the house of David, they excited hopes which stretched
farther than any with which the present cause could inspire them,
especially if it was found that in the succeeding prophecy, published
immediately afterwards, this child was, under the name of Immanuel,
treated as the Lord and Prince of the land of Judah. Who else could
this be than the heir of the throne of David, under which character a
great, and even divine person had been promised?" The reasons for the
Messianic explanation are very well exhibited in these words of
_Lowth_; but he, as little as any other of these interpreters, has been
able to vindicate the assumption of a _double sense_. When more closely
examined, the supposition is a mere makeshift. On the one hand, they
could not make up their minds to give up the Messianic explanation,
and, along with it, the authority of the Apostle Matthew. But, on the
other hand, they were puzzled by the _sanctum artificium_ by which the
Prophet, or rather the Holy Spirit speaking through him, represents
Christ as being born even before His birth, places Him in the midst of
the life of the people, and makes Him accompany the nation through all
the stages of its existence. In truth, if the real, or even the nearest
fulfilment is sought for in the time of Ahaz, there is no reason
whatever for supposing a higher reference to Christ. The עלמה is then
one who was a virgin, who had nothing in common with the mother of
Jesus, Mary, who remained a virgin even after her pregnancy. The name
Immanuel then refers to the help which God is to afford in the present

[Pg 63]

3. Many interpreters deny every reference to Christ. This
interpretation remained for a long time the exclusive property of the
Jews, until _J. E. Faber_ (in his remarks on _Harmar's_ observations on
the East, i. S. 281), tried to transplant it into the Christian
soil.[5] He was followed by the Roman Catholic, _Isenbiehl_ (_Neuer
Versuch über die Weissagung vom Immanuel_, 1778) who, in consequence of
it, was deposed from his theological professorship, and thrown into
gaol. The principal tenets of his work he had borrowed from the
lectures of _J. D. Michaelis_. In their views about the _Almah_, who is
to bear Immanuel, these interpreters are very much at variance.

(a) The more ancient Jews maintained that the _Almah_ was the wife of
Ahaz, and Immanuel, his son Hezekiah. According to the _Dialog. c.
Tryph._ 66, 68, 71, 77, this view prevailed among them as early as the
time of _Justin_. But they were refuted by _Jerome_, who showed that
Hezekiah must, at that time, have already been at least nine years old.
_Kimchi_ and _Abarbanel_ then resorted to the hypothesis of a second
wife of Ahaz.

(b) According to the view of others, the _Almah_ is some virgin who
cannot be definitely determined by us, who was present at the place
where the king and Isaiah were speaking to one another, and to whom the
Prophet points with his finger. This view was held by _Isenbiehl_,
_Steudel_ (in a Programme, Tübingen, 1815), and others.

(c) According to the view of others, the _Almah_ is not a _real_ but
only an _ideal_ virgin. Thus _J. D. Michaelis_: "At the time when one,
who at this moment is still a virgin, can bear," &c. _Eichhorn_,
_Paulus_, _Stähelin_, and others. The sign is thus made to consist in a
mere poetical figure.

(d) A composition of the two views last mentioned is the view of
_Umbreit_. The virgin is, according to him, an actual virgin whom the
Prophet perceived among those surrounding him; but the pregnancy and
birth are imaginary [Pg 64] merely, and the virgin is to suggest to the
Prophet the idea of pregnancy. But this explanation would saddle the
Prophet with something indecent. _Farther_: It is not a birth possible
which is spoken of, but an actual birth. From chap. viii. 8, it
likewise appears that Immanuel is a real individual, and He one of
eminent dignity; and this passage is thus at once in strict opposition
to both of the explanations, viz. that of any ordinary virgin, and that
of the ideal virgin. It destroys also

(e) The explanation of _Meier_, who by the virgin understands the
people of Judah, and conceives of the pregnancy and birth likewise in a
poetical manner. The fact, the acknowledgment of which has led _Meier_
to get up this hypothesis, altogether unfounded, and undeserving of any
minute refutation, is this: "_The mother is, in the passage before us,
called a virgin, and yet is designated as being with child._ The words,
when understood physically and outwardly, contain a contradiction." But
this fact is rather in favour of the Messianic explanation.

(f) Others, farther, conjecture that the wife of the Prophet is meant
by the _Almah_. This view was advanced as early as by _Abenezra_ and
_Jarchi_. By the authority of _Gesenius_, this view became, for a time,
the prevailing one. Against it, the following arguments are decisive;
part of them being opposed to the other conjectures also. As עלמה
designates "virgin" only, and never a young woman, and, far less, an
older woman, it is quite impossible that the wife of the Prophet, the
mother of Shearjashub could be so designated, inasmuch as the latter
was already old enough to be able to accompany his father. Gesenius
could not avoid acknowledging the weight of this argument, and declared
himself disposed to assume that the Prophet's former wife had died, and
that he had thereupon betrothed himself to a virgin. _Olshausen_,
_Maurer_, _Hendewerk_, and others, have followed him in this. But this
is a story entirely without foundation. In chap. viii. 13, the wife of
the Prophet is called simply "the prophetess." Nor could one well see
how the Prophet could expect to be understood, if, by the general
expression: "the virgin" he wished to signify his presumptive
betrothed. _There_ [Pg 65] _is an entire absence of every intimation
whatsoever of a nearer relation of the Almah to the Prophet_; and such
an intimation could not by any means be wanting if such a relation
really existed. One would, in that case at least, be obliged to
suppose, as _Plüschke_ does, that the Prophet took his betrothed with
him, and pointed to her with his finger,--a supposition which too
plainly exhibits the sign of embarrassment, just as is the case with
the remark of _Hendewerk_: "Only that, in that case, we must also
suppose that his second wife was sufficiently known at court even then,
when she was his betrothed only, although her relation to Isaiah might
be unknown; so that, for this very reason, we could not think of a
frustration of the sign on the part of the king." _Hitzig_ remarks:
"The supposition of a former wife of the Prophet is altogether
destitute of any foundation." He then, however, falls back upon the
hypothesis which _Gesenius_ himself admitted to be untenable, that
עלמה, "virgin" might not only denote a young woman, but sometimes also
an older woman. Not even the semblance of a proof can be advanced in
support of this. It is just the juvenile age which forms the
fundamental signification of the word. In the wife of the Prophet we
can the less think of such a juvenile age, that he himself had already
exercised his prophetic office for about twenty years. _Hitzig_ has
indeed altogether declined to lead any such proof. A son of the
Prophet, as, in general, every subject except the Messiah, is excluded
by the circumstance that in chap viii. 8, Canaan is called the land of
Immanuel.--_Farther_,--In all these suppositions, אות is understood in
an inadmissible signification. It can here denote a fact only, whereby
those who were really susceptible were made decidedly certain of the
impending deliverance. This appears clearly enough from the relation of
this sign to that which Ahaz had before refused, according to which the
difference must not be too great, and must not refer to the substance.
To this may be added the solemn tone which induces us to expect
something grand and important. A mere poetical image, such as would be
before us according to the hypothesis of the ideal virgin, or of the
real virgin and the ideal birth, does [Pg 66] surely not come up to the
demand which in this context must be made in reference to this _sign_.
And if the Prophet had announced so solemnly, and in words so sublime,
the birth _of his own_ child, he would have made himself ridiculous.
_Farther_,--How then did the Prophet know that after nine months a
child would be born to him, or, if the pregnancy be considered as
having already commenced, how did he know that just a son would be born
to him? That is a question to which most of these Rationalistic
interpreters take good care not to give any reply. _Plüschke_, indeed,
is of opinion that, upon a bold conjecture, the Prophet had ventured
this statement. But in that case it might easily have fared with him as
in that well known story in _Worms_, (_Eisenmenger_, _entdecktes
Judenthum_ ii. S. 664 ff.), and his whole authority would have been
forfeited if his conjecture had proved false. And this argument holds
true in reference to those also who do not share in the Rationalistic
view, of Prophetism. Predictions of such a kind may belong to the
territory of foretelling, but not to that of Prophecy.

[Footnote 1: _Meyer_, _Blätter für höhere Wahrheit_, iii. S. 101.]

[Footnote 2: _Caspari_ very justly remarks: "Nothing can be clearer
than that 2 Chron. xxviii. 5 ff. comes in between 2 Kings xvi. 5 a. b.;
that the author of the books of the Kings gives a report of the
beginning and end; the author of the Chronicles, of the middle of the
campaign." But we cannot agree with _Caspari_ in his transferring to
Idumea the victory of Rezin. According to Is. vii. 2, Aram was encamped
in Ephraim. According to 2 Kings xvi. 5, _both_ of the kings came up
to Jerusalem and besieged her. The expedition against Elath, 2 Kings
xvi. 6, was secondary, and by the way only.]

[Footnote 3: The words: "In threescore and five years more, Ephraim
shall be broken and be no more a people," have, by rationalistic
critics, without and against all external arguments, been declared to
be _spurious_. The reasons which serve as fig leaves to cover their
doctrinal tendency are the following: (1) "The time does not agree,
inasmuch as the ten tribes sustained their first defeat very soon
afterwards by Tiglath-pilezer; the second, nineteen to twenty-one years
later, by Shalmanezer, who, in the sixth year of Hezekiah, carried the
inhabitants of the kingdom of the ten tribes away into captivity." But
the question here is _the complete destruction of the national
existence of Israel_; and that took place only under King Manasseh,
when, by Azarhaddon, new Gentile colonists were brought into the land,
who expelled from it the old inhabitants who had again gathered
themselves together; comp. 2 Kings xvii. 24 with Ezra iv. 2, 10. From
that time, Israel amalgamated more and more with Judah, and never
returned to a national independence. This happened exactly sixty-five
years after the announcement by the Prophet. Chap. vi. 12 compared with
ver. 13 shows how little the desolation of the country (ver. 16) is
connected with the breaking up as a nation. It is, moreover, at least
as much the interest of those who assert the spuriousness, as it is
ours to remove the chronological difficulties; for how could it be
imagined that the supposed author should have introduced a false
chronological statement? His object surely could be none other than to
procure authority for the Prophet, by putting into his mouth a prophecy
so very evidently and manifestly fulfilled. (2) "The words contain an
unsuitable consolation, as Ahaz could not be benefitted by so late a
destruction of his enemy." But, immediately afterwards, he is even
expressly assured that this enemy will not be able to do him any
immediate harm. _Chrysostom_ remarks: "The king, hearing that they
should be destroyed after sixty-five years, might say within himself:
What about that? Although they be _then_ overthrown, of what use is it
to us, if they now take us? In order that the king might not speak
thus, the Prophet says: Be of good cheer even as to the present. At
that time they shall be _utterly_ destroyed; but even now, they shall
not have any more than their own land, for 'the head of Ephraim,'" &c.
The preceding distinct announcement of the last end of his enemy,
however, was exceedingly well fitted to break in Ahaz the opinion of
his invincibility, and to strengthen his faith in the God of Israel,
who, with a firm hand, directs the destinies of nations, and, no less,
the faith in _His servant_ whom He raises to be privy to His
secrets.--(3.) "The use of numbers so exact is against the analogy of
all oracles." But immediately afterwards (ver. 15 comp. with chap.
viii. 4), the time of the defeat is as exactly fixed, although not in
ciphers. In chap. xx. Isaiah announces that after three years the
Egyptians and Ethiopians shall sustain a defeat; in chap. xxiii. 15,
that Tyre would flourish anew seventy years after its fall; in chap.
xxxviii. 5, he announces to Hezekiah, sick unto death, that God would
add fifteen years to his life. According to Jeremiah, the Babylonish
captivity is to last seventy years; and the fulfilment has shown that
this date is not to be understood as a round number. And farther, the
year-weeks in Daniel.--But in opposition to this view, and positively
in favour of the genuineness, are the following arguments: The words
have not only, as is conceded by _Ewald_, "a true old-Hebrew
colouring," but in their emphatic and solemn brevity ("he shall be
broken from [being] a people") they do not at all bear the character of
an interpolation. If we blot them out, then the Prophet says less than
from present circumstances, from ver. 4, where he calls the kings "ends
of smoking firebrands," in opposition to ver. 6, and from the analogy
of ver. 9, where the threatening is much more severe, he was bound to
say. His saying merely that they would not get any more, was not
sufficient. He could make the right impression only when he reduced
that declaration to its foundation--_i.e._, their own destruction and
overthrow. Ver. 16, too, would go far beyond what would be announced
here, if we remove this clause. He announces destruction to the kings
themselves. Finally, the symmetrical parallelism would be destroyed by
striking out these words. The words: "If ye believe not, ye shall not
be established," would, in that case, be without the parallel members.
They are connected with the clause under discussion so much the rather,
that in them it is not specially Judah's deliverance from the Syrians
and Ephraimites that is looked at, but its salvation in general.]

[Footnote 4: By a minute and trifling exposition of what is to be
understood as a whole, and comprehensively, many misunderstandings have
been introduced into this passage. The defeat of Asshur should take
place very soon, but the devastation of the country had been so
complete that a longer time would be required before the fields would
be again _completely_ cultivated.]

[Footnote 5: _Gesenius_ mentions _Pellicanus_ as the first defender of
the Non-Messianic interpretation. But this statement seems to have
proceeded from a cursory view of an annotation by _Cramer_ on _Richard
Simon's Kritische Schriften_ i. S. 441, where the words: "this
historical interpretation _Pellicanus_ too has preferred," do not refer
to Isaiah but to Daniel. Nor is there any more ground for the
intimation that _Theodorus_ a Mopsuesta rejected the Messianic

                     THE PROPHECY, CHAP. VIII. 23-IX. 6.
                            (Chap. ix. 1-7.)
                        UNTO US A CHILD IS BORN.

In the view of the Assyrian catastrophe, the Prophet is anxious to
bring it home to the consciences of the people that, by their own
guilt, they have brought down upon themselves this calamity, and, at
the same time, to prevent them from despairing. Hence it is that, soon
after the prophecy in chap. vii., he reverts once more to the subject
of it. The circumstances in chap. viii. 1-ix. 6 (7) are identical with
those in chap. vii. Judah is hard pressed by Ephraim and Aram. Still,
some time will elapse before the destruction of [Pg 67] their
territories. The term in chap. vii. 16: "Before the boy shall know to
refuse the evil and choose the good," and in chap. viii. 4: "Before the
boy shall know to cry, My father and my mother," is quite the same.
This is the less to be doubted when it is kept in mind that, in the
former passage, evil and good must be taken in a physical sense. The
sense for the difference of food is, in a child, developed at nearly
the same time as the ability for speaking. If it had not been the
intention of the Prophet to designate one and the same period, _he
ought to have fixed more distinctly the limits between the two
termini._ It might, indeed, from chap. viii. 3, appear as if at least
the nine months must intervene between the two prophecies of the
conception of the son of the Prophet, and his birth. As, however, it
cannot be denied that there is a connection between the giving of the
name, and the drawing up of the document in vers. 1 and 2, we should be
obliged to suppose that, in reference to the first two futures with
_Vav convers._ the same rule applies as in reference to ויצר, in Gen.
ii. 19. The progress lies first in ותלה; the event falling into that
time is the birth.

Chap. viii. 1-ix. 6 (7), forms the necessary _supplement_ to chap.
vii., the germ of which is contained already in chap. vii. 21, 22. The
Prophet saw, by the light of the Spirit of God, that the fear of Aram
and Ephraim was unfounded; the enemy truly dangerous is Asshur, _i.e._,
_the whole world's power first represented by Asshur._ For the King of
Asshur is, so to say, an ideal person to the Prophet. The different
phases of the world's powers are intimated as early as chap. viii. 9,
where the Prophet addresses the "nations," and "all the far-off
countries;" and, at a later period, he received disclosures regarding
all the single phases of the world's power which began its course with
Asshur. With this the Prophet had only threatened in chap. vii.; here,
however, he is pre-eminently employed with it, _exhorting_,
_comforting_, _promising_, so that thus the two sections form one whole
in two divisions. _His main object is to induce his people, in the
impending oppression by the world's power, to direct their eyes
steadily to their heavenly Redeemer, who, in due time, will bring peace
instead of strife, salvation and prosperity instead of misery, dominion
instead of oppression._ As in chap. vii. 14, the [Pg 68] picture of
Immanuel is placed before the eyes of the people desponding on account
of Aram and Ephraim, so here the care, anxiety, and fear in the view of
Asshur are overcome by pointing to the declaration: "Unto us a child is
born, unto us a son is given." It is of great importance for the right
understanding of the Messianic announcement in chap. viii. 23, ix. 6,
that the historical circumstances of the whole section, and its
tendency be clearly understood. As, in general, the Messianic
announcement under the Old Testament bears a one-sided character, so,
for the _present occasion_, those aspects only of the picture of the
Saviour were required which were fitted effectually to meet the
despondency of the people in the view, and under the pressure of the
world's power.

After these preliminary remarks, we must enter still more in detail
upon the arrangement and construction of the section before us.

The Prophet receives, first, the commission to write down, like a
judicial document, the announcement of the speedy destruction of the
present enemies, and to get it confirmed by trust-worthy witnesses,
chap. viii. 1, 2. He then, farther, receives the commission to give, to
a son that would be born to him about the same time, a name expressive
of the speedy destruction of the enemies, vers. 3, 4. Thus far the
announcement of the deliverance from Aram and Ephraim. There then
follows, from vers. 5-8, an announcement of the misery which is to be
inflicted by _Asshur_, of whom Ahaz and the unbelieving portion of the
people expected nothing but deliverance. _Up to this, there is a
recapitulation only, and a confirmation of chap. vii._ But this misery
is not to last for ever, is not to end in destruction. In vers. 9, 10,
the Prophet addresses exultingly the hostile nations, and announces to
them, what had already been gently hinted at at the close of ver. 8,
that their attempts to put an end to the covenant-people would be vain,
and would lead to their own destruction. The splendour of Asshur must
_fade_ before the bright image of Immanuel, which calls to the people:
"Be ye of good cheer, I have overcome the world." _Calvin_ strikingly
remarks: "The Prophet may be conceived of, as it were, standing on a
watch tower, whence he beholds the defeat of the people, and the
victorious Assyrians insolently exulting. [Pg 69] But by the name and
view of Christ he recovers himself, forgets all the evils as if he had
suffered nothing, and, freed from all misery, he rises against the
enemies whom the Lord would immediately destroy." The Prophet then
interrupts the announcement of deliverance, and exhibits the subjective
conditions upon which the bestowal of deliverance, or rather the
_partaking_ in it, depends, along with the announcement of the fearful
misery which would befal them in case these conditions were not
complied with. But, so he continues in vers. 11-16, he who is to
partake of the deliverance which the Lord has destined for His people,
must in firm faith expect it from Him, and thereby inwardly separate
himself from the unbelieving mass, who, at every appearance of danger,
tremble and give up all for lost. He who stands as ill as that mass in
the trial inflicted by the Lord; he to whom the danger becomes an
occasion for manifesting the unbelief of his heart;--he indeed will
perish in it. At the close, the prophet is emphatically admonished to
impress this great and important truth upon the minds of the
susceptible ones. In ver. 17: "And I waited upon the Lord," &c., the
Prophet reports what effect was produced upon him by this revelation
from the Lord,--thereby teaching indirectly what effect it ought to
produce upon all. In ver. 18, the Prophet directs the desponding people
to the example of himself who, according to ver. 17, is joyful in his
faith, and to the names of his sons which announced deliverance.
Deliverance and comfort are to be sought from the God of Israel only.
Vain, therefore,--this he brings out, vers. 19-22--are all other means
by which people without faith seek to procure help to themselves. They
should return to God's holy Law which, in Deut. xviii. 14, ff. commands
to seek disclosures as regards the future, and comfort from His
servants the Prophets only, and which itself abounds in comfort and
promise. If such be not done, misery without any deliverance, despair
without any comfort, are the unavoidable consequences. From ver. 23,
the Prophet continues the interrupted announcement of deliverance. That
which, in the preceding verses, he had threatened in the case of
apostacy from God's Word, and of unbelief, viz., _darkness_, _i.e._,
the absence of deliverance, will, as the Prophet, according to vers.
21, 22, foresees, really befal them in future, as [Pg 70] the people
will not fulfil the conditions held forth in vers. 16 and 20, as they
will not speak: "To the Law and to the testimony," as they will not in
faith lay hold of the promise, and trust in the Lord. The calamity
having, in the preceding verses, been represented as _darkness_, the
deliverance which, by the grace of the Lord, is to be bestowed upon the
people (for the Lord indeed chastises His people on account of their
unbelief, but does not give them up to death), is now represented as a
great _light_ which dispels the darkness. It shines most clearly just
where the darkness had been greatest--in that part of the country
which, being outwardly and inwardly given up to heathenism, seemed
scarcely still to belong to the land of the Lord, viz., the country
lying around the lake of Gennesareth. The people are filled with joy on
account of the deliverance granted to them by the Lord,--their
deliverance from the yoke of their oppressors, from the bondage of the
world which now comes to an end. As the bestower of such deliverance,
the Prophet beholds a divine child who, having obtained dominion, will
exercise it with the skill of the God-man; who will, with fatherly
love, in all eternity care for His people and create peace to them; who
will, at the same time, infinitely extend His dominion, the kingdom of
David, not by means of the force of arms, but by means of right and
righteousness, the exercise of which will attract the nations to Him;
so that with the increase of dominion, the increase of peace goes hand
in hand. The guarantee that these glorious results shall really take
place is the zeal of the Lord, and it is this to which the Prophet
points at the close.

                           * * * * * * * * * *

Chap. viii. 23 (ix. 1). "_For not is darkness to the land, to which is
distress; in the former time he has brought disgrace upon the land of
Zebulun and the hind of Naphtali, and in the after-time he brings it to
honour, the region on the sea, the other side of the Jordan, Galilee of
the Gentiles._"

כי stands in its ordinary signification, "for." Allow not yourselves to
be turned away by anything from trusting in the God of Israel; hold
fast by His word alone, and by His servants,--such was the fundamental
thought of the whole preceding section. It meets us last in ver. 20, in
the exhortation: [Pg 71] "To the Law and to the testimony!" in so far
as this is rich in consolation and promise. The Prophet, after having,
in the preceding verses, described the misery which will befal those
who do not follow this exhortation, supports and establishes it by
referring to the _help of the Lord_ already alluded to in vers. 9 and
10, and to the _light of His grace_ which He will cause to shine into
the darkness of the people,--a darkness produced by their unbelief and
apostacy; and this light shall be brightest where the darkness was
greatest. All the attempts at connecting this כי with the verse
immediately preceding instead of referring it to the main contents of
the preceding section, have proved futile. כי can neither mean
"nevertheless," nor "yea;" and the strange assertion that it is almost
without any meaning at all cannot derive any support from Isaiah xv. 1:
"The _burden_ of Moab, _for_ in the night the city of Moab is laid
waste;" for only in that case is כי without any meaning at all, if משא
be falsely interpreted.--Ver. 22, where the phrase מעוף צוקה "darkness
of distress" is equivalent to "darkness which consists in distress"
(compare also: "behold trouble and darkness" in the same verse), shows
that מועף and מוצק are substantially of the same meaning.--Our verse
forms an antithesis to ver. 22; the latter verse described the darkness
brought on by the guilt of the people; the verse under consideration
describes, in contrast to it, the _removal_ of it called forth by the
grace of the Lord.--לא may either be connected with the noun, or it may
be explained: not is darkness. It cannot be objected to the latter view
that, in that case, אין should rather have stood; while the analogy of
the phrase: "Not didst thou increase the joy," in chap. ix. 2 (3),
seems to be in favour of it. Here we have the negative, the ceasing of
darkness; in chap. ix. 1 (2) the positive, the appearance of light. The
suffix, in לה refers, just as the suffix, in בה in ver. 21, to the
omitted ארץ.--The כ in כעת is, by many interpreters, asserted to stand
in the signification of כאשר: "Just as the former time has brought
disgrace," &c. But as it cannot be proved that כ has ever the meaning,
"just as;" and as, on the other hand, כעת frequently occurs in the
signification, "at the time" (compare my remarks on Numb. xxiii. 13 in
my work on Balaam), we shall be obliged to take, here too, the כ as a
temporal particle, and to supply, as the subject, Jehovah, who [Pg 72]
always stands before the Prophet's mind, and is often not mentioned
when the matter itself excludes another subject. Moreover, it is
especially in favour of this view that, in vers. 3 (4), the Lord
himself is expressly addressed.--As regards אחרון, either כעת may be
supplied,--and this is simplest and most natural--or it may be taken as
an Accusative, "for the whole after-time."--הקל means properly to "make
light," then "to make contemptible," "to cover with disgrace," and
הכביד properly then, "to make heavy," "to honour,"--a signification
which indeed is peculiar to _Piel_, but in which the _Hiphil_, too,
occurs in Jer. xxx. 19; the two verbs thus form an antithesis. The ה
_locale_ in ארצה (the word does not occur in Isaiah with the ה
_paragog._) shews that a certain modification of the verbal notion must
be assumed: "to bring disgrace and honour." ארצה thus would mean
"towards the land." The scene of the disgrace and honour, which at
first was designated in general only, is afterwards _extended_. First,
the land of Zebulun and Naphtali only is mentioned, because it was upon
it that the disgrace had pre-eminently fallen, and it was, therefore,
pre-eminently to be brought to honour; then the whole territory along
the sea on both sides of it.--ים can, in this context which serves for
a more definite qualification, mean the sea of Gennesareth only (ים
כנרת Numb. xxxiv. 11, and other passages), just as, in Matt. iv. 13,
the designation of Capernaum as ἡ παραθαλασσία receives its definite
meaning from the context.--דרך occurs elsewhere also in the
signification of _versus_, _e.g._, Ezek. viii. 5, xl. 20, 46; it will
be necessary to supply after it ארץ, just as in the case of the עבר
הירדן following. It is without any instance that דרך "way" should stand
for "region," "country." The region on the sea is then divided into its
two parts עבר הירדן, πέραν τοῦ Ἰορδάνου, the land on the east bank of
Jordan, and Galilee. The latter answers to the land of Zebulun and
Naphtali; for the territory of these two tribes occupied the centre and
principal part of Galilee. In opposition to the established _usus
loquendi_, many would understand עבר הירדן as meaning the land "on the
side," _i.e._, this side "of the Jordan," proceeding upon the
supposition that the local designations must, from beginning to end, be
congruous. Opposed to it is also the circumstance that, in 2 Kings, xv.
29, the most eastward and most northward countries, Peraea and Galilee
are connected. [Pg 73] In that passage the single places are mentioned
which Tiglath-pilezer took; then, the whole districts, "Gilead and
Galilee, the whole land of Naphtali." By the latter words, that part of
Galilee is made especially prominent upon which the catastrophe fell
most severely and completely. In the phrase, "Galilee of the Gentiles,"
Galilee is a geographical designation which was already current at the
time of the Prophet. There is no reason for fixing the extent of
ancient Galilee differently from that of the more modern Galilee,--for
assigning to it a more limited extent. We are told in 1 Kings ix. 11,
that the twenty cities which Solomon gave to Hiram lay in the land of
_Galil_, but not that the country was limited to them. The
qualification, "of the Gentiles," is nowhere else met with in the Old
Testament; it is peculiar to the Prophet. It serves as a hint to point
out in what the disgrace of Galilee and Peraea consisted. This
_Theodoret_ also saw. He says: "He calls it 'Galilee of the Gentiles'
because it was inhabited by other tribes along with the Jews; for this
reason, he says also of the inhabitants of those countries, that they
were walking in darkness, and speaks of the inhabitants of that land as
living in the shadow and land of death, and promises the brightness of
heavenly light." It is of no small importance to observe that Isaiah
does not designate Galilee according to what it was at the time when
this prophecy was uttered, _but according to what it was to become in
future_. The distress by the Gentiles appears in chap. vii. and viii.
everywhere as a _future one_. At the time when the Prophet prophesied,
the Jewish territory still existed in its integrity. In vers. 4, and
5-7, he announces Asshur's inroad into the land of Israel as a _future
one_; in the present moment, it was the kingdom of the ten tribes in
connection with Aram which attacked and threatened Judea. The superior
power of the world which, according to the clear foresight of the
Prophet, was threatening, could not but be sensibly felt in the North
and East. For these formed the border parts against the Asiatic world's
power; it was from that quarter that its invasions commonly took place;
and it was to be expected that there, in the first instance, the
Gentiles would establish themselves, just as, in former times, they had
maintained themselves longest there; comp. Judges i. 30-38; _Keil_ on 1
Kings ix. 11. But very soon after this, [Pg 74] the name "Galilee of
the Gentiles" ceased to be one merely prophetical; Tiglathpilezer
carried the inhabitants of Galilee and Gilead into exile, 2 Kings xv.
29. _At a later period_, when the Greek empire "peopled Palestine, in
the most attractive places, with new cities, restored many which, in
consequence of the destructive wars, had fallen into decay, filled all
of them, more or less, with Greek customs and institutions, and, along
with the newly-opened extensive commerce and traffic, everywhere spread
Greek manners also," this change was chiefly limited to Galilee and
Peraea; Judea remained free from it; comp. _Ewald_, _Geschichte
Israels_, iii. 2 S. 264 ff. In 1 Maccab. v. Galaaditis and Galilee
appear as those parts of the country where the existence of the Jews is
almost hopelessly endangered by the Gentiles living in the midst of,
and mixed up with them. What is implied in "Galilee of the Gentiles"
may be learned from that chapter, where even the _expression_ reverts
in ver. 15. With external dependence upon the Gentiles, however, the
spiritual dependence went hand in hand. These parts of the country
could the less oppose any great resistance to the influences of
heathendom, that they were separated, by a considerable distance, from
the religious centre of the nation--the temple and _metropolis_, in
which the higher Israelitish life was concentrated. A consequence of
this degeneracy was the contempt in which the Galileans were held at
the time of Christ, John i. 47, vii. 52; Matt. xxvi. 69.--But in what
consisted the _honour_ or the _glorification_ which Galilee, along with
Peraea, was to obtain in the after-time? Chap. ix. 5 (6), where the
deliverance and salvation announced in the preceding verses are
connected with the person of the _Redeemer_, show that we must not seek
for it in any other than that of the Messianic time. Our Lord spent the
greater part of His public life in the neighbourhood of the lake of
Gennesareth; it was there that Capernaum--His ordinary residence--was
situated, Matt. ix. 1. From Galilee were most of His disciples. In
Galilee He performed many _miracles_; and it was there that the
preaching of the Gospel found much entrance, so that even the name of
the Galileans passed over in the first centuries to the Christians.
_Theodoret_ strikingly remarks: "Galilee was the native country of the
holy Apostles; there the [Pg 75] Lord performed most of His miracles;
there He cleansed the leper; there He gave back to the centurion his
servant sound; there He removed the fever from Peter's wife's mother;
there He brought back to life the daughter of Jairus who was dead;
there He multiplied the loaves; there He changed the water into wine."
Very aptly has _Gesenius_ compared Micah v. 1 (2). Just as in that
passage the birth of the Messiah is to be for the honour of the small,
unimportant Bethlehem, so here Galilee, which hitherto was covered with
disgrace, which was reproached by the Jews, that there no prophet had
ever risen, is to be brought to honour, and to be glorified by the
appearance of the Messiah. It was from the passage under review that
the opinion of the Jews was derived, that the Messiah would appear in
the land of Galilee. Comp. _Sohar_, p. 1. fol. 119 ed. Amstelod.; fol.
74 ed. Solisbae: בארעת דגליל יתגלי מלכא משיתא. "King Messiah will
reveal himself in the land of Galilee." But we must beware of putting
prophecy and fulfilment into a merely accidental outward relation, of
changing the former into a mere foretelling, and of supposing, in
reference to the latter, that, unless the letter of the prophecy had
existed, Jesus might as well have made Judea the exclusive scene of His
ministry. Both prophecy and history are overruled by a higher idea, by
the truth absolutely valid in reference to the Church of the Lord, that
where the distress is greatest, help is nearest. If it was established
that the misery of the covenant-people, both outward and spiritual, was
especially concentrated in Galilee, then it is also sure that He who
was sent to the lost sheep of Israel must devote His principal care
just to that part of the country. The prophecy is not exhausted by the
one fulfilment; and the fulfilment is a new prophecy. Wheresoever in
the Church we perceive a new Galilee of the Gentiles, we may, upon the
ground of this passage, confidently hope that the saving activity of
the Lord will gloriously display itself.

Chap. ix. 1 (2). "_The people that walk in darkness see a great light,
they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them light

"The people" are the inhabitants of the countries mentioned in the
preceding verse; but they are not viewed in contrast to, and exclusive
of the other members of the covenant-people,--for [Pg 76] according to
chap. viii. 22, darkness is to cover the whole of it--but only as that
portion which comes chiefly into consideration. _Light_ is, in the
symbolical language of Scripture, salvation. That in which the
_salvation_ here consists cannot be determined from the words
themselves, but must follow from the context. It will not be possible
to deny that, according to it, the darkness consists, in the first
instance, in the oppression by the Gentiles, and, hence, salvation
consists in the _deliverance_ from this oppression, and in being raised
to the dominion of the world; and in ver. 2 (3) ff., we have, indeed,
the farther displaying of the light, or deliverance. But it will be as
little possible to deny that the sad companion of outward oppression by
the Gentile world is the _spiritual_ misery of the inward dependence
upon it. _Farther_,--It is as certain that the elevation of the
covenant-people to the dominion of the world cannot take place all on a
sudden, and without any farther ceremony, inasmuch as, according to a
fundamental view of the Old Testament, all outward deliverance appears
as depending upon conversion and regeneration. "Thou returnest," so we
read in Deut. xxx. 2, 3, "to the Lord thy God, and the Lord thy God
turneth to thy captivity." And in the same chapter, vers. 6, 7: "The
Lord thy God circumciseth thy heart, and _then_ the Lord thy God
putteth all these curses upon thine enemies." Before Gideon is called
to be the deliverer of the people from Midian, the Prophet must first
hold up their sin to the people, Judg. vi. 8 ff., and Gideon does not
begin his work with a struggle against the outward enemies, but must,
first of all, as Jerubbabel, declare war against sin. All the
prosperous periods in the people's history are, at the same time,
periods of spiritual revival. We need only think of David, Jehoshaphat,
and Hezekiah. Outward deliverance always presents itself in history as
an _addition_ only which is bestowed upon those seeking after the
kingdom of God. Without the inward foundation, the bestowal of the
outward blessing would be only a mockery, inasmuch as the holy God
could not but immediately take away again what He had given. But the
circumstance that it is the _outward_ salvation, the deliverance from
the heathen servitude, the elevation of the people of God to the
dominion of the world, as in Christ it so gloriously took [Pg 77]
place, which are here, in the first instance, looked at, is easily
accounted for from the historical cause of this prophetic discourse
which, _in the first instance, is directed against the fears of the
destruction of the kingdom of God by the world's power_. Ps. xxiii. 4;
"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear
no evil; for thou art with me, thy rod and thy staff they comfort me,"
must so much the more he considered as the fundamental passage of the
verse under consideration, that the Psalm, too, refers to the whole
Christian Church. It was in the appearance of Christ, and the salvation
brought through Him, in the midst of the deepest misery, that this
Psalm found its most glorious confirmation.--צלמות, "darkness of
death," is the darkness which prevails in death or in Sheol. Such
compositions commonly occur in proper names only, not in appellatives;
and hence, by "the land of the darkness (shadow) of death," hell is to
be understood. But darkness of hell is, by way of a shortened
comparison, not unfrequently used for designating the deepest darkness.
The point of comparison is here furnished by the first member of the
verse. Parallel is Ps. lxxxviii. 4 ff., where Israel laments that the
Lord had thrust it down into dark hell. The Preterite tense of the
verbs in our verse is to be explained from the prophetical view which
converts the Future into the Present. How little soever modern exegesis
can realise this seeing by, and in faith, and how much soever it is
everywhere disposed to introduce the _real_ Present instead of the
_ideal_, yet even _Ewald_ is compelled to remark on the passage under
consideration: "The Prophet, as if he were describing something which
in his mind he had seen as certain long ago, here represents everything
in the past, and scarcely makes an exception of this in the new start
which he takes in the middle." At the time when the Prophet uttered
this Prophecy, even the _darkness_ still belonged to the future. As yet
the world's power had not gained the ascendancy over Israel; but here
the light has already dispelled the darkness.

It now merely remains for us to view more particularly the quotation of
these two verses in Matt. iv. 12-17. Ἀκούσας δὲ--thus the section
begins--ὅτι Ἰωάννης παρεδόθη, ἀνεχώρησεν εἰς τὴν Γαλιλαίαν. Since, in
these words, we are told that Jesus, after having received the
intelligence of the imprisonment of [Pg 78] John, withdrew into
Galilee, we cannot for a moment think of His having sought in Galilee,
safety from Herod; for Galilee just belonged to Herod, and Judea
afforded security against him. The verb ἀναχώρεῖν denotes, on the
contrary, the withdrawing into the _angulus terrae_ Galilee, as
contrasted with the civil and ecclesiastical centre. The _time_ of the
beginning of Christ's preaching (His ministry hitherto had been merely
a kind of prelude) was determined by the imprisonment of John, as
certainly as, according to the prophecy of the Old Testament, the
territories of the activity of both were immediately bordering upon one
another, and by that very circumstance _the place_, too, was indirectly
determined; for it was fixed by the prophecy under consideration that
Galilee was to be the scene of the chief ministry of Christ. If, then,
the time for the beginning of the ministry had come, He must also
depart into Galilee. The connection, therefore, is this: After he had
received the intelligence of the imprisonment of John--in which the
call to Him for the beginning of His ministry was implied--He departed
into Galilee, and especially to Capernaum, vers. 12, 13; for it was
this part of the country which, by the prophecy, was fixed as the main
scene of His Messianic activity, vers. 14-16. It was there, therefore,
that He continued the preaching of John, ver. 17.--Καὶ καταλιπὼν τὴν
Ναζαρὲτ--it is said in ver. 13--ἐλθὼν κατῴκησεν εἰς Καπερναοὺμ τὴν
παραθαλασσίαν, ἐν ὁρίοις Ζαβουλὼν καὶ Νεφθαλείμ. Christ had hitherto had
His settled abode at Nazareth, and thence undertook His wanderings. The
immediate reason why He did not remain there is not stated by Matthew;
but we learn it from Luke and John. In accordance with his object,
Matthew takes cognizance of this one circumstance only, that, according
to the prophecy of the Old Testament, Capernaum was very specially
fitted for being the residence of Christ. The town was situated on the
western shore of the Lake of Gennesareth. Quite in opposition to his
custom elsewhere, Matthew describes the situation of the town 80
minutely, because this knowledge served to afford a better insight into
the fulfilment of the prophecy of the Old Testament. The designation τὴν
παραθαλασσίαν stands in reference to ὁδὸν θαλάσσης, in ver. 15. Ἐν
ὁρίοις, &c., may either mean: "In the borders of Zebulun and Naphtali,"
_i. e._ in that place where [Pg 79] the borders of both the countries
meet,--or τὰ ὅρια may, according to the analogy of the Hebrew גבולים,
denote the borders in the sense of "territory," as in Matt. ii. 16.
From a comparison of γῆ Ζαβουλὼν καὶ Νεφαλείμ of the prophecy in ver. 15,
to which the words stand in direct reference, it follows that the
latter view is the correct one. Whether Capernaum lay just on the
borders between the two countries was of no consequence to the
prophecy, and hence was of none to Matthew.--The phrase ἵνα πληρωθῇ does
not, according to the very sound remark of _De Wette_, point to the
intention, but to the objective aim. The question, however, is to what
the ἵνα πληρωθῆ is to be referred,--whether merely to that which
immediately precedes, viz., the change of residence from Nazareth to
Capernaum, or, at the same time to ἀνεχώρησεν εἰν τὴν Γαλιλαίαν. The
latter is alone correct. The prophecy which the Evangelist has in view
referred mainly to Galilee, or the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali in
general; but, according to the express remark of the Evangelist,
Nazareth itself was likewise situated in Galilee. The advantage which
Capernaum had over it was this only, that in Capernaum the ὁδὸν θαλάσσης
of the prophecy was found again, and that, therefore, thence the πέραν
τοῦ Ἰορδάνου of the prophecy also could be better realized, inasmuch as
across the lake there was an easy communication from that place with
the country beyond Jordan. The connection is hence this: After the
imprisonment of the Baptist, Jesus, in order to enter upon His
ministry, went to Galilee, and especially to Capernaum, which was
situated on the lake, in order that thus the prophecy of Isaiah as to
the glorification of Galilee, and of the region on the lake, might be
fulfilled.--Matthew has abridged the passage. From chap. viii. 23 (ix.
1) he has taken the designation of the part of the country, in order
that the agreement of fulfilment and prophecy might become visible. The
words from γῆ--τῶν ἐθνῶν may either be regarded as a fragment taken out
of its connection, so that they are viewed as a quotation, and as
forming a period by themselves (this, from a comparison of the
original, seems most natural);--or we may also suppose, that the
Evangelist, having broken-up the connection with the preceding, puts
these words into a new connection, so that, along with the ὁ λαός, which
has become an apposition, they form [Pg 80] the subject of the
following sentence. At all events, ὁδόν takes here the place of the
adverb, although it may not be possible to adduce instances and proofs
altogether analogous from the Greek _usus loquendi_.--The confidence
with which Matthew explains chap. viii. 23, and ix. 1 of Christ can be
accounted for only from the circumstance that he recognized Christ as
He who in chap. ix. 5, 6, (6, 7) is described as the author of all the
blessings designated in the preceding verses. It was therefore
altogether erroneous in _Gesenius_ to assert that there was the less
reason for holding the Messianic explanation of chap. ix. 5, 6, as
there was no testimony of the New Testament in favour of it.--It is
quite obvious that Matthew does not quote the Old Testament prophecy in
reference to any single special event which happened at Capernaum; but
that rather the whole following account of the glorious deeds of Christ
in Galilee, as well as in Peraea, down to chap. xix. 1, serves to mark
the fulfilment of this Old Testament prophecy, and is subservient to
this quotation. _This passage of Matthew explains the reason, why it is
that he, and Luke and Mark who closely follow him, report henceforth,
until the last journey of Jesus to Jerusalem, exclusively facts which
happened in Galilee, and in Peraea, which likewise was mentioned by
Isaiah._ The circumstance that this fact, which is so obvious, was not
perceived, has called forth a number of miserable conjectures, and has
even led some interpreters to assail the credibility of the Gospel. To
Matthew, who wished to show that Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah
promised in the Old Testament, the interest must, in the view of the
prophecy under consideration, be necessarily concentrated upon Galilee;
and Mark and Luke followed him in this, perceiving that it was not
becoming to them to open up a path altogether new. This was reserved to
the second Apostle from among the Evangelists.

Ver. 2 (3). "_Thou multipliest the nation to which thou didst not
increase the joy; they joy before thee like the joy in harvest, and as
they rejoice when they divide the spoil._"

The Prophet beholds the joy of the Messianic time as present; he
beholds the covenant-people numerous, free from all misery, and full of
joy; full of delight he turns to the Lord, and praises Him for what He
has done to His people.--One [Pg 81] of the privileges of the people of
God is the increase which at all times takes place after they are
sifted and thinned by judgments. Thus, _e.g._, it happened at the time
after their return from the captivity, comp. Ps. cvii. 38, 39: "And He
blesseth them, and they are multiplied greatly, and He suffereth not
their cattle to decrease. They who were minished and brought low
through affliction, oppression, and sorrow." But this increase took
place most gloriously at the time of Christ, when a numerous multitude
of adopted sons from among the Gentiles were received into the Church
of God, and thus the promise to Abraham: "I will make of thee a great
nation" (גוי as in the passage before us, and not עם), received its
final fulfilment. From the arguments which we advanced in Vol. i. on
Hosea ii. 1, it appears that the increase which the Church received by
the reception of the Gentiles is, according to the biblical view, to be
considered as an increase of the people of Israel. The fundamental
thought of Ps. lxxxvii. is: Zion the birth-place of the nations; by the
new birth the Gentiles are received in Israel. The manner in which the
Gentiles show their anxiety to be received in Israel is described by
Isaiah in chap. xliv. 5. The commentary on the words: "Thou multipliest
the nation," is furnished to us by chap. liv. 1 ff., where, in
immediate connection with the prophecy regarding the Servant of God who
bears the sin of the world, it is said: "Sing, O barren, thou that
didst not bear, break forth into singing, and shout thou that didst not
travail with child; for more are the children of the desolate than the
children of the married wife, saith the Lord." Comp. also chap. lxvi.
7-9, and Ezek. xxxvii. 25, 26: "And my servant David shall be their
prince for ever. And I make a covenant with them and multiply them."
Several interpreters, _e. g._ _Calvin_, _Vitringa_, suppose that the
Prophet in this verse (and so likewise in the two following verses)
speaks, in the first instance, of a nearer prosperity, of the rapid
increase of the people after the Babylonish captivity. _Vitringa_
directs attention to the fact, that the Jewish people after the
captivity did not only fill Judea, but spread also in Egypt, Syria,
Mesopotamia, Asia Minor, Greece, and Italy. And surely we cannot deny
that in this increase, no less than in the new flourishing of the
people after the defeat of Sennacherib also, there is a _prelude_ to
the real fulfilment; [Pg 82] and that so much the more that these
precursory increases, happening, as they did, regularly after the
decreases, were bestowed upon the covenant-people with a view to the
future appearance of Christ. These increases enter into a still closer
relation to the prophecy under consideration, if we keep in mind that
in chap. vii. the Prophet anticipates in spirit the appearance of
Christ, and that it is with this representation that, in the Section
before us, chap. viii. 8, 10 are connected. In order to refute the
explanation of _Umbriet_: "Thou hast multiplied the _heathen_, and
thereby thou hast removed all joy; but now," &c., it will be quite
sufficient to refer to the parallel passage, chap. xxvi. 15: "Thou
increasest the _people_, O Lord, thou art glorified, thou removest all
the boundaries of the land," where, just as in the verse before us, by
הגוי "the people," Israel is designated; and that is frequently the
case where the notion of the multitude, the mass only is concerned,
comp. Gen. xii. 2.--"_Thou didst not increase the joy_" stands for: to
whom thou formerly didst not increase the joy, to whom thou gavest but
little joy, upon whom thou inflictedst severe sufferings. The
antithesis is quite the same as in chap. viii. 23 (ix. 1), where the
former distress is contrasted with the light which is now to shine upon
them, the former disgrace with the later glory; and in the same manner
in chap. ix. 1 (2), where the present _light_ is rendered brighter by
being contrasted with the former _darkness_. The contrast of the
present _increase_ with the former absence of joys shows that the joy
is to be viewed as being connected with the increase, and that if
formerly the joy was less, the reason of it was chiefly in the
_decrease_. Ps. cvii. 38, 39, 41, shews how affliction and decrease,
joy and increase, go hand in hand; farther, Jerem. xxx. 19: "And out of
them proceed thanksgivings, and the voice of the merry ones; and I
multiply them, and they do not decrease; and I honour them, and they
are not small." The decrease is a single symptom only of a depressed,
joyless condition, which everywhere in the kingdom of God shall be
brought to an end by Christ. Most of the ancient translators (LXX.,
Chald., Syr.) follow the marginal reading לו, "_to him_" hast thou
increased the joy. According to many modern interpreters, לא is
supposed to be a different mode of writing for לו. But no _proof_ that
could stand the test can be brought forward for [Pg 83] such a mode of
writing; nor is there any reason for supposing that לא stands here in a
different sense from what it does in chap. viii. 23, and it would
indeed be strange that לו should have been placed before the verb. At
most, it might be supposed that the Prophet intended an ambiguous and
double sense: (not/to him) didst thou increase the joy. But altogether
apart from such an ambiguous and double sense, behind the negative, at
all events, the positive is concealed; thou multipliest the people, and
increasest to them the joy, thou who formerly didst decrease their joy,
&c.; and it is to this positive that the words refer which, in Luke ii.
10, the angels address to the shepherds: μὴ φοβεῖσθε, ἰδοὺ γὰρ
εὐαγγελίζομαι ὑμῖν χαρὰν μεγάλην ἥτις ἔσται παντὶ τῷ λαῷ ὅτι ἐτέχθη ὑμῖν
σήμερον σωτὴρ, ὅς ἐστι Χριστὸς Κύριος; comp. Matth. ii. 10.--In the
following words, the Prophet expresses, in the first instance, the
nature of the joy, then its greatness. The joy over the blessings
received is a joy _before God_, under a sense of His immediate
presence. The expression is borrowed from the sacrificial feasts in the
courts before the sanctuary, at which the partakers rejoiced _before
the Lord_, Deut. xii. 7, 12, 18, xiv. 26. In Immanuel, God with his
blessings and gifts has truly entered into the midst of His people.
With the joy at _the dividing of the spoil_, the joy is compared only
to show its greatness, just as with the joy _in the harvest_; and it is
in vain that Knobel tries here to bring in a dividing of spoil.

Vers. 3, (4). "_For the yoke of his burden and the staff of his neck,
the rod of his driver thou hast broken as in the day of Midian._"

In this verse, the reason of the people's joy announced in the
preceding verse is stated: it is the deliverance from the world's
power, under the oppression of which they groaned, or, in point of
fact, were to groan. He who imposes the _yoke_ and the _staff_, the
_driver_, (an allusion to the Egyptian taskmasters, masters, comp.
Exod. iii. 7; v. 10), is Asshur, and the _whole_ world's power hostile
to the Kingdom of God, which is represented by him, and which by Christ
was to receive, and has received, a mortal blow. A prelude to the
fulfilment took place by the defeat of Sennacherib under Hezekiah,
comp. chap. x. 5, 24, 27; xiv. 25. After him. Babel had to experience
[Pg 84] the destructive power of the Lord, the single phases of which,
pervading, as they do, all history, are here comprehended in one great
act. Although the definitive fulfilment begins first with the
appearance of Christ in the flesh, who spoke to His people: θαρσεῖτε,
ἐγὼ νενίκηκα τὸν κόσμον, yet after what we remarked on ver. 2, we are
fully entitled to consider the former catastrophes also of the kingdoms
of the world as preludes to the real fulfilment.--שכם "shoulder" does
not suit as the _membrum cui verbera infliguntur_; it comes, as is
commonly the case, into consideration as that member with which burdens
are borne. The _staff_ or tyranny is a heavy _burden_, comp. chap. x.
27: "His burden shall be taken away from off thy shoulder." "_As in the
day of Midian_" is equivalent to: as thou once didst break the yoke of
Midian. This event was especially fitted to serve as a type of the
glorious future victory over the world's power, partly because the
oppression by Midian was very hard,--according to Judges vii. 12,
Midian, Amalek, and the sons of the East broke in upon the land like
grasshoppers for multitude, and their camels were without number, as
the sand by the seaside for multitude--partly because the help of the
Lord (_thou_ hast broken) was at that time specially visible. "I will
be with thee," says the Lord to Gideon in Judges vi. 16, "and thou
shalt smite the Midianites as one man;" and Judges vii. 2: "The people
that are with thee are too many, as that I could give the Midianites
into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying: Mine
own hand hath saved me."

Vers. 4, (5). "_For every war-shoe put on with noise, and the garment
rolled in blood: it is for burning, food of fire._"

We have here the reason why the tyranny is broken: _for_ the enemies of
the Kingdom of God shall entirely and for ever be rendered incapable of
carrying on warfare. If the noisy war-shoes, and their blood-stained
garments are to be burned, they themselves must, of course, have been
previously destroyed. But, if that be the case, then all war and
tyranny are come to an end, "for the dead do not live, and the shades
do not rise," chap. xxvi. 14. The parallel passages, Ps. xlvi. 10, and
Ezek. xxxix. 9, 10, do not permit us to doubt that the burning of the
war-shoes and of the bloody garments come into consideration here as a
consequence of the destruction of [Pg 85] the conquerors. Nor can we,
according to these passages, entertain, for a moment, the idea of
_Meier_, that those bloody garments belong to _Israel_.

Vers. 5 (6). "_For unto us a child is horn, unto us a son is given, and
the government is upon his shoulders, and his name shall be called
Wonder-Counsellor, God-Hero, Ever-Father, Prince of Peace._"

The Prophet had hitherto spoken only of the salvation which is to
spread from Galilee over the rest of the country; it is first here that
its author, in all His sublime glory, comes before him; and, having
come to him, the prophecy rises to exalted feelings of joy. In chap.
vii. 14, the Prophet beholds the Saviour as being already born; hence
the Preterites ילד and נתן. If any one should imagine that from the use
of these Preterites he were entitled to infer that the subject of the
prophecy must, at that time, already have been born, he must also, on
account of the Preterites in vers. 1 (2) suppose that the announced
salvation had at that time been already bestowed upon Israel,--which no
interpreter does. _Hitzig_ correctly remarks: "Because He is still
_future_, the Prophet in His first appearance, beholds Him as a child,
and as the son of another." _Whose_ son He is we are not told; but it
is supposed to be already known. Ever since the revelation in 2 Sam.
vii., the Messiah could be conceived of as the Son of David only;
compare the words: "Upon the throne of David" in vers. 6 (7), and chap.
xi. 1, lv. 3. As the Son of God the Saviour appears as early as in Ps.
ii.; and it is to that Psalm that the "God-Hero" alludes, and connects
itself. Alluding to the passage before us, we read in John iii. 16: οὕτω
γὰρ ἠγάπησεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν κόσμον ("The zeal of the Lord of hosts will
perform this,") vers. 6 [7], ὥστε τὸν υἱὸν τὸν μονογενῆ ἔδωκεν.--When
grown up, the Son has the government upon His shoulder. The Prophet
contrasts Christ with the _world's power_, which threatened destruction
to the people of God. This, then, refers to the _Kingly office_ of
Christ, and the state of glory. Parallel is the declaration of Christ
in Matt. xxviii. 18, ἐδόθη μοι πᾶσα ἐξουσία. The Lord has also, in John
xviii. 37, confirmed the truth that He is _King_; and it is upon the
ground of His own declaration that Pilate designates Him upon the cross
as a King. Although His Kingdom is not of [Pg 86] this world, John
xviii. 36, it is, just for that very reason, so much the more
all-governing. The ἐντεῦθεν in that passage is contrasted with the words
"from heaven" in Dan. ii., by which, in that passage, its absolute
superiority over all the kingdoms of the world, and its crushing power
are declared to be indissolubly connected.--"_The shoulder_" comes,
here also, as in vers. 3 (4), chap. x. 27, into consideration in so far
as on it we _bear_; comp. Gen. xlix. 15; Ps. lxxxi. 7. The bearer of an
office has it, as it were, on his shoulders.--The Jewish interpreters,
despairing of being able, with any appearance of truth, to apply the
following attributes to Hezekiah, insist that, with the exception of
the last, they denote Him who calls, not Him who is called: the
Wonderful, &c., called him Prince of peace. Altogether apart from the
consideration that this is in opposition to the accents, the mentioning
of so many names of Jehovah is here quite unsuitable; and, in all other
passages, the noun put after שמו קרא designates always him who is
called. Modern Exegesis has tried everything with a view to deprive the
names of their deep meaning, in order to adapt them to a Messiah in the
ordinary Jewish sense, hence, to do that of which the Jews themselves
had already despaired. But, in doing so, they have considered the names
too much by themselves, overlooking the circumstance that the full and
deeper meaning of the individual attributes, as it at first sight
presents itself, must, in the connection in which they here occur, be
so much the rather held fast. The names are completed in the number
_four_,--the mark of that which is complete and finished. _They form two
pairs, and every single name is again compounded of two names._ The
first name is פלא יועץ. That these two words must be _connected_ with
one another (_Theodor._--θαυμαστῶς βουλεύων) appears from the analogy
of the other names, especially of אל גבּור with whom פלא יועץ forms one
pair; and then from the circumstance that יועץ alone would, in this
connection, be too indefinite. The words do not stand in the relation
of the _Status constructus_, but are connected in the same manner as
פלא אדם in Gen. xvi. 12. יועץ designates the attribute which is here
concerned, while פלא points out the supernatural, superhuman degree in
which the King possesses this attribute, and the infinite riches of
consolation and help which are to be found in such [Pg 87] a King. As a
_Counsellor_, He is a _Wonder_, absolutely elevate d above everything
which the earth possesses in excellency of counselling. As פלא commonly
denotes "wonder" in the strictest sense (comp. chap. xxv. 1: "I will
exalt thee, I will praise thy name, for thou hast done wonders," Ps.
lxxvii. 15: "Thou art the God that doest wonders;" Exod. xv. 11); as it
here stands in parallelism with אל God; as the whole context demands
that we should take the words in their full meaning;--we can consider
it only as an arbitrary weakening of the sense, that several
interpreters explain פלא יועץ "extraordinary Counsellor." Parallel is
Judges xiii. 18 where the Angel of the Lord, after having announced the
birth of Samson, says: "Why askest thou thus after my name?--it is
wonderful," פלאי, _i.e._, my whole nature is wonderful, of unfathomable
depth, and cannot, therefore, be expressed by any human name.
_Farther_--Revel. xix. 12 is to be compared, where Christ has a name
written that no man knows but He himself, to intimate the immeasurable
glory of His nature. That which is here, in the first instance, said of
a single attribute of the King, applies, at the same time, to all
others, holds true of His whole nature; the King is a Wonder as a
Counsellor, because His whole person is wonderful. A proof, both of the
connection of the two words, and against the weakening of the sense, is
afforded by the parallel passage, chap. xxviii. 29, where it is said of
the Most High God הפליא עצה, "He shows himself wonderful in His
counsel."--The second name is אל גבּור "God-Hero." Besides the ability
of giving good counsel, a good government requires also גבורה strength,
heroic power: comp. chap. xi. 2, according to which the spirit of
counsel and strength rest upon the Messiah. What may not be expected
from a King who not only, like a David in a higher degree, possesses
the greatest _human measure_ of heroic strength, but who is also a
_God-Hero_, and a _Hero-God_, so that with His appearance there
_disappears_ completely the contrast of the invisible Head of the
people of God, and of His visible substitute,--a contrast which so
often manifested itself, to the great grief of the covenant-people? The
God-Hero forms the contrast to a human hero whose heroic might is,
after all, always _limited_, אל גבור can signify God-Hero only, a Hero
who is infinitely exalted above all human heroes [Pg 88] by the
circumstance that He is _God_. To the attempts at weakening the import
of the name, chap. x. 21, where אל גבור is said of the Most High,
appears a very inconvenient obstacle,--a parallel passage which does
not occur by chance, but where שאר ישוב stands with an intentional
reference to chap. vii.: "The remnant shall return, the remnant of
Jacob, unto the Hero-God," who is furnished with invincible strength
for His people; comp. Ps. xxiv. 8: "The Lord strong and a hero, the
Lord a hero of war." The older Rationalistic exposition endeavoured to
set aside the deity of the Messiah by the explanation: "strong hero."
So also did _Gesenius_. This explanation, against which chap. x. 21
should have warned, has been for ever set aside by the remark of
_Hitzig_: "Commonly, in opposition to all the _usus loquendi_, the word
is translated by: _strong hero_. But אל is always, even in passages
such as Gen. xxxi. 29, "God," and in all those passages which are
adduced to prove that it means "_princeps_," "_potens_," the forms are
to be derived not from אל, but from איל, which properly means 'ram,'
then 'leader,' 'prince.'" By this explanation, especially the passage
Ezek. xxxii. 21, which had formerly been appealed to in support of the
translation "strong hero," is set aside; for the אלי גבּורים of that
passage are "rams of heroes." Rationalistic interpreters now differ in
their attempts at getting rid of the troublesome fact. _Hitzig_ says,
"Strong God"--he erroneously views גבּור, which always means "hero," as
an adjective--"the future deliverer is called by the oriental not
strictly separating the Divine and human, and He is called so by way of
exaggeration, in so far as He possesses divine qualities." A like
opinion is expressed by _Knobel_: "Strong God the Messiah is called,
because in the wars with the Gentiles He will prove himself as a hero
equipped with divine strength." The expression proves a divine nature
as little as when in Ps. lxxxii. 1-6, comp. John x. 34, 35, kings are,
in general, called אלהים, "gods, _Like_ God, to be compared to Him, a
worthy representative of Him, and hence, likewise, called God." It is
true that there is one אל גבּור only, and that, according to chap. x.
21, the Messiah cannot be אל גבּור beside the Most High God, excepting
_by partaking in his nature_. Such a participation in the nature, not
His being merely filled with the power of [Pg 89] God, is absolutely
required to explain the expression. It is true that in the Law of Moses
all those who have to command or to judge, all those to whom, for some
reason or other, respect or reverence is due, are consecrated as the
representatives of God on earth; _e.g._, a court of justice is of God,
and he who appears before it appears before God. But the name _Elohim_
is there given _in general only to the judicial court_, which
represents God--to the _office_, not to the single individuals who are
invested with it. In Ps. lxxxii. 1, the name _Elohim_ in the
expression: "He judgeth among the gods" is given to the single, judging
individual; comp. also ver. 6; but this passage forms an isolated
exception. To explain, from it, the passage before us is inadmissible,
even from chap. x. 21, where אל גבּור stands in its fullest sense. It
must not be overlooked that that passage in Ps. lxxxii. belongs to
higher poetry; that the author himself there mitigates in ver. 6, in
the parallel member, the strength of the expression: "I have said ye
are _Elohim_, and sons of the Most High ye all;" and, finally, that
there _Elohim_ is used as the most vague and general name of God, while
here _El_, a personal name, is used. _Hendewerk_, _Ewald_, and others,
finally, explain "_God's hero_," _i.e._, "a divine hero, who, like an
invincible God, fights and conquers." But in opposition to this view,
it has been remarked by _Meier_ that then necessarily the words ought
to run, גבור אל. It is farther obvious that by this explanation the
גבור אל here is, in a manner not to be admitted, disconnected and
severed from those passages where it occurs as an attribute of the Most
High God; comp. besides chap. x. 21; Deut. x. 17; Jer. xxxii. 18.

The third name is _Father of eternity_. That admits of a double
explanation. Several interpreters refer to the Arabic _usus loquendi_,
according to which he is called the father of a thing who possesses it;
_e.g._, Father of mercy, _i.e._, the merciful one. This _usus
loquendi_, according to the supposition formerly very current, occurs
in Hebrew very frequently, especially in proper names, _e.g._, טוב אבי.
"Father of goodness," _i.e._, the good one. According to this view.
Father of eternity would be equivalent to Eternal one. According to the
opinion of others. Father of eternity is _he who will ever be a
Father_, _an affectionate provider_, comp. chap. xxii. 21, where
Eliakim [Pg 90] is called "_Father_ to the inhabitants of Jerusalem;"
Job xxix. 16; Ps. lxviii. 6. _Luther_, too, thus explains: "Who at all
times feeds His Kingdom and Church, in whom there is a fatherly love
without end." The _latter_ view is to be preferred unconditionally.
Against the former view is the circumstance that all the other names
stand in direct reference to the salvation of the covenant-people,
while, in the mere eternity, this reference would not distinctly enough
appear. And it has farther been rightly remarked by _Ewald_, that that
_usus loquendi_ in Arabic always belongs to the artificial, often to
jocular discourse. Whether it occur in Hebrew at all is still a matter
of controversy; _Ewald_, § 27, denies that it occurs in proper names
also. On the other hand, the paternal love, the rich kindness and
mercy, exceedingly well suit the first two names which indicate
unfathomable _wisdom_, and divine _heroic strength_. The rationalistic
interpreters labour very hard to _weaken_ the idea of _eternity_. But
the "Provider for life" agrees very ill with the _Wonder-Counsellor_,
and the _God-hero_. The absolute eternity of the Messiah's dominion is,
on the foundation of 2 Sam. vii., most emphatically declared in other
passages also (comp. vol. i., p. 132, 133), and meets us here again
immediately in the following verse. The name Ever-Father, too, leads
us to _divine Majesty_, comp. chap. xlv. 17: "Israel is saved by
the Lord with an _everlasting_ salvation; ye shall not be ashamed
nor confounded in all _eternity_" chap. lvii. 15, where God is called
שכן עד "the ever dwelling;" farther, Ps. lxviii. 6: "A _Father_ of the
fatherless, and a judge of the widows is God in His holy habitation,"
where the providence of God for the _personae miserabiles_ is
praised with a special reference to that which He does for His poor
people.--_Hitzig's_ explanation: "Father of prey," does not suit the
prophetic style, and has, in general, no analogy from Hebrew to adduce
in its favour. The circumstance that, in the verse immediately
following, the eternity of the government is mentioned, shows that עד
must be taken in its ordinary signification "eternity."

The fourth name, _Prince of peace_, stands purposely at the end, and is
to be considered as strongly emphatic. War, hostile oppression, the
distress of the servitude which threatens the people of God,--these are
the things which, in the first instance, [Pg 91] have directed the
Prophet's eye to the Messiah. The name points back to Solomon who
typified Christ's dominion of peace, and who himself, in the Song of
Solomon, transfers his name to Christ (comp. my Comment. S. 1 ff.);
then to the Shiloh, Gen. xlix. 10 (comp. vol. i, 84, 85). We should
misunderstand the name were we to infer from it that, in the Messianic
time, all war should cease. Were such to be the case, why is it that,
immediately before, the Redeemer is designated as _God-Hero_? Peace is
the aim; it is offered to all the nations in Christ; but those who
reject it, who rise up against His Kingdom, He throws down, as the
God-Hero, with a powerful hand, and _obtains by force_ peace for His
people. But war, as far as it takes place, is carried on in a form
different from that which existed under the Old dispensation. According
to Micah v. 9 (10), ff., the Lord makes His people outwardly
defenceless, before they become in Christ world-conquering; comp. vol.
i., p. 515. According to chap. xi. 4, Christ smiteth the earth with the
rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He slayeth the

Ver. 6 (7.) "_To the increase of the government and to the peace, there
is no end, upon the throne of David and over his kingdom, so that he
establisheth it, and supporteth it by justice and righteousness, from
henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of Hosts shall perform

There is no reason for connecting this verse with the preceding one; in
which case the sense would be: "For the increase of government and for
peace without end." _For_ chap. ii. 7; Nah. ii. 10; Job. xvi. 3--in
which ל with קץ occurs in the very same sense--clearly show that the ל
in לשלום and למרבה may very well be understood as a mere sign of the
Dative. And the objection that the following להכין, &c. would, in that
case, be unsuitable, is removed if it be explained: so that He
establisheth, &c., or: by His establishing, &c.; comp. _Ewald_,
_Lehrbuch der Hebr. Sprache_ § 280 d. The words designate the basis on
which the increase of government and the peace rest. The Kingdom of God
will, through the Redeemer, acquire an ever increasing _extent_, and,
along with it, perfect _peace_ shall be enjoyed by the world. For it is
not by rude force that this kingdom is to be founded and established,
as is the case with worldly kingdoms, in which increase of [Pg 92]
government and peace, far from being always connected, are, on the
contrary, irreconcilable opponents, but by _justice_ and
_righteousness_. Parallel is Ps. lxvii. In vers. 11-15 of that Psalm,
the Psalmist just points to that "by which all nations and kings are
induced to do homage to that king; it is just that which, in the whole
Psalm, appears as the root of everything else, viz., the absolute
justice of the king." _Decrease_ of government and _war_ without end
were, meanwhile, in prospect, and they were so, because those who were
sitting on the throne of David did not support his kingdom by justice
and righteousness. But the Psalmist intimates to the trembling minds
that such is not the end of the ways of God with His people; that at
last the idea of the Kingdom of God will be realized. From the
fundamental passage, Ps. lxxii. 8-11, and parallel passages, such as
chap. ii. 2, 4; Mic. v. 3 (4); Zech. ix. 10, it is obvious that, as
regards the endless increase of the government, the Prophet thinks of
all the nations of the earth. On the _peace_ without end, comp. Ps.
lxxii. 7; chap. ii. 4; Mic. v. 4 (5), and the words: "He speaketh peace
unto the heathen," Zech. ix. 10. The ל designates the substratum on
which the increase of dominion and the peace manifest themselves; the
dominion of the Davidic family and its kingdom gain infinitely in
extent, and in the same degree peace also increases. In these words the
Prophet gives an intimation that the Messiah will proceed from David's
family, comp. chap. xi. 1 where he designates Him as the twig of
Jesse.--הכין "to confirm," "to establish," used of throne and kingdom,
1 Sam. xiii. 13, comp. 14; 1 Kings ii. 12, comp. ver. 24, and farther,
chap. xvi. 5.--The words: "from henceforth even for ever" do not, as
_Umbreit_ supposes, refer to every thing in this verse, but to the
words immediately preceding. That the words must be understood in their
full sense, we have already proved in our remarks on the fundamental
passage, 2 Sam. vii. 13: "And I will establish the throne of His
kingdom for ever;" see Vol. i. p. 131. _Michaelis_ says: "So that that
promise to David shall never fail." The עתה does not refer to the
_actual_, but to the _ideal_ present, to the first appearance of the
Redeemer, to the words: "Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is
given, and the government is upon His shoulder."--This great change is
brought about [Pg 93] by the _zeal_ of the Lord who raises this
glorious King to His people; comp. John iii. 16. The zeal in itself is
only _energy_; the sphere of its exercise is, in every instance,
determined by the context. In Exod. xv. 5; Deut. iv. 24; Nah. i. 2, the
zeal is the energy of wrath. In the passage before us, as in the Song
of Solomon viii. 6, and in chap. xxxvii. 32: "For out of Jerusalem
shall go forth a remnant, and escaped ones out of Mount Zion; the zeal
of the Lord of hosts shall do this," the zeal of God means the
energetic character of His love to Zion.

We must, in conclusion, still make a few remarks, on the interpretation
of vers. 5 and 6. The older interpreters were unanimous in referring
these verses to the Messiah. Even by the Jews, this explanation was
abandoned at a subsequent period only. To the Messiah this passage is
referred by the Chaldean Paraphrast, by the Commentary on Genesis known
by the name _Breshith Rabbah_ in the exposition of Genesis xli. 44 (see
_Raim. Martini Pugio fidei_, Vol. iii. sec. 3, chap. xiv. § 6), by
Rabbi _Jose Galilaeus_ in the book _Ekha Rabbati_, a Commentary on
Lamentations (see _Raim. Matt._ iii. 3 chap. 4, § 13). _Ben Sira_ (fol.
40 ed., Amstel. 1679), mentions among the eight names of the Messiah,
the following from the passage before us: Wonderful, Counsellor, El
Gibbor, Prince of Peace. But the late Jewish interpreters found it
objectionable that the Messiah, in opposition to their doctrinal views,
was here described as God; for doctrinal reasons, therefore, they gave
up the received interpretation, and sought to adapt the passage to
Hezekiah. Among these, however, _Rabbi Lipmann_ allows the Messianic
explanation to a certain degree to remain. Acknowledging that the
prophecy could not refer exclusively to Hezekiah, he extends it to all
the successors from the House of David, including the Messiah, by whom
it is to attain its most perfect fulfilment. Among Christian
interpreters, _Grotius_ was the first to abandon the Messianic
explanation. Even _Clericus_ acknowledges that the predicates are
applicable to Hezekiah "_sensu admodum diluto_" only. At the time when
Rationalism had the ascendancy, it became pretty current to explain
them of Hezekiah. _Gesenius_ modified this view by supposing that the
Prophet had connected his Messianic wishes and expectations with
Hezekiah, and [Pg 94] expected their realization by him. At present
this view is nearly abandoned; after _Gesenius_, _Hendewerk_ is the
only one who still endeavours to defend it.

Against the application to Hezekiah even this single argument is
decisive, that a glory is here spoken of, which is to be bestowed
especially upon Galilee which belonged to the kingdom of the ten
tribes. _Farther_--Although the prophecy be considered as a human
foreboding only, how could the Prophet, to whom, everywhere else such a
sharp eye is ascribed, that, from it, they endeavour to explain his
fulfilled prophecies,--how could the Prophet have expected that
Hezekiah, who was at that time a boy of about nine years of age, and
who appeared under such unfavourable circumstances, should realize the
hopes which he here utters in reference to the world's power, should
conquer that power definitively and for ever, should infinitely extend
his kingdom, and establish an everlasting dominion? How could he have
ascribed divine attributes to Hezekiah who, in his human weakness,
stood before him? _Finally_--The undeniable agreement of the prophecy
before us with other Messianic passages, especially with Ps. lxxii. and
Is. xi., where even _Gesenius_ did not venture to maintain the
reference to Hezekiah, is decidedly in opposition to the reference to

                           THE TWIG OF JESSE.
                           (Chap. xi., xii.)

These chapters constitute part of a larger whole which begins with
chap. x. 5. With regard to the time of the composition of this
discourse, it appears, from chap. x. 9-11, that Samaria was already
conquered. The prophecy, therefore, cannot be prior to the sixth year
of Hezekiah. On the other hand, the defeat of the Assyrian host, which,
under Sennacherib, invaded Judah, is announced as being still future.
The prophecy, accordingly, falls into the period between the 6th and
the 14th year of Hezekiah's reign. From the circumstance that in it [Pg
95] the king of Asshur is represented as being about to march against
Jerusalem, it is commonly inferred that it was uttered shortly before
the destruction of the Assyrian host, and hence, belongs to the
fourteenth year of Hezekiah. But this ground is not very safe. It would
certainly be overlooking the liveliness with which the prophets beheld
and represented future things as present; it would be confounding the
_ideal_ Present with the _actual_, if we were to infer from vers. 28-32
that the Assyrian army must already have reached the single stations
mentioned there. The utmost that we are entitled to infer from this
liveliness of description is, that the Assyrian army was already on its
march; but not even that can be inferred with certainty. In favour of
the immediate nearness of the danger, however, is the circumstance
that, in the prophecy, the threatening is kept so much in the
background; that, from the outset, it is comforting and encouraging,
and begins at once with the announcement of Asshur's destruction, and
Judah's deliverance. This seems to suggest that the place which,
everywhere else, is occupied by the threatening, was here taken by the
events themselves; so that of the two enemies of salvation, proud
security and despair, the latter only was here to be met. The prophecy
before us opens the whole series of the prophecies out of the 14th year
of Hezekiah, the most remarkable year of the Prophet's life, rich in
the revelations of divine glory, in which his prophecy flowed in full
streams, and spread on all sides.

The prophecy divides itself into two parts. The first, chap. x. 5-34,
contains the threatening against Asshur, who was just preparing to
inflict the deadly blow upon the people of God. The fact that in chap.
xi. we have not an absolutely new beginning before us, sufficiently
appears from the general analogy, according to which, as a rule, the
Messianic prophecy does not _begin_ the prophetical discourse; but
still more clearly from the circumstance that chap. xi. begins with
"and;" to which argument may still be added the fact that the figure in
the first verse of this chapter evidently refers to the figure in the
last verse of the preceding chapter. Asshur had there been represented
as a stately forest which was to be cut down by the hand of the Lord;
while here the house of David appears as a stem cut down, from the
roots of which a small twig shall [Pg 96] come forth, which, although
unassuming at first, is to grow up into a fruit-bearing tree. The
purpose of the whole discourse was to strengthen and comfort believers
on the occasion of Asshur's inroad into the country; to bring it home
to the convictions of those who were despairing of the Kingdom of God,
that He who is in the midst of them is greater than the world with all
its apparent power; and thereby to awaken and arouse them to resign
themselves entirely into the hands of their God. It is for this purpose
that the Prophet first describes the catastrophe of Asshur; that, then,
in chap. xi., he points to the highest glorification which in future is
destined for the Church of God by the appearance of Christ, in order
that she may the more clearly perceive that every fear regarding her
existence is folly.

The connection of the two passages appears so much the more plainly
when we consider, that that which, in chap. x., was said of Asshur, and
especially the close in vers. 33 and 34: "Behold Jehovah of hosts cuts
down the branches with power, and those of a high stature shall be hewn
down, and the high ones shall be made low. And He cuts down the
thickets of the forest with the iron, and Lebanon shall fall by the
glorious one," _refers to him as the representative of the whole
world's power_; that the defeat of Sennacherib before Jerusalem is to
be considered as the nearest fulfilment only, but not as the _full_ and
_real_ fulfilment.

From the family of David sunk into total obscurity--such is the
substance--there shall, at some future period, rise a Ruler who, at
first low and without appearance, shall attain to great glory and
bestow rich blessings,--a Ruler furnished with the fulness of the
Spirit of God and of His gifts, filled with the fear of God, looking
sharply and deeply, and not blinded by any appearance, just and an
helper of the oppressed, an almighty avenger of wickedness, ver. 1-5.
By him all the consequences of the fall, even down to the irrational
creation, in the world of men and of nature, shall be removed, ver.
6-9. Around Him the Gentiles, formerly addicted to idols, shall gather,
ver. 10. In ver. 11-16 the Prophet describes what he is to do for
Israel, to whom the discourse was in the first instance addressed, and
upon whom it was to impress the word: "Fear not." Under Him they obtain
deliverance [Pg 97] from the condition of being scattered and exiled
from the face of the Lord, the removal of pernicious dissensions,
conquering power in relation to the world which assails them, and the
removal of all obstacles to salvation by the powerful arm of the Lord.

The reference of the prophecy to the Messiah is, among all the
explanations, the most ancient. We find it in the Targum of Jonathan,
who thus renders the first verse: ויפק מלכא מבנוהי דישי ומשיחא מבני
בנוהי יתרבי. St. Paul quotes this prophecy in Rom. xv. 12, and proves
from it the calling of the Gentiles. In 2 Thes. ii. 8 he quotes the
words of ver. 4, and assigns to Christ what is said in it. In Rev. v.
5, xxii. 16, Christ, with reference to ver. 1 and 10, is called the
root of David. The Messianic explanation was defended by most of the
older Jewish interpreters, especially by _Jarchi_, _Abarbanel_, and
_Kimchi_.[1] It is professed even by most of the rationalistic
interpreters, by the modern ones especially, without any exception
(_Eichhorn_, _De Wette_, _Gesenius_, _Hitzig_, _Maurer_, _Ewald_),
although, it is true, they distinguish between Jesus Christ and the
Messiah of the Old Testament,--as, _e.g._, _Gesenius_ has said:
"Features such as those in ver. 4 and 5 exclude any other than the
political Messiah, and King of the Israelitish state," and _Hitzig_: "A
political Messiah whose attributes, especially those assigned to him
ver. 3 and 4, are not applicable to Jesus."

But the non-Messianic interpretation, too, has found its defenders.
According to a statement of Theodoret, the passage was referred by the
Jews to Zerubbabel.[2] Interpreters more numerous and distinguished
have referred it to Hezekiah. This interpretation is mentioned as early
as by _Ephraem Syrus_; among the Rabbis it was held by _Moses
Hakkohen_, and _Abenezra_; among Christian interpreters, _Grotius_ was
the first who professed it, but in such a manner that he assumed a
higher reference to Christ. ("The Prophet returns to praise Hezekiah in
words under which the higher praises of Christ are concealed.") He was
followed by _Dathe_. The exclusive reference to Hezekiah was
maintained by _Hermann v. d._ [Pg 98] _Hardt_, in a treatise published
in 1695, which, however, was confiscated; then, by a number of
interpreters at the commencement of the age of Rationalism, at the head
of whom was _Bahrdt_. Among the expositors of the last decade, this
interpretation is held by _Hendewerk_ alone.

The reasons for the Messianic interpretation, and against making
Hezekiah the subject of the prophecy, are, among others, the

1. _The comparison of the parallel passages._ The Messiah is here
represented under the figure of a shoot or sprout. This has become so
common, as a designation of the Messiah, that the name "Sprout" has
almost become a proper name of the Messiah; compare the remarks on
chap. iv. 2. A striking resemblance to ver. 1 is presented by chap.
lviii. 2, where the Messiah, to express His lowliness at the beginning
of His course, is, in the same manner as here, compared to a feeble and
tender twig. Ps. lxxii. and the prophecies in chap. ii., iv., vii.,
ix., and Mic. v., present so many agreements and coincidences with the
prophecy under consideration, that they must necessarily be referred to
one and the same subject. The reception of the Gentile nations into the
Kingdom of God, the holiness of its members, the cessation of all
hostilities, are features which constantly recur in the Messianic

2. There are features interwoven with the prophecy which lead to a more
than human dignity of its subject. Even this circumstance is of
importance here, that the _whole earth_ appears as the sphere of His
dominion. Still more distinctly is the human sphere overstepped by the
announcement that, under His government, _sin_, yea, even all
destruction in the outward nature is to cease, and the earth is to
return to the happy condition in which it was before the fall.
According to ver. 4, He slays the wicked in the whole earth by His mere
word,--a thing which elsewhere is said of _God_ only; and according to
ver. 10, the heathen shall render Him religious reverence.

3. A _future_ scion of David is here promised. For ויצא in ver. 1 must
be taken as a _praeteritum propheticum_, as is evident from its being
connected with the preceding chapter, which has to do with future
things, and in which the preterites have a prophetic meaning; as also
by the analogy of the following preterites from which this can by no
means be separated. But [Pg 99] at the time when this prophecy was
composed, Hezekiah had long ago entered upon the government.

4. The circumstances under which the Prophet makes the King appear are
altogether different from those at the time of Hezekiah. According to
ver. 1 and 10, the royal house of David would have entirely declined,
and sunk into the obscurity of private life, at the time when the
Promised One would appear. The Messiah is there represented as a tender
twig which springs forth from the roots of a tree cut down. In the
circumstance, too, that the stem is not called after David, but after
Jesse, it is intimated that the royal family is then to have sunk back
into the obscurity of private life. This does not apply to Hezekiah,
under whom the Davidic dynasty maintained its dignity, but to Christ
only. _Farther_: In ver. 11 there is an announcement of the return of
not only the members of the kingdom of the ten tribes, but also of the
members of the kingdom of Judah from all the countries in which they
were dispersed. This must refer to a far later time than that of
Hezekiah; for at his time no carrying away of the inhabitants of Judah
had taken place. This argument is conclusive also against the false
modified Messianic explanation as it has been advanced by _Ewald_,
according to which the Prophet is supposed to have expected that the
Messiah would appear immediately after the judgment upon the Assyrians,
and after the conversion and reform of those in the Church who had been
spared in the judgment. The facts mentioned show that between the
appearance of the Messiah, and the Present and immediate Future, there
lay to the Prophet still a wide interval in which an entire change of
the present state of things was to take place. Ver. 11 is here of
special importance. For this verse opens up to us the prospect of a
whole series of catastrophes to be inflicted upon Israel by the world's
powers, all of which are already to have taken place at the time of the
King's appearance, and which lay beyond the historical horizon at the
time of the Prophet.

A certain amount of truth, indeed, lies at the foundation of the
explanation which refers the prophecy to Hezekiah. The fundamental
thought of the prophecy before us: "The exaltation of the world's
power, is a prophecy of its abasement; the abasement of the Davidic
Kingdom is a prophecy of its exaltation," [Pg 100] was, in a prelude,
to be realized even at that time. But the Prophet does not limit
himself to these feeble beginnings. He points to the infinitely greater
realization of this idea in the distant future, where the abasement
should be much deeper, but the exaltation also infinitely higher. To
him who had first, by a living faith, laid hold of Christ's appearance,
it must be easy, even in the present difficulty, to hope for the lower

The distinction between the "political Messiah" of the prophecy before
us, and "Jesus of Nazareth"--a distinction got up by Rationalism--rests
chiefly upon the fact that Rationalism knows Christ as the _Son of Man_
only, and is entirely ignorant of His true eternal Kingdom. Hence a
prophecy which, except the intimation, in ver. 1, of His lowliness at
first, refers altogether to the glorified Christ, could not but appear
as inapplicable. But it is just by ver. 4, to which they chiefly
appeal, that a "political Messiah" is excluded; for to such an one the
words: "He smiteth the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the
breath of His lips He slayeth the wicked" do not in the least apply.
And so likewise vers. 6-9 altogether go beyond the sphere of a
political Messiah, All that at first sight seems to lead to such an one
belongs to the imagery which was, and could not fail to be, taken from
the predecessors and types on the throne of David, since Christ was to
be represented as He in whom the Davidic Kingdom attains to its full
truth and glory.

In the whole section, the Redeemer appears as a _King_. This is
altogether a matter of course, for He forms the antithesis to the king
of Asshur. It is quite in vain that _Umbreit_ has endeavoured to bring
political elements into the description. Thereby the sense is
essentially altered. We must keep closely in view the Prophet's
starting-point. Before those who were filled with cares and fears, lest
the Davidic Kingdom should be overturned by the Assyrian kingdom, he
holds up the bright image of the Kingdom of David, in its last
completion. When they had received that into their hearts, the king of
Asshur could not fail to appear to them in a light altogether
different, as a miserable wretch. The giant at once dwindled down into
a contemptible dwarf, and with tears still [Pg 101] in their eyes they
could not avoid laughing at themselves for having stood so much in awe
of him.

As is commonly the case in the Messianic prophecies, so here, too, no
attention is paid to the development of Christ's Kingdom in time.
Everything, therefore, is fulfilled only as to its beginning; and the
complete fulfilment still stands out for that future in which, after
the fulness of the Gentiles has been brought in, and apostate Israel
has been converted, the consequences of the fall shall, in the outward
nature also, be removed.

Ver. 1. "_And there cometh forth a twig from the stump of Jesse, and a
branch from his roots shall bear fruit._"

The circumstance that the words in the first verse are completed in the
number seven, divided into three and four, intimates that the Prophet
here enters upon the territory of the revelation of a mystery of the
Kingdom of God. Totally different--so the Prophet begins--from the fate
of Asshur, just now proclaimed, shall that of the royal house of David
be. Asshur shall be humbled at a time when he is most elevated. Lebanon
falls through the mighty One: but the house of David shall be exalted
at a time when he is most humbled. Who then would tremble and be
afraid, although it go downward? _Luther_ says: "This is a short
summary of the whole of theology and of the works of God, that Christ
did not come till the trunk had died, and was altogether in a hopeless
condition; that hence, when all hope is gone, we are to believe that it
is the time of salvation, and that God is then nearest when He seems to
be farthest off!" The same contrast appears in Ezek. xvii. 24. The Lord
brings down the high tree of the world's power, and exalts the low tree
of the Davidic house. The word גזע does not mean "stem" in general, as
several rationalistic interpreters, and _Meier_ last, have asserted,
but rather stump, _truncus_, κορμός, as _Aquila_, _Symmachus_,
_Theodotion_, translate. This is proved from the following reasons: (1)
the derivation from גזע, in Arabic _secuit_, equivalent to גדע, "to cut
off," chap. ix. 9; x. 33. The גדעים in latter passage clearly refers to
the גזע here. The proud trees of Asshur shall be _cut down_; from the
cut down trunk of David there shall grow up a _new_ tree overshadowing
the earth, and offering glorious fruits to them that dwell on it.--(2)
The _usus loquendi_. The signification, "stump," is, by [Pg 102] the
context, required in the two passages in which the word גזע still
occurs. In Job xiv. 8, it is obvious. The whole passage there from
vers. 7-9 illustrates the figurative representation in the verse under
review. "For there is hope of a tree; if it be _cut down_ it will
sprout again, and its tender branch does not cease. Though the root
thereof wax old in the earth, and the _stump_ thereof die in the dust,
through the scent of waters it buds, and brings forth boughs, like one
newly planted." We have here the figure of our verse carried out. That
which water is to the natural tree decaying, the Spirit and grace of
God are to the dying tree, cut down to the very roots, of the Davidic
family. In the second passage. Is. xl. 23, 24, it is only by a false
interpretation that גזע has been understood of the stem in general. "He
bringeth princes to nothing, He destroyeth the kings of the earth. They
are not planted; they are not sown; their _stump_ does not take root in
the earth." The Prophet, having previously proved God's elevation over
the creature, from the creation and preservation of the world, now
proves it from the nothingness of all that which on earth has the
greatest appearance of independent power. It costs Him no effort to
destroy all earthly greatness which places itself in opposition to Him.
He blows on them, and they have disappeared without leaving any trace.
If God's will be not with it, princes will not attain to any firm
footing and prosperity (they are not planted and sown); they are like a
cut-down stem which has no more power to take root in the earth. A tree
not planted dries up; corn not sown does not produce fruit; a cut down
tree does not take root.--(3.) The connection. In the second member of
the verse we read: "A branch from his roots shall bear fruit." Unless
we mean to adopt the altogether unsuitable expedient of explaining it
of a wild twig which shoots forth from the roots of a still standing
tree, we cannot but think of a stem cut down to the very root. Against
the opinion of _Hendewerk_ who remarks: "An indirect shoot from the
root which comes forth from the root through the stem;" and against
_Meier's_ opinion: "The root corresponds with the stem, and both
together form the living tree," it is decisive, that in ver. 10, the
Messiah is simply, and without any mention being made of the stem,
designated as שרש "a shoot from the root." Farther, chap. liii. 2,
where the Messiah is represented [Pg 103] as a shoot from the root out
of a dry ground.--(4.) It is only when גזע has the meaning, "stump,"
that it can be accounted for why the גזע of Jesse, and not of David, is
spoken of--(5.) The supposition that the Messiah shall be born at the
time of the deepest humiliation of the Davidic family, after the entire
loss of the royal dignity, pervades all the other prophetical writings.
That Micah views the Davidic family as entirely sunk at the time of
Christ's appearance, we showed in vol. I. p. 508-9. Compare farther the
remarks on Amos ix. 11, and those on Matth. ii. 23 immediately
following.--_Hitzig_ is obliged to confess that גזע can designate the
cut-off stem only; but maintains that Jesse, as an individual long ago
dead, is designated as a cut-off tree. But against this opinion is the
relation which, as we proved, exists between this verse and the last
verses of the preceding chapter; the undeniable correspondence of גזע
with גדעים in chap. x. 33. In that case the antithesis also, so
evidently intended by the Prophet, would be altogether lost. It is not
by any means a thing so uncommon, that a man who is already dead should
have a glorious descendant. To this it may further be added that,
according to this supposition, the circumstance is not all accounted
for, that Jesse is mentioned, and not David, the royal ancestor, as is
done everywhere else. _Finally_--In this very forced explanation, the
parallel passages are altogether left out of view, in which likewise
the doctrine is contained that, at the time of Christ's appearance, the
Davidic family should have altogether sunk. The reason of all these
futile attempts at explaining away the sense so evident and obvious, is
none other than the fear of acknowledging in the prophecy an element
which goes beyond the territory of patriotic fancy and human knowledge.
But this dark fear should here so much the more be set aside, that,
according to other passages also, the Prophet undeniably had the
knowledge and conviction that Israel's course would be more and more
downward before it attained, in Christ, to the full height of its
destiny. We need remind only of the prophecies in chap. v. and vi.; and
it is so much the more natural here to compare the latter of them,
that, in it, in ver. 13, Israel, at the time of the appearing of the
Messianic Kingdom, is represented as a felled tree,--a fact which has
for its ground the sinking of the [Pg 104] Davidic race which is here
announced. We farther direct attention to the circumstance that in our
prophecy itself, Israel's being carried away into all the countries
of the earth is foreseen as future,--a circumstance which is so much
the more analogous, that there also, as here, the foreknowledge
clothes itself in the form of the _supposition_ and not of express
announcement. With regard to the latter point, it may still be
remarked that Amos also, in chap. ix. 11, by speaking of the raising up
of the tabernacle of David which is fallen, anticipates its future
lowliness.--The question still arises:--Why is it that the Messiah is
here designated as a rod of Jesse, while elsewhere, His origin is
commonly traced back to David? _Umbreit_ is of opinion that the mention
of Jesse may be explained from the Prophet's desire to trace the
pedigree as far back as possible; in its apparent extinction, the
family of the Messiah was to be pointed out as a _very old_ one. But if
this had been his intention, he would have gone back beyond Jesse to
the older ancestors whom the Book of Ruth mentions; and if he had been
so anxious to honour the family of the Messiah, it would, at all
events, have been far more suitable to mention David than Jesse, who
was only one degree removed from him. The sound view has been long ago
given by Calvin, who says: "The Prophet does not mention David; but
rather Jesse. For so much was the dignity of that family diminished,
that it seemed to be a rustic, ignoble family rather than a royal one."
It was appropriate that that family, upon whom was a second time to be
fulfilled the declaration in Ps. cxiii. 7, 8: "He raiseth up the poor
out of the dust; He lifteth up the needy out of the dunghill, that He
may set him with princes, with the princes of His people,"--in which,
the second time, the transition should take place from the low
condition to the royal dignity, should not be mentioned according to
its royal, but according to its rustic character. This explanation of
the fact is confirmed by the circumstance that it agrees exceedingly
well with the right interpretation of גזע: Jesse is mentioned and not
David, because the Davidic dignity had become a גזע. The mention of
Jesse's name thus explained, agrees, then, with the birth of Christ at
Bethlehem, announced by Isaiah's cotemporary, Micah. Christ was to be
born at Bethlehem, because that residence was peculiar to the [Pg 105]
family of David during its lowliness; comp. vol. I., p. 508-9.--The
second hemistich of the verse may either be explained: "a twig from his
roots shall bear fruit," or, as agrees better with the accents: "a twig
shall from his roots bear fruit." The sense, at all events, is: A shoot
proceeding from his roots (_i.e._, the cut-off stem of Jesse) shall
grow up into a stately fruitful tree; or: As a tree cut down throws out
from its roots a young shoot which, at first inconsiderable, grows up
into a stately fruit-bearing tree, so from the family buried in
contempt and lowliness, a _King_ shall arise who, at first humble and
unheeded,[3] shall afterwards attain to great glory. Parallel is Ezek.
xvii. 22-24. The Messiah is there compared to a tender twig which is
planted by the Lord on a high hill, and sends forth branches and bears
fruit, so that all the birds dwell in the shadow of its branches.--It
has now become current to explain: "A branch breaks forth or sprouts;"
but that explanation is against the _usus loquendi_. פרה is never
equivalent to פרח "to break forth;" it has only the signification "to
bear," "to bear fruit," "to be fruitful." _Gesenius_ who, in the later
editions of his translation, here explains פרה by, "to break forth,"
knows, in the _Thesaurus_, of no other signification. In the passage of
Ezekiel referred to, which may be considered as a commentary on the
verse before us, עשה פרי corresponds to the יפרה here. The change of
the tense, too, suggests that יפרה does not contain a mere repetition,
but a progress. This progress is necessary for the sense of the whole
verse. For it cannot be the point in question that, in general, a shoot
comes forth; but the point is that this shoot shall attain to
importance and glory. יפרה comprehends and expresses in one word that
which, in the subsequent verses of the section, is carried out in
detail. First, there is the bestowal of the Spirit of the Lord whereby
He is enabled to bear fruit; then, the fruit-bearing itself.

We here subjoin the discussion of the New Testament passage which
refers to this verse.

[Footnote 1: Their testimony is collected by _Seb. Edzardi_ in the
treatise: _Cap. xi. Esaiae Christo vindicatum adversus Grotium et
sectatores ejus, imprimos Herm. v. d. Hardt._ Hamburg 1696.]

[Footnote 2: "The madness of the Jews is indeed to be lamented who
refer this prophecy to Zerubbabel."]

[Footnote 3: Although _Umbreit_ denies it, yet this is implied in the
designation of the Messiah as a shoot from the roots. Moreover, the
lowliness of the Messiah himself at His appearance is a necessary
consequence of the lowliness of His family; and it is a bad middle
course to acknowledge the latter and deny the former. To this may,
moreover, be added the parallel passage Is. liii. 2.]

[Pg 106]

                           ON MATTHEW II. 23.

Καὶ ἐλθὼν κατῴκησεν εἰς πόλιν λεγομένην Ναζαρέτ• ὅπως πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθὲν
διὰ τῶν προφητῶν, ὅτι Ναζωραῖος κληθήσεται.

We here premise an investigation as regards the name of the town of
Nazareth. Since that name occurs in the New Testament only, different
views might arise as to its orthography and etymology. One view is
this: The name was properly and originally נצר. Being the name of a
town, it received, in Aramean, in addition, the feminine termination א.
And, finally, on account of the original appellative signification of
the word, a ת, the designation of the _status emphaticus_ of feminine
nouns in א, was sometimes added. We have an analogous case in the name
_Dalmanutha_, the same place which, with the Talmudist, is called
צַלְמוֹן. Compare _Lightfoot decas chorog. Marc. praem., opp._ II., p. 411
sqq. So it is likewise probably that γαββαθὰ, גַבְתָא is formed from the
masculine גַב, _dorsum_. Our view is that the original name was _Nezer_,
that this form of the name was in use along with that which received a
ת added, and that this ת served for the designation of the _status
emphaticus_ only; or also, if we wish to take our stand upon the Hebrew
form, was a mere hardening of the ה Femin. (either of which
suppositions is equally suitable for our purpose); and this our view we
prove by the following arguments: 1. The testimonies of the Jews.
_David de Pomis_ (in _De Dieu_, _critic. sacr._ on M. II. 23) says:
נצרי מי שנולד בעיר נֵצָר הגליל רחוק מירושלים דרך שלשת ימים "A Nazarene is
he who is born in the town of _Nezer_, in Galilee, three days' journey
from Jerusalem." In the Talmud, in _Breshith Rabba_, and in _Jalkut
Shimeoni_ on Daniel, the contemptuous name of _Ben Nezer_, _i.e._, the
Nazarene, is given to Christ; compare the passages in _Buxtorf_, _lex.
c._ 1383; in _Lightfoot_, _disquis. chorog. Johan. praem. opp._ II.,
578 sqq.; _Eisenmenger_, I., p. 3139. It is true, _Gieseler_ (on Matth.
ii. 23, and in the _Studien u. Kritiken_, 1831, III. S. 591) has tried
to give a different interpretation to this appellation. He is of
opinion that this appellation has reference to Is. xi. 1; that it had
come to the Jews from the Christians, who called [Pg 107] their Messiah
בן נצר, because He was He who had been promised by Isaiah. But this
supposition is correct thus far only, that, no doubt, this appellation
was chosen by the Jews with a reference to the circumstance that the
Christians maintained that Jesus was the נצר announced by Isaiah, just
as, for the very same reason, they also assign to Him the names נצר
נאפוף "adulterous branch," and נצר נתעב "abominable branch" (from Is.
xiv. 19); comp. _Eisenmenger_ I. S. 137, 138. But _Gieseler_ is wrong
in deriving, from this reference to Is. xi. 1, the origin of the
appellation, be it properly or mainly only. Against that even the very
appellation is decisive, for in that case it ought to have been _Nezer_
only, and not _Ben-Nezer_. _Gieseler_, it is true, asserts that he in
whom a certain prophecy was fulfilled is called the "Son of the
prophecy," and in confirmation of this _usus loquendi_ he refers to the
circumstance that the pseudo-Messiah under Hadrian assumed, with a
reference to the כוכב in Numb. xxiv. 17, the name בן כוכב or בר כוכבא,
in so far as the star there promised had appeared in him. But this
confirmation is only apparent; it can as little be proved from it, that
Christ could be called _Ben-Nezer_ because He was He in whom the
prophecy of the _Nezer_ was fulfilled, as it can be proved from the
appellation _Ben Nezer_ that that pseudo-Messiah could be called _Bar
Cochba_, only because it was believed that in him the prophecy of the
star was fulfilled. _Reland_ has already proved (Geogr. II. p. 727)
that _Barcochba_ probably had that name because he was a native of
Cocab, a town or district in the country beyond Jordan. And the reason
why he laid such special stress upon that descent was, that he sought a
deeper meaning in this agreement of the name of his birth-place with
the designation of the subject of the prophecy in Numb. xxiv. Moreover
the supposition that, by the Jews, he in whom some prophecy was
fulfilled, was called the son of that prophecy; that, _e.g._, the
Messiah, the Servant of God, the Prince of Peace were called the Son of
the Messiah, &c., is not only destitute of all foundation, but is, even
in itself, most improbable. To this must still be added the
consideration that this interpretation of _Ben-Nezer_ is opposed by the
constant interpretation of the Jews. _Jarchi_, in a gloss on that
passage of the Talmud referred to, explains _Ben Nezer_ by: "He who has
come from the town of Nazareth." _Abarbanel_ [Pg 108] in his book
_Majenehajeshua_, after having quoted from _Jalkut Shimeoni_ the
passage in question, observes: "Remark well how they have explained the
little horn in Daniel vii. 8, of the _Ben Nezer_ who is Jesus the
_Nazarene_." From the Lexicon _Aruch_ which forms a weighty authority,
Buxtorf quotes: "נצר נצרי המקלל Nezer, (or Ben Nezer), is the accursed
_Nazarene_." _Finally_--It could not well be supposed that the Jews, in
a contest where they heap the most obnoxious blasphemies on Christ,
should have given Him an honourable epithet which they had simply
received from the Christians.

2. The result which we have obtained is confirmed by the statements of
Christian writers. Even at the time of _Eusebius_ (Hist. Eccles. i. 7),
and of _Jerome_, the place was called _Nazara_. The latter says:
"_Nazareth_: there exists up to this day in Galilee a village opposite
Legio, fifteen miles to the east of it, near Mount Tabor, called
_Nazara_" (comp. _Reland_ i. S. 497). In _Epistol._ xvii. ad
_Marcellum_ he expressly identifies the name with _Nezer_, by saying:
"Let us go to Nazareth, and according to a right interpretation of that
name, we shall see there the flower of Galilee."

3. To this may be added, that the _Gentilitia_ formed from Nazareth can
be explained only when the ת is not considered as belonging to the
original form of the name. For, in that case, it must necessarily be
found again in the _Gentilitia_, just as, _e.g._, from ענתת we could
not by any means form ענתי, but only ענתתי. In the New Testament the
two forms Ναζωραῖος and Ναζαρηνὸς only occur, never the form
Ναζαρεταῖος. _Gieseler_ has felt the difficulty which these names
present to the common hypothesis, but has endeavoured (l. c. p. 592) to
remove them by the conjecture that this form, so very peculiar, had
been coined by a consideration of נצר which the first Christians were
accustomed to bring into connection with נצרת. But this conjecture
would, at most, be admissible, only if, with the Jews too, the form
נצרי were not found throughout without a ת, and if the Arabic form also
were not entirely analogous.[1]

[Pg 109]

The question now is:--In what sense was נצר assigned as a _nomen
proprium_ to a place in Galilee? Certainly, we must at once reject the
supposition of _Jerome_ that Nazareth was thus called, as being "the
flower of Galilee," partly because נצר never occurs in this
signification; partly because it is not conceivable that the place
received a name which is due to it κατʼ ἀντί φρασιν only. It is much
more probable that the place received the name on account of its
smallness: a weak twig in contrast to a stately tree. In this
signification נצר occurs in Is. xi. 1, xiv. 19, and in the Talmudical
_usus loquendi_ where נצרים signifies "_virgulta salicum decorticata,
vimina ex quibus corbes fiunt._" There was so much the greater reason
for giving the place this name that people had the symbol before
their eyes in its environs; for the chalk-hills around Nazareth are
over-grown with low bushes (comp. Burkhardt II. s. 583). That which
these bushes were when compared with the stately trees which adorned
other parts of the country, Nazareth was when compared with other

This _nomen_ given to the place on account of its small beginnings,
resembling, in this respect, the name of Zoar, _i.e._, a small town,
was, at the same time, an _omen_ of its future condition. The weak twig
never grew up into a tree. Nowhere in the Old Testament is Nazareth
mentioned, probably because it was built only after the return from the
captivity. Neither is it mentioned in _Josephus_. It was not, like most
of the other towns in Palestine, ennobled by any recollection from the
olden times. Yea, as it would appear, a special contempt was resting
upon it, besides the general contempt in which all Galilee was held;
just as every land has some place to which a disgrace attaches, which
has often been called forth by causes altogether trifling. This appears
not only from the question of Nathanael, in John i. 47: "Can there any
good thing come out of Nazareth?" but also from the fact, that from the
most ancient times the Jews thought to inflict upon Christ the greatest
disgrace, by calling Him the Nazarene, whilst, in later times, the
disgrace which rested on all Galilee [Pg 110] was removed by the
circumstance that the most celebrated Jewish academy, that of Tiberias,
belonged to it.

Let us now examine in how far Christ's abode at Nazareth served the
purpose of fulfilling the Old Testament prophecy. It is, throughout,
the doctrine of the prophets, that the Messiah, descending from the
family of David, sunk into utter lowliness, would at first appear
without any outward rank and dignity. The fundamental type for all
other passages here concerned is contained in that passage of Is. xi.
1, now under consideration: "And there cometh forth a twig from the
stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit," which is
strikingly illustrated in the following words of _Quenstedt_, in his
_Dissertatio de Germine Jehovae_, in the _Thesaurus theol. philol._ I.
p. 1015: "The stem of Jesse which, from low beginnings, was, in David,
raised to the glory of royal majesty, shall then not only be deprived
of all royal dignity, and all outward splendour which it received in
David, but shall again have been reduced to the private condition in
which it was before David; so that it shall present the appearance of a
stem deprived of all boughs and foliage, and having nothing left but
the roots; nevertheless out of that stem thus reduced and cut off, and,
as it appeared, almost dry, shall come forth a royal rod, and out of
its roots shall grow the twig upon whom shall rest the Spirit of the
Lord," &c. Quite in harmony with this, it is said in chap. liii. 2: "He
grew up before the Lord as a tender twig, and as a root out of a dry
ground." To נצר, in chap. xi., corresponds יונק in chap. liii.; to חטר
the שרש; to the cut-off stem the dry land, with this difference,
however, that by the latter designation, the low condition of the
Servant of God, generally, is indicated; but His descent from the
family of David sunk in lowliness, is not specially pointed at thereby,
although it is necessarily implied in it. The same thought is further
carried out in Ezek. xvii. 22-24. As the descendant of the family of
David sank in lowliness, the Messiah appears in that passage as a small
tender twig which is taken by the Lord from a high cedar, and, being
planted upon a high mountain, growls up into a lofty tree, under which
all the fowls dwell. In Jeremiah and Zechariah, the Messiah, with
reference to the image of a cut-off tree used by Isaiah, is called the
Sprout of David, or simply the Sprout; [Pg 111] compare remarks on
Zech. iii. 8, vi. 12. All that is here required is certainly only to
place beside one another, on the one hand, prophecy, and, on the other,
history, in order clearly and evidently to point out the fulfilment of
the former in the latter. It was not at Jerusalem, where there was the
seat of His royal ancestor, where there were the thrones of His house
(comp. Ps. cxxii.), that the Messiah took up his residence; but it was
in the most despised place of the most despised province that, by
divine Providence, He received His residence, after the predictions of
the prophets had been fulfilled by His having been born at Bethlehem.
The name of that place by which His lowliness was designated was the
same as that by which Isaiah had designated the lowliness of the
Messiah at His appearing.

We have hitherto considered prophecy and fulfilment independently of
the quotation by St. Matthew. Let us now add a few remarks upon the

1. It seems not to have been without reason that the wider formula of
quotation: τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ τῶν προφητῶν is here chosen, although _Jerome_
infers too much from it when he remarks: "If he had wished to refer to
a distinct quotation from Scripture, he would never have said: 'As was
spoken by the prophets,' but simply, 'as was said by the prophet.' By
using prophets in the plural, he shows that it is the sense, and not
the words which he has taken from Scripture." No doubt St. Matthew has
one passage chiefly in view--that in Is. xi. 1, which, besides the
general announcement of the Messiah's lowliness, contains, in addition,
a special designation of it which is found again in the _nomen_ and
_omen_ of his native place. This appears especially from the
circumstance that, if it were otherwise, the quotation: in ὅτι
Ναζωραῖος κληθήσεται, would be inexplicable, since it is very forced to
suppose that "Nazarene" here designates generally one low and
despised.[2] But he chose the general formula of [Pg 112] quotation
(comp. _Gersdorf_, _Beiträge zur Sprachcharacteristik_ 1. S. 136), in
order thereby to intimate that in Christ's residence at Nazareth those
prophecies, too, were at the same time fulfilled, which, in the
essential point--in the announcement of Christ's lowliness--agree with
that of Isaiah. But it is just this additional reference which shows
that, to Matthew, this was indeed the essential point, and that the
agreement of the name of the town with the name which Christ has in
Isaiah, appears to him only as a remarkable outward representation of
the close connection of prophecy and fulfilment; just as, indeed, every
thing in the life of Christ appears to be brought about by the special
direction of Divine providence.

2. The phrase ὅτι κληθήσεται likewise is explained from the
circumstance that Matthew does not restrict himself to the passage Is.
xi. 1, but takes in, at the same time, all those other passages which
have a similar meaning. From among them, it was from Zech. vi. 12:
"Behold a man whose name is the Sprout," that the phrase ὅτι κληθήσεται
flowed. There is hence no necessity for explaining this circumstance
solely from the custom of the later Jews,[3] of claiming as the names
of the Messiah all those expressions by which, in the Old Testament,
His nature is designated, inasmuch as, in doing so, they followed the
custom of the prophets themselves, who frequently bring forward as the
name of the Messiah that which is merely one of His attributes. This
hypothesis is inadmissible, because otherwise it would be difficult to
point out any case in which the Evangelists had not admixed something
of their own with a quotation which they announced as a literal one.

[Pg 113]

Ver. 2. "_And the Spirit of the Lord resteth upon Him, the Spirit of
wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit
of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord._"

The Spirit of the Lord is the general, the principle; and the
subsequent terms are the single forms in which he manifests himself,
and works. But, on the other hand, in a formal point of view, the
Spirit of the Lord is just co-ordinate with the Spirit of wisdom, &c.
Some, indeed, explain: the Spirit of God, who is the Spirit of, &c.;
but that this is inadmissible appears with sufficient evidence from the
circumstance that, by such a view, the sacred number, seven, is
destroyed, which, with evident intention, is completed in the
enumeration; compare the _seven_ spirits of God in Rev. i. 4. To have
the Spirit is the necessary condition of every important and effective
ministry in the Kingdom of God, from which salvation is to come forth;
comp. Num. xxvii. 18. It is especially the blessed administration of
the regal office which depends upon the possession of the Spirit; comp.
1 Sam. xvi. 13 ff. where it is said of David: "And Samuel took the horn
of oil and anointed him: and the Spirit of the Lord came upon him from
that day forward;" comp. 1 Sam. x. 6, 10. The circumstance that the
Spirit of the Lord resteth upon the Messiah does not form a
contradiction to His _divine nature_, which is intimated by his being
born of the Virgin, chap. vii. 14, by the name אל גבור in chap. ix. 5,
and elsewhere (comp. Vol. I., p. 490, 491), and is witnessed even in
this prophecy itself; but, on the contrary, the pouring out of the
Spirit fully and not by measure (John iii. 39) which is here spoken of,
_implies_ the divine nature. In order to receive the Spirit of God in
such a measure that He could baptize with the Holy Spirit (John i. 33),
that out of His fulness all received (John i. 16), that, in consequence
of His fulness of the Spirit overflowing from Him to the Church, the
earth could be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters
covering the sea (ver. 9), He could not but be highly exalted above
human nature. It was just because they remained limited to the
insufficient substratum of human nature, that even the best kings, that
even David, the man after God's own heart, received the Spirit in a
scanty measure only, and were constantly in danger of [Pg 114] losing
again that which they possessed, as is shown by David's pitiful prayer:
"Take not thy Holy Spirit from me" (Ps. li. 13). It was just for this
reason, therefore, that the theocracy possessed in the kings a very
sufficient organ of its realization, and that the stream of the divine
blessings could not flow freely. In Matt. iii. 16: καὶ εἶδε τὸ πνεῦμα
θεοῦ καταβαῖνον ὡσεὶ περιστερὰν καὶ ἐρχόμενον ἐπ' αὐτόν, it is not the
passage before us only which lies at the foundation, but also, and
indeed pre-eminently, the parallel passage, chap. xlii. 1: "Behold my
Servant whom I uphold, mine Elect in whom my soul delighteth; I put my
Spirit upon Him," as is apparent from the circumstance that it is to
this passage that the voice from heaven refers in Matt. iii. 17: οὗτος
ἐστιν ὁ υἱός μου ὁ ἀγαπητὸς ἐν ᾧ εὐδόκησα. But a reference to the
passage before us we meet most decidedly in John i. 32, 33: Τεθέαμαι τὸ
πνεῦμα καταβαῖνον ὡσεὶ περιστερὰν ἐξ οὐρανοῦ, καὶ ἔμεινεν ἐπ' αὐτόν·
Κᾀγὼ οὐκ ᾕδειν αὐτόν· ἀλλ' ὁ πέμψας με βαπτίζειν ἐν ὕδατι, ἐκεῖνος μοι
εἶπεν• ἐφ' ὃν ἂν ἴδῃς τὸ πνεῦμα καταβαῖνον καὶ μένον ἐπ' αὐτόν, οὗτος
ἐστιν ὁ βαπτίζων ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ. The word נוח, which in Numb. xi. 25
also is used of the Spirit, combines in itself both the καταβαίνειν and
the μένειν; it is _requiescere_. As the fulfilment of this prophecy,
however, we must not look to that event only where it received a
symbolical representation, but also to Acts ii. 3: καὶ ὤφθησαν αὐτοῖς
διαμεριζόμεναι γλῶσσαι ὡσεὶ πυρός, ἐκάθισέ τε ἐφ' ἕνα ἕκαστον αὐτῶν;
comp. 1 Pet. iv. 14: ὅτε τὸ τῆς δόξης καὶ τὸ τοῦ θεοῦ πνεῦμα ἐφ' ὑμᾶς
ἀναπαύεται (this most exactly answers נוח). For it is not merely for
himself that Christ here receives the Spirit; but He receives Him as
the transforming principle for the human race; He is bestowed upon. Him
as the Head of the Church.--In the enumeration of the forms in which
the Spirit manifests himself, it was not the intention of the Prophet
to set forth _all_ the perfections of the Messiah; he rather, by way of
example, mentions some only after having comprehended all of them in
the general: The Spirit of the Lord. Thus, _e.g._, _justice_, which is
mentioned immediately afterwards in ver. 5, is omitted here.--The first
pair are wisdom and understanding. _Wisdom_ is that excellency of
knowledge which rests on moral perfection. It is opposed to נבלה,
foolishness in a moral sense, which may easily be combined with the
greatest ingenuity and cleverness. The excellence of knowledge resting
[Pg 115] on a moral basis manifests itself in the first instance, and
preeminently, in the בינה, understanding, the sharp and penetrating eye
which beholds things as they are, and penetrates from the surface to
their hidden essence, undisturbed by the dense fogs of false notions
and illusions which, in the case of the fool, are formed by his lusts
and passions. Neither of these attributes can, in its absolute
perfection, be the possession of any mortal, because even in those who,
morally, are most advanced, there ever remains sin, and, therefore, a
darkening of the knowledge.--The second pair, counsel and might, are,
just as in the passage before us, ascribed to the Messiah in chap. ix.
5 (6), by His receiving the names "Wonder-Counsellor," "God-Hero." From
chap. xxxvi. 5 it is seen that, for the difficult circumstances of the
struggle, _counsel_ is of no less consequence than _might_. The last
pair, knowledge and fear of the Lord, form the fundamental effect of
the Spirit of the Lord; all the great qualities of the soul, all the
gifts which are beneficial for the Kingdom of God, rest on the intimacy
of the connection with God which manifests itself in living knowledge
and fear of the Lord; the latter not being the servile but the filial
fear, not opposed to love, but its constant companion. The Prophet has
put this pair at the close, only because he intends to connect with it
that which immediately follows. We have already remarked that the
Spirit of the Lord, &c., is bestowed upon the Messiah not for himself
alone, but as the renovating principle of the Church.--Old Testament
analogies and types are not wanting in this matter. Moses puts of his
spirit upon the seventy Elders, and the spirit of Elijah rests on
Elisha, and likewise on the whole crowd of disciples who gathered
around him (2 Kings ii. 9).

Ver. 3. "_And He hath His delight in the fear of the Lord, and not
after the sight of His eyes doth He judge, nor after the hearing of His
ears doth He decide._"

We now learn how the glorious gifts of the Anointed, described in ver.
2, are displayed in His government. All attempts to bring the second
and third clauses under the same point of view as the first, and to
derive them from the same source are in vain. That He has delight in
the fear of the Lord, is the consequence of the Spirit of knowledge and
of the fear of the Lord resting upon Him,--He loves what is congenial
[Pg 116] to His own nature. That He does not judge after the sight of
His eyes, &c., is the consequence of His having the Spirit of wisdom
and understanding. It is thereby that He is freed from the narrow
superficiality which is natural to man, and raised to the sphere of
that divine clearness of vision which penetrates to the depths, הריח
with the accusative is "to smell something;" with ב, to "smell at
something," "to smell with delight." The fear of the Lord appears as
something of a sweet scent to the Messiah. The other explanations of
the first clause abandon the sure, ascertained _usus loquendi_ (comp.
Exod. xxx. 38; Levit. xxvi. 31; Am. v. 21), and, therefore, do not
deserve any mention. On the second and third clauses 1 Sam. xvi. 7, is
to be compared: "And the Lord said unto Samuel: Look not on his
countenance, or on the height of his stature, because I have refused
him; for not that which man looks at (do I look at); for man looketh on
the eyes (and, in general, on the outward appearance), and I look on
the heart." It is especially John who repeatedly mentions that Christ
really possessed the gift here assigned to Him, of judging, not from
the first appearance, and according to untrustworthy information, but
of penetrating into the innermost ground of the facts and persons,
comp. ii. 24, 25: αὐτὸς δὲ Ἰησοῦς, οὐκ ἐπίστευεν ἑαυτὸν αὐτοῖς, διὰ τὸ
αὐτὸν γινώσκειν πάντας, καὶ ὅτι οὐ χρείαν εἶχεν ἵνα τὶς μαρτυρήση περὶ
τοῦ ἀνθρώπου• αὐτὸς γὰρ ἐγίνωσκεν τί ἦν ἕν ἀνθρῴπῳ. Farther--chap. xxi.
17 where Peter says to Christ: Κύριε σὺ πάντα οἶδας· σὺ γινώσκεις ὅτι
φιλῶ σε. Farther, i. 48, 49; iv. 18, 19; vi. 64. In Revel. ii. 23,
Christ says: "And all Churches shall know that I am He which searcheth
the reins and hearts."

Ver. 4. "_And He judgeth in righteousness the lowly, and doeth justice
in equity to the meek of the earth, and smiteth the earth with the rod
of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He slayeth the wicked._"

The King shall be adorned with perfect justice, and, in the exercise of
it, be supported by His omnipotence,--differently from what was the
case with David, who, for want of power, was obliged to allow heinous
crimes to pass unpunished (2 Sam. iii. 39). Just as by the excellency
of His _will_ He is infinitely exalted above all former rulers, so is
He also by the excellency of _might_. Where, as in His case, the
highest [Pg 117] might stands in the service of the best will, the
noblest results must come forth. The first two clauses refer to Ps.
lxxii., which was written by Solomon, and where, in ver. 2, it is said
of Christ: "He shall judge thy people in righteousness, and thy lowly
ones in judgment," and in ver. 4: "He shall judge the lowly of thy
people, He shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in
pieces the oppressors;" compare farther Prov. xxix. 14: "A king that in
truth judgeth the lowly, his throne shall be established for ever." The
earth forms the contrast to the limited territory which was hitherto
assigned to the theocratic kings.--In the second part of the verse ארץ
does not by any means stand in contrast to דלים and ענוים, and, in
parallelism to רשע, designate the wicked ones; but ארץ "earth" stands
in antithesis to the narrow territory in which earthly kings are
permitted to dispense law and justice. It is a matter of course, and
is, moreover, expressly stated in the second clause, that the earth
comes into consideration with a view to those only who are objects of
His judging activity. From that which follows, where changes are spoken
of which shall take place on the whole earth, it follows that ארץ must
be taken in the signification of "earth." and not of "land." Hand in
hand with the infinite extent of the King's exercise of justice goes
also the manner of it. "The whole earth," and the "breath of the
mouth," correspond with one another.--In the words "with the rod of His
mouth," a tacit antithesis lies at the foundation. As kings strike with
the sceptre, so He smiteth with His mouth.--שבט, the ensign of royal
dignity, is the symbol of the whole earthly power, which, being
external and exercised by external means, must needs be limited, and
insufficient for the perfect exercise of justice. The exercise of
justice on the part of earthly kings reaches so far only as their hand
armed with the smiting sceptre. But that great King is, in the exercise
of justice, supported by His _Omnipotence_. He punishes and destroys by
His mere word. Several interpreters understand this as a mere
designation of His severity in punishing,--"the rod of His mouth" to be
equivalent to "severity of punishment;"--but that such is not the
meaning appears from the following clause, where likewise special
weight is attached to the circumstance that the Messiah inflicts
punishment by His mere word; "the breath of His lips" is equivalent [Pg
118] to "mere words," "mere command;" compare "breath of His mouth," in
Ps. xxxiii. 6. _Hitzig's_ explanation, "the angry breath of His lips,"
does not interpret, but interpolate. In the future Son of David every
word is, at the same time, a deed; He speaks and it is done. The same
which is here said of the Messiah is, in other passages, attributed to
_God_: compare Job xv. 30, where it is said of the wicked: "By the
breath of His mouth he shall go away;" Hos. vi. 5: "I have slain them
by the word of my mouth." In general, according to the precedent in
Gen. i., doing by the mere word is, in Scripture, the characteristic
designation of Divine Omnipotence. Parallel is chap. xlix. 2, where
Christ says: "And He hath made my mouth like a sharp sword," equivalent
to: He has endowed me with His Omnipotence, so that my word also
exercises destructive effect, just as His. In Rev. i. 16, it is said of
Christ: "And out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword,"--to
designate the destructive power of His word borne by Omnipotence, the
omnipotent punitive power of Christ against enemies, both internal and
external. An instance of the manner in which Christ smites by the word
of His mouth is offered by Acts v. 3 (where, according to the analogy
of the word spoken in the name of God by Elijah, 2 Kings i. 10, 12, and
by Elisha, 2 Kings ii. 24, v. 27, the Apostles are to be considered
only as His instruments): ἀκούων δὲ Ἁνανίας τοὺς λόγους τούτους πεσὼν
ἐξέψυξε, comp. ver. 10; xiii. 11. The Chaldee translates: "And by the
word of His lips wicked Armillus shall die." He refers רשע not to the
ideal person of the wicked, but to an individual, _Armillus_,
(ἐρημόλαος, corresponding to the name of Balaam, compounded of בלע
"devouring," "destruction," and עם "people") the formidable, last enemy
of the Jews who shall carry on severe wars with them, slay the Messiah
ben Joseph, but at length be slain by the Messiah ben David with a mere
word, compare _Buxtorf_, _Lex. Chald._ cap. 221-224: _Eisenmenger_,
_entdecktes Judenthum_ ii. S. 705 ff. In 2 Thess. ii. 8, in the
description of Antichrist's destruction by Christ: ὃν ὁ Κύριος Ἰησοῦς
ἀναλώσει τῷ πνεύματι τοῦ στόματος αὐτοῦ, there is an intentional and
significant allusion to the passage before us, Antichrist there being,
like רשע here, an ideal person; for the arguments in proof, see my
Comment, on Revelation, vol. ii.

Ver. 5. "_And righteousness is the girdle of His loins, and
faithfulness the girdle of His reins._"

[Pg 119]

Righteousness and faithfulness are in a similar manner connected in 1
Sam. xxvi. 13 (? Prov. xii. 17). Faithfulness is trustworthiness. The
point of comparison with the girdle is the closeness of the union;
comp. Ps. cix. 19; Jer. xiii. 1, 2, 11.

In ver. 6, the Prophet passes from the _person_ of the glorious King to
a description of His Kingdom. With regard to ver. 6-8, the question
arises, whether the description is to be understood figuratively or
literally; whether the Prophet intends to describe the cessation of all
hostility among men, or whether he expected that, in the Messianic
time, even among the irrational creation, all hostility and
destruction, every thing pernicious was to cease. Most of the ancient
interpreters are attached to the former view. Thus _Theodoret_ says:
"In a figurative manner, under the image of domesticated and wild
animals, the Prophet taught the change of the habits of men." He refers
every thing to the union, within the Christian Church, of those who, in
their natural condition, lived far separated from one another, and in
hostility the one to the other. _Jerome_ considers the opposite view as
even a species of heresy. He says: "The Jews and the Judaizers among
ourselves maintain that all this shall be fulfilled according to the
letter; that in the light of Christ who, they believe, shall come at
the end of the days, all beasts shall be reduced to tameness, so that
the wolf, giving up its former ferocity, shall dwell with the lamb,
&c." Upon the whole, he states the sense in the same manner as
_Theodoret_, from whom he sometimes differs in the allegorical
explanation of the details only. In a similar manner _Luther_ also
explains it, who, _e.g._, on ver. 6, "the wolf shall dwell with the
lambs, etc." remarks: "But these are allegories by which the Prophet
intimates that the tyrants, the self-righteous and powerful ones in the
world, shall be converted, and be received into the Church." _Calvin_
says: "By these images, the Prophet indicates that, among the people of
Christ there will be no disposition for injuring one another, nor any
ferocity or inhumanity." The circumstance that the use of animal
symbolism is widely spread throughout Scripture is in favour of this
interpretation. One may, _e.g._ compare Ps. xxii., where the enemies of
the righteous are represented under the image of dogs, lions, bulls,
and unicorns; [Pg 120] Jer. v. 6, where, by lion, wolf, and leopard,
the kingdoms of the world which are destructive to the people of God
are designated; the four beasts in Dan. vii.; but especially Is. xxxv.
9: "There (on the way of salvation which the Lord shall, in the future,
open up for His people) shall not be a lion, nor shall any ravenous
beast go up thereon,"--where the ravenous beasts are the
representatives of the world's power, hostile to the Kingdom of God.
Nevertheless, the literal interpretation, defended by several Jewish
expositors, maintains an undeniable preference. In favour of it are the
following arguments: 1. The circumstance that it is impossible to carry
through, in the details, the figurative interpretation; and it is by
this that our passage is distinguished from all the other passages in
which the wild, cruel, and destructive tendencies in the human sphere
appear under the images of their representatives in the animal world.
The supposition that "we have here before us only a poetical
enlargement of the thought that all evil shall cease" (_Hendewerk_,
_Knobel_), removes the boundaries which separate prophecy from poetry.
2. The parallelism with the condition of the creation before the fall,
as it is described to us by Holy Scripture. It is certainly not without
reason that, in the account of the creation, so much emphasis is laid
on the circumstance that all which was created was _good_. This implies
a condition of the irrational creation different from what it is now;
for in its present state it gives us a faithful copy of the first fall,
inasmuch as every heinous vice has its symbols and representatives in
the animal kingdom. According to Gen. ii. 19, 20, the animals recognize
in Adam their lord and king, peaceably gather around him, and receive
their names from him. According to Gen. i. 30, grass only was assigned
to animals for their food; the whole animal world bore the image of the
innocence and peace of the first man, and was not yet pervaded by the
law of mutual destruction. Where there was not a Cain, neither was
there a lion. The serpent has not yet its disgusting and horrible
figure, and fearlessly men have intercourse with it; comp. Vol. i. p.
15, 16. But the influence of sin pervaded and penetrated the whole
nature, and covered it with a curse (comp. Gen. iii. 17-19); so that it
not only bears evidence to the existence of God, but also to the
existence of sin. [Pg 121] Now, as it is by sin that outward discord,
and contention, and destruction _arose_ in the irrational creature, so
we may also expect that, when the cause has been removed, the effect
too will disappear; that, with the cessation of the discord and enmity
among men, which, according to ver. 9, the Prophet expected of the
Messianic time, discord and enmity in the animal world will cease also.
In the individual features, the Prophet seems even distinctly to refer
to the history of the creation; compare ver. 7: "The lion shall eat
straw like the ox," with Gen. i. 30; ver. 8: "the sucking child shall
play on the hole of the asp," with Gen. iii. 15. 3. The comparison of
other passages of Scripture, according to which likewise the reflection
of the evil in the irrational creation shall cease, after the evil has
been removed from the rational creation; compare chap. lxv. 25, lxvi,
22; Matt. xix. 28, where the Lord speaks of the παλιγγενεσία, the
return of the whole earthly creation to its original condition; but
especially Rom. viii. 19 ff.--that classical passage of the New
Testament which is really parallel to the passage before us. 4. A
subordinate argument is still offered by the parallel descriptions of
heathen writers. From the passages collected by _Clericus_, _Lowth_,
and _Gesenius_, we quote a few only. In the description of the
golden age, _Virgil_ says, _Ecl._ iv. 21 sqq.; v. 60: _Occidet
et serpens et fallax herba veneni occidet._--_Nec magnos metuent
armenta leones._--_Nec lupus insidias pecori._ _Horat. Epod._ xiv. 53:
_Nec vespertinus circumgemit ursus ovile nec intumescit alta viperis
humus._--_Theocrit. Idyll._ xxiv. 84. Utterances such as these show how
unnatural the present condition of the earth is. They are, however, not
so much to be regarded as the remains of some outward tradition
(against such a supposition it is decisive that they occur chiefly with
_poets_), but rather as utterances of an indestructible longing in man,
which, being so deeply rooted in human nature, contains in itself the
guarantee of being gratified at some future period. But, with all this,
we must do justice to the objection drawn from the evident parallelism
of passages such as chap. xxxv. 9, and to another objection advanced by
_Vitringa_, that it is strange that there is so much spoken of animals,
and so little of men. This we shall do by remarking that, in the
description of the glorious effects which the government of Christ
shall produce on the earth, the Prophet at once proceeds to the utmost
limit of [Pg 122] them; and that the removal of hostility and
destruction from the irrational creation implies that all that will be
removed which, in the rational creation, proceeds from the principle of
hatred, inasmuch as it is certain that the former is only a reflection
of the latter, and that the Prophet speaks with a distinct reference to
this supposition which he afterwards, in ver. 9, distinctly expresses.
Hence, to a certain degree, a double sense takes place; and, in the
main, _J. H. Michaelis_ has hit the right by comparing, first, Gen. i.
and Rom. viii., and then continuing: "Parabolically, however, by the
wild beasts, wild and cruel nations are understood, which are to be
converted to Christ; or violent men who, by the Spirit of Christ, are
rendered meek and gentle, just as Paul, from a wolf, was changed into a
lamb." We are the less permitted to lose sight of the reference to the
lions and bears on the spiritual territory, that ver. 6 is, in the
first instance, connected with vers. 4 and 5, in which the all-powerful
sway of Christ's justice on earth is described, of which the
consequences must, in the first instance, appear in the _human
territory_; and, farther, that the point from which the prophecy
started, is the raging of the wolf and bear of the world's power
against the poor defenceless flock of the Lord.

Ver. 6. "_And the wolf dwelleth with the lamb, and the leopard shall
lie down with the kid, the calf, and, the lion and the fatling
together, and a little child leads them._"

Ver. 7. "_The cow and bear go to the pasture; their young ones lie down
together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox._" (The going to
pasture of the bear corresponds with the lion's eating straw [comp.
Gen. i. 30], and we are not allowed to supply the "together" in the
first clause.)

Ver. 8. "_And the sucking child playeth on the hole of the asp, and the
weaned child putteth his hand into the den of the basilisk._"

The change in the irrational creation described in the preceding verses
is a consequence of the removal of sin in the rational creation; this
removal the Prophet now proceeds to describe.

Ver. 9. "_They shall not do evil, and shall not sin in all my holy
mountain, for the earth is full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the
waters covering the sea._"

[Pg 123]

The subject are the dwellers in the Holy Mountain. The Holy Mountain
can, according to the _usus loquendi_, be Mount Zion only, and not, as
was last maintained by _Hofmann_, the whole land of Canaan, which is
never designated in that manner; comp. chap. xxvii. 13, and my
Commentary on Ps. lxxviii. 54. The second part of the verse, connected
with the first by means of _for_, agrees with the first only in the
event that Mount Zion is viewed as the spiritual dwelling place of the
inhabitants of the earth, just as, under the Old Testament
dispensation, it was the _ideal_ dwelling place of all the Israelites,
even of those who outwardly had not their residence at Jerusalem; on
the spiritual dwelling of the servants of the Lord with Him in the
temple, compare remarks on Ps. xxvii. 4, xxxvi. 9, lxv. 5, lxxxiv. 3,
and other passages. In chap. ii. 2-4, lxvi. 23, the Holy Mountain, too,
appears as the centre of the whole earth in the Messianic time. From
chap. xix. 20, 21, where, in the midst of converted Egypt, an altar is
built, and sacrifices are offered up, it appears that it is this in an
_ideal_ sense only, that under its image the _Church_ is meant. The
designation, "my Holy Mountain," intimates that the state of things
hitherto, when unholiness prevailed in the Kingdom of the Holy God, is
an unnatural one; that at some future period the _idea_ necessarily
must manifest its power and right in opposition to the _reality_.--In
the second clause, the ground and fountain of this sinlessness is
stated. In Zion, in the Church of God, there will then be no more any
sins; for the earth is then full of the knowledge of the Lord, by which
the sins are done away with. The general outpouring of the Holy Ghost
forms one of the characteristics of the Messianic time; and the
_consequence_ of this outpouring is, according to ver. 2, the knowledge
of the Lord,--so that the clause may be thus paraphrased: For, in
consequence of the Spirit poured out, in the first instance, upon Him,
the earth is full of the knowledge of the Lord; comp. chap. xxxii. 15:
"Until the Spirit be poured upon us from on high;" liv. 13; Joel iii.
1; ii. 28; Jer. xxxi. 34, That הארץ is here not the "land," or
"country," but the "_earth_" is sufficiently evident from the
antithesis of the _sea_: as the _sea_ is full of water, so the _earth_
is full of the knowledge of the Lord. To this [Pg 124] reason it may
still be added that in vers. 6-8 changes are spoken of, which concern
the whole territory of the earthly creation, the παλιγγενεσία of the
whole earth. As the relation of these changes to that which is stated
here is that of cause and effect, here, too, the whole earth can only
be thought of _Finally_,--The following verse too supposes the
spreading of salvation over the whole earth. The entire relation of the
first section to the second and third makes it obvious that by הארץ the
whole earth is to be understood. The passage under consideration is
alluded to in Hab. ii. 14: "For the earth shall be filled with the
knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters covering the sea." In
that passage, the enforced knowledge of the Divine glory which
manifests itself in punitive justice, forms the subject of discourse;
but that enforced knowledge forms the necessary condition of the
knowledge which is voluntary and saving.

_Ver. 10. "And it shall come to pass in that day, the root of Jesse
which standeth for an ensign to the people, it shall the Gentiles seek,
and His rest is glory._"

The words, "and it shall come to pass," introduce a new section; so
that the interval in the Hebrew manuscripts is here quite in its place.
With ver. 11 again, a new section begins. In ver. 1-9 we have the
appearance of the Messiah in relation to the whole earth; then, in the
second section, the way in which he becomes a centre to the whole
_Gentile world_; and in ver. 11 ff., what He grants to the _old
covenant-people_, for whom the Prophet was, in the first instance,
prophesying, and whose future he therefore describes more in detail.
Why His relation to the Gentile world is _first spoken of_ appears from
ver. 12; the Gentiles gathered to the Lord are the medium of His
salvation to the old covenant-people.--The _root_ designates here (and
likewise in chap. liii. 2), and in the passages founded upon this,
viz., in Rev. v. 5, xxii. 16, the _product_ of the root, that whereby
the root manifests itself, the shoot from the root; just as "seed" so
very often occurs for "product of the seed." This appears from a
comparison with ver. 1, where, more fully, the Messiah is called a twig
from Jesse's roots. _Bengel_ has already directed attention to the
antithesis of the root and ensign, in his Commentary on Rom. xv. 12: "A
sweet antithesis: the root is undermost, [Pg 125] the ensign rises
uppermost; so that even the nations farthest off may behold it."--דרש
with ל, אל, and את, has the signification "to apply to the true God, or
some imaginary god, in order to seek protection, help, counsel, advice,
disclosures regarding the future;" comp. Is. viii. 19; Deut. xii. 4, 5,
and other passages in _Gesenius' Thesaurus_. The Gentiles feel that
they cannot do without the Redeemer; they see, at the same time, His
riches and their poverty; and this knowledge urges them on to _seek_
Him, that from him they may obtain _light_ (chap. xlii. 6), that He may
communicate to them His _law_ (chap. xlii. 4), that he may teach them
of His ways, and that they may walk in His paths (chap. ii. 3), &c. St.
Paul, in Rom. xv. 12, following the LXX., has ἐπ αὐτῷ ἔθνη ἐλπιοῦσι,
which, as regards the sense, fully agrees with the original. The
beginning of the seeking took place when the representatives of the
Gentile world, the Maji from the East, came to Jerusalem, saying:
"Where is He that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star
in the East and are come to worship Him," Matt. ii. 2. The historical
foundation and the type are the homage which, from the Gentile world,
was offered to Solomon, 1 Kings x.--מנוחה "resting place," "dwelling
place," "habitation;" comp. Ps. cxxxii. 13, 14: "For the Lord hath
chosen Zion; He hath desired it for His _habitation_. This is my _rest_
(מנוחתי) for ever; here will I _dwell_, for I have desired it." The
glory of the King passes over to His residence to which the Gentile
world are flowing together, in order to do homage to Him; Comp. Ps.
lxxii. 10: "The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring
presents; the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts." The
comparison of this passage alone is sufficient to refute the absurd
interpretation, according to which עמים and גוים are referred to the
Israelitish tribes,--an interpretation which has been tried with as
little success in the fundamental passage (Gen. xlix. 10), according to
which the עמים are to adhere to Shiloh; compare Vol. i. p. 62.

Ver. 11: "_And it shall come to pass in that day, the Lord shall
continue a second time with His hand to ransom the remnant of His
people which has remained from Asshur and from Egypt, from Patros and
from Cush, from Elam and from Shinar, from Hamath and from the islands
of the sea._"

[Pg 126]

From the Gentiles, the Prophet now turns to Israel. The reception of
the Gentiles into the Messianic Kingdom is not by any means to take
place at the expense of the old covenant-people; even they shall be
brought back again, and shall be received into the Kingdom of God.
יוסיף must be connected with לקנות, comp. 2 Sam. xxiv. 1: "And the Lord
continued to kill," להרג. It is unnecessary and arbitrary to supply
לשלח. ידו is Accusative, "as to His hand," equivalent to "with His
hand;" comp. Ps. iii. 5, xvii. 10, 11, 13, 14. Just the hand of God,
which here comes into consideration as the instrument of _doing_, is
repeatedly mentioned in the account of the deliverance from Egypt;
comp. Exod. iii. 20, vii. 4, xiii. 9. The expression: "_He shall
continue_," in general, points out the idea that it is not a new
beginning which is here concerned, but the continuation of former
acting, by which believing was rendered so much the more easy. The
expression, "a _second time_," points more distinctly to the type of
the _deliverance from Egypt_ with which the redemption to be effected
by Christ is frequently paralleled; comp. vers. 15, 16; Vol. i. p. 218,
219. "_From Asshur_," &c., must not be connected with לקנות, but with
ישאר, comp. v. 16, those who have remained from Asshur, &c., _i.e._,
those whom Asshur and the other places of punishment, with their
hostile influences, have left, who have been preserved in them. The
fact that destructive influences may proceed from those nations also
which do not properly belong to the number of the kingdoms of the
world, is plainly shown by the history of the Jews after Christ. It
would be against the accents, both here and in ver. 6, to connect it
with לקנות; the words "which shall remain" would, in that case, appear
to be redundant; and, farther, it is opposed by Exod. x. 3: "And eats
the residue of that which is escaped, which remaineth unto you from the
hail," equivalent to; which the hail has left to you. Similar to this
is 2 Chron. xxx. 6, where Hezekiah exhorts the children of Israel:
"Turn again unto the Lord.... in order that He may again return to the
remnant which has been left to you from the hand of the kings of
Asshur." A question here arises, viz., whether the dispersion of Israel
which is here described, had already taken place at the time of the
Prophet, or whether the Prophet, transferring himself in the Spirit
into [Pg 127] the distant future, describes the dispersion which took
place at a later period, after the carrying away of the ten tribes into
the Assyrian exile had preceded, viz., that which took place when Judah
was carried away into the Babylonish exile, and especially after the
destruction of Jerusalem. The latter view is the correct one. The whole
tenor of the Prophet's words shows that he supposes a _comprehensive_
dispersion of the people. It is true that, at the time when the
prophecy was written, the ten tribes had already been carried away into
captivity; but the kingdom of Judah, the subjects of which, according
to ver. 12, likewise appear as being in the dispersion, had not yet
suffered any important desolation. The few inhabitants of Judah who,
according to Joel iv. 6, (iii. 6), and Amos i. 6, 9, had been sold as
slaves by the Philistines and Phœnicians, and others, who, it may be,
in hard times had spontaneously fled from their native country, cannot
here come into consideration. Just as here, so by Hosea too, the future
carrying away of the inhabitants of Judah is anticipated; comp. vol.
i., p. 219, 220. The fundamental passage is in Deut. xxx. 3, 4, where
the gathering of Israel is promised "from all the nations whither the
Lord thy God has scattered thee. If any of thine be driven out into the
utmost parts of heaven, from thence will the Lord thy God gather thee,
and from thence will He fetch thee." This passage shows with what
clearness the future scattering lay before the eyes of the holy men,
even at the first beginnings of the people of God. In vers. 11 and 12
we have the summary of the whole of the second part of Isaiah, in which
the announcement of Israel's being gathered and brought back is
constantly repeated; and it is quite incomprehensible how some grant
the genuineness of the prophecy before us, and yet bring forward,
against this second part of Isaiah, the argument that the Prophet could
not _supposee_ the scattering, that it must really have taken place,
since he simply announces their being brought back.--As regards the
redemption from the scattering, all that which in history is realised
in a series of events, is here united in one view. There is no reason
for excluding the deliverance under Zerubbabel; for it, too, was
already granted for the sake of Christ, whose incarnation the Prophet
anticipates in faith; comp. remarks on chaps. vii., ix. This
redemption, [Pg 128] however, in which those who have been brought back
remain servants in the land of the Lord, can be considered as only a
prelude to the true one; comp. vol. i., p. 220 f. 448. The true
fulfilment began with the appearance of Christ, and is still going on
towards its completion, which can take place even without Israel's
returning to Canaan, comp. vol. i., p. 222. Asshur opens the list, and
occupies the principal place, because it was through him who, under the
very eyes of the Prophet, had carried away the ten tribes, that the
dispersion began. But the Prophet does not limit himself to that which
was obvious,--did not expect, from the Messiah, only the healing of
already existing hurts.--With Asshur, _Egypt_ is connected in one pair.
Egypt is the _African_ world's power struggling for dominion with the
_Asiatic_. Its land serves not only as a refuge to those oppressed by
the Asiatic world's power (comp. Jer. xlii. ff.), but, in that struggle
with the Asiatic power, itself invades and oppresses the land; comp.
chap. vii. 18; 2 Kings xxiii. 29 ff.: "In his days Pharaoh Necho, king
of Egypt, went up against the king of Assyria." In a similar
connection, Asshur and Egypt, the kingdoms on the Euphrates and the
Nile, appear in chap. xxvii. 13: "And it shall come to pass in that
day, that a great trumpet is blown, and they come, the perishing ones
in the land of Asshur, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, and
worship the Lord in the holy mount at Jerusalem;" Micah vii. 12; Jer.
ii. 18; Lam. v. 6. As annexed to Egypt, the _second_ pair presents
itself, representing the uttermost _South_; compare the expression,
"from the four comers of the earth," in ver. 12. Pathros, in Jer. xliv.
1, 15, also appears as a dependency of Egypt; and Cush, Ethiopia, was,
at the Prophet's time, the ally of Egypt, chap. xxxvii. 9, xviii., xx.
3-6. _Gesenius_ remarks on chap. xx. 4: "Egypt and Ethiopia are, in the
oracles of this time, always connected, just as the close political
alliance of these two countries requires."--From the uttermost South,
the Prophet turns to the uttermost East. "Elam is," as _Gesenius_ in
his Commentary on chap. xxi. 2 remarks, "in the pre-exilic writers,
used for Persia in general, for which afterwards פרס becomes the
ordinary name;" and according to Dan. viii. 2, the Persian Metropolis
Shushan is situated in Elam. It appears in chap. xxii. 6 as the
representative of the world's power [Pg 129] which in future will
oppress Judah, and we hence expect that it will appear in an Elamitic
phase also.--Shinar, the ancient name for Babylon, is that world's
power which, according to chaps. xiii., xiv., xxxix., and other
passages, is to follow after the Assyrian, and is to carry away Judah
into exile. Elam and Madai appear in chap. xxi. 2 as the destroyers of
the Babylonian world's power; hence the Elamitic phase of it can follow
after the Babylonish only. The geographical arrangement only can be the
reason why it is here placed first.--The last of the four pairs of
countries is formed by Hamath, representing Syria, (comp. 1 Maccab.
xii. 25, according to which passage Jonathan the Maccabee marches into
the land of Hamath against the army of Demetrius,) and the islands of
the sea, the islands and the countries on the shores of the
Mediterranean in the uttermost West. As early as in the prophecy of
Balaam, in Numb. xxiv. 24: "And ships come from the side of Chittim and
afflict Asshur, and afflict Eber, and he also perisheth," we find the
announcement that, at some future time, the Asiatic kingdoms shall be
conquered by a power which comes from the West in ships, by European
nations--an announcement which was realised in history by the dominion
of the Greeks and Romans in Asia.

Ver. 12: "_And He setteth up an ensign to the Gentiles and assembleth
the exiled of Israel, and gathereth together the dispersed of Judah
from the four corners of the earth._"

The setting up of the ensign for the Gentiles, around which they are to
assemble for the purpose of restoring Israel, took place, in a prelude,
under Cyrus; comp. chap. xiv. 2, xlix. 22: "Thus saith the Lord God:
Behold I lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to
the nations, and they bring thy sons on their bosom, and thy daughters
are carried upon their shoulders;" where the sons and daughters
correspond to the exiled men of Israel, and to the dispersed women of
Judah, equivalent to all the exiled and dispersed men and women. As
early as in the Song of Solomon, we are taught that in the Messianic
time the Gentile nations will take an active part in the restoration of
Israel. According to the first part of that Song, the appearance of the
heavenly Solomon is connected with the reception of the Gentiles into
His Kingdom, and that, through the instrumentality of the [Pg 130] old
covenant people, as is intimated by the name of the daughters of
Jerusalem; comp. my Comment. on Song of Solomon, iii. 9-11. In the
second part of that Song we have a description of the reunion of
apostate Israel with Christ,--which reunion takes place by the
co-operation of the daughters of Jerusalem, the same whom they formerly
brought to salvation. According to Is. lxvi. 20, the Gentiles,
converted to the Lord in the time of salvation, bring the children of
Israel for an offering unto the Lord,--A significant allusion to the
passage before us is found in John xi. 52: καὶ οὐχ ὑπὲρ τοῦ ἔθνους
μόνον, ἀλλ' ἵνα καὶ τὰ τέκνα τοῦ Θεοῦ τὰ διεσκορπισμένα συναγάγῃ εἰς
ἕν. It is the same mercy seeking that which is lost that manifests
itself in the gathering of apostate Israel, and in the gathering of the
Gentiles. What is said of the one furnishes, at the same time, the
guarantee for the other.

Ver. 13. "_And the envy of Ephraim departeth, and the adversaries of
Judah are cut off; Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not
vex Ephraim._"

According to the explanatory fourth clause, the "adversaries of Judah"
in the second clause, can only be those among Judah who vex Ephraim. At
the very beginning of the separation of the two kingdoms, their future
reunion had been announced by a prophet; and this must now take place
as certainly as Jehovah is God, who had promised to David and his house
the eternal dominion over all Israel. The separation had taken place
because the house of David had become unfaithful to its vocation. In
the Messiah, the promise, to the Davidic race is to be completely
realized; _and this realization has_, for its necessary consequence,
the _removal for ever_ of the separation; comp. Ezek. xxxvii. 22. It
was a _prelude_ to the fulfilment, that a portion of the subjects of
the kingdom of the ten tribes united with Judah in all those times
when, in the blessing accompanying the enterprises of a pious son of
David, the promise granted to David was, in some measure realized,--as
was the case under Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, and Josiah. Even before
Christ appeared in the flesh, the announcement here made was all but
realized. The exile put an end to the kingdom of the ten tribes, and
hence also to the unnatural separation which had been designated as the
severest calamity of the past, chap. vii. 17. The other tribes [Pg 131]
joined Judah and the restored sanctuary; comp. Acts xxvi. 7; Luke ii.
36. The name of "_Jews_" passed over to the whole nation; the jealousy
disappeared. This blessing was conferred upon the people for Christ's
sake, and with a view to His future appearance. In Christ, the bond of
union and communion is so firmly formed that no new discord can
alienate the hearts from one another.

Ver. 14. "_And they fly upon the shoulder of the Philistines toward the
West, spoil together the children of the East; Edom and Moab shall be
their assault, the children of Ammon their obedience._"

As Israel is united internally, so it shall be externally powerful.
According to the Song of Solomon vi. 10, the congregation of Israel
when, by her renewed connection with the Lord and His heavenly Solomon,
she has regained her former strength, is "terrible as an army with
banners."--The nations mentioned are those of the Davidic reign. Even
before the time of the Prophet, they had been anew conquered by
Jehoshaphat, in whom the spirit of David had been revived anew; comp. 2
Chron. xx.; Ps. lxxxiii. A prelude to the fulfilment of the prophecy
before us took place at the time of the Maccabees, comp. Vol. i. p.
467, 468. But as regards the fulfilment, we are not entitled to limit
ourselves to the names here mentioned. These names are the accidental
element in the prophecy; the thought is this: As soon as Israel
realizes its destiny, it partakes of God's inviolability, of God's
victorious power. The Prophet's sole purpose is to point out the
victorious power, to give prominence to the thought that outward
prosperity is the necessary consequence of inward holiness.--In the
first clause, the image is taken from birds of prey; comp. Hab. i. 8:
"They fly as an eagle hastening to eat," which passage refers to the
enemies of Israel at the time of wrath. In the time of _grace_, the
relation will be just the reverse.--משלח יד occurs, in a series of
passages in Deuteronomy, of that which is taken in hand, undertaken.
Edom and Moab are no longer an object of _Noli me tangere_ for them.

Ver. 15. "_And the Lord destroys the tongue of the Sea of Egypt, and
waves His hand over the River with the violence of His wind, and
smiteth it into seven streams, that one may go through in shoes._"

[Pg 132]

Ver. 16. "_And there shall be a highway for the remnant of His people
which was left from Asshur; like as it was to Israel in the day that he
came up out of the land of Egypt._"

The miraculous power of the Lord shall remove all obstacles to
deliverance. These obstacles are represented by the Euphrates and the
Red Sea (the tongue of the Sea of Egypt, equivalent to the point of
it), with a reference to the fact that, among the countries, in ver.
11, from which Israel is to be delivered, there had been mentioned,
_Egypt_, between which and the Holy Land was the Red Sea, and Asshur,
situated on the other side of Euphrates. To Euphrates, upon which there
will be repeated that which, in ancient times, was done in the case of
Jordan, the Prophet assigns, in ver. 15, the last place, on account of
ver. 16. The highway in that verse is prepared by the turning off of
Euphrates, so that we might put: "And thus," at the beginning of the
verse. As regards the destroying, החרום, it is the forced devoting to
God of that which would not spontaneously serve Him; compare remarks on
Mal. iii. 24. Objects of such devoting can properly be _persons_ only,
because they only are capable of spontaneous sanctification to God, as
well as of wilful desecration. The fact that it is here transferred to
the sea may be accounted for by its being personified. The destruction
which is inflicted upon the sea is, in it, inflicted upon the enemies
of God thereby represented, inasmuch as it opposes the people of God,
and thus, as it were, strives against God.--_With the violence or
terror of His wind_, _i.e._, with His violent, terrible wind. There is
in this an allusion to Exod. xiv. 21, according to which the Lord dried
up the Red Sea by a violent wind. Against _Drechsler_, who thinks of
"God's breathing of anger," first, this reference to Exod. xiv. 21, and
farther, the circumstance that the רוח appears as something which the
Lord has in His hand, are decisive.--In ver. 16 we need not, after
"from Asshur," supply the other nations mentioned in ver. 11, which
would be unexampled; but Asshur appears as the representative of all
the enemies of God. Similarly in Micah also, Asshur is, with evident
intention, used typically; comp. Vol. i. p. 515, 516.

[Footnote 1: Notwithstanding the arguments which we stated in favour of
our proposition, that the original form of the name is נצר. _Ebrard_
without even attempting to refute them, assumes, in favour of a
far-fetched conjecture, that the name of the place was written נזרת
(_Kritik. d. Ev. Geschichte_ S. 843, 1st Ed.), and has introduced this
opinion even into the text of the new edition of _Olshausen's_
Commentary, edited by him. The circumstance that elsewhere _commonly_
the Hebrew ז is, in Greek, rendered by ζ, צ by σ is, in this case,
where the special arguments in favour of נצר are so strong, of no

[Footnote 2: _Hofmann_ (_Weissagung und Erfüllung._, II. S. 64) was the
last who assumed that the Evangelist had generally in view those
passages in which the lowliness, contempt, and rejection of Christ are
spoken of, and that, in the Old Testament passages in question, the
Ναζωραῖος was not contained according to the letter, but according to
the spirit only. But this is opposed not only by the whole manner of
quotation which is given as a literal one, but also by a whole series
of analogies: Christ's birthplace in Bethlehem, His stay in Jerusalem,
His ministry in Galilee, and especially in Capernaum, His entrance into
Jerusalem,--all these are by Matthew traced back to prophetical
declarations which have a special reference to these localities.
Against the exposition given by us, _Hofmann_ advances the assertion
that neither נצר nor חטר have ever attached to them the idea of
lowliness, of unassuming appearance. But even if a twig were not of
itself something lowly and unassuming in appearance, yet, in the
passage before us, that idea is, at all events, implied in the
connection with the _stump_ and _roots_, as well as by the contrast to

[Footnote 3: The following passage, which we take from _Raim. Martini
Pug. Fid._ III. 3, 19 p. 685, will fully illustrate that custom: R.
_Abba_ said: His name is יהוה Lord, according to the word in Jerem.
xxiii. 6; R. _Josua ben Levy_ said: "His name is Sprout, according to
what is said in Zech. vi. 12. Others say that His name will be
Comforter, Son of the strength of God, as is declared in Lam. i. 16.
Those from the School of R. _Siloh_ said: His name will be _Shiloh_, as
is written in Gen. xlix. 10: 'Until Shiloh come.' Those from the School
of R. _Chanina_ said: His name will be the Gracious one, as Jerem. said
in chap. xvi. 13. Those from the School of R. _Jannai_ said: Jinnon
shall be His name, according to Ps. lxxii. 17, &c."]

[Pg 133]

                               CHAP. XII.

This chapter contains Israel's hymn of thanks after having obtained
redemption and deliverance, and is connected with chap. ix. 2 (3),
where the Prophet had, in general, mentioned the joy of the elect in
the Messianic time. Here he embodies it in words. The hymn, which forms
a kind of close, and, to a certain degree, belongs to the whole cycle
of the preceding Messianic prophecies, is based upon the hymn of
thanksgiving by Israel after having passed through the Red Sea,--that
historical fact which contained so strong a guarantee for the future
redemption, and is in harmony with chap. xi. 15, 16, where the Prophet
had announced a renewal of those wonderful leadings of the Lord. The
hymn falls into three stanzas, each consisting of two verses. In ver. 1
and 2, and in ver. 4 and 5, the redeemed ones are introduced speaking;
ver. 3 and 5, which likewise form a couple, contain an epilogue of the
Prophet on the double _jubilus_ of the congregation.

Ver. 1. "_And in that day thou sayest: I will praise thee, Lord, for
thou wast angry with me, and now thine anger is turned away, and thou
comfortest me._ Ver. 2. _Behold, God is my salvation; I trust, and am
not afraid; for my strength and song is the Lord, and He became my

The words "my strength and my song," are from Exod. xv. 2. The two
members of the verse enter into the right relation to one another, and
the כי becomes intelligible, only if we keep in mind that the words at
the beginning, "The Lord is my salvation," are an expression of the
conviction of the speaker; hence are equivalent to: we acknowledge Him
as our God; so that the first part expresses the subjective disposition
of the Church; the second, the objective circumstance of the case--that
on which that disposition is founded, and from which it grew up.

Ver. 3. "_And ye draw water in joy out of the wells of salvation._"

During the journey through the wilderness, the bestowal of salvation
had been represented under the form of granting [Pg 134] water. It is
to it that we have here an allusion. The spiritual water denotes

Ver. 4. "_And in that day ye say: Praise the Lord, proclaim His name,
declare His doings among the nations, make mention that His name is
exalted._ Ver. 5. _Praise the Lord, for He hath done great things; this
is known in all the earth._"

Ver. 6. "_Cry out and shout thou inhabitant of Zion; for great is the
Holy One of Israel in thy midst._"

                           * * * * * * * * * *

There now follows a cycle of ten prophecies, which, in the
inscriptions, have the name משא "burden," and in which the Prophet
exhibits the disclosures into the destinies of the nations which he had
received on the occasion of the threatening Assyrian invasion under
Sennacherib. For, from the prophecy against Asshur in chap. xiv. 24,
25, which is contained in the very first burden, it clearly appears
that the cycle which, by the equality of the inscriptions, is connected
into one well arranged and congenial whole, belongs to this period.
This prophecy against Asshur forms one whole with that against Babel,
and by it the latter was suggested and called forth. In that prophecy,
the defeat of Asshur, which took place in the 14th year of Hezekiah, is
announced as future. It is true that the second burden, directed
against the Philistines, in chap. xiv. 28-32, seems to suggest another
time. Of this burden it is said, in ver. 28, that it was given in the
year that king Ahaz died; not in the year in which his death was
impending, but in that in which he died, comp. chap. vi. 1. The
distressed circumstances of the new king raised the hopes of the
Philistines, who, under Ahaz, had rebelled against the Jewish dominion.
But the Prophet beholds in the Spirit that, just under this king, the
heavenly King of Zion would destroy these hopes, and would thrust down
Philistia from its imaginary height. But from the time of the original
composition of the prophecy, that of its _repetition_ must be
distinguished. That took place, as is just shewn by the prophecy's
being received in the cycle of the _burdens_, at the time when the
invasion of Sennacherib was immediately impending. The Assyrians were
the power from the _North_, [Pg 135] by whom the threatened destruction
would break in upon the Philistines; and the truth of the word should
be verified upon them, that prosperity is only the forerunner of the
fall. In the view of the fulfilment, Isaiah repeated the prophecy.

From the series of these _burdens_, we shall very briefly comment upon
those which are of importance for our purpose. First,

                       CHAPTERS XIII. l.-XIV. 27.

This prophecy does not contain any characteristically expressed
Messianic element; but it is of no small consequence for bringing out
the whole picture of the future, as it was before the mind of the
Prophet. It is in it that Babel meets us distinctly and definitely as
the threatening world's power of the future, by which Judah is to be
carried away into captivity.

The genuineness is incontrovertibly testified by the close; and it is
only by a naturalistic tendency that it can be denied. With the
announcement of the deliverance from Babel is first, in chap. xiv. 24,
25, connected an announcement of deliverance from Asshur; and then
follows in ver. 26 and 27, the close of the whole prophecy from chap.
xiii. 1, onward. Vers. 26 and 27, which speak of the whole earth and of
all the nations, refer to chap. xiii., where the Prophet had spoken of
an universal judgment, comp. ver. 5, 9, 10, &c.; while, in the verses
immediately preceding, one single people, the Assyrians only, were
spoken of It is thereby rendered impossible to separate chap. xiv. 24,
27 from the whole.

Behind the world's power of the present--the Assyrian--the Prophet
beholds a new one springing up--the Babylonish. Those who have asserted
that the prophecy against Babel is altogether without foundation as
soon as Isaiah is supposed to have composed it, are utterly mistaken.
Although the prophecy was by no means destined for the contemporaries
only, as prophecy is generally destined for all times of the Church,
yet, even for the Prophet's contemporaries, every letter was of
consequence. If Israel's principal enemies belonged to the future, how
very little was to be feared from the present ones; and especially if
Israel should and must rise from even the [Pg 136] deepest abasement,
how should God not then deliver them from the lower distress and need?
But just because weak faith does not like to draw such _inferences_,
the Prophet at the close expressly adverts to the present affliction,
and gives to the weak faith a distinct and sure word of God, by which
it may support itself, and take encouragement in that affliction.

The points of connection must not be overlooked which the prophecy in
chap. xi. offers for the prophecy before us. We already met there
the total decay of the royal house of David, the carrying away of
Judah into exile, and their dispersion into all lands. It is on
this foundation that the prophecy before us takes its stand: it
points to the power by which these conditions are to be brought about.
Farther--There, as well as here, the conditions of the future are not
expressly _announced_ as such, but _supposed_: the Prophet takes his
stand in the future. There, as well as here, the Prophet draws
consolation in the sufferings of the present from a salvation to be
bestowed in a far distant future only.

From the very outset, the Prophet announces an impending carrying away
of the people, and, at the same time, that, even in this distress, the
Lord would have compassion upon His people, comp. _e.g._ chaps. v., vi.
From the very outset, the Prophet clearly saw that it was not by the
Assyrians that this carrying away would be effected. This much we
consider to be fully proved by history. The progress which the prophecy
before us offers, when compared with those former ones, consists in
this circumstance only, that the Prophet here expressly mentions the
names of the future destroyers. And in reference to this circumstance
we may remark, that, according to the testimony of history, as early as
at that time, the plan of the foundation of an independent power was
strongly entertained and fostered at Babylon, as is clearly enough
evidenced by the embassy of the viceroy of Babylon to Hezekiah.

In chap. xxiii. 13--the prophecy against Tyre, which is acknowledged to
be genuine by the greater number of rationalistic interpreters--the
Prophet shows the clearest insight into the future universal dominion
of Chaldea, which forms the point of issue for the prophecy before us.
With perfect clearness this insight meets us in chap. xxxix. also, on
which even _Gesenius_ cannot avoid remarking: "The prophetic eye of [Pg
137] Isaiah foresaw, even at that time, that, in a political point of
view, Babylon would, in a short time, altogether enter into the track
of Assyria."

                         CHAPTERS XVII., XVIII.

These two chapters form one whole, as, generally, the series of the
ten _burdens_ is nowhere interrupted by inserted, heterogeneous,
independent portions. Chapter xx. forms an appendix only to chapter
xix. In the same manner, the prophecy against Sebna in chap. xxii.
16-25, stands in an internal connection with vers. 1-15; in that which
befel him, the destinies of the people were to be typified. That these
two chapters belong to one another is clearly proved by the parallelism
of chap. xvii. 10, 11, and chap. xviii. 4-6.

The inscription runs: "Burden of Damascus." It is at the commencement
of the prophecy that the Syrians of Damascus are spoken of; the
threatening soon after turns against Judah and Israel. This is easily
accounted for by the consideration that the prophecy refers to a
relation where Judah and Israel appear in the retinue of Damascus. It
was from Damascus that, in the Syrico-Damascenic war, the whole
complication proceeded. Aram induced Israel to join him in the war
against Judah, and misled Judah to seek help from Asshur. In a general
religious point of view, also, all Israel, the kingdom of the ten
tribes, as well as Judah, were at that time, as it were, incorporated
into Damascus; comp. ver. 10, according to which Israel's guilt
consisted in having planted strange vines in his vineyard, with 2 Kings
xvi. 10, according to which Ahaz got an altar made at Jerusalem after
the pattern of that which he had seen at Damascus. The circumstance
that Israel had become like Damascus, was the reason why it was given
up to the Gentiles for punishment.

From the comparison of chap. x. 28-34, it appears that chap. xvii.
12-14 belongs to the time of Hezekiah, when Israel was threatened by
the invasion of Sennacherib. In chap. xvii. 1-11, in which, at first,
the overthrow of Damascus and the kingdom of the ten tribes appears as
still future, the Prophet [Pg 138] thus transfers himself back to the
stand-point of an earlier time. To this result we are also led by the
chronological arrangement of the whole collection. The Prophet,
stepping back in spirit to the beginning of the complication, surveys
the whole of the calamity and salvation which arise to Israel from the
relation to Asshur and the whole world's power represented by Asshur--a
relation into which it had been led by Damascus--and takes a view of
the punishment which it receives by its sins, by its having become
worldly, and of the Divine mercy which sends deliverance and salvation.

The threatening goes as far as chap. xvii 11. The rod of chastisement
is, in the first instance, in the hand of Asshur; but he, as has been
already mentioned, represents the world's power in general. With this,
the promise connects itself. The oppressors of the people of God are
annihilated, chap. xvii. 12-14. All the nations of the earth,
especially Ethiopia, which was, no less than Israel, threatened by
Asshur (comp. chap. xxxvii. 9), and to which Egypt at that time
occupied the position of a subordinate ally, perceive with astonishment
the catastrophe by which God brings about the destruction of His
enemies, chap. xviii. 1-3. Or, to state it more exactly: Messengers
who, from the scene of the great deeds of the Lord, hasten in ships,
first, over the Mediterranean, then, in boats up the Nile, bring the
intelligence of the catastrophe which has taken place to Cush, the land
of the rustling of the wings--thus named from the rustling of the wings
of the royal eagle of the world's power, which, being in birth equal to
Asshur, has there its seat, vers. 1 and 2; comp. chap. viii. 8. All the
inhabitants of the earth shall look with astonishment at the
catastrophe which is taking place, ver. 3, where the Prophet who, in
vers. 1 and 2, had described the catastrophe as having already taken
place, steps back to the stand-point of reality. In vers. 4-6, we have
the graphic description of the catastrophe. At the close, we have, in
ver. 7, the words which impart to the prophecy importance for our

"_In that time shall be brought, as a present unto the Lord of hosts,
the people far stretched and shorn, and from the people terrible since
it_ (has been) _and onward, and from the people of law-law and
trampling down, whose land streams divide, to the place of the name of
the Lord of hosts, the Mount Zion._"

[Pg 139]

The expression, "shall be brought as a present," (the word שי occurs,
besides in this passage, only in Ps. lxviii. 30; lxxvi. 12) points back
to the fundamental passage in Ps. lxviii. 30, where David says,
"Because of thy temple over Jerusalem shall kings bring presents unto
thee." As outwardly, so spiritually too, the sanctuary lies _over_
Jerusalem. The sanctuary of God over Jerusalem is the emblem of His
protecting power, of His saving mercy watching over Jerusalem; so that,
"because of thy temple over Jerusalem they bring," &c., is equivalent
to: On account of thy glorious manifestation as the God of Jerusalem.
Cush is in that Psalm, immediately afterwards, expressly mentioned by
the side of Egypt, which, at the Prophet's time, was closely connected
with it. "Princes shall come out of Egypt, Cush makes her hands to
hasten towards God."--According to _Gesenius_, and other interpreters,
the מן from the second clause is to be supplied before עם ממשך. But
this is both hard and unnecessary. It is quite in order that, first,
the offering of persons, and, afterwards, the offering of their gifts
should be mentioned. Parallel is chap. xlv. 14: "The labour of Egypt
and the merchandize of Ethiopia, and the Sabeans, men of stature, shall
come over unto thee, and they shall be thine;" the difference is only
this, that there first the goods are mentioned, and then the men. In
chap. lxvi. 20, we likewise meet men who are brought for an offering.
The designations of the people who here appear as the type of the whole
Gentile world to be converted at some future period, and who have been
chosen for this honour in consequence of the historical circumstances
which existed at the time of the Prophet, are taken from ver. 2.
_Gesenius_ is wrong in remarking in reference to them: "All these
epithets have for their purpose to designate that distant people as a
powerful and terrible one." As _Gesenius_ himself was obliged to remark
in reference to the last words, "Whose land streams divide:" "This is a
designation of a striking peculiarity of the country, not of the
people,"--the purpose of the epithets can generally be this only, to
characterise the people according to their different prominent
peculiarities.--ממשך properly "_drawn out_," "_stretched_," Prov. xiii.
12, corresponds to the אנשי מדה "men of extension or stature," in chap.
xlv. 14. High stature appears, in classical writers also, as a
characteristic sign of the [Pg 140] Ethiopians.--On מורט "_closely
shorn_," comp. chap. l. 6, where מרט is used of the plucking out of the
hair of the beard.---"To the people fearful since it and onward,"
equivalent to: which all along, and throughout its whole existence, has
been terrible; compare מימי היא Nah. ii. 9, and the expression: "from
this day and forward," 1 Sam. xviii. 9. For everywhere one people only
is spoken of, comp. ver. 1, according to which Egypt cannot be thought
of--קו קו "law-law" is explained from chap. xxviii. 10, 13, where it
stands beside צו צו, and designates the mass of rules, ordinances, and
statutes. This is characteristic of the Egyptians, and likewise of the
Ethiopians, who bear so close an intellectual resemblance to them. With
regard to the connection of the verse with what precedes, _Gesenius_
remarks: "The consequence of such great deeds of Jehovah will be, that
the distant, powerful people of the Ethiopians shall present pious
offerings to Jehovah,"--more correctly, "present themselves and their
possessions to Jehovah."--A prelude to the fulfilment Isaiah beheld
with his own eyes. It is said in 2 Chron. xxxii. 33: "And many (in
consequence of the manifestation of the glory of God in the defeat of
Asshur before Jerusalem) brought gifts unto the Lord to Jerusalem."
Yet, we must not limit ourselves to that. The real fulfilment can be
sought for only at a later time, as certainly as that which the Prophet
announces about the destruction of the world's power exceeds, by far,
that isolated defeat of Asshur, which can be regarded as a prelude only
to the real fulfilment; and as certainly as he announces the
destruction of Asshur generally, and, under his image, of the world's
power. "He who delights in having pointed out the fulfilment of such
prophecies in the later history"--_Gesenius_ remarks--"may find it in
Acts viii. 26 ff., and still more, in the circumstance that Abyssinia
is, up to this day, the only larger Christian State of the East."--In
consequence of the glorious manifestation of the Lord in His kingdom,
and of the conquering power which, in Christ, He displayed in His
relation to the world's power, there once existed in Ethiopia a
flourishing Christian Church; and on the ground of this passage before
us, we look at its ruins which have been left up to this day, with the
hope that the Lord will, at some future time, rebuild it.

[Pg 141]

                              CHAPTER XIX.

The burden of Egypt begins with the words: "Behold the Lord rideth upon
a swift cloud, and cometh into Egypt, and the idols of Egypt are moved
at His presence, and the heart of Egypt melteth in the midst of it."
The clouds with which, or accompanied by which, the Lord comes, are, in
the Old and New Testament writings, symbolical indications and
representations of judgment; comp. my remarks on Rev. i. 7; and besides
the passages quoted there, compare in addition Jer. iv. 13; Rev. xiv.
14. But what judgment is here spoken of? According to _Gesenius_ and
other interpreters, the calamity is the victory of Psammeticus over the
twelve princes, with which physical calamities are to be joined. But
against this view, ver. 11 alone is conclusive, inasmuch as, according
to this verse, Pharaoh, at the time when this calamity breaks in upon
Egypt, is the ruler of the whole land: "How say ye unto Pharaoh: I am
the Son of the wise a (spiritual) son of the kings of ancient times,"
who are celebrated for their wisdom. In ver. 2, according to which, in
Egypt, kingdom fights against kingdom, we cannot, therefore, think of
independent kingdom s; but following the way of the LXX., νόμος ἐπὶ
νόμον, of provinces only. Further,--According to _Gesenius_, the fierce
lord and cruel king in ver. 4 is assumed to be Psammeticus. But against
this the plural alone is decisive. Ezek. xxx. 12--according to which
outward enemies, the זרים, are the cause of the drying up of the Nile,
of the ceasing of wealth and prosperity--militates against the
assumption of a calamity independent of the political one. The
circumstance, that the prophecy under consideration belongs to the
series of the _burdens_, and was written in the view of Asshur's
advance, leaves us no room to doubt that the Lord is coming to judgment
in the oppression by the Asiatic world's power. To this may be added
the analogy of the prophecies of Jeremiah and Ezekiel against Egypt,
which are evidently to be considered as a resumption of the prophecy
under consideration, and as an announcement that its realization is
constantly going on. They do not know any other calamity than being
given up to the Asiatic world's power. Compare _e.g._ Jer. xlvi. 25,
26: "And behold, I visit Pharaoh and Egypt, and their gods and their
kings, Pharaoh [Pg 142] and them that trust in him. And I deliver them
into the hand of those that seek their soul, and into the hand of
Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon." After what we have remarked, the
discord among the Egyptians in ver. 2, can be considered as the
consequence and concomitant of the real and main calamity only: Where
God is not in the midst, there, commonly, internal discord is wont to
follow upon severe outward affliction, inasmuch as one always imputes
to the other the cause of matters going on so badly. And what is said
of the drying up of the Nile, we shall thus likewise be obliged to
consider as a consequence of the hostile oppression. Waters are, in
Scripture, the ordinary image of prosperity; compare remarks on Rev.
xvii. 1, 8, 40; xvi. 4. Here the Nile specially is chosen as the symbol
of prosperity, inasmuch as upon it the woe and weal of Egypt chiefly
depended. In consequence of the hostile invasion which consumes all the
strength of the land, the Nile of its prosperity dries up; "its very
foundations are destroyed, all who carry on craft are afflicted."

The scope of the prophecy is this: The Lord comes to judgment upon
Egypt (through Asshur and those who follow in his tracks), ver. 1.
Instead of uniting all the strength against the common enemy, there
arises, by the curse of God, discord and dissolution, ver. 2. Egypt
falls into a helpless state of distress, ver. 3. "And I give over Egypt
into the hand of hard rule, and a fierce king (_Jonathan_: _potens_,
sc. Nebuchadnezzar) shall rule over them, saith the Lord, Jehovah of
hosts," ver. 4. The fierce king is the king of Asshur, the Asiatic
kingdom; compare the mention of Asshur in ver. 23-25; LXX. βασιλεῖς
σκληροί. For, the fact that the unity is merely an _ideal_ one, is most
distinctly and intentionally pointed at by the אדנים preceding. The
prosperity of the land is destroyed, ver. 5-10. The much boasted
Egyptian wisdom can as little avert the ruin of the country as it did
formerly, in ancient times; its bearers stand confounded and ashamed;
nothing will thrive and prosper, vers. 11-15. But the misery produces
salutary fruits; it brings about the conversion of Egypt to the God of
Israel, and, with this conversion, a full participation in all the
privileges and blessings of the Kingdom of God shall be connected, ver.
16, and especially vers. 18-25. This close of the prophecy, which for
our purpose is of special consequence, we must still submit to a closer

[Pg 143]

Ver. 18. "_In that day shall be five cities in the land of Egypt which
speak the language of Canaan and swear to the Lord of hosts; city of
destruction the one shall be called._"

_Five_, as usual, here comes into consideration as the half of _ten_,
which number represents the whole; "_five_ cities," therefore, is
equivalent to: a goodly number of cities. On the words: "Who speak the
language of Canaan," _Gesenius_ remarks: "With the spreading of a
certain religion resting on certain documents of revelation, as _e.g._
the Jewish religion, the knowledge of their language, too, must be
connected." We must not, of course, limit the thought to this, that
Hebrew was learned wherever the religion of Jehovah spread. When viewed
more deeply, the language of Canaan is spoken by all those who
are converted to the true God. Upon the Greek language, _e.g._ the
character of the language of Canaan has been impressed in the
New Testament. That language which, from primeval times, has been
developed in the service of the Spirit, imparts its character to the
languages of the world, and changes their character in their deepest
foundation.--"To swear to the Lord" is to do Him homage; Michaelis:
_Juramento se Domino obstringent_; comp. chap. xlv. 23: "Unto me every
knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear." In the words: "City of
destruction," הרס, one shall be called, there is contained an allusion
to קיר הרס, "_city of the Sun_" (Heliopolis) which was peculiar to one
of the chief seats of Egyptian idolatry. It is the celebrated _On_ or
_Bethshemish_ of which Jeremiah prophesies in chap. xliii. 13: "And he
(Nebuchadnezzar) breaketh the pillars in Beth-shemish, that is in the
land of Egypt, and the houses of the gods of Egypt he burneth with
fire." This allusion was perceived as early as by _Jonathan_, who thus
paraphrases: "_Urbs domus solis quae destruetur._" By this allusion it
is intimated that salvation cannot be bestowed upon the Gentile world
in the state in which it is; that punitive justice must prepare the way
for salvation: that everywhere the destructive activity of God must
precede that which builds up; that the way to the Kingdom of God passes
through the fire of tribulation which must consume every thing that is
opposed to God; compare that which Micah, even in reference to the
covenant-people, says regarding the necessity of taking, before giving
can have place, vol. i., p. 517.

[Pg 144]

Ver. 19. "_In that day shall there be an altar to the Lord in the midst
of the land of Egypt, and a pillar at the border thereof to the Lord._"

That the altar is to be considered as a "monument" only is a
supposition altogether far-fetched, and which can the less find any
support in the isolated case, Josh. xxii., that that account clearly
enough intimates how decidedly the existence of an altar furnishes a
foundation for the supposition that sacrifices are to be offered up
there, a supposition intimated by the very name in Hebrew. If it was
meant to serve some other purpose, it would have been necessary
expressly to state it, or, at least, some other place of sacrifice
ought to have been assigned for the sacrifices mentioned in ver. 21.
But as it stands, there cannot be any doubt that the altar here and the
sacrifices there belong to one another. This passage under
consideration is of no little consequence, inasmuch as it shows that,
in other passages where a going up of the Gentiles to Jerusalem in the
Messianic time is spoken of, as, _e.g._, chap. lxvi. 23, we must
distinguish between the thought and the embodiment. The _pillar_ at the
border bears an inscription by which the land is designated as the
property of the Lord, just as it was the custom of the old eastern
conquerors, and especially of the Egyptians, to erect such pillars in
the conquered territories.

Ver. 20. "_And it is for a sign and for a witness to the Lord of hosts
in the land of Egypt: When they cry unto the Lord because of the
oppressors, He shall send them a Saviour and a Deliverer; and he shall
deliver them._"

Altar and pillar, as a sign and witness of the confession to the Lord,
are, at the same time, a guarantee of the deliverance to be granted by
Him. According to _Gesenius_, the Prophet speaks "without a definite
historical reference, of a saving or protecting angel." But we cannot
think of an angel on account of the plain reference to the common
formula in the Book of Judges, by which it is intimated that, as far as
redemption is concerned, Egypt has been made a partaker of the
privileges of the covenant-people. It is just this reference which has
given rise to the general expression; but it is Christ who is meant;
for the prophets, and especially Isaiah, are not cognizant of any other
Saviour for the Gentile world [Pg 145] than of Him; and it is He who is
suggested by the Messianic character of the whole description.

Ver. 21. "_And the Lord is known to the Egyptians, and the Egyptians
know the Lord in that day, and offer sacrifice and oblation, and vow
vows unto the Lord, and perform them._"

Ver. 22. "_And the Lord smiteth the Egyptians so that He healeth them,
and they are converted to the Lord, and He shall be entreated by them,
and shall heal them._"

We have here simply a recapitulation. The prophet describes anew the
transition from the state of wrath to that of grace--not, as
_Drechsler_ thinks, what they experience in the latter. Upon Egypt is
fulfilled what, in Deut. xxxii. 39, has been said in reference to

Ver. 23. "_In that day there shall be a highway out of Egypt to Asshur,
and Asshur cometh into Egypt, and Egypt into Asshur, and Egypt serveth
with Asshur._"

עבד with את has commonly the signification "to serve some one;" here,
however, את is used as a preposition: Egypt serves God _with_ Asshur.
Yet there is an allusion to the ordinary use of עבד with את in order to
direct attention to the wonderful change: First, Egypt serves Asshur,
and the powers that follow its footsteps; then, it serves _with_
Asshur. Here also it becomes manifest that the deliverer in ver. 20 is
no ordinary human deliverer; for such an one could help his people only
by inflicting injury upon the hostile power.

Ver. 24. "_In that day Israel shall be the third with Egypt and with
Asshur, a blessing in the midst of the earth._"

The "blessing" is not "that union of people formerly separated," but it
is _Israel_ from which the blessing is poured out upon all the other
nations; compare the fundamental passage, Gen. xii. 1-3, and the word
of the Lord: ἡ σωτηρία ἐκ τῶν Ἰουδαίων ἐστί, John iv. 22.

Ver. 25. "_For the Lord of Hosts blesseth him, saying: Blessed be Egypt
my people, and Asshur the work of mine hands, and Israel mine

The suffix in ברמ refers to every thing mentioned in ver. 24. "Assyria
and Egypt are called by epithets which elsewhere are wont to be
bestowed upon Israel only."

It is scarcely necessary to point out how gloriously this, [Pg 146]
prophecy was fulfilled; how, at one time, there existed a flourishing
Church in Egypt. Although the candlestick of that Church be now removed
from its place ("_Satanas in hac gente sevit zizania_"--_Vitringa_),
yet we are confident of, and hope for, a future in which this prophecy
shall anew powerfully manifest itself The broken power of the
Mahommedan delusion opens up the prospect, that the time in which this
hope is to be realized is drawing nigh.

                             CHAPTER XXIII.
                         THE BURDEN UPON TYRE.

In the view of Sennacherib's invasion, the eyes of the Prophet are
opened, so that he beholds the future destinies of the nations within
his horizon. It is under these circumstances that it is revealed to him
that Tyre also, which, not long before, had successfully resisted the
attack of Asshur, and had imagined herself to be invincible, would not,
for any length of time, be able to resist the attack of the Asiatic
world's power.

The threatening goes on to ver. 14; it is, in ver. 13, concentrated in
the words: "Behold the land of the Chaldeans, this people which was
not, which Asshur assigns to the beasts of the wilderness,--they set up
their watch-towers, they arouse her palaces, they bring them to ruin."
The correct explanation of this verse has been given by _Delitzsch_ in
his Commentary on Habakkuk, S. xxi. Before the capture of Tyre could be
assigned to the Chaldeans, it was necessary to point out that they
should overthrow Asshur, the representative of the world's power in the
time of the Prophet. The Chaldeans, a people which, up to that time,
were not reckoned in the list of the kingdoms of the world, destroy, in
some future period, the Assyrian power, and shall then inflict upon
Tyre that destruction which Asshur intended in vain to bring upon it.

[Pg 147]

Upon the threatening there follows the promise. Ver. 15. "_And it shall
come to pass in that day, and Tyre is forgotten seventy years like the
days of one king. After the end of seventy years, it shall be unto Tyre
according to the song of the harlot._ Ver. 16. _Take the harp, go about
the city, forgotten harlot, make sweet melody, sing many songs, that
thou mayest be remembered._ Ver. 17. _And it shall come to pass, after
the end of seventy years, the Lord will visit Tyre, and she returneth
to her hire of whoredom, and whoreth with all the kingdoms of the earth
upon the surface of the earth._ Ver. 18. _And her gain and hire of
whoredom shall be holy unto the Lord; not is it treasured and laid up,
but to those who sit before the Lord its gain shall be, that they may
eat and be satisfied, and for durable clothing._"

On the "70 years, like the days of one king," _Michaelis_ very
pertinently remarks: "Not of one individual, but of one reign or
empire, _i.e._ as long as the Babylonian empire shall last, which,
after 70 years, was destroyed by Cyrus." The necessary qualification
follows from ver. 13. According to that verse, the one king can be the
king of the Chaldeans only. Parallel are the 70 years which, in Jer.
xxv. 11, 12, are assigned to the Chaldean empire: "And these nations
serve the king of Babylon 70 years. And it shall come to pass, when the
70 years are accomplished, I will visit upon the king of Babylon, and
upon that nation, saith the Lord, their iniquity." In the Commentary on
Rev. ii. 1, p. 75, 200, it was proved that, in Scripture, kings are
frequently _ideal_ persons; not individuals, but personifications of
their kingdoms. _Gesenius'_ objection, that the time of the Babylonish
dynasty, from the pretended destruction of Tyre to the destruction of
Babylon, did not last 70 years, vanishes by the remark that the Prophet
says "like the days;" that, hence, it is expressly intimated that the
70 years here, differently from what is the case in Jeremiah, are to be
considered as a _round_ designation of the time. From a comparison of
Jeremiah we learn that the Chaldean dominion will last 70 years _in
all_. Into which point of that period the destruction of Tyre is to
fall, Isaiah does not disclose. It is quite proper that in reference to
Tyre the announcement should not be so definite, in point of
chronology, as in reference to Judah. That the capture of [Pg 148] Tyre
by the Chaldeans, which is here announced, really took place, has been
more thoroughly established in my book: _De rebus Tyriorum_; and
afterwards by _Drechsler_ in his Commentary on Isaiah, and by
_Hävernick_ in his Commentary on Ezekiel.

After the end of the 70 years. Tyre is to resume her trade of whoring,
and is to carry it on to a wide extent, and with great success. "By the
image of whoredom"--so we remarked in commenting upon Rev. xiv. 8--"in
some passages of the Old Testament, that selfishness is designated
which clothes itself in the garb of love, and, under its appearance,
seeks the gratification of its own desires. In Is. xxiii. 15 ff., Tyre
is, on account of her mercantile connections, called a whore, and the
profit from trade is designated as the reward of whoredom. The point of
comparison is the endeavour to please, to feign love for the sake of
gain." Under the dominion of the Persians, Tyre again began to

Tyre's reward of whoredom is consecrated to the Lord, and the bodily
wants of His servants are provided from it,--quite in agreement with
the words of the Apostle: εἰ ἡμεῖς ὑμῖν τὰ πνευματικὰ ἐσπείραμεν, μέγα,
εἰ ἡμεῖς ὑμῶν τὰ σαρκικὰ θερίσομεν; 1 Cor. ix. 11. Converted Tyre
offers, in these gifts, its thanks for the noble gift which it received
from the sanctuary.

_Vitringa_, who remarks that the Prophet was fully aware of "the great
interval of time that would intervene betwixt the restoration of Tyre,
and her dedication of herself, with her gains, to the Lord," is right,
while _Drechsler_, who is of opinion that the doings of consecrated
Tyre also are represented under the image of whoring, is wrong. Whoring
designates a sinful conversation which is irreconcilable with
conversion to the Lord. It does not designate trade, as such, but trade
as it is earned on by those who, with unrenewed hearts, serve the god
Mammon. We have here before us two stages, strictly separated. _First_,
she resumes her old whorings; _then_, she consecrates her gain to the
Lord. The severe catastrophe intervening, the new capture of Tyre, as
it took place by Alexander, is not yet beheld by Isaiah. The
announcement of it was reserved for the post-exilic Prophet Zechariah,
chap. ix. 3.

The announcement of the future conversion of Tyre received, [Pg 149] in
the time of Christ, a symbolical representation as it were, in the
Canaanitish woman. _Vitringa_ says: "The first fruits of this grace
were received by that wise Canaanitish woman, who had been taught, as
if she had been in the school of Christ, to ask for divine grace; whom
Matth. xv. 22, calls a woman of Canaan, Mark vii. 26, a Syrophenician;
but who was no doubt a Tyrian, inasmuch as she obtained mercy from
Christ the Lord himself, while He sojourned in the territory of Tyre
and Sidon. Paul found at Tyre a congregation of disciples of Christ
already in existence, Acts xxi. 3 ff." At a subsequent period, there
existed at Tyre a flourishing and wealthy church. _Eusebius_ and
_Jerome_ describe to us, from their own experience, the fulfilment of
this prophecy.

                          CHAPTERS XXIV.-XXVII.

Upon the ten single "burdens" as they were called forth by the
threatening Assyrian catastrophe, there follows here a comprehensive
description of the judgments of God upon His people, and upon the
world's power hostile to His Kingdom, The characteristic feature in it
is, that the Prophet abstains from all details.

The prophecy begins in chap. xxiv. 1-13, with the threatening of the
judgment upon Judah, The fact that Judah is here spoken of, not alone,
it is true, but together with his companions in suffering, with all the
other nations crushed like him by the world's power in its various
phases (verse 4 most clearly shows that it is not Judah alone which is
spoken of; comp. the same comprehensive mode of representation in Jer.
xxv.; Hab. ii. 6), appears from ver. 5: "For they transgressed the
_laws_, violated the _ordinances_, broke the everlasting _covenant_,"
where there can exist only a collateral reference to the Gentile world;
from ver. 13, where the continuing gleaning is characteristic of the
covenant-people (comp. xvii. 6); but especially from ver. 23, where,
after the time of punishment, the Lord reigneth on Mount Zion.

The judgment upon Judah bears a comprehensive character. [Pg 150] As
the single phases of the world's power, by which the sins of the people
of God are visited, there had been mentioned in the cycle of the
_burdens_, Asshur in chap. xiv. 25; Babylon in chap. xiii., xiv., xxi.,
(the circumstance that the first _burden_ of the first half of the
_burdens_, and likewise the first _burden_ of the second half of the
_burdens_--the ten _burdens_ being thus divided into twice five--is
directed against Babylon, shows that specially heavy judgments were to
be inflicted by Babel); Elam in chap. xxii. 6 (comp. remarks on chap.
xi. 11). Here the idea of judgment upon the covenant-people is viewed
_per se_, and irrespective of the particular forms of its realisation.

In vers. 14, 15, there is a sudden transition from the threatening to
the promise: "They (the remnant left according to ver. 13) shall lift
their voice, they shall shout for the majesty of the Lord, they shall
cry aloud from the sea,"--from the sea into which they were driven away
by the storm of the judgments of the Lord. To the "sea" here,
correspond the "islands of the sea," in ver. 15; compare the mention of
the islands in chap. xi. 11. Ver. 15. "Therefore, in the light praise
ye the Lord, in the isles of the sea the name of the Lord God of
Israel." The words are addressed to the elect in the time of salvation.
The Plural ארים denotes the _fulness_ of light or salvation, comp.
chap. xxvi. 19; ב is, in both instances, used in a local sense. The
light is the spiritual territory; the isles of the sea, the natural.

Ver. 16 returns to the threatening: "From the uttermost parts of the
earth we hear songs: Glory to the righteous! And I say: Misery to me,
misery to me, woe to me! the treacherous are treacherous, and very
treacherous are the treacherous." The song of praise of the redeemed,
which is heard coming forth from a far distant future, is suppressed by
the same affliction which is immediately impending, by the look to the
rod of chastisement by the world's power with its treachery, its policy
feigning love and concealing hatred, with which the Lord is to visit
His people, and the floods of which, like a new flood, are, according
to ver. 15, to overflow the whole earth. Compare the very similar
transition from triumphant hope to lamentation over the misery of the
future more immediately at hand, in Hab. iii. 16.

In ver. 21, ff. the promise breaks forth anew. Ver. 21: [Pg 151] "_And
it shall come to pass in that day: the Lord shall visit the host of the
height in the height, and the kings of the earth upon the earth._ Ver.
22. _And they are all of them gathered together as prisoners in the
pit, and are shut up in the prison, and after many days they are
visited._ Ver. 23. _And the moon blusheth, and the sun is ashamed, for
the Lord of hosts reigneth on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and before
His ancients is glory._"

In ver. 21 the destruction of the world's power is announced. The
"kings of the earth" form the explanation of the "host of the height."
It is very common to represent rulers under the image of stars; compare
Numb. xxiv. 17; Rev. vi. 13, viii. 10; Is. xiv. 12, xxxiv. 4, 5,
compared with ver. 12. מרום is used in reference to the great ones of
the earth in ver. 4, and in chap. xxvi. 5, also. The explanation by
evil heavenly powers has no Old Testament analogies in its favour.--In
ver. 22, the words: "And after many days they are visited," intimates
that the time will appear very long to Zion, until the visitation takes
place. "Many days," or "a long time," viz., after the beginning of
their raging, which was to continue for a series of centuries, until
Christ at length spoke: "Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."
The visitation consists in their being gathered together.--In ver. 23,
the words: "The Lord reigneth," contain an allusion to the formula used
in proclaiming the accession of earthly kings to the throne, and point
to an impending new and glorious manifestation of the government of the
Lord,--as it were, a new accession to the throne; compare remarks on
Ps. xciii. 1; Rev. xix. 6. The "ancients" are the _ideal_
representatives of the Church; compare remarks on Rev. iv. 4. Before
them is glory, inasmuch as the Lord imparts to them of His glory.

In chap. xxv. 1-5, the Lord is praised on account of the glorious
redemption bestowed upon His people. "For thou hast made"--it is said
in ver. 2--"of a city a heap, of a firm city a ruin, the palace of
strangers to be no city; it shall not be built in eternity." The city,
palace (we must think of such an one as comes up to a city, as is even
now the case with the palaces of the princes in India) bear an ideal
character, and represent the whole fashion of the world, the whole
world's power; comp. ver. 12, chaps. xxvi. 5, xxvii. 10. _Gesenius_ [Pg
152] speaks of "the strange conjectures of interpreters who have
guessed all possible cities." But he himself has lost himself in the
sphere of strange conjectures and guesses, by remarking: "The city
whose destruction is here spoken of can be none other than Babylon."
The circumstance that Babylon is not mentioned at all in the whole
prophecy in chaps. xxiv.-xxvii. shows plainly enough that a special
reference to Babylon cannot here be entertained; and the less so, that
it would be against the character of our prophecy, which abstains from
all details.

While in vers. 1-5 the discourse was laudatory and glorifying, and
addressed to the Lord, in vers. 6-8 the Lord is spoken of:

Ver. 6. "_And in this mountain the Lord of hosts maketh unto all people
a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full
of marrow, of lees well-refined._ Ver 7. _And destroyeth in the
mountain the surface of the vail covering all the nations, and the
covering cast upon all the nations._ Ver. 8. _And destroyeth death for
ever, and the Lord Jehovah wipeth away the tears from off all faces,
and the rebuke of His people shall He take away from of all the earth;
for the Lord hath spoken._"

"In this mountain," ver. 6, where He enters upon His government (chap.
xxiv. 23), and dwells in the midst of His people in a manner formerly
unheard of.--"Unto all people," comp. chap. ii. 2 ff. The verse under
consideration forms the foundation for the words of Christ in Matthew
viii. 2: λέγω δὲ ὑμῖν ὅτι πολλοὶ ἀπὸ ἀνατολῶν καὶ δυσμῶν ἥξουσι καὶ
ἀνακλιθήσονται μετὰ Ἀβραὰμ καὶ Ἰσαὰκ καὶ Ἰακωβ ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ τῶν
οὐρανῶν; comp. xxii. 1 ff.; Luke xxii. 30. In ver. 7, "the surface of
the vail" is the vail itself, inasmuch as it lies over it. The
"covering" here comes into consideration as a sign of mourning, comp. 2
Sam. xv. 30: "And David went up by the ascent of Mount Olivet, weeping,
and his head covered, and so also all the people with him." The
explanation is given in ver. 8, where the בלע is intentionally resumed.
We cannot, therefore, agree with _Drechsler_ who explains the being
"covered," by "dullness and deadness in reference to spiritual
things."--The first part of ver. 8 is again resumed in Rev. vii. 17,
xxi. 4. As death entered into the world by sin (Gen. ii. 17; Rom. v.
12), [Pg 153] so it ceases when sin is completely overcome; compare 1
Cor. xv. 54, where our passage is expressly quoted. Besides death,
_tears_ also are mentioned, inasmuch as they flow with special
bitterness in the case of bereavements by death.--The Lord removes the
rebuke of His people when all their hopes, which formerly were mocked
and laughed at, are fulfilled, and when, out of the midst of them,
salvation for the whole world rises.

With the people of God in their exaltation, Moab is, in vers. 9-12,
contrasted in its weakness and humiliation, and in its vain attempts to
withdraw from the supremacy of the God of Israel. Moab comes here into
consideration, only as the representative of all the kingdoms hostile
to God, and obstinately persevering in their opposition to His Kingdom;
just as Edom in chap. xxxiv., lxiii. The representative character of
Moab was recognized by _Gesenius_ also, who thus determines the sense:
"Whilst Jehovah's protecting hand rests upon Zion, His enemies
helplessly perish." It is intentionally that Moab is mentioned, and not
Asshur or Babel, because, in its case, the representative character
could not so easily be mistaken or overlooked.--Ver. 12 returns to the
world's power in general.

In chap. xxvi., the rejoicing and shouting for the salvation are
continued. A characteristic Messianic feature is contained in ver. 19
only, in which, as in chap. xxv. 8, the ceasing of death and the
resurrection of the righteous appear as taking place in the Messianic

Ver. 19. "_Thy dead shall live, my dead bodies shall arise. Awake and
sing, ye that dwell in dust! For a dew of light is thy dew, and thou
makest fall to the earth the giants._"

The saints are raised from the earth; the giants are sunk into the
earth. The רפאים "giants" are identical with the ישבי תבל in ver. 18.
There it was said in reference to the time of wrath: "We have not
wrought any deliverance in the land, neither have the inhabitants of
the world fallen;" compare vers. 9 and 21; Numb. xiv. 32. Parallel is
the announcement of the defeat of the world's power in ver. 14. רפאים,
it is true, is there used of the dead; but the signification of the
word remains the same: The bodiless spirits were called _giants_,
because they were objects of terror to the living; comp. remarks on Ps.
lxxxviii. 11. The word is, in ver. 14, used [Pg 154] with a certain
irony.--"Light" is equivalent to "salvation." The Plural signifies the
fulness of light or salvation. The complete fulfilment which the words,
"Thy dead shall live," will find in the resurrection of the body,
affords a guarantee for the fulfilment of the previous stages.

In chap. xxvii., it is especially ver. 1 which attracts our attention:
"_In that day the Lord with His sword, hard, great, and strong, shall
visit the leviathan, the tortuous serpent, and killeth the dragon that
is in the sea._"

We have here three designations of one and the same monster.
_Gesenius_, on the other hand, rightly brings forward the accumulation
of the attributes of the sword: With the three epithets applied to the
sword, the three epithets of the monster to be killed by it pertinently
correspond. The leviathan, the dragon, is, as it were, the king of the
sea-animals, compare remarks on Ps. lxxiv. 13, 14. In the spiritual sea
of the world, its natural antitype is the conquering world's power;
comp. remarks on Rev. xii. 3. But that which is meant is the whole
world's power, according to all its phases, which is here viewed as a
whole; comp. ver. 13, where it is designated by Asshur and Egypt. The
special reference to Babylon rests, here also, on a mere fancy.

                           * * * * * * * * * *

After the single discourses out of the Assyrian time, from chap.
vii.-xxvii., there follows in chap. xxviii.-xxxiii. the sum and
substance of those not fully communicated. Even the uncommonly large
extent of the section suggests to us such a comprehensive character.
And so likewise does the fact that the same thoughts are constantly
recurring, as is the case in several of the minor prophets also, _e.g._
Hosea. But what is most decisive is, that in chap. xxviii. 1-4 Samaria
appears as not yet destroyed. Considering that the chronological
principle pervades the whole collection, this going back can be
accounted for only by the circumstance that we have here a
comprehensive representation. And we are the more led to this opinion
that, in other passages of the same section, Jerusalem is represented
as being threatened immediately. In this section, it is especially the
passage in chap. xxviii. 16 [Pg 155] which attracts our attention;
since, in the New Testament, it is referred to Christ.

"_Behold I have laid for a foundation in Zion a stone, a tried_
(stone), _a precious corner stone of perfect foundation; he that
believeth need not make haste_," viz., for an escape or refuge for
himself, Ps. lv. 9. In opposition to false hopes, this stone is pointed
to as the only true foundation, and all are threatened with unavoidable
destruction who do not make it their foundation. The stone is the
Kingdom of God, the Church; compare Zech. iii. 9, where the Kingdom of
God likewise appears under the image of the stone. But since the
Kingdom of God (which, in chap. viii. 16, had been represented under
the image of the quietly flowing waters of Siloah) is, for all
eternity, closely connected with the house of David which centres in
Christ, _that which, in the first instance, is said of the kingdom of
God refers, at the same time, to its head and centre_. Parallel is Is.
xiv. 32; "The Lord hath founded Zion, and the poor of His people trust
in it." The האמין here corresponds with the חסה with ב there. The
difference is, that there Zion itself is the object of confidence,
while here it is the stone which is in Zion. _There_, Zion is the
_spiritual_ Zion; not the mountain as an assemblage of stones, nor the
outward temple as such, but Zion in so far as it is a sanctuary, the
seat of the presence of the Lord. The Lord--such is the sense--has
founded His Kingdom among us; and the circumstance that we are citizens
of the Kingdom gives us security, enables us to be calm even in the
midst of the greatest danger. _Here_, on the contrary, Zion is the
outward Zion, and the Kingdom of God is the Church as distinguished
from it. The Zion here corresponds to the holy mountains in Ps.
lxxxvii. 1, where, in a similar manner, a distinction is drawn between
the material and spiritual Zion: "His foundation is in the holy
mountains," on which I remarked in my Commentary: "The foundation of
Zion took place spiritually by its being chosen to be the seat of the
sanctuary. It was then only that the place, already existing, received
its spiritual foundation." The stone laid by God as a foundation in
Zion, in the passage under consideration, is, in substance, identical
with the "tent that He placed among men," in Ps. lxxviii. 60. "In
substance the sanctuary was erected by God alone, who, by [Pg 156]
fulfilling His promise, 'I dwell in the midst of them,' breathed the
living soul into the body, and caused His name to dwell there." In
Ezek. xi. the substance of the sanctuary, the Shechinah, withdraws into
heaven.--Our passage, farther, touches very closely upon chap. viii.
14: "And He (the Lord) becomes a sanctuary and a stone of offence, and
a rock of stumbling to both the houses of Israel, and a snare and a
trap to the inhabitants of Jerusalem." The stone _here_ is the Church;
_there_ it is the Lord himself, according to His relation to Israel,
the Lord who has become manifest in His Church. Another point of
contact is offered by Ps. cxviii. 22: "The stone which the builders
rejected has become the corner-stone." In that passage, too, the stone
is the Kingdom and people of God: "The people of God whom the kingdoms
of the world despised, have, by the working of God, then been raised to
the dignity of the world-ruling people."

A simple quotation of the passage before us is found in Rom. x. 11:
λέγει γὰρ ἡ γραφή• πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων ἐπ' αὐτῷ οὐ καταισχυνθήσεται. In
chap. ix. ver. 3, we have chap. viii. 14, and the passage under
consideration blended in a remarkable manner: ἰδού τίθημι ἐν Σιὼν λίθον
προκόμματος καὶ πέτραν σκανδάλου· καὶ πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων ἐπ' αὐτῷ οὐ
καταισχυνθήσεται, and from the remarks already offered, the right to
this blending is evident. Peter, in 1 Pet. ii. 6, 7, adds to these two
passages, that in Ps. cxviii. 22: διότί περιέχει ἐν τῇ γραφῇ: ἰδοὺ
τίθημι ἐν Σιὼν λίθον ἀκρογωνιαῖον, ἐκλεκτὸν, ἔντιμον, καὶ ὁ πιστεύων
ἐπ' αὐτῷ οὐ μὴ καταισχυνθῇ. ὑμῖν οὖν ἡ τιμὴ τοῖς πιστεύουσιν.
ἀπεῖστοῦσι δὲ λίθον ὃν ἀπεδοκίμασαν οἱ οἰκοδομοῦντες, οὗτος ἐγενήθη εἰς
κεφαλὴν γωνίας, καὶ λίθος προσκόμματος καὶ πέτρα σκανδάλου, on which
_Bengel_ remarks: "Peter quotes, in ver. 6 and 7, three passages, the
first from Isaiah, the second from the Psalms, the third again from
Isaiah. To the third he alludes in ver. 8, but to the second and first,
in ver. 4, having, even then already both of them in his mind." Matth.
xxi. 42-44 refers only to Ps. cxviii. and to Is. viii. 14, 15. to the
latter passage in ver. 44; Acts iv. has Ps. cxviii. only in view.

The second Messianic passage of the section which is of importance for
our purpose, is chap. xxxiii. 17.

"_Thine eyes shall see the King in His beauty; they shall see the land
that is far off._"

[Pg 157]

The "King" is the Messiah. This appears from the reference to the Song
of Solomon i. 16, where the bride says to the bridegroom, the heavenly
Solomon, "Behold thou art _fair_, my beloved" (comp. Ps. xlv. 3;) and
from the words immediately following: "they shall see the land that is
far off." The wide extension of the Kingdom of God is indissolubly
connected with the appearance of the Messiah. Those who refer the
prophecy to Hezekiah refer "the land that is far off" (literally: "the
land of distances") to "a land stretching far out," in antithesis to
the siege when the people of Jerusalem were limited to its area, since
the whole country was occupied by the Assyrians. But the passage, chap.
xxvi. 15: "Thou increasest the nation, O God, thou art glorified, thou
removest all the boundaries of the land," is conclusive against this
explanation. Comparing this passage, as also chap. lx. 4; Zech. x. 9,
_Michaelis_ correctly explains: "The land of distances is the Kingdom
of Christ most widely propagated." In chap. viii. 9, likewise, the
Gentile countries are designated by the "distances of the earth."
_Farther_--Hezekiah could not be designated simply by מלך without the
article. It is only by the utmost violence that the whole announcement
can be limited to the events under Hezekiah, which everywhere form the
foreground only. We might rather, with _Vitringa_, think of Jehovah,
with a comparison of ver. 22: "For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is
our lawgiver, the Lord is our King; He will save us," and of Ps.
xlviii. 3, where he is called מלך רב. To Jehovah, the passage, chap.
xxx. 20, 21 also refers,--a passage which has been so often
misunderstood: "And the Lord giveth you bread of adversity, and water
of affliction, and not does thy teacher conceal himself any more, and
thine eyes see thy Teacher. And thine ears hear a voice behind thee,
saying, This is the way, walk ye in it; do not turn to the right hand,
nor to the left." The affliction prepares for the coming of the
heavenly teacher; by it the eyes of the people have been opened, so
that they are able to behold His glorious form. But although we should
understand Jehovah by "the King in His beauty," we must, at all events,
think of His glorious manifestation in Christ Jesus, who said, He who
sees me sees the Father, and in whom the fulness of the Godhead dwells
bodily; and it was indeed in Christ that God, [Pg 158] in the truest
manner, revealed and manifested himself as the Teacher of His people.

The close of the whole of the first part of Isaiah is, in chaps.
xxxiv., xxxv. formed by a comprehensive announcement, _on the one
hand_, of the judgments upon the God-hating world, here individualized
by Edom, that hereditary enemy of Israel, who was so much the more
fitted for this representation that his enmity was the most obstinate
of all, and remained the same throughout all the phases of Israel's
oppression by the great kingdoms of the world (he always appears as he
who helped to bring misery upon his brethren); and, _on the other
hand_, of the mercy and salvation which should be bestowed upon the
Church trampled upon by the world.

On chap. xxxiv. 4;, 5, where the heaven is that of the princes, the
whole order of rulers and magistrates; the stars, the single princes
and nobles, compare my remarks on Rev. vi. 13.

The description of the salvation in store for the Church, in chap.
xxxv., is pre-eminently Messianic, although the lower blessings also
are included which preceded the appearance of Christ. The description
contains features so characteristic, that we must necessarily submit it
to a closer examination.

Ver. 1. "_The wilderness and dry land shall be glad for it, and the
desert shall rejoice and sprout like the bulb._"

The wilderness is Zion--the Church to be devastated by the
world.--"For it,"--_i.e._ for the judgment upon the world, as it was
described in chap. xxxiv. with which the changed fate of the Church is
indissolubly connected.

Ver. 2. "_It shall sprout, and rejoice with joy and shouting. The glory
of Lebanon is given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon. They
shall see the glory of the Lord, the excellency of our God._"

"The glory of Lebanon," &c. is a glory like unto that of Lebanon. The
real condition of the glory of Zion, or the Church, is brought before
us in the subsequent verses only; it consists in the Lords glory being
manifested in it. The majestic, wooded Lebanon, and fruitful Carmel,
are contrasted with one another; the latter is put together with the
lovely fruitful plain of Sharon, rich in flowers; compare remarks on
Song of Sol. vii. 6. _Michaelis_ says: "The Lebanon excels among the
forests; the Carmel among the fruitful hills; the [Pg 159] Sharon among
the lovely fields or valleys."--To "see the glory of the Lord, the
excellency _of God_" means to behold Him in the revelation of the full
glory of His nature. Prophecy would have fed the minds of the people
with vain hopes, if God had revealed himself in any other way than in
Christ, the brightness of His glory and the express image of His
person, in whom dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily (Col.
ii. 9), and who, along with His own glory, revealed, at the same time,
that of the Father; for it was the glory as of the only-begotten of the
Father, John i. 14; ii. 11.

Ver. 3. "_Strengthen ye the slack hands, and confirm ye the tottering
knees._" The words are addressed to all the members of the people of
God; they are to strengthen and confirm _one another_ by pointing to
the future revelation of the glory of the Lord.

Ver. 4. "_Say to them that are of a fearful heart: Be strong, fear not;
behold, your God will come for vengeance, for a gift of God: He will
come and save you._"

"To them that are of a fearful heart,"--literally of a "hasty heart,"
who allow themselves to be carried away by the Present, and are
unmindful of the _respice finem_.--נקם and גמול are Accusatives, used
in the same manner as in verbs of motion, to designate the object of
the motion.--On גמול, "gift," comp. remarks on Ps. vii. 5. "The gift of
God" forms a contrast to the poor gifts, such as men offer. He comes
for vengeance upon His enemies, and for bestowing the most glorious
divine gifts upon His people. The words: "He will come and save you,"
are an explanation of "the gift of God." It is in Christ that the
words: "He will come and save you," found their true fulfilment,--a
fulfilment to which every lower blessing pointed, and which is still
going on, and constantly advancing.--That which, in the subsequent
verses, is said of the concomitant circumstances of this salvation, is
by far too high to admit of the fulfilment being sought in any other
than Christ. All these forced explanations, such as: "In their joy they
feel _as if_ they were healed" (_Knobel_, after the example of
_Gesenius_), only serve to show this more clearly. They are overthrown
even by the parallel announcement of the impending resurrection of the
dead in chap. xxv. 8; xxvi. 19.

[Pg 160]

Ver. 5. "_Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of
the deaf shall be unstopped._"

The blind and deaf are the individualizing designations of the
wretched; in Luke xiv. 13-21, the blind are named along with the poor,
lame, and maimed as an individualizing designation of the whole genus
of _personae miserabiles_; comp. John v. 3. But this individualizing
designation must be carefully distinguished from the image. The blind
and deaf are mentioned as the most perspicuous _species_ in the
_genus_; but they themselves are, in the first instance, meant, and
that which has been said must, in the first instance, be fulfilled upon
them. _Farther_--as blind and deaf are, without farther remark and
qualification, spoken of, we shall, in the first instance, be obliged
to think of the bodily blind and deaf, inasmuch as they, according to
the common _usus loquendi_, are thus designated. But a collateral
reference to the _spiritually_ blind and deaf must so much the rather
be assumed, that they, too, form a portion of the genus here
represented by the blind and deaf; and the more so that it is just
Isaiah who so frequently speaks of spiritual blindness and deafness;
comp. chap. xxix. 18: "And in that day (in the time of the future
salvation, when the Lord of the Church shall have put to shame the
pusillanimity and timidity of His people), the deaf hear the words of
the book, and the eyes of the blind see out of obscurity and darkness;"
xlii. 18: "Hear ye deaf, and look ye blind and see;" xliii. 8: "Bring
forth the blind people, that have eyes, and the deaf that have ears;"
lvi. 10; vi. 10; Matth. xv. 14; John ix. 39; Ephes. i. 18; 2 Pet. i. 9.
Spiritual blindness and deafness are specially seen in the relation of
the people to the leadings of the Church, and to the promises of
Scripture. The blind cannot understand the complicated ways of God; the
deaf have, especially in the time of misery, no ear for His promises.
Besides the natural and spiritual blindness, Scripture knows of still a
third; it designates as blind those who cannot see the way of
salvation, the helpless and drooping; compare my Commentary on Ps.
cxlvi. 8; Zeph. i. 17; Isa. xlii. 7. Now, it is blindness and deafness
of every kind which, along with all other misery, shall find a remedy
at the time of salvation.--If we ask for the fulfilment, our eye is, in
the first instance, attracted by Matt. [Pg 161] xi. 5, where, with an
evident reference to the passage before us, the Lord gives to the
question of John: "Art thou he that should come, or do we look for
another," the matter-of-fact answer, that the blind receive their
sight, the deaf hear, the lame walk: comp. Matth. xv. 31: ὥστε τοὺς
ὄχλους θαυμάσαι βλέποντας κωφοὺς λαλοῦτας, κυλλοὺς ὑγιεῖς, χωλοὺς
περιπατοῦντας καὶ τυφλοὺς βλέποντας; xxi. 14; καὶ προσῆλθον αὐτῷ τυφλοὶ
καὶ χωλοὶ ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ καὶ ἐθεράπευσεν αὐτούς; Mark vii. 37, where after
the healing of the deaf and dumb, the people say: καλῶς πάντα πεποίηκε•
καὶ τοὺς κωφοὺς ποιεῖ ἀκούειν, καὶ τοὺς ἀλάλους λαλεῖν. Yet shall we
not be able to see, in these facts, the complete fulfilment of the
prophecy, in so far as it refers to the healing of the bodily blind and
deaf--inasmuch as it promises the healing of all, not of some only--but
only a pledge of the complete fulfilment of it; just as Christ's
raising some from the dead only prefigures what He shall do in the end
of the days. The complete fulfilment belongs to the time of the
resurrection of the just, of which it is said: Whatever is here
afflicted, groans, prays, shall then go on brightly and gloriously.
More comprehensive was the fulfilment which the prophecy received, in
reference to spiritual blindness and deafness, immediately at the first
appearance of Christ, who declared that He had come into the world,
that they which see not, might see (John ix. 39). But even here the
completion as certainly belongs to the future world, as βλέπομεν ἄρτι
δι' ἐσόπτρου ἐν αἰνίγματι.

Ver. 6. "_Then shall the lame leap as an hart, and the tongue of the
dumb shall shout; for in the wilderness shall waters be opened, and
streams in the desert._"

The _leaping and shouting_ imply that they have obtained deliverance
from their bodily defects,--at this deliverance the preceding verse
stopped--and proceed from the natural delight at the appearance of this
salvation, personal as well as general, of which these are an
emanation. On the first words especially. Acts iii. 8 is to be
compared, where it is said of the lame man to whom Peter, in the name
of Jesus spoke. Arise and walk: καὶ ἐξαλλόμενος ἔστη καὶ περιεπάτει,
καὶ εἰσῆλθε σὺν αὐτοῖς εἰς τὸ ἱερὸν, περιπατῶν καὶ ἀλλόμενος καὶ αἰνῶν
τὸν θεόν; farther. Acts viii. 7: πολλοὶ δὲ παραλελυμένοι καὶ χωλοὶ
ἐθεραπεύθησαν; xiv. 8; John v. 9. Of _spiritual_ lameness, Heb. xii. 13
is spoken. It appears especially in dark times of affliction, as
_Vitringa_ says: "In the time of wild persecution, and when the Church
languishes, [Pg 162] not a few men begin to halt, to vacillate in their
views, to suspend their opinions," &c. On the words: "the tongue of the
dumb shall shout," compare Matt. xii. 22: τότε προσηνέχθη αὐτῷ
δαιμονζόμενος, τυφλὸς καὶ κωφός· καὶ ἐθεράπευσεν αὐτόν, ὥστε τὸν τυφλὸν
καὶ κωφὸν καὶ λαλεῖν καὶ βλέπειν. _Spiritual_ dumbness is the
incapacity for the praise of God which, in the time when salvation is
withheld, so easily creeps in, and which is removed by the bestowal of
salvation. The words: "For in the wilderness," &c., state the ground of
the leaping and shouting, point to the bestowal of salvation, which
forms the cause. The _waters_ are the waters of salvation, compare
remarks on chap. xii. 3. The words contain, moreover, an allusion to
Exod. xvii. 3 ff.; Numb. xx. 11, where, during the journey through the
wilderness, salvation is represented by the bestowal of water. The
desert here is an image of misery.

Ver. 7. "_And the scorching heat of the sun becomes a pool, and the
thirsty land, springs of water; in the habitation of dragons shall be
their couching place, grass where formerly reeds and rushes._"

"The scorching heat of the sun," stands for "places scorched by the
heat" ("parched ground," English version). The passage chap. xlix. 10,
forbids us to explain it by _mirage_, the appearance of water. The
suffix in רבצה refers to Zion. Dragons like to make their abode
especially in the waterless wilderness. The circumstance that Zion has
there her couching place, supposes that it has been changed into a
garden of God; while, on the contrary, in chap. xxxiv. 13, it is said
of the world that "it becomes an habitation of dragons." Besides the
dry land, the moor-land which bears nothing but barren reeds, shall
undergo a change; nourishing _grass_ is to take its place; חציר has no
other signification than this.

Ver. 8. "_And a high-way shall be there, and a way, and it shall be
called the holy way; an unclean shall not pass over it; and it shall be
for them, that they may walk on it, that fools also may not err._"

"The way" is the way of salvation which God opens up to His people in
the wilderness of misery; comp. chap. xliii. 19: "I will make a way in
the wilderness, rivers in the desert;" Ps. cvii. 4: "They wandered in
the wilderness, in the desert without ways," where the pathless
wilderness is the image of misery; [Pg 163] Ps. xxv. 4; xxvii. 11,
where the ways of God are the ways of salvation which He reveals to His
people, that they may walk in them. The way is _holy_ (comp. remarks on
chap. iv. 3), because inaccessible to the profane world, to the
_unclean_, who are not allowed to disturb the righteous walking on it;
comp. ver. 9, which shows how entirely out of place is the remark that
"the author, in his national hatred, will not allow any Gentiles to
walk along with the covenant-people." It is only as converted, as
fellows and companions of the saints, that the Gentiles are allowed to
enter on the way, and not as unclean and their enemies. The
circumstance that even the foolish cannot miss the way, indicates the
abundant fulness of the salvation, in consequence of which it is so
easily accessible; and no human effort, skill, or excellence, is
required to attain the possession of it.

Ver. 9. "_No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast go up thereon,
it shall not be found there; and the redeemed walk on it._"

By the lion, the ravenous beast, heathenish wickedness and tyranny, the
world's power pernicious to the Kingdom of God, is designated; comp.
remarks on chap. xi. 7. The Lord declared that the fulfilment had taken
place, when He said: Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.

Ver. 10. "_And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion,
and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads. Joy and gladness they
shall obtain, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away._"


The historical section, chap. xxxvi.-xxxix., forms the transition from
the first to the second part of the prophecies of Isaiah. Its close is
formed by the announcement of Judah's being carried away to Babylon, an
announcement which Isaiah uttered to Hezekiah after the impending
danger from the [Pg 164] Assyrians had been successfully warded off, as
had been mentioned in the preceding chapter. In chap. xxxix. 6, 7, it
is said: "Behold days are coming, and all that is in thine house, and
that which thy fathers have laid up in store until this day, shall be
carried to Babylon, and nothing shall be left, saith the Lord. And of
thy sons shall they take away, and they shall be eunuchs in the palace
of the king of Babylon." In this announcement, we have at the same time
the concentration of the rebuking and threatening mission of the
Prophet, and the point from which proceeds the _comforting_ mission
which, in the second part, is pre-eminently attended to. This second
part at once begins with the words: "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people,"
which stand in closest connection with the preceding announcement of a
great calamity, yea, even necessarily demand this. It is just for this
reason that the historical chapters cannot be a later addition and
interpolation, but must be an original element of the collection
written by the Prophet himself.[1]

The contents of the second part are stated at once, and generally, in
the introductory words, chap. xl. 1, 2: "Comfort ye, comfort ye my
people, saith your God. Speak to the heart of Jerusalem, and cry unto
her that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned,
that she receives of the Lord's hand double for all her sins." The
_comfort_ must, accordingly, form the fundamental character of the
second part. But since, for the people of God, there does not exist any
purely external salvation; since, for them, salvation is indissolubly
connected with _repentance_,--_exhortation_ must necessarily go hand
ill hand with the announcement of salvation. This second feature and
element concealed behind the first, is, moreover, expressly brought
forward in what immediately follows, inasmuch as by it the "Comfort ye"
does not receive any addition, [Pg 165] but is only commented upon and
enlarged. The servants of the Lord (the whole chorus of the messengers
of the divine salvation is addressed in vers. 3, 5), complying with His
command, announce the impending salvation, designating it as a
manifestation of the Lord's glory, and exhort to a worthy preparation
for it. Vers. 3 and 4 treat of preparing in the desert a high-way
for the Lord, who is to manifest himself gloriously. The way is
prepared by repentance; the desert symbolizes the condition of bodily
and spiritual misery. It is from this miserable condition that the Lord
is to deliver and redeem His people; but in order that He may perform
His part, they must, previously, have performed theirs. In ver. 5, this
manifestation itself is described, with which is connected the fulness
of salvation for the covenant-people. The servants of God are to
announce the approach of salvation to mourning Jerusalem, in which the
covenant-people appears to the Prophet as personified. (Jerusalem does
not stand for "the carried away Zionites;" it is an ideal person, the
afflicted and bowed down widow sitting on the ground in sackcloth; the
distressed and mourning mother of the children partly carried away, and
partly killed,--compare chap. iii. 26, where Jerusalem, desolate and
emptied, sits upon the ground.) But this salvation can be granted to
those only whose hearts are prepared to receive it. Thus the
announcement of salvation is preceded by the μετανοεῖτε, by the call to
remove all the obstacles which render impassable the path through the
desert into the land of promise; which render impossible the transition
from misery to salvation; which prevent the Lord from coming to His
people in their misery, and leading them out from it. Then, to those
who have complied with the exhortation, the manifestation of the glory
of the Lord is promised--He comes to them, in a glorious manifestation,
in the way which, in the power of His Spirit, they have prepared and
opened up to Him--and in, and with it, all the glorious things which,
according to ver. 2, the servants of the Lord were to promise regarding
the Future.

The comfort oftentimes moves in general terms, and consists in pointing
to a Future full of salvation and grace. But, in other passages, the
announcement of salvation is more individualised, becomes more special.
These special announcements [Pg 166] refer to a twofold object,
_First_--The Prophet comforts his people by announcing the deliverance
from the Babylonish captivity. This deliverance he describes by the
most lovely images, frequently taken from the deliverance of the people
from Egypt. But it is to be well observed that even those prophecies
which pre-eminently refer to the lower object, have something exuberant
and overflowing; so that, even after having been fulfilled, they cannot
be looked upon as antiquated. He states the name of the ruler,
_Koresh_, the king from the rising of the sun, who, sent by the Lord,
shall punish the oppressors of Zion, and bring back the people to their
land. The _second_ object is the deliverance and salvation by the
Servant of God, the Messiah, who, after having passed through
humiliation, suffering, and death, and having thereby effected
redemption, will remove from the glorified Kingdom of God all the evil
occasioned by sin. Of this higher salvation the soul of the Prophet is
so full, that the references to it are constantly pressing forward,
even where, in the first instance, he has to do with the lower
salvation. In the description of the higher salvation, the relation of
time is not observed. Now, the Prophet beholds its Author in His
humiliation and suffering; then, the most distant Future of the Kingdom
of Christ presents itself to his enraptured eye,--the time in which the
Gentile world, alienated from God, shall have returned to Him; when all
that is opposed to God shall have been destroyed; when inward and
outward peace shall prevail, and all the evil caused by sin shall have
been removed. Elevated above time and space, from the height in which
the Holy Spirit has placed him, he surveys the whole development of the
Messianic Kingdom, from its small beginnings to its glorious end.

While the first part, containing the predictions which the Prophet
uttered for the present generation during the time of his ministry,
consists mainly of single prophecies which, separated by time and
occasion, were first made publicly known singly, and afterwards united
in a collected whole, having been marked out as different prophecies,
either by inscriptions, or in any other distinguishable way,--the
second part, destined as a legacy for posterity, forms a continuous,
collected whole. The fact, first observed by _Fr. Rückert_, that it is
divided into _three sections or books_, is, in the first instance,
indicated by the [Pg 167] circumstance that, at the close of chap.
xlviii. and chap. lvii., the same thought recurs in the same words:
"There is no peace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked;" and that the same
thought, viz. the exclusion of the wicked from the promised salvation,
is found also a third time at the close of the whole, although there in
another form. Yet, if nothing else could be advanced in favour of this
tri-partition, we might perhaps be permitted to speak of an accident as
_Knobel_ indeed does. But a closer consideration shows that the three
sections are, inwardly and essentially, distinguished from one another.
Beyond chap. xlviii. 22, there is no farther mention of _Babel_, which
in the first book is mentioned four times (chap. xliii. 14, xlvii. 1,
xlviii. 14, 20); nor of the _Chaldeans_, which occur there five times
(chap. xliii. 14, xlvii. 1, 5, xlviii. 14, 20); nor any farther mention
of _Koresh_, neither of his name (chap. xliv. 28, xlv. 1), nor of his
person, which in chap. xl.-xlviii. is so prominently brought before us
(chap. xli. 2, 25, xlvi. 11, xlviii. 14, 15, _i.e._ immediately at the
_beginning_, after the introduction contained in chap. xl., at the
_close_, and several times in the _middle_); nor of _Bel_ and _Nebo_.
_Farther_--The whole first book is pervaded with the argumentation by
which the God of Israel is proved to be the true God, from His having
foretold the deliverance to be effected by _Koresh_. This argumentation
we meet with in chap. xli., immediately after the introductory chap.
xl., and so still in the last chap. xlviii.; but never again
afterwards. With the end of the first book, this arguing and proving
from prophecy, that the Lord is the true God, as well as the reference
to _Koresh_, the subject of this prophecy, altogether disappear. But,
in like manner, the announcement of a personal Messiah is wanting in
the first book, the sole exception being chap. xlii. 1-9, where, after
the first announcement of the author of the lower salvation, the Author
of the higher salvation is, by way of anticipation, _contrasted_ with
him. To give a more minute and finished description of the Author of
the higher salvation is the object of the _second_ book. In the _third_
book, the person of the Redeemer is spoken of briefly only, is, as it
were, only hinted at, in order to connect this book with the second;
just as, by chap. xlii., the first book is connected with the second.
The third book in so far as it is _promising_, is taken up with the
description of the [Pg 168] _glory of the Kingdom of God_, in that new
stage upon which it enters by the Redeemer,--a glory, the culminating
point of which is the creation of the new heavens and the new earth,
chap. lxv. 17, lxvi. 22. A description of the glory of Zion, like that
in chap. lxii., is not found in the first and second book. In the third
book, however, _reproof and exhortation_ prevail, in contradistinction
to the first and second book, in which the direct _promise_ prevails. A
transition from this, however, to the reproof and exhortation, is made
at the close of the second book. From chap. lv. 1, the preaching of
repentance appears first intermingled with the announcement of
salvation. Up to that the prevailing tendency of the Prophet had been,
throughout, to comfort the godly; but from chap. lv. 1, the other
tendency shows itself by the side of it, that of calling sinners to
repentance, by which alone they can obtain a participation in the
promised salvation. In chap. lvi. 9, lvii. 21, the latter tendency
appears distinctly and exclusively. The second book had commenced with
the announcement of salvation, and thence to the close had advanced to
reproof and threatening. The third book takes the opposite course; and
thus the two principal portions of reproof and threatening border upon
one another. Yet, the reproof and threatening do not go on without
interruption and distinction, so that no _boundary line_ could be
recognized between the two books. At the close of the second book, the
Prophet has preeminently to do with _apostates_, while, at the
beginning of the third, he has to do with _hypocrites_; so that thus
these two portions of reproof supplement one another, and conjointly
form a complete disclosure of the prevailing corruption, according to
its two principal tendencies. But the third book is distinguished from
the second by this circumstance, that in it reproof and threatening are
not limited to the beginning, which corresponds with the close of the
second book. At the close of chap. lix. the Prophet returns to the
announcement of salvation; but with chap. lxiii. 7, a new preaching of
repentance commences, which goes on to the end of chap. lxiv. The
Prophet, in the Spirit, transposes himself into the time when the
visitation has already taken place, and puts into the mouth of the
people the words by which they are, at that time, to supplicate for the
mercy of the Lord. This discourse [Pg 169] implies what has preceded.
In the view of the glorious manifestation of the Lord's mercy and grace
which are there exhibited, the Prophet calls here upon the people to
repent and be converted, in order that they may become partakers of
that mercy. If they, as a people, are anxious to attain that object,
they must repeat what the Prophet here pronounces before them. But that
up to this time has not been done, and hence that has taken place which
is spoken of by St Paul: "The election have obtained it, but the rest
have been blinded." In chap. lxv., which contains the Lord's answer to
this repenting prayer of the people, and is nothing else than an
indirect _paraenesis_, reproof and threatening likewise prevail, and it
is only at the close that the promise appears. The last chapter, too,
begins with reproof and threatening. Rightly have the Church Fathers
called Isaiah the Evangelist among the prophets. This appears also from
the circumstance that the reproof is so thoroughly an appendage of the
promise, that it is only at the _close_, after the whole riches of the
promise have been exhibited, that it expands itself It appears,
farther, also from the circumstance that, even in the last book, the
threatening does not prevail _exclusively_, but that, even there, it is
still interwoven with the most glorious promises which are so
exceedingly fitted to allure sinners to repentance.

In the whole of the second part, the Prophet, _as a rule_, takes
his stand in the time which was announced and foretold in the
former prophecies, and especially, with the greatest clearness and
distinctness, in chap. xxxix., on the threshold of the second
part,--the time when Jerusalem is captured by the Chaldeans, the temple
destroyed, the country desolated, and the people carried away. It is in
this time that he thinks, feels, and acts; it has become present to
him; from it he looks out into the Future, yet in such a manner that he
does not everywhere consistently maintain this ideal stand-point. He
addresses his discourse to the people pining away in captivity and
misery. He comforts them by opening up a view into a better Future, and
exhorts them to remove by repentance the obstacles to the coming

Rationalistic Exegesis, everywhere little able to sympathize with, and
enter into existing circumstances and conditions, and always ready to
make its own shadowy, coarse views the rule [Pg 170] and arbiter, has
been little able to enter into, and sympathize with this ideal
stand-point occupied by the Prophet; nor has it had the earnest will to
do so. To its rationalistic tendencies, which took offence at the clear
knowledge of the Future, a welcome pretext was here offered. Thus the
opinion arose, that the second part was not written by Isaiah, but
was the work of some anonymous prophet, living about the end of the
exile,--an opinion which, at the time of the absolute dominion of
Rationalism, has obtained so firm a footing, that it has become all but
an _axiom_, and, by the power of tradition, carries away even such as
would not think of entertaining it, if they were to enter independently
and without prejudice upon the investigation.

The fact which here meets us does not by any means stand isolated. The
prophets did not prophesy in the state of rational reflection, but in
_exstasis_. As even their ordinary name, "seers," indicates, the objects
were presented to them in inward vision. They did not behold the Future
from a distance, but they were rapt into the future. This inward vision
is frequently reflected in their representation. Very frequently, that
appears with them as present which, in reality, was still future. They
depict the Future before the eyes of their hearers and readers, and
thus, as it were, by force, drag them into it out of the Present, the
coercing force of which exerts so pernicious an influence upon them.
Our Prophet expressly intimates this peculiar manner of the prophetic
announcement by making, in chap. xlix. 7, the Lord say: "First I said
to Zion: _Behold there, behold there_," by which the graphic character
of prophecy is precisely expressed, and by which it is intimated that
hearers and readers were led _in rem praesentem_ by the prophets. Even
grammar has long ago acknowledged this fact, inasmuch as it speaks of
_Praeterita prophetica_, _i.e._, such as denote the _ideal_ Past, in
contrast to those which denote the _real_ Past. Unless we have attained
to this view and insight, it is only by inconsistency that we can
escape from _Eichhorn's_ view, that the prophecies are, for the most
part, disguised historical descriptions,--a view into which even
expositors, such as _Ewald_ and _Hitzig_, frequently relapse.
Frequently, the whole of the Future appears with the prophets in the
form of the _Present_. At other times, they take their stand in the [Pg
171] more immediate Future; and this becomes to them the _ideal_
Present, from which they direct the eye to the distant Future. From the
rich store of proofs which we can adduce for our view, we shall here
mention only a few.

This mode of representation meets us frequently so early as in the
parting hymn of Moses, Deut. xxxii., which may be considered as the
germ of all prophetism; compare _e.g._ vers. 7 and 8. On the latter
verse, _Clericus_ remarks: "Moses mourns over this in his hymn, as if
it were already past, because he foresees that it will be so, and he,
in the Spirit, transfers himself into those future times, and says that
which then only should be said."

In Isaiah himself, the very first chapter presents a remarkable proof
The Present in chap. i. 5-9 is not a _real_, but an _ideal_ Present. In
the Spirit, the Prophet transfers himself into the time of the calamity
impending upon the apostate people, and, stepping back upon the real
Present, he, in the farther course of the prophecy, predicts this
calamity as future. The reasons for this view have been thoroughly
stated, even to exhaustion, by _Caspari_, in his _Beiträge zur
Einleitung in das Buch Jesaia_. In the second half of ver. 2, the
kingdom appears as flourishing and powerful. To the same result we are
led also by the description of the rich sacrificial worship in vers.
15-19. If, then, we view vers. 5-9 as a description of the Present, we
obtain an irreconcilable contradiction. _Farther_--Everywhere else
Isaiah always connects, with the description of the sin, that of the
punishment following upon it, but never that of the punishment which
has followed it.--In chap. v. 13, in a prophecy from the first time of
his ministry, the _future carrying away_ of the people presents itself
to the Prophet as present. Similarly, in vers. 25, 26, the Praet. and
Fut. with _Vav Conv._ must be understood prophetically; for in chap.
i.-v., the Prophet has, throughout, to do with future calamity. In the
Present, according to ver. 19, the people are yet in a condition of
prosperity and luxury,--as yet, it is the time of _mocking_; it is only
of future calamity that vers. 5 and 6 in the parable speak of, the
threatenings of which are here detailed and expanded.--In the prophecy
against Tyre, chap. xxiii., the Prophet beholds as present the siege by
the Chaldeans impending over the city, and describes [Pg 172] as an
eye-witness the flight of the inhabitants, and the impression which the
intelligence of their calamity makes upon the nations connected with
them. From the more immediate Future, which to him has become present,
he then casts a glance to the more distant. He announces that after 70
years--counting not from the _real_, but from the _ideal_ Present--the
city shall again attain to its ancient greatness. His look then rises
still higher, and he beholds how at length, in the days of Messiah, the
Tyrians shall be received into the communion of the true God.--The
future dispersion and carrying away of the people is anticipated by the
Prophet in the passage, chap. xi. 11, also, which may be considered as
a comprehensive view of the whole second part.--It is true that, in the
second part, as a rule, the misery, and not the salvation, appears as
present; but, not unfrequently, the latter, too, is viewed as present
by the Prophet, and spoken of in Preterites, comp. _e.g._, chap. xl. 2,
xlvi. 1, 2, li. 3, lii. 9, 10, lx. 1. If, then, the Prophet is to be
measured by the ordinary rule, these passages, too, must have been
written at a time when the salvation had already taken place.--In chap.
xlv. 20, the escaped of the nations are those Gentiles who have been
spared in the divine judgments. They are to become wise by the
sufferings of others. The Prophet takes his stand in a time when these
judgments, which were to be inflicted by Cyrus, had already been
completed. Even those who maintain the spuriousness of the second part
must here acknowledge that the Prophet takes his stand in an _ideal_
Present.--In chap. liii. the Prophet takes his stand between the
sufferings and the glorification of the Messiah. The sufferings appear
to him as past; the glorification he represents as future.

Hosea had, in chap. xiii., predicted to Israel great divine judgments,
the desolation of the country, and the carrying away of its inhabitants
by powerful enemies. This punishment and judgment appear in chap. xiv.
1 (xiii. 16) as still future; but in ver. 2 (1 ff.) he transfers
himself in spirit to the time when these judgments had already been
inflicted. He anticipates the Future as having already taken place, and
does not by any means exhort his _contemporaries_ to a sincere
repentance, but those upon whom the calamity had already been
inflicted: "O Israel, return unto the Lord thy God; for [Pg 173] thou
hast fallen by thine iniquity." This parallel passage shews especially,
with what right it has been asserted that the addresses to the people
pining away in exile "were out of place in the mouth of Isaiah, who, as
he lived 150 years before, could _prophesy_ only of the exiled"
(_Knobel_).--Micah says in chap. iv. 8 (compare vol. i., p. 449 ff.):
"And thou tower of the flock, hill of the daughter of Zion, unto thee
it will come, and to thee cometh the former dominion." If the Prophet,
a cotemporary of Isaiah, speaks here of a _former dominion_, and
announces that it shall again come back to the house of David, he
transfers himself from his time, in which the royal family of David
still existed and flourished, into that period of which he had just
before spoken, and during which the dominion of the Davidic dynasty was
to cease. In vers. 9, 10: "Now why dost thou raise a cry! Is there no
king in thee, or is thy counsellor gone? For pangs have seized thee as
a woman in travail," &c., mourning Zion, at the time of the carrying
away of her sons into captivity, stands before the eye of the Prophet,
and is addressed by him. (In commenting upon this passage, we pointed
already to Hosea xiii. 9-11 as an analogous instance of representing as
present the time of the calamity.) The moment of the carrying away into
exile forms to him the Present; the deliverance from it, the Future:
"There shalt thou be delivered, there the Lord thy God shall redeem
thee out of the hand of thine enemies." In chap. vii. 7, Micah
introduces, as speaking, the people already carried away into exile,
and makes them declare both the justice of the divine punishment, and
their confidence in the divine mercy. In the answer of the Lord also,
ver. 11, the city is supposed to be destroyed; for He promises that her
walls shall be rebuilt.--The anticipation of the Future prevails
throughout the whole prophecy of Obadiah also. The song of Habakkuk in
chap. iii. takes its stand in the midst of the anticipated misery. In
the announcement of the invasion of the Chaldeans in chap. i. 6 ff.,
the Future presents itself in the form of the Present. Here, as in the
case of Obadiah, _Hitzig_ and others, overlooking and misunderstanding
this prophetic peculiarity, and considering the _ideal_, to be the
_real_ Present, have been led to fix the age of the Prophet in a manner
notoriously erroneous.--Jeremiah, in chap. iii. 22, 25, [Pg 174]
introduces as speaking the Israel of the Future. In chap. xxx. and
xxxi., he anticipates the future carrying away of Judah. Even in the
Psalms we perceive a faint trace of this prophetic peculiarity. On Ps.
xciii. 1: "The Lord reigneth, He hath clothed himself with majesty,"
&c., we remarked: "The Preterites are to be explained from the
circumstance that the Singer as a _seer_ has the Future before his
eyes. He _beholds_ rejoicingly how the Lord enters upon His Kingdom,
puts on the garment of majesty, and girds himself with the sword of
strength in the face of the proud world." A similar anticipation of
redemption, even before the catastrophe has taken place, we meet with
in Ps. xciv. 1. The situation in the whole Psalm, yea in the whole
cycle to which it belongs, the lyrical echo of the second part of
Isaiah, is not a _real_, but an _ideal_ one. This cycle bears witness
that the singers and seers of Israel were living in the Future, in a
manner which it would be so much the greater folly to measure by our
rule as, for the people of the Old Covenant, the Future had a
significance altogether different from that which it has for the people
of the New Covenant. That which is common to all the Psalms, from
xciii. onward, is the confident expectation of a glorious manifestation
of the Lord, which the Psalmist, following the example of the prophets,
beholds as present. A counterpart is the cycle Ps. cxxxviii.-cxlv., in
which David, stirred up by the promise in 2 Sam. vii., accompanies his
house throughout history.

Several interpreters cannot altogether resist the force of these facts.
They grant "that other prophets also sometimes, in the Spirit, transfer
themselves into later times, especially into the idealistic times of
the Messiah," and draw their arguments from the circumstance only, that
the latter again came back to their personal stand point, whilst our
Prophet continues cleaving to the later time. Now it is true, and must
be conceded, that this mode of representation is here employed to an
extent greater than it is anywhere else in the Old Testament. But, in
matters of this kind, measuring by the ell is quite out of place. In
other respects also, the second part of Isaiah stands out as quite
unique. There is, in the whole Old Testament, no other continuous
prophecy which has so absolutely and pre-eminently proceeded from _cura
posteritatis_. If [Pg 175] it be acknowledged that the prophesying
activity of Isaiah falls into two great divisions,--the one--the
results of which are contained in the first 39 chapters--chiefly,
pre-eminently indeed, destined for the Present; the other,--which lies
before us in the second part, belonging to the evening of the Prophet's
life--forming a prophetical legacy, and hence, therefore, never
delivered in public, but only committed to writing;--then we shall find
it quite natural that the Prophet, writing, as he did, chiefly for the
Future, should here also take his stand in the Future, to a larger
extent than he has elsewhere done.

That it is in this manner only that this fact is to be accounted for,
appears from the circumstance that, although our Prophet so extensively
and frequently represents the Past as Present, yet he passes over, in
numerous passages, from the _ideal_ into the _real_ Present.[2] We find
a number of references which do not at all suit the condition of things
after the exile, but necessarily require the age of Isaiah, or, at
least, the time before the exile. If Isaiah be the author, these
passages are easily accounted for. It is true that, in the Spirit, he
had transferred himself into the time of the Babylonish exile; and this
time had become Present to him. But it would surely be suspicious to
us, if the real Present had not sometimes prevailed, and attracted the
eye of the Prophet. It is just thus, however, that we find it. The
Prophet frequently steps out of his ideal view and position, and refers
to conditions and circumstances of his time. _Now_, he has before his
eyes the condition of the unhappy people in the Babylonish exile;
_then_, the State still existing at his time, but internally deranged
by idolatry and apostacy. This apparent contradiction cannot be
reconciled in any other way than by assuming that Isaiah is the author.
As a rule, the punishment appears as already inflicted; city and
temple as destroyed; the country as devastated; the people as carried
away; compare _e.g._, chap. lxiv. 10, 11. But in a series of passages,
in which the Prophet steps back from the _ideal_, to the _real_
stand-point, _the punishment appears as still future_; _city and temple
as still existing_. In chap. xliii. [Pg 176] 22-28, the Prophet meets
the delusion, as if God had chosen Israel on account of their deserts.
Far from having brought about their deliverance by their own merits,
they, on the contrary, sinned thus against Him, that, to the inward
apostacy, they added the outward also. The greater part of Israel had
left off the worship of the Lord by sacrifices. It is the mercy alone
of the Lord which will deliver them from the misery into which they
have plunged themselves by their sins. But how can the Lord charge the
people in exile for the omission of a service which, according to His
own law, they could offer to Him in their native country only, in the
temple consecrated to Him, but then destroyed? The words specially:
"Put me in remembrance," in ver. 26, "of what I should have forgotten,"
imply that there existed a possibility of acquiring apparent merits,
and that, hence, the view of our opponents who, in vers. 22-24, think
of a compulsory, and hence, guiltless omission of the sacrificial
service during the exile, must be rejected. Vers. 27, 28 also, which
speak of the punishment which Israel deserves, just on account of the
omitted service of the Lord, and which it has found in the way of its
works, prove that this view must be rejected, and that vers. 22-24
contain a reproof. The passage can, hence, have been written only at
the time when the temple was still standing. Of this there can so much
the less be any doubt that, in vers. 27, 28, the exile is expressly
designated as future: "Thy first father (the high-priestly office) hath
sinned, and thy mediators have transgressed against me." (The
sacrificial service was by a disgraceful syncretism profaned even by
those whose office it was to attend to it). "Therefore I _will_ profane
the princes of the sanctuary, and _will_ give Jacob to the curse, and
Israel to reproaches." Even ואחלל is the common Future, and to ואתנה
the ה _optativum_ is added; and hence, we cannot by any means translate
and explain it by: _I gave_.--In chap. lvi. 9, it is said: "All ye
beasts of the field come ye to devour all the beasts in the forest."
This utterance stands in connection with the לנקבציו, at the close of
the preceding verse. The gathering of Israel by God the good Shepherd,
promised there, must be preceded by the scattering, by being given up
to the world's power--mercy, by judgment. By the wild beasts are to be
understood the Gentiles who shall be sent by God upon [Pg 177] His
people for punishment. This mission they must first fulfil before they
can, according to ver. 8, be added to, and gathered along with, the
gathered ones of Israel. By the "beasts in the forest," brutalized,
degraded, and secularized Israel is to be understood, comp. Jer. xii.
7-12; Ezek. xxxiv. 5; and my Commentary on Rev. ii. 1.

The beasts have not yet come; they are yet to come. We can here think
of nothing else than the invasion of the Chaldeans, which the Prophet,
stepping back to the stand-point of his time, beholds here as future;
whilst, in what precedes, from his ideal stand-point, which he had
taken in the Babylonish exile, he had, for the most part, considered it
as past.--In chap. lvi. 10-12, we meet with corrupted rulers of the
people, who are indolent, when everything depends upon warding off the
danger, greedy, luxurious, gormandizing upon what they have stolen. The
people are not under foreign dominion, but have rulers of their own,
who tyrannize over, and impoverish them; comp. Is. chap. v.; Micah,
chap. iii.--In chap. lvii. 1, it is said: "The righteous perisheth and
no man layeth it to heart, and the men of kindness are taken away, no
one considering that, on account of the evil, the righteous is taken
away." The Prophet mentions it as a sign of the people's hardening
that, in the death of the righteous men who were truly bearing on their
hearts the welfare of the whole, they did not recognize a harbinger of
severe divine judgments, from which, according to a divine merciful
decree, these righteous were to be preserved by an early death. "On
account of the evil," _i.e._, in order to withdraw them from the
judgments, which were to be inflicted upon the ungodly people, comp.
Gen. xv. 15; 2 Kings xxii. 20; Is. xxxix. 8. The evil, _i.e._ according
to 2 Kings xxii. 20, the Chaldean catastrophe, appears here as still
future. In chap. lvii. 2: "They enter in peace, they rest in their beds
who have walked before themselves in uprightness," the "peace" forms
the contrast to the awful condition of suffering which the survivors
have to encounter.--In chap. lvii. 9, it is said: "And thou lookest on
the king anointed with oil, and increasest thy perfumes, and sendest
thy messengers far off, sendest them down into hell." The apostacy from
the Lord their God is manifested not only in idolatry, but also in
their not leaving untried any means to [Pg 178] procure for themselves
human helpers, in their courting human aid. The personification of
Israel as a woman, which took place in the preceding verses, is here
continued. She leaves no means untried to heighten her charms; she
makes every effort to please the mighty kings. The king is an ideal
person comprehending a real plurality within himself A parallel
passage, in which the seeking for help among foreign nations is
represented under the same image, is Ezek. xvi. 26 ff., comp. Hos. xii.
2 (1). It occurs also in immediate connexion with seeking help from the
idols, in chap. xxx. 1 ff. The verb שור means always "to see," "to look
at;" and this signification is, here too, quite appropriate: Israel is
_coquetting_ with her lover, the king. The reproach which the Prophet
here raises against the people has no meaning at all in the time of the
exile, when the national independence was gone. We find ourselves all
at once transferred to the time of Isaiah, who, in chap. xxxi. 1,
utters a woe upon them "that go down to Egypt for help,"--who, in chap.
xxx. 4, complains: "His princes are at Zoar, and his ambassadors come
to Hanes,"--who, in chap. vii., exhibits the dangerous consequences of
seeking help from Asshur. The historical point at issue is brought
before us by passages such as 2 Kings xvi. 7: "And Ahaz sent messengers
to Tiglathpileser, king of Assyria, saying: I am thy servant and thy
son; come up and save me out of the hand of the king of Aram, and out
of the hand of the king of Israel, who rise against me."--In chap.
lvii. 11-13, the thought is this: Israel is not becoming weary of
seeking help and salvation from others than God. But He will soon show
that He alone is to be feared, that He alone can help; that they are
nothing against whom, and from whom help is sought. The words in ver.
11: "Am I not silent, even of old; therefore thou fearest me not,"
state the cause of the foolish forgetfulness of God, and hence form the
transition to the subsequent announcement of judgment. The prophecy is
uttered at a time when Israel still enjoyed the sparing divine
forbearance, inasmuch as for time immemorial (since they were in
Egypt), no destructive catastrophe had fallen upon them. It was in the
Babylonish catastrophe only that the Egyptian received its counterpart.
But how does this suit the time of the Babylonish exile, when the
people were groaning under the severe judgments of God, [Pg 179] and
had not experienced His forbearance, but, on the contrary, for almost
70 years, the full energy of His punitive justice? In ver. 13, it is
said: "In thy crying, let thy hosts (thy whole Pantheon so rich, and
yet so miserable) help thee." "In thy crying, _i.e._, when _thou_, in
the judgment to be inflicted upon thee in future, wilt cry for help."
In chap. lxvi. the punishment appears as future; temple and city as
still existing; the Lord as yet enthroned in Zion. So specially in ver.
6: "A voice of noise from the city, a voice from the temple, the voice
of the Lord that rendereth recompence to His enemies," A controversy
with the hypocrites who presumed upon the temple and their sacrificial
service, in vers. 1, 3, has, at the time of the exile, no meaning at
all, _Gesenius_, indeed, was of opinion that the Prophet might judge of
the worship of God in temples, and of the value of sacrifices, although
they were not offered at that time; but it must be strongly denied that
the Prophet could do so in such a context and connection. For, the fact
that the Prophet has in view a definite class of men of his time, and
that he does not bring forward at random a _locus communis_ which, at
his time, was no longer applicable--a thing which, moreover, is not by
any means his habit--appears from the close of the verse, and from ver.
4, where divine judgment is threatened to those men: "Because they
choose their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations:
I also will choose their derision, and will bring their fears upon
them." Even in ver. 20: "And they (the Gentiles who are to be converted
to the Lord), shall bring all your brethren out of all nations for a
meat-offering unto the Lord, upon horses, &c., _just as the children of
Israel are bringing_ (יבואו, expresses an habitual offering), _the
meat-offering in a clean vessel into the house of the Lord_," the house
of God appears as still standing, the sacrificial service in full
operation; the future spiritual meat-offering of the Gentiles is
compared to the bodily meat-offering which the children of Israel are
now offering in the temple.

_Throughout the whole second part we perceive the people under the, as
yet, unbroken power of idolatry._ It appears everywhere as the
principal tendency of the sinful apostacy among the people; to
counteract it appears to be the chief object of the Prophet. The
controversy with idolatry pervades everything. At the very
commencement, in chap. xl. 18-26, we are met [Pg 180] with a
description of the nothingness of idolatry, and an impressive warning
against it. In the whole series of passages, commencing with chap.
xli.--of which we shall afterwards speak more in detail--the sole Deity
of the God of Israel, and the vanity of the idols are proved from
prophecy in connection with its fulfilment; and this series has for its
supposition the power which, at the time when the prophecy was uttered,
idolatry yet possessed over the minds of men. Chap. xlii. 17 announces
that the future historical development shall bring confusion upon those
"that trust in graven images, that say to the molten images: Ye are our
gods." In chap. xliv. 12-20, the absurdity of idolatry is illustrated
in a brilliant description. We have here before us the real _locus
classicus_ of the whole Scripture in this matter, the main description
of the nothingness of idolatry. The emotion and excitement with which
the Prophet speaks, shew that he has here to do with the principal
enemy to the salvation of his people. According to chap. xlvi. the
idols of Babel shall be overturned and carried away. From this, Israel
may learn the nothingness of idolatry, and the apostates may return to
the Lord. In the hortatory and reproving section, the punishment of
idolatry forms the beginning; in chap. lvii. idolatry is described as
far-spread, manifold, advancing to the greatest horrors. The offering
up of children as sacrifices especially appears as being in vogue; and
it can be proved that this penetrated into Israel, from the
neighbouring nations, at the time of the Prophet (comp. 2 Chron.
xxviii. 3; xxxiii. 6), while, at the time of the exile, there was
scarcely any cause for warning against it,--at least, existing
information does not mention any such sacrifices among the Babylonians
(comp. _Münter_, _die Religion der Babylonier_, S. 72). The people
appear as standing under the dominion of idolatry in chap. lxv. 3: "The
people that provoketh me to anger continually to my face, that
sacrificeth in gardens, and burneth incense upon the bricks;" comp.
ver. 7: "Who have burned incense upon the mountains, and blasphemed me
upon the hills;" chap. lxvi. 17: "They that sanctify themselves and
purify themselves in the gardens behind one in the midst, who eat
swine's flesh, and the abominations, and mice, shall be consumed
together, saith the Lord." Idolatry is the service of nature, and was,
therefore, chiefly practised [Pg 181] in places where nature presents
herself in all her splendour, as in gardens and on the hills. The
gardens are mentioned in a similar way in chap. i. 29: "Ye shall blush
on account of the _gardens_ that ye have chosen." (On the words which
precede in that verse: "For they shall be ashamed of the _oaks_ which
ye have desired," chap. lvii. 5 offers an exact parallel: "Who inflame
themselves among the _oaks_ under every green tree.") In chap.
lxv. 11, they are denounced who forsake the Lord, forget His holy
mountain (on which, at the time when this was written, the temple
must still have stood), who prepare a table to _Fortune_, and
offer drink-offerings to _Fate_. The second main form of sinful
apostacy--hypocrisy and dead ceremonial service--is only rarely
mentioned by the Prophet (in chap. lvii., lxvi.), while he always anew
reverts to idolatry. Now _this absolutely prevailing regard to idolatry
can be accounted for, only if Isaiah be the author of the second part._
From Solomon, down to the time of the exile, the disposition to
idolatry in Israel was never thoroughly broken. During Isaiah's
ministry, it came to the fullest display under Ahaz. Under Hezekiah it
was kept down, indeed; but with great difficulty only, as appears from
the fact that, under the reign of Manasseh, who was a king after the
heart of the people, it again broke openly forth; comp. 2 Kings xxi.
1-18; 2 Chron. xxxiii. 1-18; 2 Kings xxi. 6, according to which
Manasseh made his own son to pass through the fire. But it is a tact
generally admitted, and proved by all the books written during and
after the exile, that, with the carrying away into exile, the
idolatrous disposition among the people was greatly shaken. This fact
has its cause not only in the deep impression which misery made upon
their minds, but still more in the circumstance that it was chiefly the
godly part of the nation that was carried away into captivity. The
disproportionately large number of _priests_ among the exiled and those
who returned--they constitute the tenth part of the people--is to be
accounted for only on the supposition, that the heathenish conquerors
saw that the real essence and basis of the people consisted in the
faith in the God of Israel, and were, therefore, above all, anxious to
remove the priests as the main representatives of this principle. If,
for this reason, they carried away the priests, we cannot think
otherwise but that, in [Pg 182] the selection of the others also, they
looked chiefly to the theocratic disposition on which the nationality
of Israel rested. To this we are led by Jer. xxiv. also, where those
carried away are designated as the flower of the nation, as the nursery
and hope of the Kingdom of God. Incomprehensible, for the time of the
exile, is also the _strict antithesis_ between the servants of the
Lord, and the servants of the idols--the latter hating, assailing, and
persecuting the former--an antithesis which meets us especially in the
last two chapters; comp. especially chap. lxv. 5 ff. 13-15; lxvi. 16.
That such a state of things existed at the time of the Prophet is,
among other passages, shown by 2 Kings xxi. 16, according to which
Manasseh shed much innocent blood at Jerusalem, and, according to ver.
10, 11, especially the blood of the prophets, who had borne a powerful
testimony against idolatry.

_If it be assumed that the second part was composed during the exile,
then those passages are incomprehensible, in which the Prophet proves
that the God of Israel is the true God, from His predicting the
appearance of the conqueror from the east, and the deliverance of the
people to be wrought by Him in connection with the fulfilment of these
predictions._ The supernatural character of this announcement which the
Prophet asserts, and which forms the ground of its probative power,
took place, only if it proceeded from Isaiah, but not if it was uttered
only about the end of the exile, at a time when Cyrus had already
entered upon the stage of history. These passages, at all events, admit
only the alternative,--either that Isaiah was the real author, or that
they were forged at a later period by some deceiver; and this latter
alternative is so decidedly opposed to the whole spirit of the second
part, that scarcely any one among the opponents will resolve to adopt
it. Considering the very great and decisive importance of these
passages, we must still allow them to pass in review one by one. In
chap. xli. 1-7, the Lord addresses those who are serving idols, summons
them triumphantly to defend themselves against the mighty attack which
He was just executing against them, and describes the futility of their
attempts at so doing. The address to the Gentiles is a mere form; to
work upon Israel is the real purpose. To secure them from the
allurements of the world's religion, the Prophet points to [Pg 183] the
great confusion which the Future will bring upon it. This confusion
consists in this:--that the prophecy of the conqueror from the East, as
the messenger and instrument of the Lord--a prediction which the
Prophet had uttered in the power of the Lord--is fulfilled without the
idolators being able to prevent it. The answer on the words in ver. 2:
"Who hath raised up from the East him whom righteousness calleth
whither he goes, giveth the nations before him, and maketh kings
subject to him, maketh his sword like dust, and his bow like driven
stubble?" is this: According to the agreement of prophecy and
fulfilment, it is none other than the Lord, who is, therefore, the only
true God, to whose glory and majesty every deed of His servant Koresh
bears witness. The argumentation is unintelligible, as soon as,
assuming that it was Isaiah who wrote down the prophecy, it is not
admitted that he, losing sight of the _real_ Present, takes his
stand-point in an _ideal_ Present, viz., the time of the appearance of
the conqueror from the East, by which it becomes possible to him to
draw his arguments from the prophecy in connection with the fulfilment.
It is altogether absurd, when it is asserted that the second part is
spurious, and was composed at a time when Cyrus was already standing
before Babylon. It would indeed have required an immense amount of
impudence on the part of the Prophet to bring forward, as an
unassailable proof of the omniscience and omnipotence of God, an event
which every one saw with his bodily eyes. By such argumentation, he
would have exposed himself to general _ridicule_.--In chap. xli. 21-29,
the discourse is formally addressed to the Gentiles; but in point of
fact, the Prophet here, too, has to do with Judah driven into exile, to
whom he was called by God to offer the means to remain stedfast under
the temptations from the idolators by whom they were surrounded. Before
the eyes, and in the hearing of Israel, the Lord convinces the Gentiles
of the nothingness of their cause. They are to prove the divinity of
their idols by showing forth the announcements of the Future which
proceeded from them. But they are not able to comply with this demand.
It is only the Lord, the living God, who can do that. Long before the
appearance of the conqueror from the North and East, He caused it to be
_foretold_, and comforted His Church with the view of the Future.
Hence, He alone is [Pg 184] God, and vanity are all those who are put
beside Him. It is said in ver. 22: "Let them bring forth and shew to us
what shall happen; the former things, what they be, show and we will
consider them and know the latter end of them; or the coming (events
make us to hear)." _The former things_ are those which are prior on
this territory; hence the former prophecies, as the comparison of the
parallel passage, chap. xlii 9, clearly shows. The _end_ of prophecy is
its fulfilment. הבאות "the coming, or future," are the events of the
more distant Future. As the Prophet demands from the idols and their
servants that only which the true God has already performed by His
servants, we have here, on the one hand, a reference to the whole cycle
of prophecies formerly fulfilled, as _e.g._, that of the overthrow of
the kingdoms of Damascus and Ephraim, and the defeat of Asshur,--and,
on the other hand, to the prophecy of the conqueror from the East, &c.,
contained in the second part. The _former_ prophecies, however, are
here mentioned altogether incidentally only; the real demand refers, as
is shown by the words: "What shall happen," only to the prophecies in
reference to the Future, corresponding to those of our Prophet
regarding the conqueror from the East, whose appearance is here
represented as belonging altogether to the _Future_, and not to be
known by any human ingenuity. In ver. 26: "Who hath declared (such
things) from the beginning, that we may know, and long beforehand, that
we may say: he is righteous?" the מראש "from the beginning" puts
insurmountable obstacles in the way of the opponents of the
genuineness. If the second part of Isaiah be _spurious_, then the
idolaters might put the same scornful question to the God of Israel.
The מראש denotes just the opposite of a _vaticinium post eventum_.--In
chap. xlii. 9: "The former (things), behold, they are come to pass, and
new things do I declare; before they spring forth, I let you hear," the
Prophet proves the true divinity of the Lord, from the circumstance
that, having already proved himself by prophecies fulfilled, He
declares here, in the second part, the future events before they spring
forth, before the facts begin to sprout forth from the soil of the
Present, and hence could have been known and predicted by human
combination. The words, "before they spring forth," become completely
enigmatical, if it be denied that Isaiah [Pg 185] wrote the second
part; inasmuch as, in that case, it would have in a great part, to do
with things which did not belong to the territory of prophetic
foresight, but of what was plainly visible.--In chap. xliii. 8-13, the
Prophet again proves the nothingness of idolatry, and the sole divinity
of the God of Israel, from the great work, declared beforehand by the
Lord, of the deliverance of Israel, and of the overthrow of their
enemies. He is so deeply convinced of the striking force of this
argument, that he ever anew reverts to it. After having called upon the
Gentiles to prove the divinity of their idols by true prophecies given
by them, he says in ver. 9: "Let them bring forth their witnesses, that
they may be justified." By the witnesses it is to be proved, by whom,
to whom, and at what time the prophecies were given, in order that the
Gentiles may not refer to deceitfully forged prophecies, to _vaticinia
post eventum_. According to the hypothesis of the spuriousness of the
second part, the author pronounced his own condemnation by thus calling
for witnesses. "Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and witness is my
Servant whom I have chosen," is said in ver. 10. While the Gentiles are
in vain called upon to bring forward witnesses for the divinity of
their idols, the true God has, for His witnesses, just those whose
services he claimed. The prophecies which lie at the foundation of
their testimony, which are to be borne witness to, are those of the
second part. The Prophet may safely appeal to the testimony of the
whole nation, that they were uttered at a time, when their contents
could not be derived from human combination. "The great unknown"
(_Ewald_), could not by any possibility have spoken thus.--In chap.
xlv. 19-21, it is proved from the prophecy, in connection with the
fulfilment, that Jehovah alone is God,--the like of which no Gentile
nation can show of their idols. The argumentation is followed by the
call to all the Gentiles to be converted to this God, and thus to
become partakers of His salvation--a call resting on the striking force
of this argumentation--and with this call is, in ver. 23-25, connected
the solemn declaration of God, that, at some future time, this shall
take place; that, at some future time, there shall be one shepherd and
one flock. How would these high, solemn, words have been spoken in
vain, if "the great unknown" had spoken them! In ver. 19 [Pg 186] it is
said: "I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth; I
said not unto the seed of Jacob: Seek ye me in vain; I the Lord speak
righteousness, I declare rectitude." The Lord here says, first, in
reference to His prophecies, those namely which He gave through our
Prophet, that _they were made known publicly_, that, hence, there could
not be any doubt of their genuineness,--altogether different from what
is the case with the prophecies of idolatrous nations which make their
appearance _post eventum_ only, _no one knowing whence_. Every one
might convince himself of their truth and divinity. This is expressed
by the words: "I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the
earth." Then he says that the Lord had not deceived His people, like
the idols who leave their servants without disclosures regarding: the
Future; but that, by the prophecies granted to our Prophet, He had met
the longings of his people for revelations of the Future. While the
gods of the world leave them in the lurch, just when their help is
required, and never answer when they are asked, the Lord, in reference
to prophecies, as well as in every other respect, has not spoken: "Seek
ye me in vain," but rather: When ye seek, ye shall find me. And,
finally, he says that his prophecies are true and right; that the
heathenish prophets commit an _unrighteousness_ by performing something
else than that which they promised to perform. To declare
_righteousness_ is to declare that which is righteous, which does not
conceal internal emptiness and rottenness under a fair outside. The
words: "I the Lord speak righteousness, I declare rectitude," could not
but have died on the lips of the "great unknown."--In chap. xlvi. 8-13
the apostates in Israel are addressed. They are exhorted to return to
the true God, and to be mindful, 1. of the nothingness of idols, ver.
8; 2. of the proofs of His sole divinity which the Lord had given
throughout the whole of the past history; 3. of the new manifestation
of it in announcing and sending Koresh (Cyrus), ver. 10, 11; "Declaring
the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are
not yet done, saying: My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my
pleasure. Calling from the East an eagle, from a far country the man of
His counsel; I have spoken it, and will also bring it to pass; I have
formed it, and will also do it." To the ראשנות, the former [Pg 187]
events, the fulfilled prophecies from former times (comp. xlii. 9),
here the new proof of the sole divinity of the God of Israel is added,
in that He sends Koresh: God _now_ declares. The Prophet, by
designating the time in which the announcement was issued as ראשית and
קדם, as beginning and ancient times, and by founding the proof of the
divinity of the Lord just upon the high age of the announcement, again
puts an insurmountable obstacle in the way of the opponents of the
genuineness. The announcement and declaration prove any thing in
connection with the execution only; the bringing to pass, therefore, is
connected with the declaring, the doing with the speaking. These words
are _now_ spoken, since, from the ideal stand-point, the carrying out
is at hand; they form the antecedent to the _calling_, of which ver. 11
treats. קום properly "to rise," opposed to the laying down, means "to
bring to stand," "to bring about," "to be fulfilled." "The counsel,"
_i.e._, the contents of the prediction which was spoken of before; it
is the divine counsel and decree to which Koresh served as an
instrument.--_Finally_--In chap. xlviii., the same subject is treated
of; the divinity of the Lord is proved from His prophecies, in three
sections, ver. 1-11, ver. 12-16, ver. 22. Here, at the close of the
first book of the second part, the argumentation occurs once more in a
very strong accumulation, because the Prophet is now about to leave it,
and, in general, the whole territory of the lower salvation. First, in
ver. 1-11: Israel should return to the Lord, who formerly had
manifested and proved His sole divinity by a series of prophecies and
their fulfilments, and _now_ was granting new and remarkable
disclosures regarding the Future. Ver. 6: "New things I shew thee from
this time, hidden things, and thou didst not know them, ver. 7. Now
they have been created and not of old, and before this day thou
heardest them not; lest thou shouldest say: Behold, I knew them." The
deliverance of Israel by Cyrus--an announcement uttered in the
preceding, and to be repeated immediately afterwards--is called _new_
in contrast to the old prophecies of the Lord already fulfilled;
_hidden_ in contrast to the facts which are already subjects of
history, or may be known beforehand by natural ingenuity. _To be
created_ is equivalent to being made manifest, inasmuch as the hidden
Divine counsel enters into life, only by being manifested, and [Pg 188]
the prophesied events are created for Israel, only by the prophecy.
Ver. 8: "Thou didst not hear it, nor didst thou know it, likewise thine
ear was not opened beforehand; for I knew that thou art faithless, and
wast called a transgressor from the womb." I have, says the Lord,
communicated to thee the knowledge of events of the Future which are
altogether unheard of, of which, before, thou didst not know the least,
nor couldst know. The reason of this communication is stated in the
words: "for I knew," &c. It is the same reason which, according to
vers. 4, 5, called forth also the former definite prophecies regarding
the Future, now already fulfilled, viz., the unbelief of the people,
which requires a _palpable_ proof that the Lord alone is God, because
it is but too ingenious in finding out seeming reasons for justifying
its apostacy. All that is perfectly in keeping with, and suitable to
the stand-point of Isaiah, but not to that of "the great unknown," at
whose time the conqueror from the East was already beheld with the
bodily eye; and Habakkuk had long ago prophesied the destruction of the
Babylonish world's power, and Israel's deliverance; and Jeremiah had
announced the destruction of Babylon by the Modes much more distinctly
and definitely than is done here in the second part of Isaiah. In ver.
16 it is said: "Come ye near unto me, hear this: from the beginning I
have not spoken in secret; from the time that it was, I was there, and
now the Lord God hath sent me and His Spirit." The sense is: Ever since
the foundation of the people, I have given them the most distinct
prophecies, and made them publicly known (referring to the whole chain
of events, from the calling of Abraham and onward, which had been
objects of prophecy); by mine omnipotence I have fulfilled them; and
now I have sent my servant Isaiah, and filled him with my Spirit, in
order that, by a new distinguished prophecy, he may bear witness to my
sole divinity. It is only the accompanying mission of the Spirit which
gives its importance to that of the Prophet. It is from God's Spirit
searching the depths of the Godhead, and knowing His most hidden
counsels, that those prophecies of the second part, going beyond the
natural consciousness, have proceeded.

We believe we have incontrovertibly proved that we are not entitled to
draw any arguments against Isaiah's being the [Pg 189] author of the
second part, from the circumstance "that the exile is not announced,
but that the author takes his stand in it, as well as in that of
Isaiah's time, inasmuch as this stand-point is an assumed and ideal
one. But if the _form_, can prove nothing, far less can the _prophetic
contents_." It is true that these contents cannot be explained from the
natural consciousness of Isaiah; but it is not to be overlooked, that
the assailed prophecies of Isaiah are even as directly as possible
opposed to the rationalistic notion of prophetism, which is arbitrary,
and goes in the face of all facts, and from which the arguments against
their genuineness are drawn. In a whole series of passages of the
second part (the same which we have just been discussing), the Prophet
intimates that he gives disclosures which lie beyond the horizon of his
time; and draws from this circumstance the arguments for his own divine
mission, and the divinity of the God of Israel. He considers it as the
disgrace of idolatry that it cannot give any definite prophecies, and
with a noble scorn, challenges it to vindicate itself by such
prophecies. That rationalistic notion of prophetism removes the
boundaries which, according to the express statements of our Prophet,
separate the Kingdom of God from heathenism. The rationalistic
_notional_ God, however, it is true, can as little prophesy as the
heathenish gods of stone and wood, of whom the Psalmist says: "They
have ears, but they hear not, _neither speak they through their

It is farther to be considered that the predictions of the Future, in
those portions of Isaiah which are assailed just on account of them,
are not so destitute of a foundation as is commonly assumed. There
existed, in the present time and circumstances of the Prophet,
important actual points of connection for them. They farther rest on
the foundation of ideal views and conceptions of eternal truths, which
had been familiar to the Church of the Lord from its very beginnings.
They only enlarge what had already been prophesied by former prophets;
and well secured and ascertained parallels in the prophetic
announcement are not wanting for them.

The carrying away of the covenant-people into exile had been actually
prophesied by the fact, that the land had spued out its former
inhabitants on account of their sins. The threatening of the exile
pervades the whole Pentateuch from [Pg 190] beginning to end; compare
_Genuineness of the Pentateuch_, _p._ 270 _ff._ It is found in the
Decalogue also: "That thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord
thy God giveth thee." David shows a clear knowledge of the sufferings
impending over his family, and hence also over the people of God; comp.
my Commentary on Song of Sol. S. 243. Solomon points to the future
carrying away in his prayer at the consecration of the temple. Amos,
the predecessor of Isaiah, foresees with absolute clearness, that,
before the salvation comes, all that is glorious, not only in Israel,
but in Judah also, must be given over to destruction, compare Vol. i.
p. 357. In like manner, too, Hosea prophesies not only the destruction
of the kingdom of the ten tribes, but also that Judah shall be carried
away into exile, comp. Vol. i. p. 176. In Isaiah, the foreknowledge
of the entire devastation of the city and land, and the carrying away
into captivity of its inhabitants--a foreknowledge which stands in
close connection with the energy of the knowledge of sin with the
Prophets--meets us from the very beginning of his ministry, and also in
those prophecies, the genuineness of which no one ventures to assail,
as, _e.g._, in chap. i.-vi. After the severity of God had been
manifested before the bodily eyes of the Prophet in the carrying away
of the ten tribes, it could not, even from human considerations, be
doubtful to him, what was the fate in store for Judah.

The knowledge, that the impending carrying away of Judah would take
place by the Chaldeans, and that Babylon would be the place of their
banishment, was not destitute of a certain natural foundation. In the
germ, the Chaldean power actually existed even at that time. Decidedly
erroneous is the view of _Hitzig_, that a Chaldean power in Babylon
could be spoken of only since the time of Nabopolassar. This power, on
the contrary, was very old; compare the proofs in _Delitzsch's_
Commentary on Habakkuk, S. 21. The Assyrian power, although, when
outwardly considered, at its height, when more closely examined, began,
even at that time, already to sink. A weakening of the Assyrian power
is intimated also by the circumstance, that Hezekiah ventured to rebel
against the Assyrians, and the embassy of the Chaldean Merodach Baladan
to Hezekiah, implies that, even at that time, many things gave a title
to expect the speedy downfal of the Assyrian [Pg 191] Empire. But the
fact that Isaiah possessed the clear knowledge that, in some future
period, the dominion of the world would pass over to Babylon and the
Chaldeans,--that they would be the executors of the judgment upon
Judah, we have already proved, in our remarks on chaps. xiii., xiv.,
from the prophecies of the first part,--from chap. xxiii. 13, where the
Chaldeans are mentioned as the executors of the judgment upon the
neighbouring people, the Tyrians, and as the destroyers of the Assyrian
dominion,--and from chap. xxxix. The attempt of dispossessing him of
this knowledge is so much the more futile, that his contemporary Micah
undeniably possesses it; comp. Vol. i. p. 464. So also does Habakkuk,
between whose time and that of Isaiah, circumstances had not
essentially changed, and who likewise still prophesied before the
Chaldean monarchy had been established.

While this foreknowledge of the future _elevation_ of Babylon had a
_historical_ foundation, the foreknowledge of its _humiliation and
fate_, following soon after, rested on a _theological_ foundation. With
a heathenish people, elevation is always followed by haughtiness, with
all its consequences; and, according to the eternal laws of the divine
government of the world, haughtiness is a matter-of-fact prophecy of
destruction. Proceeding from this view, the downfal of the Chaldean
monarchy was prophesied by Habakkuk also, at a time when it was still
developing, and was far from having attained to the zenith of its
power. In the same manner, the foreknowledge of the future _deliverance
of Israel_ rises on a theological foundation, and is not at all to be
considered in the same light as if _e.g._, the Prophet had foretold to
Moab its deliverance. That which the Prophet here predicts is only the
individualization of a general truth which meets us at the very
beginnings of the covenant-people. The principle which St. Paul
advances in Rom. xi. 2: "God hath not cast away His people whom He
foreknew," and ver. 29: "For the gifts and calling of God are without
repentance," meets us, clearly and distinctly, as early as in the books
of Moses. In Levit. xxvi. 42-45, the deliverance from the land of
captivity is announced on the ground of the election of Israel, and of
the covenant with the fathers, and as a fulfilment of the promise of
future election, which was given by the fact of Israel's being
delivered from [Pg 192] Egypt. And according to Deut. iv. 30, 31, xxx.
ff., and the close of chap. xxxii., the end of all the catastrophes
which are inflicted upon the covenant-people is always Israel's
conversion and reception into favour; behind the judgment, mercy is
always concealed. In the prayer of Solomon, the carrying away goes hand
in hand with the reception into favour. But it will be altogether
fruitless to deny to Isaiah the knowledge of the future deliverance of
Israel from Babylon, since his contemporary Micah, in chap. iv. 10,
briefly and distinctly expresses the same: "And thou comest to Babylon;
there shalt thou be delivered; there shall the Lord redeem thee from
the hand of thine enemies."

The only point in the prophetic foreknowledge of the second part which
really seems to want, not only a historical or ideal foundation, but
also altogether corresponding analogies, is the mention of the name of
Koresh. But this difficulty disappears if, in strict opposition to the
current notion, it is assumed that Cyrus was induced, by our book only,
to appropriate to himself that name. Recent investigation has proved
that this name is originally not a proper name, but an honorary
title,--that the Greek writers rightly explain it by _Sun_,--that the
name of the sun was, in the East generally, and especially with the
Persians, a common honorary title of rulers; comp. _Bürnouf_ and others
in _Hävernick's Einleitung_, ii. 2, S. 165. This honorary title of the
Persian kings, Isaiah might very easily learn in a natural way. And the
fact that this _Nomen dignitatis_ became, among several others,
peculiar to Cyrus (the mention of the name of Koresh by Isaiah does not
originally go beyond the announcement of the conqueror from the East)
is explained by the circumstance that Cyrus assumed this name in honour
of our book, and as an acknowledgment of the mission assigned to him by
it, although the Prophet had not used this name in any other manner
than Balaam had that of Agag, perhaps with an allusion to its
signification; compare the phrases "from the East," "from the rising of
the sun," in chap. xli. 2, 25. And it is historically settled and
certain, that Cyrus had originally another name, viz., _Agradates_, and
that he assumed this name only at the time of his ascending the throne,
which falls into the time when the prophecies of our book could already
be known to him (comp. the [Pg 193] proofs in _Hävernick's Einleit._)
And as it is farther certain that the prophecies of our book made a
deep impression upon him, and, in important points, exercised an
influence upon his actions (this appears not only from the express
statement of _Josephus_, [Arch. xi. c. 1. § 1, 2,] but still more from
an authentic document, the Edict of Cyrus, in Ezra i. 1 ff., which so
plainly implies the fact reported by _Josephus_, that _Jahn_ rightly
called _Josephus'_ statement a commentary on this Edict, which refers,
_partly_ with literal accuracy, to a series of passages from the second
part of Isaiah, compare the particulars in _Kleinert_, _über die
Echtheit des Jesaias_, S. 142);--as the condition of the Persian
religion likewise confirms this result gained from the Edict of Cyrus
(_Stuhr_, _die Religionssysteme des alten Orients_, S. 373 ff., proves
that in the time of Cyrus, and by him, an Israelitish element had been
introduced into it);--there will certainly not be any reason to
consider our supposition to be improbable, or the result of

But to this circumstance we must still direct attention, that those
prophetic announcements of the second part which have reference to that
which, even at the time of "the great unknown," still belonged to the
future, are far more distinct, and can far less be accounted for from
natural causes, than those from which rationalistic criticism has drawn
inferences as regards the spuriousness of the second part. The personal
Messianic prophecies of the second part are much more characteristic
than those concerning Cyrus. He who cannot, by the help of history,
supplement and illustrate the prophecy, receives only an incomplete and
defective image of the latter. And, indeed, a sufficiently long time
elapsed before even Exegesis recognised with certainty and unanimity
that it was Cyrus who was meant. Doubts and differences of opinion on
this point meet us even down to last century. The Medes and Persians
are not at all mentioned as the conquerors of Babylon, and all which
refers to the person of Cyrus has an altogether ideal character; while
the Messiah is, especially in chap. liii., so distinctly drawn, that
scarcely any essential feature in His image is omitted. And it is
altogether a matter of course that here, in the antitypical
deliverance, a much greater clearness and distinctness should prevail;
for it stands [Pg 194] in a far closer relation to the idea, so that
form and substance do far less disagree.

It would be inappropriate were we here to take up and refute all
the arguments against the genuineness of the second part, which
rationalistic criticism has brought together. Besides those which
we have already refuted, we shall bring into view only this argument,
which, at first sight indeed, may dazzle and startle even the
well-disposed, viz., the difference between the first and second parts,
as regards language and mode of representation. The chief error of
those who have adduced this argument is, that they judge altogether
without reference to person,--a matter, however, quite legitimate in
this case,--that they simply apply the same rule to the productions of
Isaiah which, in the productions of less richly endowed persons, has
indeed a _certain_ right, _e.g._, on the prophetical territory of
Jeremiah, who, notwithstanding the difference of subject, yet does not
understand so to change his voice, that it should not soon be
recognized by the skilled More than of all the prophets that holds true
of Isaiah, which _Fichte_, in a letter to a _Königsberg_ friend, writes
of himself (in his _Life_, by his son, i. S. 196): "I have properly no
style at all, for I have them all." "Just as the subject demands," says
_Ewald_, without assigning to the circumstance any weight in judging of
the second part, "just as the subject demands, every kind of speech,
and every change of style are easily at his command; and it is just
this in which here his greatness, as, in general, one of his most
prominent perfections, consists." The chief peculiarities of style in
the second part stand in close relation to the subject, and the
disposition of mind thereby called forth. The Prophet, as a rule, does
not address the mass of the people, but the election (ἐκλογή); nor the
sinful congregation of the Lord in the present time, but that of the
future, purified by the judgments of the Lord, the seed and germ of
which were the election of the Present. It is to the congregation of
brethren that he addresses _Comfort_. The beginning: "Comfort ye,
Comfort ye, Zion," contains the keynote and principal subject. It is
from this that the gentle, tender, soft character of the style is to be
accounted for, as well as the frequent repetitions;--the comforting
love follows, step by step, the grief which is indefatigable in its
repetitions. [Pg 195] From this circumstance is to be explained the
habit of adding several epithets to the name of God; these are as many
shields which are held up against despair, as many bulwarks against the
things in sight, by which every thought of redemption was cut off Where
God is the sole help, every thing must be tried to make the
Congregation feel what they have in Him. A series of single phrases
which several times recur _verbatim_, _e.g._, "I am the Lord, and none
else, I do not give mine honour to any other, I am the first and the
last," are easily accounted for by the Prophet's endeavour and anxiety
to impress upon the desponding minds truths, which they were only too
apt to forget. If other linguistic peculiarities occur, which cannot be
explained from the subject, it must be considered that the second part
is not by any means a collection of single prophecies, but a closely
connected whole, which, as such, must necessarily have its own peculiar
_usus loquendi_, a number of constantly recurring characteristic
peculiarities. The character of unity must necessarily be expressed in
language and style also. The fact, however, that, notwithstanding the
difference of style betwixt the first and second parts, the second part
has a great number of characteristic peculiarities of language and
style in common with the first part (a fact which cannot be otherwise,
if Isaiah was the author of both), was first very thoroughly
demonstrated by _Kleinert_, while _Küper_ and _Caspari_ have been the
first conclusively to prove, that the second part was known and made
use of by those prophets who prophesied between the time of Isaiah and
that of "the great unknown."

The close connection of the second part with the first is, among other
things, proved also by the circumstance that both are equally strongly
pervaded with the Messianic announcement. Chap. i.-xii. especially
have, in this respect, a remarkable parallel in the second book of the
second part. The fact, moreover, that the single Messianic prophecies
of the second part agree, in the finest and most concealed features,
with those of the first part, will be shown in the exposition.

[Footnote 1: Chap. xxxvii. 38, (comp. 2 Kings xix. 37), describing
apparently the murder of Sennacherib as belonging to the past, does not
decide any thing as to the composition of this chapter by Isaiah,
"inasmuch as the year which is assigned for Sennacherib's death, B.C.
696, is not historically ascertained and certain. Nor can the
supposition, that Isaiah lived until the time of Manasseh, and himself
arranged and edited the collection of his prophecies on the eve of his
life, be liable to any well-founded doubts" (_Keil_, _Einleitung_, S.
271). The inscription in chap. i. 1, only indicates that the collection
does not contain any prophecies which go beyond the time of Hezekiah.]

[Footnote 2: To a certain degree analogous are those other passages of
the Old Testament, in which the Past presents itself in the form of the
Present, as the deliverance from Egypt in Ps. lxvi. 6; lxxxi. 6. Faith,
at the same time, makes all the old things new, fresh, and lively, and
anticipates the Future.]

[Pg 196]

                            CHAP. XLII. 1-9.

The 40th chapter has an introductory character. It comforts the people
of the Lord by pointing, in general, to a Future rich in salvation. In
chap. xli. the Prophet describes the appearance of the conqueror from
the East for the destruction of Babylon,--an event from which he
derives, as from a rich source, ample consolations for his poor
wretched people, while, at the same time, he represents idolatry as
being thereby put to shame. It is on purpose that, immediately after
the first announcement of this conqueror from the East, his antitype
is, in chap. xlii. 1-9, contrasted with him. In the preceding chapter,
the Prophet had shown how, by the influence of the king from the East,
the Lord would put idolatry to shame, and work out deliverance for His
Church. In the section now before us, he describes how, by the mission
of His servant, the Lord would effect, definitely and absolutely, that
which the former had done only in a preliminary, limited, and imperfect
manner. In the subsequent section, the Prophet then first farther
carries out the image of the conqueror from the East; and from chap.
xlix. he turns to a more minute representation of the image of the true
Saviour. In chaps. xlii. 10, to xliii. 7, the discourse turns, from a
general description of God's instruments of salvation, to a general
description of the salvation in its whole extent; just as it is the
manner of the second part ever again to return from the particular to
the general.

Here, where the Servant of God is first to be introduced, He is at
first spoken _of_; it is in ver. 5 that the Lord first speaks _to_ His
servant. In chap. xlix., on the contrary, the Servant of God, being
already known from chap. xlii., is, without farther remark, introduced
as speaking.

In the whole section, the Lord is speaking. It falls into three
divisions--First, the Lord speaks _of_ His servant, vers. 1-4; then He
speaks to His servant, ver. 5-7; finally. He addresses some closing
words to the Church, ver. 8, 9. The representation, in harmony with the
nature of the prophetic vision, bears a dramatic character.

In ver. 1-4, the Lord, as it were, points to His servant, introduces
Him to His Church, and commends Him to the [Pg 197] world: "Behold my
Servant," &c. He, the beloved and elect One, upheld by God, and endowed
with the fulness of the Spirit of God, shall establish righteousness
upon the whole earth, and bring into submission to himself the whole
Gentile world, by showing himself meek and lowly in heart, an helper of
the poor and afflicted, and combining with it never-failing power. The
aim: He shall bring forth right to the Gentiles. is at once expressed
at the close of ver. 1. In ver. 2-4, the means by which He attains this
aim are then stated. The bringing forth, or the establishing of right,
recurs again in ver. 3 and 4, in order to point out this relation of
ver. 2-4 to ver. 1.

In ver. 6 and 7, after having pointed to His Omnipotence as affording a
guarantee for the fulfilment of a prophecy so great that it might
appear almost incredible, the Lord turns to His Servant and addresses
Him. He announces to Him that it should be His glorious destination,
partly to bring, in His person, the covenant with Israel to its full
truth, partly to be the light for the Gentile world,--to be, in
general, the Saviour of the whole human race.

In the closing verses, 8, 9, the Lord addresses the Church, and directs
its attention to the object which the announcement of the mission of
His Servant, declared in the preceding context, serves: God, because He
is God, is anxious for the promotion of His glory. In order, therefore,
that it may be known that He alone is God, He grants to His people
disclosures as regards the distant Future, as yet fully wrapped up in

There is no doubt, and it is now generally admitted, that the Servant
of the Lord, here described, is the same as He who is brought before us
in chap. xlix. 4; liii., lxi. It is, hence, not sufficient to point out
an individual to whom, apparently, the attributes contained in this
prophecy belong; but we must add and combine all the signs and
attributes which are contained in the parallel passages.

The Chaldean Paraphrast who, in so many instances, has faithfully
preserved the exegetical tradition, understands the Messiah by the
Servant of God; and so, from among the later Jewish expositors,
do _Dav. Kimchi_ and _Abarbanel_, the latter of whom says of the
non-Messianic interpretation, שכל אלה [Pg 198] החכמים הכו בסנורים "that
all these expositors were struck with blindness." That this exposition
was the current one among the Jews at the time of Christ, appears from
Luke ii. 32, where Simeon designates the Saviour as the light to be
revealed to the Gentiles φῶς εἰς ἀποκάλυψιν ἐθνῶν, with a reference to
Is xlii. 6; xlix. 6. It is especially the latter passage which Simeon
has in view, as also St. Paul in Acts xiii. 46, 47, as appears from the
words immediately preceding ὅτι εἶδον οἱ ὀφθαλμοί μου τὸ σωτήριον σου ὃ
ἡτοίμασας κατὰ πρόσωπον πάντων τῶν λαῶν, which evidently refer to chap.
xlix. But chap. xlix. is, as regards the point which here comes into
consideration, a mere repetition and confirmation of chap. xlii.

By the New Testament, this exposition has been introduced and
established in the Church of Christ. The words which, at the baptism of
Christ, resounded from heaven: οὗτος ἐστιν ὁ υἱός μου ὁ ἀγαπητός, ἐν ᾧ
εὐδόκησα, Matt. iii. 17 (comp. Mark i. 11) evidently refer to ver. 1 of
the chapter before us, and point out that He who had now appeared was
none other than He who had, centuries ago, been predicted by the
prophets. And so do likewise the words which, according to Matt. xvii.
5 (compare Mark ix. 7; Luke ix. 35; 2 Pet. i. 17), at the
transfiguration of Christ, towards the close of His ministry, resounded
from heaven in order to strengthen the Apostles: οὗτος ἐστιν ὁ υἱός μου
ὁ ἀγαπητός, ἐν ᾧ εὐδόκησα· αὐτοῦ ἀκούετε These voices at the beginning
and the close of Christ's ministry have not been sufficiently attended
to by those who have raised doubts against the Messianic
interpretation; for a doubt in this must necessarily shake also the
belief in the reality of those voices. In both of the passages, the
place of the Servant of God in chap. xlii. 1 (which passage is indeed
not so much quoted, as only, in a free treatment, referred to) is taken
by the Son of God, from Ps. ii. 7, just as, at the transfiguration, the
words αὐτοῦ ἀκούετε are at once added from Deut. xviii. 15. The name of
the Servant of God was not high enough fur the sublime moment; the
_Son_ formed, in the second passage, the contrast to the _mere_
servants of God, Moses and Elijah.--In Matt. xii. 17-21, ver. 1-3 are
quoted, and referred to Christ. The Messianic explanation of chap.
xlii., xlix. lies at the foundation of all the other passages also,
where Christ is spoken of as the παῖς Θεοῦ. In Acts iii. 13: ἐδόξασε
τὸν παῖδα [Pg 199] αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦν, we shall be obliged to follow _Bengel_
in explaining it by: _ministrum suum_, partly on account of Matt. xii.
18, and because the LXX. often render עבד by παῖς; partly on account of
the obvious reference to the Old Testament passages which treat of the
Servant of God, and on account of the special allusion to chap. xlix. 3
in the ἐδόξασε (LXX. δοῦλός μου εἶ σὺ [Ἰσραήλ] καὶ ἐν σοὶ
εὐδοξασθήσομαι). And so likewise in Acts iii. 26; iv. 27: ἐπὶ τὸν ἅγιον
παῖδά σου Ἰησοῦν, ὃν ἔχρισας, where the last words refer to chap. lxi.
1; farther, in Acts iv. 30. In all these passages it is not the more
obvious δοῦλος, but παῖς which is put, in order to remove the low
notions which, in Greek, attach to the word δοῦλος.

Taking her stand partly on these authorities, partly on the natural
sense of the passage, the Christian Church has all along referred the
passage to Christ; and even expositors such as _Clericus_, who,
everywhere else, whensoever it is possible, seek to set aside the
Messianic interpretation, are here found among its most decided
defenders. In our century, with the awakening faith, this explanation
has again obtained general dominion; and wherever expositors of
evangelical disposition do not yet profess it, this is to be accounted
for from the still continuing influence of rationalistic tradition.

We are led to the Messianic interpretation by the circumstance that the
servant of God appears here as the antitype of Cyrus. A real person can
be contrasted with a real person only, but not with a personification,
as is assumed by the other explanations. We are compelled to explain it
of Christ by this circumstance also, that it is in Him only that the
signs of the Servant of God are to be found,--that in Him only the
covenant of God with Israel has become a truth,--that He only is the
light of the Gentiles,--that He only, without external force, by His
gentleness, meekness, and love, has founded a Kingdom, the boundaries
of which are conterminous with those of the earth. The connection,
also, with the other Messianic announcements, especially those of the
first part, compels us to refer it to Christ.

The reasons against the Messianic interpretation are of little weight.
The assertion that nowhere in the New Testament does Jesus appear as
the Servant of Jehovah (_Hendewerk_), is at once overthrown by Matt.
xii. 18, as well as by the other [Pg 200] passages already quoted, in
which Christ appears as παῖς Θεοῦ. Phil. ii. 7, μορφὴν δούλου λαβών
comes as near the עבד יהוה, as it was possible, considering the low
notion attached to the Greek δοῦλος. The passages which treat of the
obedience of Christ, such as Rom, v. 19; Phil. ii. 8; Heb. v. 8; John
xvii. 4: τὸν ἔργον ἐτελειώσα, ὃ δέδωκάς μοι ἵνα ποιήσω, give only a
paraphrase of the notion of the Servant of the Lord. With perfect
soundness _Dr Nitzsch_ has remarked, that it was required by the
typical connection of the two Testaments, that Christ should somehow,
according to His ὑπακοὴ, ὑποταγή, be represented as the perfect
manifestation of the עבד--The assertion: "The Messiah is excluded by
the circumstance that the subject is not only to be a teacher of the
Gentiles, who is endowed with the Spirit of God, but is also to
announce deliverance to Israel" (_Gesenius_), rests only on an
erroneous, falsely literal interpretation of ver. 7, which is not a
whit better than if, in ver. 3, we were to think of a natural bruised
reed, a natural wick dimly burning.--The objection that this Servant of
the Lord is not foretold as a future person, but is spoken of as one
present, forgets that we are here on the territory of prophetic vision,
that the prophets had not in vain the name of _seers_, and puts the
_real_, in place of the _ideal_ Present,--a mistake which is here the
less pardonable that the Prophet pre-eminently uses the Future, and, in
this way, himself explains the ideal character of the inserted
Preterites.--In order to refute the assertion, that the doctrine of the
Messiah is foreign to the second part of Isaiah, that (as _Ewald_ held)
in it the former Messianic hopes are connected with the person of a
heathen king, viz., Cyrus (how very little have they who advance such
opinions any idea of the nature of Holy Writ!), it is only necessary to
refer to chap. lv. 3, 4, where the second David, the Messiah, appears,
at the same time, as Teacher, and as the Prince and Lawgiver of the
nations, who is to extend the Kingdom of God far over all heathen
nations. That which, in that passage, is declared of the Messiah, and
that which, in those passages which treat of the Servant of God, is
declared of Him, exclude one another, as soon as, by the Servant of
God, any other subject than the Messiah is understood.

Even this circumstance must raise an unfavourable prejudice against the
non-Messianic interpretation, that its defenders [Pg 201] are at one in
the negative only, but differ in the positive determination of the
subject, and that, hitherto, no one view has succeeded in overthrowing
the other; and farther, that ever anon new subtleties are advanced, by
means of which it is attempted to patch up and conceal the
inadmissibilities of every individual exposition.

Passing over those expositions which have now become obsolete,--such as
of Cyrus, the Prophet Isaiah himself--we shall give attention to those
expositions only which even now have their representatives, and which
have some foundation in the matter itself.

The LXX. already understood Israel by the Servant of the Lord. They
translate in ver. 1: Ἰακὼβ, ὁ παῖς μου, ἀντιλήψομαι αὐτοῦ, Ἰσραήλ, ὁ,
ἐκλεκτός μου, προσεδέξατο αὐτὸν ἡ ψυχή μου. Among the Jewish
interpreters, _Jarchi_ follows this explanation, but with this
modification, that, by the Servant of the Lord, he understands the
collective body of the righteous in Israel. In modern times, this view
is defended by _Hitzig_. It appeals especially to the circumstance
that, in a series of other passages of the second part, Israel, too, is
designated by the Servant of God, viz. in chap. xli. 8: "And thou
Israel, my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, seed of Abraham my
friend," ver. 9: "Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth,
and called thee from its sides, and said unto thee: Thou art my
servant, I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away," chap. xlii. 19,
xliii. 10, xliv. 1, 2: "And now hear, O Jacob my servant, and Israel
whom I have chosen. Thus saith the Lord that made thee, formed thee
from the womb and helpeth thee: Fear not, O Jacob, my servant, and thou
Jeshurun, whom I have chosen;" chap. xliv. 21, xlv. 4, xlviii. 20; "Say
ye, the Lord hath redeemed His servant Jacob." In the face of this
fact, we shall not be permitted to refer to "the general signification
of the expression, and its manifold use." For, generally, it is of very
rare occurrence that Israel is personified as the Son of God (in Ps.
cv. 6, it is not Israel, as _Köster_ supposes, but Abraham who is
called Servant of God; Jer. xxx. 10, xlvi. 27; Ezek. xxxvii. 25 are, in
all probability, dependent upon the second part of Isaiah, by which
this designation first obtained a footing), and never occurs in such
accumulation as here. For this very reason, we cannot well think [Pg
202] of an accident; and if there was an intention, we can seek it only
in the circumstance that there exists a close reference to those
prophecies which, _ex professo_, have to do with the Servant of God. To
this we are led by another circumstance, also. While those passages in
which Israel or Jacob is spoken of as the servant of God, occur in
great numbers in the first book of the second part of Isaiah, they
_disappear_ altogether in the second book, which is the proper seat of
the detail prophecies of the Servant of God in question, who, in the
first book was, by way of anticipation only, mentioned in chap. xlii.
After chap. xlviii. 20, where the words: "The Lord hath redeemed His
servant Jacob," occur with evident intention, once more at the close of
the first book, Jacob, the servant of God, is, in general, no more
spoken of, but the Plural is used only of the Israelites as the
servants of God in chap. lxiii. 17: "For thy servants' sake, the tribes
of thine inheritance;" lxv. 8, 9-13, lxvi. 14,--passages which make it
only the more evident that the Prophet purposely avoids bringing
forward Jacob as the ideal person of the Servant of the Lord.
_Finally_--The idea of chance is entirely excluded by chap. xlix. 3,
where the Messiah is called Israel.

From these facts, however, we are not entitled to infer that, in the
prophetic announcement, Israel is simply spoken of as the servant of
God; but on the contrary the context must be viewed in a different and
_nicer_ way. This is evident from the circumstance that, while in the
passages chaps. xli. 7, xlviii. 20, Israel and Jacob are intentionally
spoken of as the servant of God, or, at least, Israel is so distinctly
pointed out that it cannot be at all misunderstood, such an express
pointing to Israel is (with the sole exception of chap. xlix. 3), as
intentionally, avoided in the prophetic announcement of the Servant of
God. The phrase "My servant Jacob," which, in the former passages is
the rule, never occurs in the latter. This circumstance clearly
indicates that, besides the agreement, there exists a difference. The
facts, however, which point out the agreement, receive ample justice by
the supposition _that the Prophet considers Christ as the concentration
and essence of Israel_, that he expects from Him the realization of the
task which was given to Israel, but had not been fulfilled by them, and
just thereby, also, the realization of the promises given to [Pg 203]
Israel. But, besides other reasons, the fact that the whole description
of the Servant of God stands in direct contradiction to what the
Prophet elsewhere says of Israel, proves that Israel is not meant in
_opposition_ to the Messiah,--the body without the head. It is
especially chap. xlii. 19 which here comes into consideration: "Who is
so blind as my servant, or so blind as my messenger whom I send?"
Israel is here called servant of the Lord, because it had been called
by Him to preserve the true religion on earth. Parallel is the
appellation: "My messenger whom I send." Israel, as the messenger of
God, was to deliver His commands to the Gentiles. The Prophet sharpens
the reproof, in that he always contrasts what the people were, and what
they ought to have been, according to the destination given to them by
the Lord. The servant of the Lord, who, in order to execute His
commissions, must have a sharp eye, is blind; His messenger is deaf and
cannot hear what He says to him. The immense contrast between idea and
reality which is here pointed out, implies, since the idea must
necessarily be realized, that it shall receive another bearer; that in
place of the messenger, who has become blind and deaf, there should
come the true Messenger who first opens the eyes of Israel, and then
those of the Gentiles,--that the destination of Israel, which the
members are unfit to realize, should be realized by the head. We are
not at liberty to say that the servant who had become blind and deaf
shall be converted, shall put off the old man and put on the new man,
and shall then accomplish the great things which, in the prophecies of
the Servant of God, are assigned to him. For the conversion,--on which
everything depends, and apart from which the announcement of the
Prophet would be an empty fancy--is, in all these prophecies, not
mentioned by a single word. On the contrary, the Servant of God is
everywhere, from His very origin, brought before us as the absolutely
just. No more glaring contrast can really be imagined than that which
exists between that which the Prophet says of the ordinary Israel
(whose outward state, as it is described in chap. xlii. 22: "This is a
people robbed and spoiled, they are all of them snared in holes, and
hid in prison-houses," is only a faithful image of the internal
condition), and the Son of God in whom His soul delighteth, who in
exuberant love seeks [Pg 204] that which is lost, whose overflowing
righteousness justifies many, and who, as a substitute, can suffer for
others. It is in Christ only, that Israel attains to its destination,
both in a moral point of view, and as regards the Divine preservation
and glorification. To this it may still be added, that neither here,
nor in the parallel passages is עבד יהוה ever connected with a Plural,
but always with the Singular only; while elsewhere, in the case of
collective nouns and ideal persons, the real plurality not uncommonly
shines forth from behind the unity; and in those passages, especially,
where Israel appears personified as a unity, the use of the Singular is
interchanged with that of the Plural. Comp., _e.g._, chap. xli. 8: "And
thou Israel, my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, seed (_posterity_)
of Abraham, my friend," chap. xliii. 10: "_Ye are my witnesses._ saith
the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen." But a circumstance, which
alone would be sufficient for the proof, is the fact, that in chap.
xli. 6, (comp. chap. xlix. 5, 6) the Servant of the Lord is plainly
distinguished from the people. How can the Lord say of the people, that
He will give it for a covenant of the people, that in it He will cause
the covenant with the people to attain to its truth? The fact, that
this passage opposes an insurmountable barrier to the explanation which
makes the people the subject, sufficiently appears from the
circumstance, that the expositors saw themselves obliged to set
aside its natural sense by a forced, unphilological explanation.
_Finally_,--In understanding the people by the Servant of God, the
prophecies of the Servant of God are brought into irreconcileable
contradiction with all other prophecies, with the first part of Isaiah,
and even with the second part, inasmuch as things would then be
prophesied of the people which, everywhere else, are constantly
assigned to the Messiah. This is quite openly expressed by _Köster_:
"The Servant of Jehovah is the Jewish people; viewed, however, by the
Prophet in such a manner as to combine in itself the attributes of
both, the prophets and the Messiah." Prophetism would have dug its own
grave if its organs had, in a manner so inconsiderate, contradicted
each other as regards the highest hopes of the people. The national
conviction of the inspiration of the prophets, which formed the
foundation of their activity and efficiency, could, in that case, not
have arisen at [Pg 205] all. The same arguments decide partly also
against a modification of this explanation which evidently has
proceeded from embarrassment only,[1] against those who, by the Servant
of God, understand the better portion of Israel,--such as _Maurer_,
_Ewald_, _Oehler_ (_Ueber den Knecht Gottes_, _Tübinger Zeitschrift_,
1840. The latter differs from the other supporters of this view in
this, that, according to him, the notion of the ideal Israel which, he
thinks, prevails in chap. xlii. and xlix., is, in chap. liii., raised
to the view of an individual--the Messiah), _Knobel_ ("The theocratic
substance of the people, to which especially the prophets and priests
belonged.") By this modification, the explanation which makes the
people the subject, loses its only apparent foundation, inasmuch as it
can no more appeal to those passages in which Israel is spoken of as
the Servant of the Lord; for it is obvious that, in these, not merely
the pious portion of the people is spoken of. At the very outset, in
ver. 19, the whole of the people are undeniably designated by the
Servant of the Lord. It is they only who are blind and deaf in a
spiritual point of view. The whole people, and not a portion of them,
are in the condition of servitude, ver. 22. In ver. 24, Jacob and
Israel are expressly mentioned. The whole people, and not merely the
pious portion, are objects of the Lord's election (chap. xli. 8, xliv.
1, 2); the whole people are to be redeemed from Babylon, chap. xlviii.
20. The hypothesis of the pious portion of the people can as little
account for the unexceptional use of the singular, as the hypothesis of
the whole people; like it, it isolates the prophecies of the Servant of
God, and brings them into contradiction with all the other prophecies,
which assign to Christ the same things that are here assigned to the
Servant of God. But what is especially in opposition to this hypothesis
is ver. 3, where the Servant of God is designated as the Saviour of the
poor and afflicted, which, in the first instance, are no other than the
better portion of the people; as well as other reasons, which we shall
bring out in commenting upon chap. liii. by which section the
hypothesis is altogether overthrown.

According to _De Wette_ (_de morte expiat._ p. 26) and _Gesenius_, [Pg
206] the subject of the prophecy is the collective body of the
prophets. Substantially, _Umbreit_ too (_Der Knecht Gottes_, Hamburg
1840) adheres to this interpretation. He rejects the explanation which
refers it to Christ in the sense of the Christian Church, and on p. 13
he completely assents to _Gesenius_, by remarking that he could not
find in the prophets any supernatural, distinct predictions of future
events. The Prophet, according to him, formed to himself, by his own
authority, an "ideal of a Messiah," the abstraction of what he saw
before his eyes in the people, especially in the better portion of
them, but chiefly in the order of the prophets, and then persuaded
himself that this self-invented image would, at some future period,
come into existence as a real person. "The highest ideal of the
prophetic order, viewed as teaching, is represented in the unity of a
person." "We find the prophets as a collective body in the עבד, but
chiefly, the prophets who, in future only, on the regained paternal
soil, are, in some person, to reach the highest perfection."

This hypothesis of the collective body of the prophets violently severs
the prophecy before us, and the parallel passages from those passages
of the second part in which Israel is spoken of as the Servant of God.
It is quite impossible to point out anywhere in the Old Testament, and
especially in the second part of Isaiah, an analogous personification
of the order of the prophets as the Servant of God. The reference to
chap. xliv. 26: "That establisheth the word of His servant, and
performeth the counsel of His messengers; that saith of Jerusalem: She
shall be inhabited, and of the cities of Judah: They shall be built,
and I will raise up the walls thereof," is, in this respect, altogether
out of place, inasmuch as the servant of the Lord, in that verse, is
not the collective band of the prophets, but Isaiah himself, just as in
chap. xxiii. The parallelism between the servant of the Lord and His
messengers is not a _synonymous_, but a _synthetic_ one, just as,
afterwards, Jerusalem and the cities of Judah are placed beside one
another. The parallel passages clearly intimate that, by the servant of
the Lord, Isaiah only is to be understood. Throughout, the Prophet
refers exclusively to his own prophecies, as regards the impending
salvation of Israel (the prophecies of others he mentions, everywhere
else, always in reference to the past only); [Pg 207] and it cannot be
imagined that, in this single passage only, he should have designated
himself as one among the many. If we consider those parallel passages,
we must assume that the _messengers_ also are represented chiefly by
our Prophet; that he is their mouth and organ, just as, in Rev. i. 1,
and xxii. 6, the servants of God and the prophets are represented by

_Farther_--It cannot be denied that a certain amount of truth lies at
the foundation of the explanation which makes the prophetic order the
subject. The Messiah appears in our prophecy pre-eminently as the
Prophet, in harmony and connection with Deut. xviii. (comp. Vol. i., p.
107); and the substratum of the description forms chiefly the prophetic
order, while, in the prophecies of the first part, it is chiefly the
regal office which appears, and, in chap. liii., the priestly. But the
mistake (as _Umbreit_ himself partly saw) is, that this explanation
changes the person into a personification, instead of recognizing that
the idea, which hitherto was only imperfectly realised by the prophetic
order, demands a future perfect realisation in an individual, so that
we could not but expect such an one even if there did not exist any
Messianic prophecy at all. Every prophet who, in human weakness,
performed his office, was a guarantee of the future appearance of _the_
Prophet, as surely as God never does by halves what, according to His
nature, and as proved by the existence of the imperfect, He must do.
But the fact that, here, we have not before us a mere personification
of the prophetic order, nor, as little, according to the opinion of
_Umbreit_, a single individual by whom, in future, the idea of the
prophetic order was to be most perfectly realised, is evident from the
circumstance that the Servant of God does not, by any means, represent
himself as being _only_ the Prophet. The contrast between Cyrus and the
Servant of God, which _G. Müller_ advances: "Evidently, the former is a
conqueror; the latter, a meek teacher," is one-sided; for the Servant
of God appears, at the same time, as a powerful _ruler_, just as
Christ, in chap. lv. 4, is at the same time designated as a _Witness_,
and as Prince and Lawgiver of the nations. To the mere teacher not even
ver. 3 is applicable, if the parallel passages are compared, but far
less ver. 4: "The isles shall wait for _His law_." Nor does a mere
teacher come up to the embodied covenant with Israel in ver. 6, nor to
_the_ [Pg 208] _light_, _i.e._, Salvation and Saviour of the Gentiles.
By mere teaching, salvation cannot be wrought out. Ver. 7 also does not
apply to the mere _teacher_.

The collective body of the prophets, or the ideal prophet, is
altogether out of place in chap. liii.; for there the Servant of God
does not appear as a Prophet, but as a High Priest and Redeemer. This
hypothesis meets with farther difficulties by the mention of Israel in
chap. xlix. 3. _Farther_--It cannot well be conceived how the Prophet
who, according to these expositors, lived about the end of the exile,
could expect such glorious things of the prophetic order, as that
from it even a preliminary and partial realization of his hopes
should proceed. At that time the prophetic order was already dying out;
and a prophetic order among the exiled cannot well be spoken of
_Finally_--That which is here ascribed to the Servant of God--the grand
influence upon the heathen world--is not of such a character, as that
the prophets could be considered as even the precursors and companions
in the work of _the Prophet_. Neither prophecy nor history assigns to
the prophets any share in this work. This hypothesis severe the second
part from its connection with the whole remaining Old Testament,
according to which it is by Christ alone that the reception of the
Gentiles into the Kingdom of God shall be effected. And in this second
part itself, it stands likewise in contradiction to chap. lv. 3, 4.

                           * * * * * * * * * *

Ver. 1. "_Behold my Servant whom I uphold, mine elect, in whom my soul
delighteth; I have put my Spirit upon Him, He shall bring forth
right_[2] _to the Gentiles._"

Every pious man is called, in general, "servant of the Lord," comp. Job
i. 8; Ps. xix. 12, 14; but ordinarily, the designation is, in a special
sense, applied to those whom God makes use of for the execution of His
purposes, to whom He entrusts the administration of His affaire, and
whom He equips for the promotion of His glory. David, who, according to
Acts xiii. 36, had in his generation served the counsel of God, calls
himself [Pg 209] in his prayer in 2 Sam. vii., not fewer than ten
times, the servant of God, (Vol. i, p. 135, 136); and the same
designation he gives to himself in the inscriptions of Ps. xviii. and
xxxvi. The _Prophets_ are called servants of God in 2 Kings xiii. 3;
Jer. xxvi. 5. In the highest and most perfect degree, that designation
belongs to Christ, who, in the most perfect manner, carried out the
decrees of God, and to whom all former servants and instruments of the
Lord in His kingdom, pointed as types. But the designation has not
merely a reference to the subjective element of obedience, but points,
at the same time, to the _dignity_ of him who is thus designated. It is
a high honour to be received by God among the number of His servants,
who enjoy the providence and protection of their mighty and rich Lord.
That this aspect--the dignity--comes here chiefly into consideration,
in the case of Him who is the Servant of God κατ᾽ ἐζοχήν, and in whom,
therefore, this dignity must reach its highest degree, so that the
designation, _My Servant_, borders very closely upon that of _My Son_,
(comp. Matth. iii. 17, xvii. 5);--that this aspect comes here chiefly
into consideration is probable even from the circumstance that, in
those passages of the second part which treat of _Israel_ as the
servant of God, it is just this aspect which is pre-eminently regarded.
Thus it is in chap. xli. 8: "And thou Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I
have chosen, the seed of Abraham, my friend." To be the servant of God
appears here as an honour, as the privilege which was bestowed upon
Israel in preference to the Gentiles. On ver. 9: "Thou, whom I have
taken from the ends of the earth, and from her borders called thee, and
said unto thee: Thou art my servant, I have chosen thee and not cast
thee away," Luther remarks: "The name, 'my servant,' contains the
highest _consolation_, both when we look to Him who speaks, viz.. He
who has created everything, and also to him who is addressed, viz.,
afflicted and forsaken man." In chap. xliv. 1, 2: "And now hear, O
Jacob, my servant, and Israel whom I have chosen; thus saith the Lord
that made thee, and formed thee from the womb, who will help thee: Fear
not, O Jacob, my servant, and Jeshurun, whom I have chosen," all the
designations of God and Israel serve only for an introduction to the
exhortation: "Fear not," by laying open the necessity which exists for
the promise in [Pg 210] ver. 3, which, without such ca foundation,
would be baseless. The context and the parallelism with "whom I have
chosen" show that the designation, "servant of God" in these verses has
no reference to a duty imposed, but to a privilege, a relation which is
the pledge of divine aid to Israel. Jeshurun stands as a kind of _nomen
proprium_, and is not parallel to עבדי, but to Jacob. In chap. xliv.
21: "Remember this, O Jacob, and Israel, for thou art my servant, I
have formed thee for a servant to me, Israel, thou shalt not be
forgotten of me," the אלה "this" refers to the folly of idolatry
exhibited in the preceding verses. The duty that Israel should remember
this, is founded upon the fact, that he is the servant of the Lord,
called by Him to a glorious dignity, to high prerogatives, of which he
must not rob himself by apostatizing from Him. It is He who has
bestowed upon him this dignity, and He will soon show by deeds, that He
cannot forget him, if only his heart does not forget his God. In a
similar manner, in chap. xlv. 4, the protecting providence and love of
God are looked to. The aspect of the duty and of the service which
Israel has to perform to his Lord, is specially pointed out in a single
passage only, in chap. xlii. 19; all the other passages place the
dignity in the foreground. That, in the designation. Servant of God, in
the passage before us, prominence is also given to the dignity, is
confirmed by the addition of "whom I uphold," which presents itself as
an immediate consequence of the relation of a servant of God, and by
the parallel: "mine elect in whom my soul delighteth."--תמך "to take,"
"to seize," "to hold," when followed by ב, always signifies _to lay
hold of_, _to hold fast_, _to support_. With the words: "Behold my
servant whom I uphold," corresponds what the Lord says in John viii.
29: ὁ πέμψας με μετ' ἐμοῦ ἐστιν• οὐκ ἀφῆκέ με μόνον ὁ Πατὴρ, ὅτι ἐγὼ τὰ
ἀρεστὰ αὐτῷ ποιῶ πάντοτε; comp. John iii. 2; Acts x. 38. The Preterite
נתתי is employed, because the communication of the Spirit is the
condition of his bringing forth right, just as, in ver. 6, the
_calling_ is the ground of the preservation. In the whole of the
description of the Servant of God, the Future prevails throughout; the
_Praeteritum propheticum_ is employed only, where something is to be
designated, which, relatively, is antecedent; compare the words: "And
the Spirit of the Lord rests upon [Pg 211] Him," in chap. xi. 2; lxi.
1; Matt. iii. 16; John iii. 34. The three passages in Isaiah which
speak of the communication of the Spirit to Christ are inseparably
connected with one another, and, on the whole Old Testament territory,
there is no passage exactly parallel to them. The Hiphel of יצא must
not be explained by "to announce," as some interpreters do; for in this
signification it nowhere occurs; and according to what follows, and the
parallel passages, the Servant of God does not by any means establish
right by the mere announcement, but by His holy disposition. But as
little can we explain הוציא by "to lead out," in contrast to the
circumstance that, under the Old Testament, right was limited to a
single nation. For in the parallel passage, chap. li. 4: "Hearken unto
me, my people, and give ear unto me, O my congregation, for law shalt
proceed from me, and I will set my right for the light of the nations,"
יצא does not mean to go _out_, but to go _forth_, _i.e._, to proceed.
In the same way, in Hab. i. 4: "And not does right go forth for ever,"
_i.e._, it never comes forth, is never established, comp. Vol. i., p.
442, 443. Hence הוציא here can mean only "to bring to light," "to bring
forth." משפט is, by several interpreters, taken in the signification,
"religion;" but it is just ver. 4, by which they support their view,
which shows that the ordinary signification "right," must be retained
here. For in that verse, _right_ stands in parallelism with _law_, by
which right is established; comp. chap. li. 4. Before God's Kingdom
was, by the Servant of God, extended to the Gentile nations, there
existed among them, notwithstanding all the excellence of outward legal
arrangements, a condition without right in the higher sense. Right, in
its essence, has its root in God, as may be seen from the Ten
Commandments, which everywhere go back to God, and in all of which
Luther, in his exposition of the ten commandments, rightly repeats: "We
shall fear and love God." Where, therefore, the living God is not
known, there can be no right. The commandment: "Thou shalt love thy
neighbour as thyself," _e.g._, has any meaning only where the eye is
open for the divine image which the neighbour bears, and for the
redemption of which he is a fellow-partaker. The commandment: "Honour
thy father and thy mother" will go to the heart only where the divine
paternity is known, of which all earthly paternity is only an image.
[Pg 212] In Deut. iv. 5-8, Israel's happiness is praised, in that they
alone, among all the nations, are in possession of God's laws and
commandments. Those privileges of Israel are, by the Servant of God, to
be extended to the Gentiles who, because they are destitute of right,
are, in Deut. xxxii. 21, called a foolish nation. In Ps. cxlvii. 19,
20, it is said: "He showeth His word unto Jacob, His statutes and laws
unto Israel. He has not dealt so with any nation, and law they do not
know." This passage touches very closely upon that before us; like it,
it denies right to the Gentiles in general. "The Gentiles, being
without God in the world, do not know any right at all. For that which
they call so, is only the shadow of that which really deserves this
name, is only a dark mixture of right and wrong." As regards the first
table of the Ten Commandments, they grope entirely in the dark; and
with respect to the second table, it is only here and there that they
see a faint glimpse of light.--A consequence of the bringing forth of
right to the Gentiles is the ceasing of war, as it is described in
chap. ii. 4. When right has obtained dominion, it cannot tolerate war
beside it; where there is true right, there is also peace. The benefit
which, in the first instance, is conferred upon the Gentiles, is
enjoyed by Israel also: The intention of comforting and encouraging
Israel clearly appears in the parallel passage, chap. li. 4. For the
right which obtains dominion among the Gentiles, is Israel's pride and
ornament, so that, along with their God and His right, they obtain also
the dominion over the Gentile world, by which they were hitherto kept
in bondage; and whensoever and wheresoever the divine right obtains
dominion, the violent oppression must cease, under which the people of
God had been groaning up to that time. The Servant of God, however, who
brings forth right to the Gentiles, forms the contrast to the worldly
conqueror, of whom it was said in chap. xli. 25: "He cometh upon
princes as mortar, and, just as the potter treadeth the clay."--The
words: "He shall bring forth right," purposely return again in ver. 3;
and equally intentionally, the words: "He shall found right on the
earth," in ver. 4, refer to them. "We have thus"--_Stier_ pertinently
remarks--"in ver. 1, the sum and substance, even to its aim. But it is
immediately brought more distinctly to view, what [Pg 213] will be the
spirit and character, the mode of operation, by which this aim is to be
brought about."

Ver. 2; "_He shall not cry nor lift up, nor cause His voice to be heard
in the street._"

After ישא "he shall lift up," "His voice" must be supplied from the
context. The words must not be understood in such a manner, as if they
stood in opposition to chap. lviii. 1: "Cry with thy throat, do not
refrain, lift up thy voice like the trumpet, and show my people their
transgression, and to the house of Jacob their sins." The Prophet, in
that passage, encourages himself; and he cannot mean to represent that
as objectionable, by the circumstance that, in the case of the Servant
of God, the very ideal of all the servants of God, he points out and
praises the very opposite. And, in like manner, every interpretation is
to be avoided according to which "dumb dogs which cannot bark" find a
pretext in this passage. According to Prov. i. 20: "Wisdom crieth aloud
without, she uttereth her voice in the streets." Just as the
prohibition of swearing in Matt. v. 34 is qualified by the opposition
to Pharisaic levity in cursing and swearing, so here, also, the
antithesis to the loud manner of the worldly conqueror must be kept in
view,--the contrast to his violence which stakes every thing upon
carrying his own will, which cries and rages when it meets with
opposition and resistance, (Matt. renders יצעק by ἐρίσει, "He shall
contend"), to the earnestly sought publicity, to the intention of
causing sensation, as it proceeds from vanity or pride. The κραυγάσει,
by which Matthew renders the ישא, has nothing in common with the ἔκραξε
which, in John vii. 28, 37, is said of Christ. With the passionate
restlessness, with which the conqueror from the East seeks to carry
through his human plans, and to place himself in the centre of
the world's history, is here contrasted the inward composure and
deportment of the Servant of God, His equanimity, His freedom from
excitement,--all of which are based upon the clear consciousness of His
dignity and mission, upon the conviction of the power of the truth
which is of God, of the power of the Spirit which opens up the minds
and hearts for it, and which has its source in the declaration: "I put
my Spirit upon Him," by which the great wall of separation between Him
and the conqueror from the East is set up. It is just [Pg 214] because
of His not being beat upon carrying through any thing, because of His
great confidence, that the Servant of God _gains_ everything, and
obtains His object of bringing right to the nations.--Matt., in chap.
xii. 15-21, finds the confirmation of the character here assigned to
Christ in two circumstances:--_first_, in His not entering into a
violent dispute with the Pharisees opposing Him (οἱ δὲ φαρισαῖοι
συμβούλιον ἔλαβον κατ' αὐτοῦ ἐξελθόντες, ὅπως αὐτὸν ἀπολέσωσιν), in His
not exciting against them the masses who were devoted to Him, but in
withdrawing from them (ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς γνοὺς ἀνεχώρησεν ἐκεῖθεν, ver. 15),
being convinced that the cause was not His but God's, and that there
was no reason for getting angry with those who were contending against
God; just as David said of Shimei: "Let him curse, because the Lord has
said unto him, Curse David."--_Secondly_, in the circumstance that
instead of availing himself of the excitement of the aroused masses, He
charged them that they should not make known His miraculous deeds (καὶ
ἐπετίμησεν αὐτοῖς ἵνα μὴ φανερὸν αὐτὸν ποιήσωσιν, ver. 16), being
convinced that He did not need to seek to draw attention to himself,
but that, by the secret and hidden power of God, His work would be

Ver. 3. "_The bent reed shall He not break, and the dimly burning wick
shall He not quench; in truth shall He bring forth right._"

Here, too, the antithesis to the worldly conqueror who, without mercy,
"Cometh upon princes as mortar, and as a potter treadeth the clay"
(chap. xli. 25), whose mind is bent only upon destroying and cutting
off nations not a few (chap. x. 7), who does not give rest until he has
fully cast down to the ground the broken power. The Servant of God, far
from breaking the bent reed, shall, on the contrary--this is the
positive opposed to the negative--care for, and assist the wretched
with tender love. Just thereby does He accomplish the object of His
efforts. The confirmation of the character here assigned to Christ is,
by Matthew, found in His healing the sick (καὶ ἐθεράπευσεν αὐτοὺς
πάντας, ver. 15), as prefiguring all that which He, who has declared
the object of His coming to be to seek all that which was lost, did and
accomplished, in general, for the misery of the human race. There
cannot be any doubt that the bent reed and the dimly burning wick are
figurative designations [Pg 215] of those who, beaten down by
sufferings, feel themselves to be poor and miserable. These the weary
and heavy laden, the Servant of God will not drive to despair by
severity, but comfort and refresh by tender love. His conduct towards
them is that of a Saviour. As a bent reed, קנה רצוץ, Pharaoh appears on
account of his broken power, in chap. xxxvi. 6, and in chap. lviii. 6,
the רצוצים are the oppressed. The fact, that the _wick_ dimly burning
and near to being extinguished is an image of exhausted strength, is
shown by chap. xliii. 17, where, in reference to the Egyptians carried
away by the judgment, it is said: "They are extinct, they are quenched
like a wick." In the parallel passages which treat of the Servant of
God, the _weary_ in chap. l. 4, and the _broken-hearted_ in chap. lxi.
1, correspond to it. Elsewhere, too, the wretched appear as objects of
the loving providence of the Saviour. Thus, in chap. xi. 4: "And He
judges in righteousness the low;" in Ps. lxxii. 4: "He shall judge the
poor of the people; He shall save the children of the needy, and shall
break in pieces the oppressor;" and in vers. 12-14: "For He delivereth
the needy when he crieth, and the miserable, and him that hath no
deliverer. From oppression and violence He delivereth their soul, and
precious is their blood in His sight." Just as, in the passage before
us, the bringing forth of right appears as a consequence of the loving
providence for the bent reed, and the dimly burning wick, so in that
Psalm, the great fact: "And all the kings worship Him, and all the
nations serve Him," is traced back to the tender love with which He
cares for and helps the poor and needy. In the Sermon on the Mount, the
beatitude of the πτωχοί, Matt. v. 3, of the πενθοῦντες, ver. 4, and in
Matt. xi. 28, the invitation of the κοπιῶντες καὶ πεφορτισμένοι,
exactly correspond. The wicked and ungodly, upon whom the judgments of
God have been inflicted, are not included, because they are not
wretched in the full sense; for they harden themselves against the
suffering, or seek to divert themselves in it; they do not take it
fully to heart. The τῷ πνεύματι, "in their consciousness," which in
Matthew is added to the simple πτωχοί, which alone we find in Luke,
must be understood as a matter of course. He only is poor in the full
sense, who feels and takes to heart his poverty. According to an
interpretation widely spread, repenting sinners are designated [Pg 216]
by the bent reed, and dimly burning wick. Thus Luther writes: "That
means that the wounded conscience, those who are terrified at the sight
of their sins, the weak in life and faith are not cast away by Him, are
not oppressed and condemned, but that He cares for them, tends and
nurses them, makes them whole and embraces them with love." But
repenting sinners do not here come into consideration _per se_, but
only as one species of the wretched, inasmuch as, according to Luther's
expression, truly to feel sin is a torment beyond all torments.--The
last words: "In truth shall He bring forth right" again take up the
close of ver. 1, after the means have been stated, in the intervening
words, by which He is to bring about the result. The לאמת must not be
translated: "For truth" (LXX: εἰς ἀλήθειαν); for there is a thorough
difference between ל and אל; the former does not, like the latter,
designate the motion towards some object, but is rather, here also, a
preposition signifying "belonging to;" hence לאמת means "belonging to
truth," "in a true manner," "in truth." By every other mode of dealing,
right would be established _in appearance_ and _outwardly_ only.
Matthew renders it: ἕως ἂν ἐκβάλῃ εἰς νῖκος τὴν κρίσιν, "until He has
led right to victory." By the addition of ἕως he intimates, that the
last words state the result which is brought about by the conduct of
the Servant of God described in the preceding words. Εἰς νῖκος is
a free translation of לאמת; κρίσις is "right," as in chap. xxiii.
23.--How objectionable and untenable all the non-Messianic explanations
are, appears very clearly in this verse. If Israel were the Servant of
God, then the _Gentile world_ must be represented by the bent reed and
dimly burning wick. But in that case, we must have recourse to such
arbitrary interpretations as, _e.g._, that given by _Köster_: "The weak
faith and imperfect knowledge of the Gentiles." No weak faith, no
imperfect knowledge, however, is spoken of; but the Servant of God
appears as a Saviour of the poor and afflicted, of those broken by
sufferings. Those who, by the Servant of God, understand the better
portion of the people, or the prophetic order, speak of "the meek
spirit of the mode of teaching, which does not by any means altogether
crush the sinner already brought low, but, in a gentle, affectionate
manner, raises him up," (_Umbreit_); or say with _Knobel_: "These poor
and afflicted He does not [Pg 217] humble still more by hard,
depressing _words_, but _speaks_ to them in a comforting and
encouraging way, raising them up and strengthening them." But in this
explanation everything is, without reason, drawn into the territory of
speech, while Matthew rightly sees, in the healing of the sick by
Christ, a confirmation by deeds of the prophecy before us. In chap.
lxi., also, the Servant of God does not only bring glad tidings, but
_creates_, at the same time, the blessings announced. According to
chap. lxi. 3, He gives to them that mourn in Zion beauty for ashes, joy
for mourning, garment of praise for a weak (כהה) spirit. Verse 6 of the
chapter before us most clearly indicates how little we are allowed to
limit ourselves to mere speaking; for, according to that verse, the
Servant of God is himself the covenant of the people, and the light of
the Gentiles, and according to ver. 7, He opens the eyes of the blind,

Ver. 4. "_He shall not fail nor run away until He shall have founded
right in the earth, and for His law the isles shall wait._"

On: "He shall not fail," properly, "He shall not become dim," comp.
Deut. xxxiv. 7, where it is said of Moses, the servant of God: "His eye
had not become dim, nor had his strength fled." The לא ירוץ "He shall
not run away" (properly, "He shall not _run_") is qualified and fixed
by the parallelism with לא יכהה "He shall not fail." רוץ in other
passages also, several times receives, by the context, the qualified
signification "to run away," "to take to flight," "to flee;" comp.
Judges viii. 21; Jer. xlix. 19. The words: "He shall not fail nor run
away" imply that, in the carrying out of His vocation, the Servant of
God shall meet with powerful _obstacles_, with obstinate _enemies_, and
shall have to endure severe sufferings. That which is here merely
hinted at, is carried out and detailed in chap. xlix., l., liii. How
near He was to failing and running away (David, too, was obliged to
say: "Oh! that I had wings like a dove, then would I fly away and
be at rest") is seen from His utterance in Matt. xvii. 17: ὦ γενεὰ
ἄπιστος καὶ διεστραμμένη, ἕως πότε ἔσομαι μεθ' ὑμῶν; ἕως πότε ἀνέξομαι
ὑμῶν.--According to the current opinion, ירוץ is here assumed to be the
Future of רצץ, for יָרֹץ, and that in the appropriate signification: "He
shall not be broken." (Thus it was probably [Pg 218] viewed by the
Chaldean Paraphrast who renders לא ילאי _non laborabit_; by the LXX.,
who translate οὐ θραυθσησεται, while _Aquila_ and _Symmachus_,
according to the account of _Jerome_, render, _non curret_, thus
following the derivation from רוץ). As יכהה points back to כהה in the
preceding verse, so, in that case ירוץ would point back to רצוץ "He
shall not break that which is bent, nor quench that which is dimly
burning; but neither shall He himself be broken or quenched." But this
explanation is opposed by the circumstance, that we must make up our
minds to admit a double anomaly. The territories of the two verbs רצץ
and רוץ are everywhere else kept distinct, and the former everywhere
else means "to break," and not "to be broken." In the only passage,
Eccl. xii. 6, brought forward in support of this irregularity, רוץ "to
run," "to flee away," being in parallelism with נרחק "to be removed,"
is quite appropriate; just as in the second clause of that verse רוץ
"to be crushed," is in parallelism with נשבר "to be broken."--איים
are, in the _usus loquendi_ of Isaiah, not so much the real islands, as
rather the islands in the sea of the world, the countries and kingdoms;
compare remarks on Rev. vi. 14, and Ps. xcvii. 1 (second Edition). The
_law_ for which the islands wait is not so much a ready-made code of
laws, as the single decisions of the living Lawgiver, which the
Gentiles, with anxious desire, shall receive as their rule in all
circumstances, after they have spontaneously submitted to the dominion
of the Servant of God, having been attracted by His loving
dispensations. Several unphilologically translate: "for His
_doctrine_," which does not even give a good sense, for it is not the
doctrine which is waited for; its value is known only after it has been
preached. The Servant of God appears here as the spiritual Ruler of the
nations; and this He becomes by being, in the fullest sense, the
Servant of God, so that His will is not different from the will of God,
nor תורה from that of God, just as, in a lower territory, even Asaph
speaks the bold word: "Hear, my people, my law." "The singer comes
forth as one who has full authority, the 'Seer' and 'Prophet' utter
_laws_ which leave no alternative between Salvation and destruction."
Parallel is chap. ii. 3, 4, where the nations go up to Zion, in order
there to seek laws for the regulation of their practical conduct, and
according to which the Lord _judges_ among the nations, and the law
goes forth [Pg 219] out of Zion, and the word of the Lord from
Jerusalem. The difference is this only,--that, in that passage, the
matter is traced back immediately to God, while here, the Servant of
God is mentioned as the Mediator between Him and the Gentiles. But we
must keep in mind that, for chap. ii. also, the parallel passages in
chap. iv., ix., xi., furnish the supplement. We must, farther, compare
also chap. li. 5: "My righteousness is near, my salvation goes forth,
_mine arms shall judge the nations_, the isles shall wait for me, and
on mine arm shall they hope." The _judging_ in that passage does not
mean divine punitive judgments; but it is rather thereby intimated that
all the nations shall recognise the Lord as their King, to whose
government they willingly submit, and with whom they seek the decision
of their disputes. Matthew purposely changes it into: "And in _His
name_ shall the Gentiles trust." The desire for the commands of the
Lord is an effect of the love of His _name_, _i.e._, of Him who is
glorified by His deeds. For the name is the product of deeds,--here
especially of those designated in ver. 2 and 3. The commands are
desired and longed for, only because the person is beloved on account
of His deeds. Matthew has only distinctly brought out that which, in
the original text, is intimated by the connection with the preceding
verses. In consequence of this, His quiet, just, and merciful
dispensation, the isles shall wait for His law.

In ver. 5-7 the Lord addresses His Servant, and promises Him that, by
His omnipotence, the great work for which He has called Him, shall be
carried out and accomplished, viz., that the covenant relation to
Israel shall be fully realized, and the darkness of the Gentile world
shall be changed into light.

Ver. 5. "_Thus saith God the Lord, who createth the heavens and
stretcheth them out; who spreadeth forth the earth and that which
cometh out of it; who giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit
to them that walk thereon._"

The Prophet directs attention to the omnipotence of God, in order to
give a firm support to faith in the promise which exceeds all human
conception. It is by this that the accumulation of the predicates is to
be accounted for. He who fully realizes what a great thing it is to
bring an apostate world back to God, to that God who has become a
stranger to it, [Pg 220] will surely not explain this accumulation by a
"disposition, on the part of the Prophet, to diffuseness."

Ver. 6. "_I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and I will
seize thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for the covenant of
the people and, for the Light of the Gentiles._"

It is so obvious that בצדק must be translated by "in righteousness,"
that the explanations which disagree with it do not deserve to be
even mentioned. The mission of the Servant of God has its root in the
divine _righteousness_, which gives to every one his due,--to the
covenant-people, salvation. Even apart from the promise, the appearance
of Christ rests on the righteousness of God. For it is in opposition to
the nature and character of a people of God to be, for any length of
time, in misery, and shut up to one corner of the earth. That which is
to be accomplished for Israel by the Servant of God, forms, in the
sequel, the first subject of discourse. But even that which He affords
to the _Gentiles_ is, at the same time, given to Israel, inasmuch as it
is one of their prerogatives that salvation for the Gentiles should go
forth from them. As, here, the mission of the Servant of God, so, in
chap. xlv. 13, the appearance of the lower deliverer appears as the
work of divine righteousness: "I have raised him up in righteousness,
and all his ways I will make straight." Similarly also in chap. xli. 2:
"Who raised up from the East him whom righteousness calls wherever he
goes," _i.e._, him, all whose steps are determined by God's
righteousness, who, in all his undertakings, is guided by it.--The
seizing by the hand, the keeping, &c., are the consequence of His being
called, and are equivalent to: just because I have called him,
therefore will I, &c. Luther remarks: "Namely, for this reason, that
Satan and the world, with all their might and wisdom, will _resist_ thy
work." In the words: "For the Covenant of the people, and for the Light
of the Gentiles," עם and גוים form an antithesis. The absence of the
article shows that we ought properly to translate: "For a Covenant of a
people, for a Light of Gentiles." It is thus, in the first instance,
only said that the Servant of God should be the personal covenant for a
people; but _what_ people that should be, cannot admit of a moment's
doubt. To Israel, as such, the name of the _people_ pre-eminently
belongs. Israel, in preference to all others, is called עם (compare
_Gesenius'_ [Pg 221] Thesaurus _s.v._ גוי), because it is only the
people of God that is a people in the full sense, connected by an
internal unity; the Gentiles are לא עם, _non-people_, according to
Deut. xxxii. 21, because they lack the only real tie of unity. But what
is still more decisive is the mention of the _Covenant_. The covenant
can belong to the covenant-people only, ὧν αἱ διαθῆκαι, Rom. ix.
4,--the old, no less than the new one. The covenant with Abraham is an
everlasting covenant of absolute exclusiveness, Gen. xvii. 7. The
Servant of God is called the personal and embodied Covenant, because in
His appearance the covenant made with Israel is to find its full truth;
and every thing implied in the very idea of a covenant, all the
promises flowing from this idea, are to be in Him, Yea and Amen. The
Servant of God is here called the Covenant of Israel, just in the same
manner as in Mic. v. 4 (comp. Ephes. ii. 14), it is said of Him: "This
(man) is Peace," because in Him, peace, as it were, represents itself
personally;--just as in chap. xlix. 6, He is called the _Salvation_ of
God, because this salvation becomes personal in Him, the Saviour,--just
as in Gen. xvii. 10, 13, circumcision is called a covenant, as being
the embodied covenant,--just as in Luke xxii. 20, the cup, the blood of
Christ, is called the New Covenant, because in it it has its root. The
explanation: Mediator of the covenant, διαθήκης ἔγγυος, is meagre, and
weakens the meaning. The circumstance that the Servant of God is,
without farther qualification, called the Covenant of the people, shows
that He stands in a different relation to the covenant from that of
Moses, to whom the name of the _Mediator_ of the covenant does not the
less belong than to Him. From Jer. xxxi. 31, we learn which are the
blessings and gifts which the Servant of God is to bestow, and by which
He represents himself as the personal Covenant. They are concentrated
in the closest connection to be established by Him between God and His
people: "I will be their God, and they shall be my people." It is only
in the New Covenant, described in that passage of Jeremiah, that the
Old Covenant attains to its truth. The second destination of the
Servant of God, which, according to the context, here comes into
special consideration, is, to be _the Light of the Gentiles_. By the
realization of this destination, an important feature in [Pg 222] the
former was, at the same time, realized. For it formed part of the
promises of the covenant with Israel that, from the midst of them,
salvation for all the families of the earth should go forth, as our
Saviour says: ἡ σωτηρία ἐκ τῶν Ἰουδαίων ἐστίν Light is here, according
to the common _usus loquendi_ of Scripture, a figurative designation of
_salvation_. In the parallel passage, chap. xlix. 6, light is at once
explained by salvation. The designation proceeds upon the supposition
that the Gentiles, not less than Israel, (comp. chap. ix. 1 [2]) shall,
until the appearance of the Servant of God, sit in darkness and in the
shadow of death,--that they are in misery, although, in some instances,
it may be a _brilliant_ misery. The following verse farther carries
out and declares what is implied in the promise: "Light of the
Gentiles." Parallel is chap. lx. 3: "And the heathen walk in thy
(Zion's) light"--they become partakers of the salvation which shines
for Zion--"and kings in the brightness which riseth to thee."--The
supporters of that opinion, which understands Israel by the Servant of
God, are in no small difficulty regarding this verse, and cannot even
agree as to the means of escape from that difficulty. Several assume
that עם is used collectively, and refer it to the Gentile nations. But
opposed to this explanation is the evident antithesis of עם and גוים;
and it is entirely overthrown by the parallel passage in chap. xlix.
Scripture knows nothing of a covenant with the Gentiles. According to
the view of the Old, as well as of the New Testament, the Gentiles are
received into the communion of the covenant with Israel. Others
(_Hitzig_, _Ewald_) explain: "covenant-people, _i.e._, a mediatorial,
connecting people, a bond of union between God and the nations." But
the passage, chap. xlix. 8, is most decidedly opposed to this.
_Farther_--The parallelism with אור גוים shows that ברית עם is the
_status constructus_. But _fœdus alicujus_, is, according to the remark
of _Gesenius_, _fœdus cum aliquo sancitum_. Thus in Lev. xxvi. 45, the
covenant of the ancestors is the covenant entered into with the
ancestors; Deut. iv. 31; Lev. xxvi. 42 (the covenant of Jacob, the
covenant of Isaac, &c.) According to _Knobel_: "the true theocrats are
to become a covenant of the people, the restorers of the Israelitish
Theocracy, they themselves having connection and unity by faithfully
holding fast by Jehovah, and by representing His cause." This
explanation, [Pg 223] also, is opposed to the _usus loquendi_,
according to which "covenant of the people" can have the sense only of
"covenant with the people," not a covenant among the people. And,
_farther_, the parallel passage in chap. xlix. 8 is opposed to this
interpretation also, inasmuch as, in that passage, the Servant of the
Lord is called ברית עם, not on account of what He is in himself, but on
account of the influence which He exercises upon others, upon the whole
of the people: "That thou mayest raise up the land, distribute desolate
heritages, that thou mayest say to the prisoners: Go forth," &c. In
that passage the land, the desolate heritages, the prisoners, &c.,
evidently correspond to the people. _Finally_--A covenant is a relation
between two parties standing opposite one another. "The word is used,"
says _Gesenius_, "of a covenant formed between nations, between private
persons, _e.g._, David and Jonathan, between Jehovah and the people of
Israel." But here no parties are mentioned to be united by the

Ver. 7. "_That thou mayest open blind eyes, bring out them that are
bound from the prison, and from the house of confinement them that sit
in darkness._"

On account of the connection with the "for the Light of the Gentiles,"
which would stand too much isolated, if, in the words immediately
following, Israel alone were again the subject of discourse, the
activity of God here mentioned refers, in the first instance, to the
_Gentiles_; and the words: "them that sit in darkness," moreover,
evidently point back to "for the Light of the Gentiles." But from chap.
xlix. 9, and also from ver. 16 of the chapter before us, where the
blindness of Israel is mentioned, it appears that Israel too must not
be excluded. Hence, we shall say: It is here more particularly
described how the Servant of God _proves_ himself as the Covenant of
the people and the Light of the Gentiles, how He puts an end to the
misery under which both equally groan. It will be better to understand
_blindness_, in connection with imprisonment, sitting in darkness, as a
designation of the need of salvation, than as a designation of
spiritual blindness, of the want of the light of knowledge. That is
also suggested by the preceding: "for the Light of the Gentiles,"
which, according to the common _usus loquendi_, and according to chap.
ix. 1 (2) is not to be referred to the spiritual illumination
especially, [Pg 224] but to the bestowal of salvation. To this view we
are likewise led by a comparison of ver. 16: "And I will lead the blind
by a way that they knew not, I will lead them in paths that they have
not known, I will change the darkness before them into light, the
crooked things into straightness." The _blind_ in this verse are those
who do not know what to do, and how to help themselves, those who
cannot find the way of salvation, the miserable; they are to be led by
the Lord on the ways of salvation, which are unknown to them. In a
similar sense and connection, the blind are, elsewhere also, spoken of,
comp. Remarks on Ps. cxlv. 8.--On the words: "Bring out them that are
bound from the prison," _Knobel_ remarks: "The citizens of Judah were,
to a great extent, imprisoned; the Prophet hopes for their deliverance
by the theocratic portion of the people." A strange hope! By this
coarsely literal interpretation, the connection with "for the Light of
the Gentiles" is broken up; and this is the less admissible that the
words at the close of the verse: "those that sit in darkness," so
clearly refer to it. _Imprisonment_ is a figurative designation of the
_miserable condition_, not less than, the _darkness_, which, on account
of the light contrasted with it, and on account of chap. ix. 1 (2),
cannot be understood otherwise than figuratively. Under the image of
men bound in dark prisons, the miserable and afflicted appear also in
Ps. cvii. 10-16; Job xxxvi. 8, where the words, "bound in fetters," are
explained by the parallel "holden in the cords of misery." When David,
in Ps. cxlii. 8, prays: "Bring my soul out of the prison," he himself
explains this in Ps. cxliii. 11 by the parallel: "Thou wilt bring my
soul out of _trouble_;" comp. also Ps. xxv. 17: "O bring thou me out of
my _distresses_." If we here understand the prison literally, we might,
with the same propriety in other passages, also, _e.g._, in Ps. lxvi.
11, understand _literally_ the net, the snare, the trap.

Ver. 8: "_I the Lord, that is my name, and my honour I will not give to
another, nor my glory to idols._ Ver. 9. _The former_ (things),
_behold, they came to pass, and new_ (things) _do I declare; before
they spring forth, I cause you to hear._"

We have here the solemn close and exhortation. At the close of chap.
xli. it had been pointed out, how the prediction of the _Conqueror from
the East_ serves for the glory of Jehovah, [Pg 225] who thereby proves
himself to be the only true God. Here the zeal of God for His glory is
indicated as the reason which has brought forth the prediction of the
_Servant of God_ and His glorious work,--a prediction which cannot be
accounted for from natural causes. It is thus the object of the
prophecy which is here, in the first instance, stated. It is intended
to manifest the true God as such, as a God who is zealously bent on His
glory. But the same attribute of God which called forth the prophecy,
calls forth also the events prophesied, viz., the appearance of the
Servant of God, and the victory over the idols accomplished thereby,
the bringing forth of the law of God over the whole earth through Him,
and the full realization of the covenant with Israel. The thought is
this:--that a God who does not manifest and prove himself as such, who
is contented with the honour granted to Him without His interference,
cannot be a God; that the true God must of necessity be filled with the
desire of absolute, exclusive dominion, and cannot but manifest and
prove this desire. From this thought, the prophecy and that which it
promises flow with a like necessity.--According to _Stier_, ראשנות,
"the former (things)" means "the redemption of the exiled by Cyrus,"
which in chaps. xli. xlviii. forms the historico-typical foreground,
whose coming is here anticipated by the Prophet. But the parallel
passages, chaps. xli. 22, xliii. 9, xlviii. 3, are conclusive against
this view; for, according to these passages, it is only the former
already fulfilled predictions of the Prophet and his colleagues, from
the beginnings of the people, which can be designated by "the former
(things)." By "the new (things)" therefore, is to be understood the
aggregate of the events which are predicted in the second part, to
which belongs the prophecy of the Servant of God which immediately
precedes, and which the Prophet has here as pre-eminently in view
(_Michaelis_: _et nova, imprimis de Messia_), as, in the parallel
passage chap. xli. 22, the announcement of the conqueror from the East.
Both of these verses seem to round off our prophecy, by indicating that
such disclosures regarding the Future are not by any means intended to
serve for the gratification of idle curiosity, but to advance the same
object to which the events prophesied are also subservient, viz., the
promotion of God's glory. The [Pg 226] modern view of Prophetism is
irreconcileable with the verses under consideration, which evidently
shew, that the prophets themselves were filled with a different
consciousness of their mission and position And in like manner it
follows from them, that there is no reason to put, by means of a forced
interpretation, the prophecy within the horizon of the Prophet's time,
seeing that the Prophet himself shows himself to be thoroughly
penetrated by its altogether supernatural character.

[Footnote 1: This embarrassment becomes still more obvious in the
explanation of _Vatke_, who understands by the Servant of God, "the
harmless ideal abstract of the people;" and that of _Beck_, who
understands thereby "the notion of the people."]

[Footnote 2: The Hebrew word is משפט, which means "judgment," "right,"
"law." Dr. _Hengstenberg_ has translated it by _Recht_, which is, as
nearly as possible, expressed by the English word "right," (_jus_,) as
including "law" and "statutes."--_Tr._]

                           CHAPTER XLIX. 1-9.

The Servant of God, with whose person the Prophet had. by way of
preparation, already made us acquainted in the first book of the second
part, in chap. xlii., is here, at the beginning of the second book, at
once introduced as speaking, surprising, as it were, the readers. In
ver. 1-3, we have the destination and high calling which the Lord
assigned to His Servant; in ver. 4, the contrast and contradiction of
the result of this mission; the covenant-people, to whom it is, in the
first instance, directed, reward with ingratitude His faithful work. In
ver. 5 and 6, we are told what God does in order to maintain the
dignity of His Servant; as a compensation for obstinate, rebellious
Israel, He gives Him the _Gentiles_ for an inheritance. From ver. 7 the
Prophet takes the word. In ver. 7 the original contempt which,
according to the preceding verses, the Servant of God meets with,
especially in _Israel_, is contrasted with the respectful worship of
nations and kings which is to follow after it. Ver. 8 and 9 describe
how the Servant of God proves himself to be the embodied covenant of
the people, and form the transition to a general description of the
enjoyment of salvation, which, in the Messianic times, shall be
bestowed upon the Congregation of the Lord. This description goes on to
chap. l. 3, and then, in chap. l. 4 ff., the person of the Servant of
the Lord is anew brought before us.

The Messianic explanation of our passage is already met with in the New
Testament. It is with reference to it that [Pg 227] Simeon, in Luke ii.
30, 31, designates the Saviour as the σωτήριον of God, which He had
prepared before the face of all people (comp. ver. 6 of our passage:
"That thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth"), as the
φῶς εἰς ἀποκάλυψιν ἐθνῶν καὶ δόξαν λαοῦ σου Ἰσραήλ; comp. again ver. 6,
according to which the Servant of God is to be at the same time, the
light of the Gentiles, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore
the preserved of Israel. Ver. 1: "The Lord hath called me from the
womb, from the bowels of my mother hath He made mention of my name," is
alluded to in Luke ii. 21: Καὶ ἐκλήθη τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦς, τὸ κληθὲν
ὑπὸ τοῦ ἀγγέλου πρὸ τοῦ συλληφθῆναι αὐτὸν ἐν τῇ κοιλίᾳ (comp. i. 31:
συλλήψῃ ἐν γαστρὶ καὶ τέξῃ υἱόν καὶ καλέσεις τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦν) as
is sufficiently evident from ἐν τῇ κοιλίᾳ _sc. matris_, which exactly
answers to the מבטן in the passage before us. In Acts xiii. 46, 47,
Paul and Barnabas prove, from the passage under review, the destination
of Christ to be the Saviour of the Gentiles, and their right to offer
to them the salvation despised and rejected by the Jews: ἰδοὺ
στρεφόμεθα εἰς τὰ ἔθνη· οὕτω γὰρ ἐντέταλται ἡμῖν ὁ Κύριος• τέθεικά σε
εἰς φῶς ἐθνῶν τοῦ εἶναί σε εἰς σωτηρίαν ἕως ἐσχάτου τῆς γῆς In the
destination which, in Isaiah, the Lord assigns to Christ, Paul and
Barnabas recognize an indirect command for his disciples, a rule for
their conduct. In 2 Cor. vi. 1, 2, ver. 8 is quoted, and referred to
the Messianic time.

It is obvious that the Jews could not be favourable to the Messianic
interpretation; but the Christian Church has held fast by it for nearly
1800 years. Even such interpreters as _Theodoret_ and _Clericus_, who
are everywhere rather disposed to explain away real Messianic
references, than to find the Messiah where He is not presented,
consider the Messianic interpretation to be, in this place, beyond all
doubt. The former says: "This was said with a view to the Lord Christ,
who is the seed of Abraham, through whom the nations received the
promise." And when, in our century, men returned to the faith, the
Messianic interpretation also returned. If the Church has Christ at
all, it is impossible that she should fail to find Him here.

_Gesenius_, and those who have followed him, appeal to the
circumstance, that the Messiah could not well be introduced as
speaking, and, least of all, in such a manner, without any introduction
[Pg 228] and preparation. But it is difficult to see how this argument
can be advanced by those who themselves assume that a mere
personification, the collective body of the prophets, or, as _Beck_
expresses it, the Prophet κατ' ἐξοχήν as a general substantial
individual, or even the people, can be introduced as speaking. The
introduction of persons is a necessary result of the dramatic character
of prophetic Speech, comp., _e.g._, chap. xiv., where now the king of
Babylon, then the inhabitants of the Sheol, and again Jehovah, are
introduced as speaking. The person who is here introduced as speaking
is already known from chap. xlii., where _he is spoken of_. The
prophecy before us stands to that prophecy in the very same relation as
does Ps. ii. 7-9, where the Anointed One suddenly appears as speaking,
to the preceding verses, where He was spoken of The Messiah is here so
distinctly described, as to His nature and character, that it is
impossible not to recognise Him. Who but He should be the Covenant of
the people, the Light of the Gentiles, the Saviour for all the ends of
the earth? The point which was here concerned was not, first to
introduce Him to the knowledge of the people. His image existed there
already in sharp outlines, even from and since Gen. xlix. 10, where the
Peaceful One meets us, in whom Judah attains to the full height of his
destination, and to whom the people adhere. The circumstance that it is
just here that the Messiah appears as speaking, forms the most
appropriate introduction to the second book, in which He is the
principal figure.--It is by a false literal interpretation only that
ver. 8, 9 have been advanced in opposition to the Messianic

The arbitrariness of the non-Messianic interpretation manifests
itself in this also, that its supporters can, up to this day, not
agree as to the subject of the prophecy. 1. According to several
interpreters--_Hitzig_, last of all--the Servant of God is to be
_Israel_, and the idea this, that Israel would, at some future period,
be the teacher of the Gentiles, and would spread the true religion on
earth. It is apparently only that this interpretation receives some
countenance from ver. 3, where the Servant of the Lord is called
Israel. For this name does not there stand as an ordinary _nomen
proprium_, but as an honorary name, to designate the high dignity and
destination of the Servant of God. As this name had passed over from
[Pg 229] an individual to a people, so it may again be transferred from
the people to that person in whom the people attain their destination,
in which, up to that time, they had failed But decisive against this
explanation, which makes the whole people the subject, is ver. 5,
according to which the Servant of God is destined to lead back to the
Lord, Jacob and Israel (in the ordinary sense), who then must be
different from Him; ver. 6, according to which He is to raise up the
tribes of Jacob; ver. 8, 9, according to which He is to be the Covenant
of the people, to deliver the prisoners, &c. (_Knobel_ remarks on this
verse: "Nothing is clearer than that the Servant of God is not
identical with the mass of the people, but is something different.")
Supposing even that the people, destined to be the teachers of the
Gentiles, appear here as speaking, it is difficult to see how, in ver.
4, they could say that hitherto they had laboured in vain in their
vocation, and seen no fruits, since hitherto the people had made no
attempt at all at the conversion of the Gentiles. 2. _Maurer_,
_Knobel_, and others, endeavour to explain it of _the better portion of
the people_. But conclusive against this interpretation is ver. 6,
according to which the Servant of God has the destination of restoring
the preserved of Israel, and hence must be distinct from the better
portion; ver. 8, according to which He is given for a Covenant of the
people, from which, according to ver. 4 and 6, the ungodly are
excluded; so that the idea of the people is identical with that of the
better portion. In general, the contrasting of the better portion of
the people with the whole people, Jacob and Israel, the centre and
substance of which was formed just by the ἐκλογή, can scarcely be
thought of, and is without any analogy. Nor is the mention of the
_womb_. and _bowels of the mother_, in ver. 1, reconcileable with a
merely imaginary person, and that, moreover, a person of a character so
indistinct and indefinite,--a character which has no definite and
palpable historical beginnings. The parallel passages, in which the
calling from the womb is mentioned, treat of real persons, of
individuals.--3. According to several interpreters (_Jarchi_, _Kimchi_,
_Abenezra_, _Grotius_, _Steudel_, _Umbreit_, _Hofmann_), the Servant of
the Lord is to be none other than _the Prophet himself_. No argument
has been adduced in favour of this view, except the use of the first
person, ("If here, without introduction and preparation, a discourse
begins with the first [Pg 230] person, it refers most naturally to the
Prophet, who is the author of the Book"),--an argument of very
subordinate significance, and the more so that the person of the
Prophet, everywhere else in the second part of Isaiah, steps so
entirely into the background behind the great objects with which he is
engaged. To follow thus the first appearance may, indeed, be becoming
to a eunuch from Ethiopia, but not a Christian expounder of Scripture.
The contents of the prophecy are decidedly in opposition to this
opinion. Even the circumstance that a single prophet should assume
the name of Israel, ver. 3, appears an intolerable usurpation.
_Farther_--Like all the other prophets, Isaiah was sent to the Jews,
and not to the Gentiles; but at the very outset, _the most distant
lands and all the distant nations_ are here called upon to hearken. The
Lord says to His Servant that the restoration of Israel was too little
for Him, that He should be a light and salvation for all the heathen
nations from one end of the earth to the other; kings and Princes shall
fall down before Him, adoring and worshipping. The Prophet would thus
simply have raised himself to be the Saviour. _Umbreit_ expressly
acknowledges this: "He is to be the holy pillar of clouds and fire
which leads the people back to their native land, after the time of
their punishment has expired. But a still more glorious vocation and
destination is in store for the prophets; they receive the highest, the
Messianic destination." The usurpation of which the Servant of God
would have made himself guilty, appears so much the more clearly, when
it is known, that the work of the Servant of God comprehends even all
that also, which is described in ver. 10-23, viz., the blossoming
of the Church of God, her enlargement by the Gentiles, &c. _It
is obvious that, if the interpretation which refers this prediction
to the prophets were the correct one, the authority of the Old
Testament prophecy would be gone; the authority of the Lord himself
would be endangered, inasmuch as He always recognizes, in these
prophets, organs of divine inspiration and power._ A vain attempt is
made at mitigating this usurpation, by imperceptibly substituting the
collective body of the prophets for the single prophet. This view thus
leads to, and interferes with another which we shall immediately
examine. But if we would not give up the sole argument by which this
[Pg 231] exposition is supported, viz., the use of the first person,
everything must, in the first instance, apply to and be fulfilled in
Isaiah; and the other prophets can come into consideration only as
continuators of his work and ministry. He is entitled to use the first
person in that case only, when he is a perfect manifestation of
prophetism.--4. According to _Gesenius_, the Servant of the Lord is to
be _the collective body of the prophets_, the prophetic order. In
opposition to this view, _Stier_ remarks: "We maintain that, according
to history, there did not at that time (the time of the exile, in which
_Gesenius_ places this prophecy) exist any prophetic order, or any
distinguished blossom of it; that hence it was impossible for any
reasonable man to entertain this hope, when viewed in this way, without
looking farther and higher." Ver. 1 is decisive against a mere
personification. The name of Israel, too, in ver. 3, is very little
applicable to the whole prophetic order. This is sufficiently evident
from the fact that _Gesenius_, in his Commentary, declared this word to
be spurious; and it was at a later period only, when he had become
bolder, that he endeavoured to adapt it to his self-chosen subject.
Nowhere in the Old Testament do the prophets appear like the Servant of
God here--as the Covenant of the people, ver. 8, as the Light of the
Gentiles, ver. 6.

                           * * * * * * * * * *

Ver. 1. "_Listen, O isles, unto me, and hearken ye people from far; the
Lord hath called me from the womb, from the bowels of my mother hath He
made mention of my name._"

As the stand-point which the Messiah occupies in the vision of the
Prophet, we have to conceive of the time, at which He had already
entered upon His office, and had already experienced many proofs of the
Jews' unbelief and hardness of heart,--an event of the Future, the
foresight of which was, even in a human point of view, very readily
suggested to the Prophet after the painful experience acquired during
his own long ministry; comp. chap. vi. For the fruitlessness of His
ministry among the mass of the covenant-people, ver. 4, as well as the
great contempt which the Servant of God found among them, ver. 7, are
represented as having already taken place; [Pg 232] while the
enlightenment of the Gentiles, the worship of the kings, &c., which
are to be expected by Him, are represented as being still future. In
the same manner, in chap. liii., the humiliation of the Servant of God
appears as past; the glorification, as future, the reason why the
_isles_ are addressed (comp. remarks on chap. xlii. 4) appears in ver.
6 only, at the close of the discourse of the Servant of God, for all
that precedes serves as a preparation. In that verse, the Servant of
the Lord announces that the Lord had appointed Him to be the Light of
the Gentiles; that He should be His salvation unto the ends of the
earth. It is very significant that the second book at once begins with
an address to the Gentiles, inasmuch us, thus, we are here introduced
into the sphere of a redemption which does not refer to a single
nation, like that with which the _first_ book is engaged, but to the
ends of the earth. At the close of the first book, in chap. xlviii. 20,
it was said: "Declare ye, tell this, utter it even to the end of the
earth, say ye: The Lord hath redeemed his servant Jacob." The fact that
the redemption, in the first instance peculiar to Jacob, is to be
proclaimed to all the nations of the earth, leads us to expect that
these nations, too, have their portion in the Lord; that at some future
period they are to hear a message which concerns them still _more
particularly_. This expectation is realized here, at the opening of the
second book. The fact that the Gentiles are to listen here, as those
who have a personal interest in the message, is proved by the
circumstance, that the words: "Unto the ends of the earth," in ver. 6
of the chapter before us, point back to the same words in chap. xlviii.
20.--_The Lord had called me from the womb._ It is sufficient to go
thus far back in order to repress or refute the idea of His having
himself usurped His office, and to furnish a foundation for the
expectation that God would powerfully uphold and protect His Servant in
the office which He himself had assigned to Him. Calvin remarks on
these words: "They do not indicate the commencement of the time of His
vocation, as if God had, only from the womb, called Him; but it is just
as if it were said: Before I came forth from the womb, God had decreed
that I was to undertake this office. In the same manner Paul also says
that he had been separated from his mother's womb, although he was
chosen before [Pg 233] the foundation of the world." To be called from
the womb is, in itself, nothing extraordinary; it is common to all the
servants of the Lord. Jeremiah ascribes it to himself in chap. i. 5:
"Before I formed thee in the belly, I knew thee; and before thou camest
forth out of the womb I sanctified thee;" and in harmony with this
passage in Jeremiah--not with that before us--Paul says in Gal. i. 15:
ὁ θεὸς ὁ ἀφορίσας (corresponding to: I have _sanctified_ thee) με ἐκ
κοιλίας μητρός μου. But we have here merely the _introduction to what
follows_, where the calling, to which the Servant of God had been
destined from the womb appears as quite unique.--_From the bowels of my
mother hath He made mention of my name._ The name is here not an
ordinary proper name, but _a name descriptive of the nature_,--one by
which His office and vocation are designated. This making mention was,
in the case of Christ, not a thing concealed; the prophecy before us
received its palpable confirmation and fulfilment; inasmuch as, in
reference to it, Joseph received, even before His birth, the command to
call Him Jesus, Saviour: τέξεται δὲ υἱὸν καὶ καλέσεις τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ
Ἰησοῦν· αὐτὸς γὰρ σώσει τὸν λαὸν αὐτοῦ ἀπὸ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν αὐτῶν, Matth.
i. 21, after the same command had previously come to Mary, Luke i. 31;
comp. ii. 21, where, as we have already remarked, there is a distinct
reference to the passage before us.

Ver. 2. "_And He hath made my mouth like a sharp sword, in the shadow
of His hand hath He hid me, and He hath made me a sharpened arrow, in
His quiver hath He hid me._"

According to the common interpretation, the words: "He hath made my
mouth like a sharp sword. He hath made me a sharpened arrow," are to
express only such a gift of powerful, impressive speech as is common to
all the servants of God, to all the prophets. But the two subjoined
clauses are opposed to that interpretation. The second and fourth
clauses state the reason of the first and third, and point to the
source from which that emanates which is stated in them. There cannot
be any doubt but that in the second and fourth clauses, the Servant of
God indicates that He stands under the protection of divine
omnipotence, so that the expression: "Whom I uphold," in chap. xlii. 1,
is parallel. The _shadow_ is the ordinary figure of protection. The
figure of the sword is dropped in the second clause, and hence the
objection, that a drawn sword does not require any protection, is out
of place. This will [Pg 234] appear from a comparison of chap. li. 16:
"And I put my words in thy mouth, and I cover thee with the shadow of
mine hand," where the sword is not mentioned at all, and the shadow
belongs simply to the person. The quiver which keeps the arrow is
likewise a natural image of divine protection. The two accessory
clauses do not suit, if the first and third clauses are referred to the
_rhetorical endowment_ of the Servant of God; _that does not flow from
the source of the protecting omnipotence of God_. These accessory
clauses rather suggest the idea that, by the comparison of the _mouth_
with the sharp sword, of the _whole person_ with the sharpened arrow,
there is indicated _the absolutely conquering power which, under the
protection of omnipotence, adheres to the word and person of the
Servant of God_, so that He will easily put down everything which
opposes,--equivalent to: _He has endowed me with His omnipotence, so
that my word produces destructive effects, and puts down all
opposition, just as does His word_; so that there would be a parallel
in chap. xi. 4, where the word of the Servant of God likewise appears
as being borne by omnipotence: "He smiteth the earth with the rod of
His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He slayeth the wicked." To
the same result we are led also by a comparison of chap. li. 16, where
the word of the Lord, which is put into the mouth of the Servant of
God, is so living and powerful, so borne by omnipotence, that thereby
the heavens are planted, and the foundations of the earth are laid. But
of special importance are those passages of Revelation which refer to
the verse under consideration. In chap. i. 16, the sharp two-edged
sword does not by any means represent the power of the discourse
piercing the heart for salvation; but rather the destructive power of
the word which is borne by omnipotence. It designates the almighty
punitive power of Christ directed against his enemies. "By the
circumstance, that the sword goes out of the mouth of Christ, that
destructive power is attributed to His mere word, He appears as
partaking of divine omnipotence. For it belongs to God to slay by the
words of His mouth, Hos. vi. 5." The same applies to chap. ii. 16. On
Rev. xix. 15: "And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it
He should smite the nations," we remarked: "the sharp sword is not that
of a teaching king, [Pg 235] but that of omnipotence which speaks and
it is done, and slayeth by the breath of the lips. How Christ casts
down His enemies by the word of His mouth is seen, in a prophetical
instance, John xviii. 6; Acts ix. 4, 5." With the sword, Christ appears
even where He does not mean to destroy, but to bring salvation; for,
even in those who are to be blessed, hostile powers are to be overcome.
The image, however, is here, in the fundamental passage, occasioned by
the comparison of the Servant of God with the conqueror from the East,
whose sword, according to chap. xli. 2, the Lord makes as dust, and his
bow as the driven stubble. Where the mere _word_ serves as a sword, the
effect must be much more powerful. The conquering power throwing down
every opposing power, which, in the first clause, is assigned to the
mouth, is, in the third clause ("And He hath made _me_ a sharpened
arrow"), attributed to the whole person. He, of whom it was already
said in Ps. xlv. 6: "Thine arrows are sharp, people fall under thee,
they enter into the heart of the king's enemies," is himself to be
esteemed as a sharp arrow.

Ver. 3. "_And He said unto me: Thou art my Servant, O Israel, in whom I
glorify myself._"

"My Servant" stands here as an honorary _designation_; to be the
Servant of God appears here as the highest privilege, as is evident not
only from the analogy of the parallel passages, which treat of the
Servant of God (comp. remarks on chap. xlii. 1), but also from the
parallel second clause. In it, the Servant of God is called _Israel_ as
the concentration and consummation of the covenant-people, as He in
whom it is to attain to its destination, in whom its idea is to be
realized. (It is evident from ver. 5, and from those passages in the
second part in which the people of Israel is spoken of as the Servant
of God [comp. remarks on chap. xlii.], that Israel must here be
understood as the name of the people, not as the name of the ancestor
only.) _Hävernick_ rightly remarks that the Messiah is here called
Israel, "in contrast to the people to whom this name does not properly
belong." Analogous is Matt. ii. 15, where that which, in the Old
Testament, is written of Israel, is referred to Christ. As the true
Israel, Christ himself also represents himself in John i. 52; with a
reference to that which in Gen. xxviii. 12 is written, not of Jacob as
[Pg 236] an individual, but as the representative of the whole race, it
is said there: ἀπ᾽ ἄρτι ὄψεσθε τὸν οὐρανὸν ἀνεῳγότα, καὶ τοὺς ἀγγέλους
του̂ θεου̂ ἀναβαίνοντας καὶ καταβαίνοντας ἐπὶ τὸν υἱὸν του̂ ἀνθρώπου
All those declarations of the Old Testament, in which the name of Jacob
or Israel is used to designate the _election_, to the exclusion of the
false seed, the true Israelites in whom there is no guile,--all those
passages prepare the way for, and come near to the one before us. Thus
Ps. lxiii. 1: "Truly good is God to Israel, to such as are of a clean
heart;" and then Ps. xxiv. 6: "They that seek thy face are Jacob,"
_i.e._, those only who, with zeal and energy in sanctification, seek
for the favour of God. In the passage before us, the same principle is
farther carried out. The true Israel is designated as he in whom God
glorifies, or will glorify himself, inasmuch as his glorification will
bear testimony to God's mercy and faithfulness; comp. John xii. 23:
ἐλήλυθεν ἡ ὥρα ἵνα δοξασθῇ ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου; xvii. 5: καὶ νῦν
δοξασόν με σύ πάτερ. The verb פאר means in _Piel_, "to adorn," in
_Hithp._ "to adorn one's self," "to glorify one's self." Thus it occurs
in Judg. vii. 2; Is. x. 15; lx. 21: "Work of my hands for glorifying,"
_i.e._, in which I glorify myself; lxi. 3: "Planting of the Lord for
glorifying." There is no reason for abandoning this well-supported
signification either here or in chap. xliv. 23: "The Lord hath redeemed
Israel and glorified himself in Israel." If God glorifies himself in
His Servant, He just thereby gets occasion to glory in Him as a
monument of His goodness and faithfulness. Our Saviour prays in John
xii. 28: Πάτερ δόξασόν σου τὸ ὄνομα. The Father, by glorifying the Son,
glorifies at the same time His name. Those who explain אתפאר by: _per
quem ornabor_, overlook the circumstance that, also in the phrase:
"Thou art my Servant," the main stress does not, according to the
parallel passages, lie in that which the Servant has to perform, but in
His being the protected and preserved by God.

Ver. 4. "_And I said: I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength
for emptiness and vanity; but my right is with the Lord, and my reward
with my God._"

The Servant of God, after having spoken of His sublime dignity and
mission, here prepares the transition for proclaiming His destination
to be a Saviour of the Gentiles, to whom His whole discourse is
addressed. He complains of the small [Pg 237] fruits of His ministry
among Israel; but comforts himself by the confidence placed upon the
righteousness of God, that the faithful discharge of the duty committed
to Him cannot remain without reward. The speaking on the part of the
Servant of God in this verse refers to the speaking of God in verse 3.
_Jerome_, who remarks on this point: "But when the Father told me that
which I have repeated, I answered Him: How wilt thou be glorified in
me, seeing that I have laboured in vain?" recognised this reference,
but erroneously viewed the words as being addressed to the Lord. It is
a soliloquy which we have here before us. Instead of "I said," we are
not at liberty to put: "I imagined;" the Servant of God had in reality
expended His strength for nothing and vanity. As the _scene_ of the
vain labour of the Servant of God, the _heathen world_ cannot be
thought of; inasmuch as this is, first in ver. 6, assigned to Him as an
indemnification for that which, according to the verse before us, He
had lost elsewhere. It is _Israel_ only which can be the object of the
vain labour of the Servant of God; for it was to them that, according
to ver. 5, the mission of the Servant of God in the first instance
referred: The Lord had formed Him to be His Servant, to bring back to
Him Jacob and Israel that were not gathered. Since, then, the mission
is directed to _apostate_ Israel, it can the less be strange that the
labour was in vain. To the same result we are led also by the
circumstance that, in ver. 6, the saving activity of the Servant of God
appears as limited to _the preserved_ of Israel, while the original
mission had been directed to the _whole_. And this portion to which His
activity is limited, is comparatively a _small_ portion. For that is
suggested by the circumstance that to have the preserved of Israel for
His portion is represented as a light thing--not at all corresponding
to the dignity of the Servant of God. As, in that verse, the preserved
of Israel form the contrast to the mass of the people _given up_ by the
Lord, so in the verse under consideration, the opposition which the
Servant of God finds, is represented as so great, that His ministry
was, in the main, in vain; so that accordingly the great mass of the
people must have been unsusceptible of it.--In the view that a great
portion of the people would reject the salvation offered in Christ, and
thereby become liable to judgment, the Song of Solomon [Pg 238] had
already preceded our Prophet. As regards the natural grounds of this
foresight, we remarked in the Commentary on the Song of Solomon, S.
245: "With a knowledge of human nature, and especially of the nature of
Israel, as it was peculiar to the people from the beginning, and was
firmly and deeply impressed upon them by the Mosaic laws,--after the
experience which the journey through the wilderness, the time of the
Judges, the reign of David and of Solomon also offered, it was
absolutely impossible for the enlightened to entertain the hope that,
at the appearance of the Messiah, the whole people would do homage to
Him with sincere and cordial devotion." How very much this was the
case, the very first chapter of Isaiah can prove. It is impossible that
one who has so deeply recognized the corrupted nature of his people,
should give himself up to vain patriotic fancies; to such an one, the
time of the highest manifestation of salvation must necessarily be, at
the same time, a period of the highest realization of judgment. The
same view which is given here, we meet with also in chap. liii. 1-3. In
harmony with Isaiah, Zechariah, too, prophesies, in chaps. xi., xiii.
8, that the greater portion of the Jews will not believe in Christ.
Malachi iii. 1-6, 19, 24, contrasts with the longed-for judgment upon
the heathen, the judgment which, in the Messianic time, is to be
executed upon the people itself.--On the words: "My right is with the
Lord, and my reward with my God," compare Lev. xix, 13: "The reward of
him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until the
morning." The God who watches that among men the well-earned wages of
faithful labour shall not be withheld, will surely himself not withhold
them from His Servant. The right, the well-deserved reward of His
Servant is _with Him_; it is there safely kept, in order that it may be
delivered up to Him in due time. That which the Servant of the Lord
here, in the highest sense, says of himself, holds true of His inferior
servants also. Their labour in the Lord is, in truth, never in vain.
Their right and their reward can never fail them.

Ver. 5. "_And now, saith the Lord that formed me from the womb to be a
Servant to himself, to bring Jacob again to Him, and Israel which is
not gathered, and I am honoured in the eyes of the Lord, and my God was
my strength._ Ver. [Pg 239]6. _And He saith: It is too light a thing
that thou shouldest be my Servant only to raise up the tribes of Jacob,
and to restore the preserved of Israel, and I give thee for a light to
the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my Salvation unto the ends of the

The confidence which the Servant of the Lord has placed in Him has not
been put to shame by the result, but rather has been gloriously
justified by Him. He who was, in the first instance, sent to Israel, is
appointed to be the Saviour of the Gentiles, in order to compensate Him
for the unbelief of those to whom His mission was in the first instance
directed. _And now_, _i.e._, since the matter stands thus (Gen. xlv.
8),--since Israel, to whom my mission is, in the first instance,
directed, reject me. _Saith the Lord_--That which the Lord spoke
follows in ver. 6 only, which, on account of the long interruption,
again begins with: "And He saith," equivalent to: I say. He hath
spoken. The declaration of the Lord has reference to the destination of
His Servant to be the Saviour of the Gentiles. This declaration is, in
ver. 5, based upon two reasons:--_first_, the frustration of the
original mission of the Servant of the Lord to the Jews; and
_secondly_, on the intimate relation in which He stands to the Lord,
who cannot withhold from Him the reward which He deserves for His work.
In the New Testament, also, the mission of Christ appears as being at
first directed to the Jews only. The Lord says, in Matt. xv. 24: οὐκ
ἀπεστάλην εἰ μὴ εἰς τὰ πρόβατα τὰ ἀπολωλότα οἴκου Ἰσραήλ. He says, in
Matt. x. 6, to the Apostles, after having forbidden them to go to the
heathens, and to the Samaritans, who were nothing but disguised
heathens: πορεύεσθε δὲ μᾶλλον πρὸς τὰ προβατα τὰ ἀπολωλότα οἴκου
Ἰσραήλ. Paul and Barnabas say, in Acts xiii. 46: ὑμῖν ἦν ἀναγκαῖον
πρῶτον λαληθῆναι τὸν λόγον τοῦ θεοῦ• ἐπειδὴ δε ἀπωθεῖσθε αὐτὸν καὶ οὐκ
ἀξίους κρίνετε ἑαυτοὺς τῆς αἰωνίου ζωῆς, ἰδοὺ στρεφόμεθα εἰς τὰ ἔθνη.
It is rather an idle question to ask what would have happened, if the
Jews as a nation had accepted the offered salvation. But so much is
certain that here, in the prediction, as well as in history, the
rejection of Christ, on the part of the Jews, appears to have been a
necessary condition of His entering upon His vocation as the Saviour of
the Gentiles. Those who understood the people by the Servant of the
Lord refer לשיבב to Jehovah, and consider it as a Gerund. [Pg 240]
_reducendo_, or _qui reducit ad se Jacobum_. In the same way they
explain also the Infinit. with ל in the following verse, as also in
chap. li. 16. But although the Infinit. with ל is sometimes, indeed,
used for the Gerund., yet this is neither the original nor the ordinary
use; and nowhere does it occur in such accumulation. Moreover, by this
explanation, this verse, as well as the following ones, are altogether
broken up, and the words לשובב יעקב אליו must indicate the destination
for which He was formed. And it is not possible that Jehovah's bringing
Jacob back to himself should be a display of Israel's being formed from
the womb to be the Servant, inasmuch as the bringing back would not,
like the formation, belong to the first stage of the existence of the
people.--"_And Israel, which is not gathered._" Before אשר, לא must be
supplied. According to the parallel words: "To bring Jacob again to
Him," the not gathering of Israel is to be referred to its having
wandered away from the Lord. It was appropriate that this should be
expressly mentioned, and not merely supposed, as is the case in: "To
bring Jacob again to Him." The image which lies at the foundation, is
that of a scattered flock; comp. Mic. ii. 12. Parallel is Isaiah liii.
6: "All we _like sheep_ have gone astray, we have turned every one to
his own way."--To the words under consideration the Lord alludes in
Matt. xxiii. 37: Ἰερουσαλήμ ... ποσάκις ἠθέλησα ἐπι συναγαγεῖν τὰ τέκνα
σου ὃν τρόπον ἐπισυναγει ὄρνις τὰ νοσσία ἐαὐτῆς ὑπὸ τὰς πτέρυγας καὶ
οὐκ ἠθελήσατε.; comp. also Matt. ix. 36: ἰδὼν δὲ τοὺς ὄχλους
ἐσπλαγχνίσθη περὶ αὐτῶν ὅτι ἦσαν ἐσκυλμένοι καὶ ἐρριμμένοι ὡσεὶ πρόβατα
μὴ ἔχοντα ποιμένα. On account of chap. xi. 12, it will not do to take
אסף in the signification of "to snatch away," "to carry off," as is
done by _Hitzig_. Moreover נאסף means, indeed, "to be gathered,"
but never "to be carried off" The Mazoreths would read לא for לו: "And
that Israel might be gathered to _Him_." Thus it is rendered, among the
ancient translators, by _Aquila_ and the Chaldee; while _Symmachus_,
_Theodoret_, and the Vulgate express the negation. Most of the modern
interpreters have followed the Mazoreths. But the assumption of several
of these, that לא is only a different writing for לו, is altogether
without foundation, compare the remarks on chap. ix. 2; and the reading
of the Mazoreths is just like all the _Kris_, a mere conjecture, owing
its origin, as has already been [Pg 241] remarked by _Jerome_, only to
a bad Jewish patriotism. The circumstance that, with the sole
exception, of 2 Chron. xxx. 3,--an exception which, from the character
of the language of that book, is of no importance--the verb אסף in the
signification "to gather" has the person to whom it is gathered never
joined to it by means of ל, but commonly by means of אל, is of so much
the greater importance, that ל has nothing to do with אל. When _Stier_
remarks that ver. 6, where Jacob and Israel were again beside each
other in a completely parallel clause, proves that Israel's gathering
can be spoken of positively only, he has overlooked the essential
difference of ver. 5, which refers to the position of the Servant of
God towards the whole people and ver. 6, which refers to His
destination for the _election_.--The words: "And I am honoured in the
eyes of the Lord, and my God is my strength," _i.e._, my protection and
helper, recapitulate what, in ver. 2 and 3, was said about the high
dignity of the Servant of God, of which the effect appears, in ver. 6,
in His appointment to be the Saviour of the Gentiles, after the mission
to Israel has been fruitless. In ver. 6, it is not the decree of the
salvation of the Gentiles through Christ which forms the subject (that
decree is an eternal one), but rather that this decree should be
carried out. It is for this that Israel's unbelief offers an occasion
"As the salvation of the elect among Israel (in reference to the great
mass, the Servant of God had laboured in vain, ver. 4) would be too
small a reward for thee, I assign to thee in addition to them, an
infinitely larger inheritance, viz., the whole heathen world." שוב in
_Hiphil_ frequently means "to lead back," in the ordinary sense, but
sometimes also "to lead back into the former, or _normal_ condition,"
"to restore," compare remarks on Dan. ix. 25; Ps. lxxx. 4. The
parallel, "to raise up," which is opposed to the _lying down_ (Ps. xli.
9), shows that here it stands in the sense of "to restore." The local
leading back belongs to the sphere of Koresh, to whom the first book is
dedicated; but, with that, the abnormal condition of misery and
abasement, which is so much opposed to the idea of the people of God,
is not completely and truly removed. That which the Servant of God
bestows upon the elect of Israel, viz., _raising up and restoration_,
is, in substance, the same which, according to what follows, He becomes
to the _Gentiles_, [Pg 242] viz., _light and salvation_. By becoming
light and salvation to the elect of Israel, He raises them up and leads
them back, inasmuch as this was the normal, natural condition of the
covenant-people, from which they had only fallen by their sins. It is
to that, that the election is restored by the Servant of God. By the
_tribes of Jacob_, the better part only of the people is to be
understood, to the exclusion of those souls who are cut off from their
people, because they have broken the covenant of the Lord, comp. ver.
4. This appears from the addition: "And the preserved of Israel" (the
_Kethibh_ נעירי is an adjective form with a passive signification; the
marginal reading נצורי is the Part. Pass.); just as, similarly in Ps.
lxxiii. 1, Israel is limited to the true Israel by the explanatory
clause: "Such as are of a clean heart." The verb נצר, "to watch," is,
according to _Gesenius_, especially used _de Jehova homines custodiente
et tuente._ Hence, the preserved of Israel are those whom God keeps
under His gracious protection and care, in contrast to the great mass
of the covenant-breakers whom He _gives up_. Chap. lxv. 13, 14:
"Behold my servants shall eat, but ye shall be hungry; behold my
servants shall drink, but ye shall be thirsty; behold my servants shall
rejoice, but ye shall be ashamed; behold my servants shall sing for joy
of heart, but ye shall cry for sorrow of heart, and shall howl for
vexation of spirit," likewise points to a great separation which shall
take place in the Messianic time. _Light_ (compare remarks on chap.
xlii. 6), and _salvation_ are related to one another, as the image to
the thing itself From the circumstance that the point here in question
is the reward for the Servant of God, who is to be indemnified for the
loss which He suffered by Israel (comp. ver. 4), it is obvious that we
must not explain: "that my salvation be," but: "that thou mayest be my
salvation;" for it is only when He is the salvation that such an
indemnification is spoken of Moreover, the Infinitive with ל can here
not well be understood otherwise than in the preceding clause. The
servant of God is the personal salvation of the Lord for the heathen
world; comp. chap. xlii. 6, and, in the chapter under consideration,
ver. 8, where He is called the _covenant_ of the people, because this
covenant finds in Him its truth; compare also the expression: "This man
is _peace_," in Mic. v. 4 (5). _Gesenius_ rightly remarks, that [Pg
243] there is here an allusion to the promises given to the Patriarchs,
Gen. xii. 3, &c. In Christ, the Shiloh to whom the people adhere, the
old promise of the future extension of salvation to all the Gentiles is
to be fulfilled.

Ver. 7. "_Thus saith the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel, his Holy One, to
Him that is despised by every one, to the abhorrence of the people, to
the servant of rulers: Kings shall see and rise up, princes, and
prostrate themselves because of the Lord that is faithful, the Holy One
of Israel that hath chosen thee._"

Hitherto, the Servant of the Lord has spoken: here, the Prophet speaks
of Him. He gives a short and comprehensive summary of the contents of
ver. 1-6, the rejection of the Servant of God by the people to whom His
mission was, in the first instance, directed, and His appointment to be
the Saviour of the Gentiles. The matter is traced back to the Redeemer
of Israel and their Holy One, _i.e._, the high and glorious God,
because the Servant of God is, in the first instance, sent to Israel as
διάκονος περιτομῆς ὑπὲρ ἀληθείας θεοῦ εἰς τὸ βεβαιῶσαι τὰς ἐπαγγελίας
τῶν πατέρων, Rom. xv. 8; but still more, because He himself is the
concentration of Israel (ver. 3), the κεφαλὴ τοῦ σώματος τῆς ἐκκλησίας,
Col. i. 18,--He in whose glorification the true Israel, as opposed to
the darkened refuse, attain to their right. According to the context,
the contempt, &c., must proceed chiefly _from the apostate portion of
the covenant-people_: The _princes and kings_ must, according to ver. 6
(comp. chap. lii. 15), be conceived of as heathenish ones. The verse
under consideration merely exhibits, in short outlines, the contrast
already alluded to in the preceding context. It cannot appear at all
strange that the Prophet foresees the reproach of Christ, and His
sufferings from the ungodly world. In those Psalms which refer to the
suffering righteous one, righteousness and the hostility of the wicked
world are represented as being inseparably connected with each other.
Hence it cannot be conceived of otherwise, but that the Servant of God,
who, in His person, represented the _ideal_ of righteousness, should,
in a very special manner, have been liable to this hostility. Moreover,
it can be proved that, in some Psalms which refer to the suffering
righteous one, David has, besides the individual and the whole people,
in view, at the same time, his own [Pg 244] family, and Him in whom it
was to centre; comp. my commentary on Ps. Vol. iii. p. lxxx. ff. There
seems here to be a special reference to Ps. xxii. 7, 8: "And I am a
worm and no man, a reproach of man and despised of the people. All they
that see me laugh me to scorn, open their lips, shake their heads;" and
it is the more natural to assume this reference that, in chap. lii. 14;
liii. 3, this passage also is referred to בְּזֹה is, after the example of
_Kimchi_, viewed by several interpreters as an infinitive form standing
in place of a Noun, "despising or contemning," instead of "contempt,"
and this again instead of "object of contempt." Others view it as the
_Stat. construct._ of an adjective בָּזֹה with a passive signification.
This latter view is more natural; and the reason which _Stier_ adduces
against it, viz., that of verbs לה no such forms are found, cannot be
considered as conclusive. בזה־נפש, literally the "despised one of the
_soul_" might, according to Ezek. xxxvi. 5: "Against Edom who have
taken my land into their possession with the joy of all their heart,
with the contempt of their soul," mean, "who is inwardly and deeply
despised," the soul being viewed as the seat of the affections. But we
are led to another explanation by the fundamental passage, Ps. xxii. 7,
and by the circumstance that נפש is _here_ parallel to נוי, and that
the latter corresponds to the עם in Ps. xxii. "The despised one of the
soul" must, accordingly, be he who is despised of every one. The soul
corresponding to _man_ in Ps. xxii. is, as it were, conceived of as a
great concrete body. In a similar manner, "soul" is used for all that
has a soul, in Gen. xiv. 21, where the king of Sodom says to Abraham:
"Give me the _soul_, and take the goods to thyself."--"_To the
abhorrence of the people._" תעב in _Piel_ never has another
signification than "to abhor." Such is the signification in Job ix. 31
also, where the clothes abhor Job plunged in the dirt, resist being put
on by him; likewise in Ezek. xv. 25, where Judah abhors his beauty,
disgracefully tramples under feet his glory, as if he hated it. In
favour of the signification: "To cause to abhor" (_Rödiger_: _horrorem
incutiens populo, qui abominationi est populo_), interpreters cannot
adduce even one apparent passage, except that before us. We are,
therefore, only at liberty to explain, after the example of _Kimchi_:
"to the ... people abhorring," _i.e._, to him against whom the [Pg 245]
people feel an abhorrence. גוי is used of the Jewish people in Is. i. 4
also. _Hofmann_ is of opinion that it ought to have the article, if it
were to refer to the Jewish people. But no one asserts a direct
reference to them; it designates, in itself, the mass only, in contrast
to single individuals, just as עם in Ps. xxii. The abhorrence is
felt by the masses--is popular. The fact that it is among Israel that
the Servant of God meets this general abhorrence, is not implied in the
word itself, but is suggested by the whole context. While נפש and
גוי designate the generality of this hatred, משלים points to the
highest places of it. Of heathen rulers this word occurs in chap. xiv.
5; of native rulers, in chap. lii. 5; xxviii. 14. The heathen rulers
can here come into consideration, in so far only as they are the
instruments of the native ones; comp. John xix. 10: λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ
Πιλᾶτος• ἐμοὶ οὐ λαλεῖς; οὐκ οἶδας ὅτι ἐξουσίαν ἔχω σταυρῶσαί σε καὶ
ἐξουσίαν ἔχω ἀπολῦσαί σε The _servant of rulers_ forms the contrast to
the servant of the Lord. But in the words: "Kings shall see," &c., it
is described how the original dignity finally breaks forth powerfully,
and reacts against the momentary humiliation. It was especially at the
crucifixion that Christ presented himself as "He that was despised by
every one, as the abhorrence of the people, as the servant of rulers."
The historical commentary on these words we have in Matt. xxii. 39 ff.:
οἱ δε παραπορευόμενοι ἔβλασφήμουν αὐτὸν κ.τ.λ. ὁμοίως δέ καὶ οἱ
ἀρχιερεῖς ἐμπαίζοντες μετὰ τῶν γραμματέων καὶ πρεσβυτέρων ἔλεγον•
ἄλλους ἔσωσεν κ.τ.λ. τὸ δ᾽ αὐτὸ καὶ οἱ λῃσταὶ οἱ συσταυρωθέντες αὐτῷ
ὠνείδιζον αὐτόν.--After יראו "they shall see," the object must be
supplied from ver. 6, viz., the brilliant turn which, under the Lord's
direction. His destiny shall take,--His being constituted the light and
salvation of the Gentiles. The kings who sit on their thrones rise up;
the nobles who stand around the throne prostrate themselves. The
Servant of God is the concentration of Israel, ver. 3. Hence His
glorification is, at the close, once more traced back to the _Holy One
of Israel_; and that so much the rather, because the glorification
which is bestowed upon Him is bestowed upon Him for the benefit of the
Congregation, whom He elevates along with himself out of the condition
of deep abasement; comp. vers. 8 and 9. The verse before us forms the
germ of that which, in chap. lii. 13, is carried out and expanded.

[Pg 246]

Ver. 8. "_Thus saith the Lord: In the time of favour have I heard thee,
and in the day of salvation have I helped thee; and I will preserve
thee, and give thee for the Covenant of the people, that thou mayest
raise up the land, divide desolate heritages._ Ver. 9. _That thou
mayest say to the prisoners: Go forth; to them that are in darkness:
Come to light; they shall feed in the ways, and on all bare hills shall
be their pasture._"

_The time of favour_ may be either the time when God shows His delight
in, and favour to His Servant, and, in Him, to the Church, _q. d._, of
delight in thee, mercy for thee,--in which case chap. lx. 10 would be
parallel: "In my _wrath_ I smote thee, and in my favour have I had
mercy on thee;" or, "in the time of favour," may be equivalent to: "at
the agreeable, acceptable time" (LXX., which Paul follows in 2 Cor. vi.
1, 2, καιρῷ δεκτῷ, Vulg. _tempore placito_); in contrast to a preceding
unacceptable time, in which the Lord seemed to have forsaken His
Servant, in which it appeared as if He had laboured in vain, and spent
His strength for nought and vanity. Acceptable is the time to all
parties, not only to the Servant of God, but also to those who are to
be redeemed through Him; and not less to God, to whom it is a joy to
pour out upon His Servant the rivers of His salvation. The Preterites
in ver. 8 must be viewed as prophetic Preterites. Concerning "Covenant
of the people," compare remarks on chap. xlii. 6. The idea of the
people is more closely defined and qualified by ver. 6 and 7. The souls
who have been cut off from their people, because they have broken the
covenant of the Lord, and despised His Servant, are justly passed by.
But since עם can here be understood of the better portion of the people
only, of the invisible Church in the midst of the visible, the Servant
of God cannot be the better portion of the people.--In the words: "That
thou mayest raise up the land, divide desolate heritages," the bestowal
of salvation is described under the image of the restoration of a
devastated country. In ver. 9, the misery of the Congregation of God is
described under the image of pining away in a dark prison; comp.
remarks on chap. xlii. 7. With the second half of the verse, there
begins a more general description of the glorious salvation which the
Lord will giant to His people; and the person of the Mediator [Pg 247]
steps into the back-ground, in order afterwards to come forth more
prominently. The _ways_ and _bare hills_ have come into consideration
as places which, in themselves, are completely barren, and which the
wonderful grace of God can alone cause to bud and flourish.

                            CHAPTER L. 4-11.

The Servant of God here also appears as speaking. In ver. 4, He
intimates His vocation: God has bestowed upon Him the gift of
comforting those who are weary and heavy laden. He then at once turns
to His real subject,--the sufferings which, in fulfilment of this
vocation he has to endure. The Lord has inwardly manifested to Him
that, in the exercise of His office. He shall experience severe trials;
and willingly has He borne all these sufferings, all the ignominy and
shame, ver. 5, 6. With this willingness and fortitude He is inspired by
His firm confidence in the Lord, who, he certainly knows, will help Him
and destroy His enemies, ver. 7-9. The conclusion, in ver. 10 and 11,
forms the prophetic announcement of the different fates of the two
opposing parties among the people. At the foundation of this lies the
foresight of heavy afflictions which, after the appearance of the
Servant of God, will be laid upon the covenant-people. That portion of
the people who are devoted to the Servant of God, are told to hope in
the midst of the misery, and may hope; their sorrows shall be turned
into joy. But the ungodly who, without regarding the Lord, and without
hearkening to His Servant, would help themselves, will bring
destruction upon themselves by their self-willed doings, and shall be
visited by the avenging hand of the Servant of God.

An intimation of the lowliness of Christ at His first appearance occurs
as early as in chap. xi. 1. In chap. xlii. 4, the words: "He shall not
fail nor run away," intimate that the Servant of God has to struggle
with great obstacles and difficulties in the exercise of His calling.
According to chap. xlix. 4, He will labour in vain among the great mass
of the covenant-people, [Pg 248] and spend his strength for nought and
vanity. In ver. 7, it is expressly intimated that severe sufferings
shall be inflicted upon Him by the people. That which was there alluded
to, is here _carried out and expanded_. But the suffering of the
Servant of God is here described from that aspect only which is common
to Christ with His members. It is first in chap. liii. that its
vicarious power is pointed out. The Servant of God comes here before us
in His deepest humiliation. Even in the description of His vocation in
ver. 4, the most unassuming aspect, the prophetic office only, is
brought forward. It is only quite at the close that a gentle intimation
is given of the glory concealed behind the lowliness: He there appears
as the judge of those who have rejected Him.

In the Messianic explanation of this Section, the Lord himself has gone
before His Church. We read in Luke xviii. 31, 32, παραλαβὼν δὲ τοὺς
δώδεκα εἶπε πρὸς αὐτούς• ἰδοὺ ἀναβαίνομεν εἰς Ἰεροσόλυμα καὶ
τελεσθήσεται πάντα τὰ γεγραμμένα διὰ τῶν προφητῶν τῷ υἱῷ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου•
παραδοθήσεται γὰρ τοῖς ἔθνεσι καὶ ἐμπαιχθήσεται καὶ ὑβρισθήσεται καὶ
ἐμπτυσθήσεται καὶ μαστιγώσαντες ἀποκτενοῦσιν αὐτόν. There cannot be any
doubt that the Lord here distinctly refers to ver. 6 of the prophecy
under consideration. There is, at all events, no other passage in the
whole of the Old Testament, except that before us, in which there is
any mention made of being spat upon. But in other respects, too, the
reference is visible: "I gave my back to the smiters (μαστιγώσαντες,
LXX. εἰς μαστιγας), and my cheeks to those plucking (ἐμπαιχθήσεται--the
plucking of the beard, an act of degrading wantonness), my face I hid
not from shame (ὑβρισθήσεται) and spitting." _Bengel_ draws attention
to the fact of how highly Christ, in the passage quoted, placed the
prophecy of the Old Testament: "Jesus most highly valued that which was
written. The word of God which is contained in Scripture is the rule
for all which is to happen, even for that which is to happen in eternal
life." If, in respect of the high estimation of prophecy, our age were
to follow in the steps of Jesus, it would also most readily agree with
Him as regards the subject of the prophecy before us. This alone is the
cause of the aberration from Him, that people confined and shut up the
prophet within the horizon of his time, and then imagined that he could
not know anything of the suffering of Christ. It was altogether
different in the [Pg 249] ancient Christian Church. In it, the
Messianic interpretation prevailed throughout; and _Grotius_, who in a
lower sense would refer the prophecy to Isaiah, and, in a higher sense
only, to Christ, met with general opposition, even on the part of

In favour of the Messianic explanation there is the remarkable
agreement existing between prophecy and fulfilment, comp. Matt. xxvi.
67, 68: Τότε ἐνέπτυσαν εἰς τὸ πρόσωπον άὐτοῦ καὶ ἐκολάφισαν αὐτόν, Οἱ
δὲ ἐῤῥάπισαν λέγοντες• προφήτευσον ἡμῖν, χριστέ, τίς ἐστιν ὁ παίσας σε;
xxvii. 30: καὶ ἐμπτύσαντες εἰς αὐτὸν ἔλαβον τὸν κάλαμον καὶ ἔτυπτον εἰς
τὴν κεφαλὴν αὐτοῦ,--an agreement, the significance and importance of
which are only enhanced by the circumstance that one of the most
individualizing features of the prophecy, viz., the plucking off of the
beard, is not met with in the history of Christ; for it is just thereby
that this agreement is proved to be a free and spontaneous one.
_Farther_--The exactness with which, in ver. 10 and 11, the destinies
of Israel, after the rejection of Christ, are drawn; and the
destruction which the mass of the people, who did not believe in the
Servant of God, prepared for themselves, by their attempts to help
themselves by their own strength, by enkindling the flame of war,
whilst those who fear the Lord and listen to the voice of Hs Servant,
obtain salvation. _Farther_--Ver. 11, where the Servant of God ascribes
to himself the judgment upon the unbelieving mass of the people: "From
_my_ hand is this to you," in harmony with Matt. xxvi. 64 and other
passages, where the Son of Man appears as executing judgment upon
Jerusalem. _Finally_--The parallel passages.

Most of the modern interpreters assume that the Prophet himself,
Isaiah, or Pseudo-Isaiah, is the subject of the prophecy. _Jerome_
mentions that this explanation was the prevailing one among the Jews of
his time. The explanation which refers it to the better portion of the
people, found only one defender, viz., _Paulus_. The explanation which
refers it to the _whole_ of the Jewish people, or to the collective
body of the prophets, has been entirely abandoned, although it is
maintained in reference to the parallel passages.

Since it is undeniable that this Section is related to the other
prophecies which treat of the Servant of God,--and hence an identity of
subject is necessarily required--those who, in the [Pg 250] Section
under consideration, are compelled to give up their former hypothesis,
themselves bear witness against the correctness of it, at the same
time, also against the soundness of their explanation of the passage
before us. For an explanation which compels to the severance of what is
necessarily connected, cannot be right and true. It is only then that
Exegesis has attained its object, when it has arrived at a subject in
whom all those features, which occur in the single prophecies which are
connected with each other, are found at the same time. _Knobel_, in
saying: "This small unconnected Section, is the only one in the whole
collection, in which the Prophet speaks of himself only, and represents
his suffering's and hopes," has thereby himself pronounced judgment
upon his own interpretation of this Section, and at the same time, of
the other prophecies of the Servant of God.

Moreover, the Prophet would here form rather a strange figure; he would
appear as it were, as if he had been blown in by a snow-storm.
According to _Hofmann_, he describes how he is rewarded for his
activity and zeal in his vocation. But how does this suit the contents
of the second part, which evidently is a whole, the single parts of
which must stand in a close relation to its fundamental idea! _It is
only a person of central importance that is suitable to this context._
It is only when we refer it to Christ, that the expectations are
satisfied which were called forth by the words: Comfort ye, comfort ye
my people. This call is answered only by pointing to the future Saviour
of the world.

One element of truth, indeed, there is in the explanation which makes
the Prophet the subject. It is revealed to him, indeed, that the
Servant of God shall undergo persecution, shame, and ignominy; but he
has the natural substratum for this knowledge in the experience of
himself and his colleagues, comp. Matt. xxiii. 29-37; Heb. xi. 36, 37.
The divine, wherever it enters into the world of sin, as well as the
servant of truth who upholds it in the face of prevailing falsehood,
must undergo struggles, shame, and ignominy. This truth was confirmed
in the case of the prophets as types, in the case of Christ as the
antitype. All that which the prophets had to experience in their own
cases was a prophecy by deeds of the sufferings of Christ; and we
should the less have any difficulty [Pg 251] in admitting their
knowledge of this, that it would be rather strange if they were
destitute of such knowledge.

Ver. 4. "_The Lord Jehovah hath given me a disciples tongue, that I
should know to help the weary with a word: He awakeneth morning by
morning, wakeneth mine ear, that I may hear as the disciples._"

The greater number of expositors explain a disciple's tongue by: "A
tongue such as instructed people or scholars possess,--an eloquent
tongue." But למד, everywhere else in Isaiah, means "pupil," "disciple,"
and is used especially of the disciples of the Lord, those who go to
His school, are instructed by Him; comp. chaps. viii. 16; liv. 13. A
disciple's tongue is such as the disciples of the Lord possess. Its
foundation is formed by the disciple's _ear_ mentioned at the close of
the verse. He who hears the Lord's words, speaks also the Lord's words.
The signification, "learned," is not suitable in the last clause of the
verse, and its reference to the first does not permit of our assuming a
different signification in either clause. Just as here the Servant of
God traces back to God that which He speaks, so Jesus says, in John
viii. 26: κᾀγὼ ἃ ἤκουσα παρʼ αὐτοῦ ταῦτα λαλῶ εἰς τὸν κόσμον, comp.
iii. 34: ὃν γὰρ ἀπέστειλεν ὁ θεὸς τὰ ῥήματα τοῦ θεοῦ λαλεῖ. The verb
סמך, which occurs only here, means, according to the Arabic, "to help,"
"to support;" _Aquila_: ὑποστηρίσαι, Vulg. _sustentare_. Like other
similar verbs, _e.g._, סמך, in Gen. xxvii. 37, it is construed with a
double accusative: "that I may help the weary, word," _i.e._, may
support him by comforting words. The weary or fatigued are, like the
bent reed, the faintly burning wick, in chap. xlii. 3; the blind, the
prisoners sitting in darkness, _ibid._, ver. 7; the broken-hearted,
chap. lxi. 1; them that mourn, _ibid._, ver. 2. Just as here the
Servant of God represents the suffering and afflicted ones as the main
objects of His mission, so Christ announces, that His mission is
specially directed to these, comp. _e.g._, Matt. v. 4; xi. 28. In order
to be able to fulfil this mission. He must be able to draw from the
fulness of God, who looketh to him that is poor and of a contrite
spirit, chap. lxvi. 2, and who alone understands to heal the broken in
heart, and to bind up their wounds, Ps. cxlvii. 3.--In the words: "He
wakeneth, &c." we are told in what manner the Lord gives to His Servant
the disciple's tongue. _To waken_ [Pg 252] _the ear_ is equivalent to:
to make attentive, to make ready for the reception of the divine
communications. The expression "morning by morning" indicates that the
divine wakening is going on uninterruptedly, and that the Servant of
God unreservedly surrenders himself to the influences which come from
above, in which He has become an example to us.

Ver. 5. "_The Lord Jehovah hath opened mine ear, and I was not
rebellious, and have not turned back._"

The phrases "to open or uncover the ear" have always the signification,
"to make known something to some one," "to reveal to him something."
"to inform him," both in ordinary circumstances (comp. 1 Sam. xx. 12;
Ruth iv. 4), and on the religious territory, comp. 2 Sam. vii. 27: "For
thou, Lord of Hosts, God of Israel, hast opened the ear of thy servant,
saying: I will build thee an house;" Isa. xlviii. 8: "Thou heardest
not, thou knewest not, nor was formerly thine ear opened;" chap. xlii.
20: "The ear was opened to him." According to this well established
_usus loquendi_, "The Lord hath opened mine ear," can only mean: The
Lord hath revealed to me, hath informed me inwardly; _Abenezra_: גלה
סודו לי "He has made known to me His secret." What the Lord has made
known to His Servant, we are not here expressly told; but it may be
inferred from ver. 6, where the Servant declares that which, in
consequence of the divine manifestation, He did, viz., that He should
give His back to the smiters, &c. The words: "The Lord hath opened mine
ear" here are connected with: "The Lord wakeneth mine ear, that I may
hear," in the preceding verse: The Lord has specially made known to me
that, in carrying out my vocation, I shall have to endure severe
sufferings. _To this subject the Servant of God quickly passes over,
after having, in the introduction, described, by a few features, the
vocation, in the carrying out of which these sufferings should befal
Him._ As the authors of these sufferings, we must conceive of the party
opposed to the weary, viz., the proud, secure, unbroken sinners. On "I
was not rebellious," compare what, in Deut. xxi. 20, is written of the
stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father;
and farther, the words: πλὴν οὐχ ὡς ἐγὼ θέλω ἀλλʼ ὡς σύ, Matt. xxvi.

[Pg 253]

Ver. 6. "_I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to the pluckers,
I hid not my face from shame and spitting._"

The words express in an individualizing manner the thought, that the
Servant of God, in His vocation as the Saviour of the _personae
miserabiles_, would experience the most shameful and ignominious
treatment, and would patiently bear it. In God's providence, part of
the contents was literally fulfilled upon Christ. But the fact that
this literal agreement is not the main point, but that it serves as a
hint and indication only of the far more important _substantial_
conformity which would take place, although the hatred of the world
against the Saviour of the poor and afflicted should have manifested
itself in forms altogether different,--this fact is evident from the
circumstance that regarding the fulfilment of the words: "and my cheeks
to the pluckers"--plucking the cheeks, or plucking off of the beard
being the greatest insult and disgrace in the East, comp. 2 Sam. x.
4--there is no mention in the New Testament history.

In vers. 7-9 we have the future glory, which makes it easy for the
Servant of God to bear the sufferings of the Present. If God be for
Him, who may be against Him?

Ver. 7. "_But the Lord Jehovah helpeth me, therefore I am not
confounded, therefore I make my face like a flint, and I know that I am
not put to shame._"

נכלמתי refers to כלמות in the preceding verse. He whom the Lord helps
is not confounded or put to shame by all the ignominy which the world
heaps upon him. The expression: "I make my face like a flint" denotes
the "holy hardness of perseverance" (_Stier_); comp. Ezek. iii. 8. In
that passage it is especially the assailing hardness which comes into
consideration; here, on the contrary, it is the suffering one. There is
an allusion to the passage before us, in Luke ix. 51: ἐγένετο δὲ τῷ
συμπληροῦσθαι τὰς ἡμέρας τῆς ἀναλήψεως αὐτοῦ, καὶ αὐτὸς τὸ πρόσωπον
αὐτοῦ ἐστήριξε τοῦ πορεύεσθαι εἰς Ἱερουσαλήμ.

Ver. 8. "_He is near that justifieth me; who will contend with one? Let
us stand together; who has a right upon me, let him come near me._"

In the confidence and assurance of Christ, His redeemed ones, too,
partake,--those that hear the voice of the Servant of God, ver. 10,
comp. Rom. viii. 33, 34, where this and the [Pg 254] following verse
are intentionally alluded to. The justification is one by _deeds_. It
took place and was fulfilled, in the first instance, in the
resurrection and glorification of Christ, and, then, in the destruction
of Jerusalem.--בעל משפטי literally, "the master of my right," _i.e._,
he who according to his opinion or assertion which, by the issue is
proved to be false, has a right over me, comp. the ἐν ἐμοὶ οὐκ ἔχει
οὔδέν which, in John xiv. 30, the Lord says in reference to the chief
of His enemies.

Ver. 9. "_Behold the Lord Jehovah will help me; who is he that shall
condemn me? Lo, they shall wax old as a garment, the moth shall eat

That which is said herein reference to the enemies of Christ is, in
chap. li. 8, with a reference to our passage, said of the opponents of
those who know righteousness, and in whose heart is the law: "The moth
shall eat them up like a garment." Enmity to Christ and His Church is,
to those who entertain it, a prophecy of sure destruction. The words:
"The moth shall eat them," are farther expanded in ver. 11, where it is
described how the people who ventured to _condemn_ the Servant of God,
become a prey to destruction.

The Servant of God closes with a double address; first, to the godly;
and then, to the ungodly.

Ver. 10. "_Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the
word of His Servant? When he walketh in darkness, in which there is no
light to him, let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his

From the words: "Of mine hand," in ver. 11, it appears that the Servant
of God is continuing the discourse. Hence "the voice of His Servant,"
_q.d._, the voice of me who am His Servant. By the words: "Among you,"
the address is directed to the whole of the people. In this two parties
are distinguished. The first is formed by those who fear the Lord, and
obey the voice of His Servant. Both of these things appear as
indissolubly connected. The fear of God must necessarily prove itself
in this, that He whom He has sent is obeyed. It is a mere imagination
on the part of the people to think that they can fear God without
obeying the voice of His Servant; comp. John v. 23. There is in this an
allusion to the emphatic "Unto him ye shall hearken," which, in Deut.
xviii. 15, had been said in reference to _the_ Prophet. [Pg 255] From
ver. 11 it appears that the darkness in which those walk who fear the
Lord, is not to be understood of personal individual calamity which
befals this or that godly one, nor of the sufferings which happen to
the pious godly _party_, in contrast to the ungodly wicked, but rather
that we have before us the foresight of a dark period of sufferings
which, after the appearance of the Servant of God, shall be inflicted
upon the whole people; so that both of the parties,--that devoted to
the Servant of God, and that opposed to Him,--are thereby affected, but
with a different issue. For in ver. 11, it is described how the
ungodly, who likewise walk in darkness, endeavour to light up their
darkness by a fire which they have kindled, but do so to their own
destruction. Behind the exhortation: "Let him trust in the name of the
Lord, and stay upon his God," there is concealed the promise: he _may_
trust, his darkness shall be changed into light, his sorrow into joy.
When the destruction of Jerusalem approached, the cry came to believing
Israel: "Lift up your heads, for your redemption draweth nigh," Luke
xxi. 28. In the destruction of apostate Israel, not obeying the Servant
of God, but persecuting His faithful ones, they beheld the beginning of
the victory of the true people of God over the world.

Ver. 11. "_Behold all ye that kindle a fire, that gird sparks,--walk in
the light of your fire, and in the sparks that ye have kindled. From
mine hand is this to you; ye shall lie down in pain._"

The image begun in the preceding verse is continued. The pious walk in
confidence and patience through the lightless darkness, until the Lord
kindles a light to them. Those who do not hear the Lord, who do _not_
obey the voice of His Servant, kindle a fire which is to light up their
darkness; but instead of that, they are consumed by the fire. Thus the
Servant of God, who brings this destruction upon them, obtains His
right upon them.--The _fire_ is often in Scripture the fire of war,
chap. ix. 18; Jer. li. 5; Rev. viii. 7-10. According to several
interpreters (_Hitzig_, _Ewald_, _Knobel_), it is assumed that the
discourse is here not of "self-assistance by rebellion," but "of the
attacks of the wicked upon the godly, and of the destruction, into
which these attacks turn out for their authors." But this view is
opposed by the circumstance that the darkness [Pg 256] is common to
both parties; hence, it must come from some other quarter. The fire
which the wicked kindle is destined to enlighten the darkness in which
they also are, which is especially evident from the words: "Walk in the
_light_ of your fire." They now have a light which enlightens their
darkness; but this self-created light consumes them.--To _gird_ stands
for, "to surround one's self with a girdle," "to put on a girdle." In
substance it is equivalent "to provide one's self with it."--The ἅπαξ
λεγόμενον זיקות cannot with certainty be explained from the dialects.
The connection and parallelism are in favour of the signification
"sparks," "flames," which is found as early as in the Septuagint
(φλόγα), and Vulg. (_flammas_). In Syriac זיקא has the signification
"lightning." Those who explain it by "fiery darts" are not at liberty
to refer it to the זקים in Prov. xxvi. 18. The signification "flames"
(not "sparks," as _Stier_ holds), is, in that passage, quite suitable;
simple arrows could there not be mentioned after the fiery darts
without making the discourse feeble.--לכו "walk ye," is equivalent to:
"ye shall walk," yet with an intimation of the fact that this result,
as we are immediately afterwards expressly told, proceeds from the
speaker: _sic volo, sic jubeo._ The words: "From mine hand is this to
you," are, by those who make the Prophet the subject of this
prediction, supposed to be spoken by Jehovah. But throughout the whole
section, the Lord is always only spoken of, and never appears as
speaking. The words are in harmony with the exalted dignity which,
elsewhere also, is attributed by the Prophet to the Servant of God who
plants the heavens, and lays the foundation of the earth, chap. li. 16;
whose mouth the Lord makes like a sharp sword, chap. xlix. 2; who is
the personal salvation, the Saviour for the whole earth, chap. xlix. 6;
and the embodied Covenant for the covenant-people, chaps. xlii. 6;
xlix. 8. The last passages, especially, are of no small importance. The
saving and judging activity go hand in hand, and cannot be separated.
We have here thus the Old Testament beginnings and preparation for the
doctrine of the New Testament, that the Father has given all judgment
to the Son, The Servant of God, in the highest sense, is Lord and judge
of the fellow servants.--The ל in למעצבה serves for designating the
condition: so that you belong to pain, שכב occurs in [Pg 257] chap.
xliii. 17 of the Egyptians lying down; comp. Ps. xli. 9: "He that
_lieth_ shall rise up no more." In the announcement that Israel's
attempt to help themselves would turn out to their destruction, the
Song of Solomon, in chap. iii. 1-3; v. 7, has preceded our Prophet:
"The daughter of Zion, in her restlessness, endeavours to bring about,
by worldly, rebellious doings, the Messianic salvation. It is in vain;
what she is seeking she does not find, but the heavenly watchmen find

                            CHAPTER LI. 1-16.

Ver. 1. "_And I put my words in thy mouth, and cover thee in the
shadow of mine hand, that thou mayest plant the heaven and lay the
foundation of the earth, and say unto Zion: Thou art my people._"

The discourse in chap. li. to lii. 12 is not addressed to the whole of
Israel, but to the _election_. They are, in chap. li. 1, called those
that follow after righteousness, that seek the Lord; in ver. 7, those
who know righteousness, in whose heart is the law of the Lord. These
the Prophet seeks to comfort and strengthen by pointing to the future
glorious mercies of the Lord.

The Section chap. li. 4-8 comforts the elect by the coming of the
salvation, by the dominion of the people of God over the whole world;
points to the foundation of these successes, viz., the eternity of the
salvation and righteousness for the Church; and exhorts them that,
having this eternal salvation before them, they might patiently bear
the temporal reproach of the world given over to destruction.

In vers. 9-11, the Church calls upon the Lord to do as He had promised;
and this prayer, founded upon His almighty love, which in times past
had so gloriously manifested itself, passes over, at the close, into
hope and confidence.

In vers. 12-16 follows the answer of the Lord, who exhorts the Church
to be stedfast, by reminding her that her opponents are weak mortals,
while the omnipotent God is her protector; and announces that, with the
same omnipotence which He manifests in nature, He would soon bring
about her deliverance, [Pg 258] and that Ho would do so by His Servant,
in whom all His promises should be Yea and Amen, and whom at the close
Ho addresses, committing to Him the work of redemption. According to
the current opinion, the discourse in ver. 16 is addressed to the
people. But, in that case, we must also make up our minds to view the
Infinitive with ל a Gerund, "planting," or "by planting,"--a
supposition which is beset with great difficulties. It was only by an
inconsistency that _Stier_, who, in chap. xlix. rejects this view,
could here agree to it. And, farther, it is obvious that the words at
the close: "Thou art my people," are the _words_ which, according to
the commencement of the verse, are put into the mouth of the speaker,
and that hence, the planting of heaven and earth, which prepares for
this speaking, belongs to Him. If this be not supposed, one does not at
all see to what the: "I put my words in thy mouth," is to refer. What
farther militates against this explanation is the unmistakable relation
of the passage before us to chaps. xlix., l., which it is impossible to
refer to the people. The same reason is also against the supposition of
_Gesenius_ and _Umbreit_, that the discourse is addressed to the
prophetical order. Nor is it defensible to explain: "to plant the
heaven and lay the foundation of the earth," by: to establish the new
state of Israel. To these arguments it may be added that, according to
this explanation, the words: "Thou art my people," are unsuitable; for
Israel was not the people of the Prophet, but the people of God and of
His Servant. The discourse is addressed rather to the Messiah, compare
the parallel passages, chap. xlix., especially ver. 2, and chap. l.,
especially vers. 4 and 5. Considering the dramatic character of the
whole section, the change of the person addressed is a circumstance of
very little importance; and chap. lix. 21, where the word of God is put
into the mouth of Jacob, is parallel in appearance only. Even _a
priori_ we could not expect that, in this context, treating, as it
does, of the personal Messiah, the whole section, chap. li. 1 to lii.
12, should lack all reference to the Messiah. By the words: "I put my
word in thy mouth," the Messiah is appointed to be, in the highest
sense, the speaker of God; the realization of the divine counsels is
committed to Him. For the fact that it is not mere words which are here
treated of, but such as are living [Pg 259] and powerful, like those
which God spoke at the creation, becomes evident by the circumstance
that the planting of heaven and earth is attributed to the Servant of
God as bearer of His words,--a thing which cannot be done by the
ordinary word; comp. Isa. xl. 4, according to which the Messiah smites
the earth with the rod of His mouth, and slays the wicked with the
breath of His lips.--_I cover thee in the shadow of mine hand_,
designates the divine protection and providence which are indispensable
in order that the Servant of God may fulfil His vocation to be God's
speaker. The words form an accessory thought only: I appoint thee my
speaker whom, as such, I will keep and protect in order that thou,
etc.;--for that which follows is that which the Servant of God is to
_perform_ as His Speaker. By the word of Omnipotence committed to Him,
He plants a new heaven, and lays the foundation of a new earth, and
invests Zion with the dignity of the people of God.--To plant the
heaven and lay the foundation of the earth, is equivalent to founding a
_new_ heaven, a _new_ earth; comp. chaps. lxv. 17, lxvi. 22; Rev. xxii.
For, as long as the old heaven and the old earth exist, a planting and
founding activity cannot take place in reference to heaven and earth.
All that is created, in so far as it opposes the Kingdom of God, is
unfit for being an abode of the glorified Kingdom of God, and must be
shaken and broken to pieces, in order that this Kingdom may enter into
its natural conditions, and find a worthy abode. The activity of God
and His Servant, necessary for this purpose, will most completely take
place at the end of days, at the παλιγγενεσία announced by the Lord,
Matt. xix. 28; compare what is said in chap. xi., in reference to the
entire change of the conditions of the earth. But in a preparatory
manner, this activity pervades all history. The heaven, according to
the _usus loquendi_ of Scripture, and also of Isaiah, is not only the
natural heaven, but also the heaven of princes, the whole order of
rulers and magistrates, (comp. my remarks on Rev. vi. 13), whose form
and relation to the Kingdom of God underwent a great change, even at
the first appearance of Christ.--The _saying_, according to the
preceding: That thou mayest plant, &c., is not to be referred to the
mere announcing; but, according to the frequent _usus loquendi_, it
includes the performing also, just as _e.g._, in ver. 12, the [Pg 260]
comforting is effected by a discourse _in deeds_. The distinction
between, and separation of word and deed belongs to human weakness. God
speaks and it is done; and what holds true of His word, applies also to
the word of His Servant, which he has put into His mouth.

                       CHAPTERS LII. 13-LIII. 12.

This section forms the climax of the prophecies of Isaiah, of
prophetism in general, of the whole Old Testament, as appears even from
the circumstance that the Lord and His Apostles refer to no part of the
Old Testament so frequently and so emphatically as to this,--a section
which, according to _Luther's_ demand, every Christian should have
committed _verbatim_. Christ is here, with wonderful clearness,
described to us in His highest work--His atoning suffering.

In vers. 13-15 of chap. lii. Jehovah speaks. These verses contain a
short summary of what is enlarged upon in chap. liii. The very deepest
humiliation of the Servant of God shall be followed by His highest
glorification. In consequence of the salvation wrought out and
accomplished by Him, the nations of the earth and their kings shall
reverently submit to Him. In chap. liii. 1-10, the Prophet utters the
sentiments of the _elect_ in Israel. At first, in His humiliation, they
had not recognized the Redeemer; but now they acknowledged Him as their
Redeemer and Saviour, and saw that He had taken upon Him His sufferings
for our salvation, and that they had a vicarious character. The
commencement forms, in ver. 1, the lamentation that so many do not
believe in the report of the Servant of God, that so many do not behold
the glory of God manifested in Him. In vers. 2 and 3, we have the cause
of this fact, viz., the appearance of the Divine, in the form of a
Servant--the offence of the cross. In lowliness, without any outward
splendour, the Servant of God shall go about. Sufferings, heavier than
ever befel any man, shall be inflicted upon Him. In vers. 4-6, the
vicarious import of these sufferings is pointed out. The people, seeing
his sufferings, [Pg 261] and not knowing the cause of them, imagined
that they were the well-merited punishment of His own transgressions
and iniquities. But the Church, now brought to believe in Him, see that
they were wrong in imagining thus. It was not His own transgressions
and iniquities which were punished in Him, but ours. His sufferings
were voluntarily undergone by Him, and for the salvation of mankind,
which else would have been given up to destruction. God himself was
anxious to re-unite to himself those who were separated from Him, and
who walked in their own ways. To the vicarious import of the sufferings
of the Servant of God corresponds, according to ver. 7, His conduct: He
suffers quietly and patiently. In vers. 8-10 we have the reward which
the Servant of God receives for His passive obedience. God takes Him to
himself, and He receives an unspeakably great generation, ver. 8, the
ominous burial with the rich, ver. 9, numerous seed and long life, and
that the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand; ver. 10. In
vers. 11 and 12, the Lord again appears as speaking, and confirms that
which has been declared by the faithful Church.

The two verses of the close, together with the exordium, chap. lii.
13-15, occupy five verses--five being the signature of the half and
incomplete. The main body, ten verses, is divided into seven referring
to the humiliation and suffering, and three referring to the exaltation
of the Servant of God. The seven are, as usual, divided into three and
four. In the three verses, the suffering of the Servant of God is
exhibited; in the four, its cause and vicarious import.

By the "_Behold_," with which the prophecy opens, the Prophet intimates
that we have here before us a vision beheld by him in the spirit. As
the period in which the Prophet beholds the vision, we have to suppose
the time between the suffering and the glorification of the Servant of
God. The glorification is described chiefly by Futures, the suffering
by Preterites; but, from the fact that this stand-point is not strictly
adhered to, it is evident that we have to do with a stand-point which
is purely ideal.

The section forms, in a formal and material point of view, a whole by
itself; but, notwithstanding its absolute independence, it must stand
in a certain connection with what precedes and what follows. Let us,
therefore, now consider the relation [Pg 262] in which it stands to the
portions surrounding it. Its relation to what goes before is thus
strikingly designated by _Calvin_: "After Isaiah had spoken of the
restoration of the Church, he passes over to Christ, in whom all things
are gathered together. He speaks of the prosperous success of the
Church, at a time when it was least to be expected, which calls them
back to their King, by whom all things are to be restored, and exhorts
them to expect Him." The preceding section begins with chap. li. 1. We
have already stated the contents up to li. 16. Vers. 17-23 are closely
connected with the preceding, in which salvation and mercy were
announced to the Church of God. This announcement is here continued in
new forms. Chap. lii. 1-6: As the Lord had formerly delivered His
people out of the hand of Egypt and Asshur, so, now too, He will
deliver them. Zion appears under the image of a woman imprisoned,
fettered, lying powerlessly in a miserable garment, on a dirty floor,
and is called upon to arise, to strengthen herself, to throw off her
bands, to put on festive garments, inasmuch as the time of her
deliverance from the misery is at hand. Vers. 7-10: In the last words
of ver. 6, the Lord had announced that He was already at hand for the
redemption of His Church. This salvation now presents itself vividly to
the spiritual eye of the Prophet, and is graphically described by him.
He beholds a messenger hastening with the glad tidings to Jerusalem;
_watchmen_, who are standing on the ruins of Jerusalem in longing
expectation, discover him at a distance, and exultingly call upon
the ruins to shout aloud for joy.[1] "How beautiful"--so verse 7
runs--"upon the mountains the feet of the Messenger of joy, that
announceth peace, that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth
salvation, that saith unto Zion: Thy God reigneth." In Rom. x. 15, the
Apostle refers this passage to the preaching of the Gospel. That is
more than mere application; it is real explanation. The deliverance
from Babylon is only the first faint beginning of the salvation, which
the Prophet has before his eye in its [Pg 263] whole extent. As the
substance of the salvation, the circumstance that Zion's God reigneth,
is intimated. There is, in this, an allusion to the formula which was
used in proclaiming the ascension of earthly kings to the throne. Even
this allusion shows that the point here in question is not the
continuous government of the Lord, but a new, glorious manifestation of
His government, as it were a new ascension to the throne. This "the
Lord reigneth," found a faint beginning only of its confirmation and
fulfilment in the destruction of Babylon, and the deliverance of
Israel; but as to its full import, it is Messianic. In Christ, the Lord
has truly assumed the government, and will still more gloriously reign
in future.--Ver. 8: "The _voice_ of thy watchmen! they lift up the
voice, they shout together; for they see eye to eye that the Lord
returneth to Zion." The watchmen are ideal persons, representatives of
the truth that the Lord is around His people, and that the
circumstances of His Church are to Him a constant call to help; or they
may be viewed as the holy angels who, as the servants of the watchmen
of Israel, form the protecting power for the Church. These watchmen
continue to stand even on the destroyed walls; for, even in her misery,
the Lord is Zion's God. The anxious waiting eye of the watchmen, and
the mercy-beaming eye of God returning to Zion meet one another. The
returning here is opposed to the forsaking, over which Zion had
lamented in chap. xlix. 14. Instead of the concealed presence of the
Lord during the misery, which, to the feeling, so easily appears as
entire absence, there comes the presence of God manifested in the
salvation. This return of the Lord to Zion truly took place in Christ
only, Luke i. 68.--Ver. 9: "Break forth into joy, shout together, ye
ruins of Jerusalem, for the Lord comforteth Jerusalem, redeemeth His
people." This call goes far beyond the time of the restoration of
Jerusalem after the exile; for, even at that time, the spiritual eye
still beheld ruins, where the bodily eye saw firm, walled buildings.
The condition of the Kingdom of God was still miserable, the eye
of the faithful remained still fixed, with hopes and longings, upon the
Future which was to bring, and has brought, _true_ comfort and
consolation.--Ver. 10: "The Lord maketh bare His Holy arm in the eyes
of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth see the salvation of
our God." The making bare of the arm of the Lord designates the
manifestation, by deeds, of [Pg 264] the divine power and glory, such
as took place by the sending of Christ, and by the wonderful elevation
of the Church over the world,--an elevation which has it roots in Him;
comp. chap. liii. 1. In vers. 11 and 12 there is still the exhortation
to the Church of the Lord that, by true repentance, she should worthily
prepare for the impending salvation.

After the Prophet has, in chap. li. 1 to lii. 12, described the
transition of the Church of God from humiliation and sorrow to
glorification, it is quite natural that he should now turn from the
members to the Head, through whose mediation this transition was to be
accomplished, after the same contrast had been exhibited in Himself
There is the most intimate connection between the Church of God and His
Servant; for, all that He does and suffers. He does and suffers for
her; and all that befals her is prefigured by the way in which He has
been led by the Lord.

With what follows, too, the section before us stands in a close
relation. The glorification of the Servant of God described at the
close of chap. liii., is, in Him, bestowed at the same time, upon the
Church. Thus chap. liv., in which the Church is comforted by pointing
to her future glorification, is connected with the preceding. The
Church of the Lord appears here as a woman who, after having been put
away by her husband, and after having, for a long time, lived in a
childless, sorrowful solitude, is again received by him, and sees
herself surrounded by numerous children. The time of punishment is now
at an end, and the time of mercy is breaking.

Chap. lii. 13. "_Behold, my Servant shall act wisely, He shall be
exalted and extolled, and be very high._"

השכיל always means "to act wisely" (LXX. συνήσει; _Aquil. Sym._:
ἐπισθημονισθήσεται), never "to be successful" (the Chaldean, whom most
of the modern interpreters follow, renders it by יצלח), and this
ascertained sense (comp. Remarks on Jer. iii. 15; xxiii. 5, where the
verb is used of the Messiah, just as it is here), must here be
maintained so much the more, that our passage evidently refers to
David, the former servant of God. Of him it is said in 1 Sam. xviii.
14, 15: "And David was acting wisely in all his ways, and the Lord was
with him. And Saul saw that he was acting very wisely, and was afraid
of him;" comp. 1 Kings ii. 3, where David says to Solomon: "And keep
the charge of the Lord thy God ... in order [Pg 265] that thou mayest
act wisely in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest
thyself;" Ps. ci. 2, where David, speaking in the name of his family,
says: "I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way;" and 2 Kings
xviii. 7, where it is said of Hezekiah: "And the Lord was with him, and
whithersoever he went forth, he acted wisely." According to these
fundamental and parallel passages, the expression, "He shall act
wisely" refers to the administration of government, and is equivalent
to: He shall rule wisely like his ancestor David. _Stier_ is wrong in
opposing the view, that the Messiah here presents himself as King. He
says: "The King has here stepped behind the Prophet, Witness, Martyr,
Saviour;" but in chap. liii. 12, the royal office surely comes out with
sufficient distinctness. We must never forget that the different
offices of Christ are intimately connected with one another by the
unity of the person. The _prosperity and success_ which the Servant of
God enjoys, are first brought before us and detailed in what follows;
and appear, just as in the fundamental passages quoted, as the
consequence of acting wisely: "My Servant shall, after having, through
the deepest humiliation, attained to dominion, administer it well, and
thereby attain to the highest glory." To the words: "He shall act
wisely" correspond, afterwards, the words: "The pleasure of the Lord
shall prosper by His hand," chap. liii. 10. The fact that a person acts
wisely is, in a twofold aspect, a fruit of his connection with God:
_first_, because God is the source and fountain of all wisdom, and,
_secondly_, because from God the blessing proceeds which always
accompanies his doings. The ungodly is by God involved in circumstances
which, notwithstanding all his wisdom, make him appear as a fool.
Compare only chap. xix. 11: "The princes of Zoan become fools, the
counsel of the wise counsellors of Pharaoh is become brutish; how can
ye say unto Pharaoh: a son of the wise am I, a (spiritual) son of the
(wise) kings of ancient times?" comp. ver. 13; Job xii. 17, 20; Eccles.
ix. 11. In the second clause the Prophet puts together the verbs which
denote elevation, and still adds מאד "very" in order most emphatically
to point out the glory of the exaltation of the Servant of God.

Ver. 14. "_As many were shocked at thee--so marred from man was His
look, and His form from the sons of man_--Ver. 15. _So shall He
sprinkle many nations; kings shall shut their_ [Pg 266] _mouths on
account of Him, for they who had not been told, they see, and they who
did not hear, they perceive._"

Ver. 14 contains the _protasis_, ver. 15 the _apodosis_. The former
describes the deep humiliation, the latter the highest glorification of
the Servant of God. The _so_ in ver. 14 begins a parenthesis, in which
the reason why many were shocked is stated, and which goes on to the
end of the verse. In keeping with the dramatic character of the
prophetic discourse, the Lord addresses His Servant in ver. 14: "At
thee;" while, in ver. 15, He speaks of Him in the third person: "He
shall sprinkle;" "on account of _Him_" This change has been occasioned
by the parenthetical clause which contains a remark of the Prophet,
and in which, therefore, the Servant of God could not but be spoken of
in the third person. _Hävernick_ and _Stier_ refuse to admit the
existence of a parenthesis. Their reasons: "Parentheses are commonly an
ill-invented expedient only," and: "It is not likely that the same
particle should have a different signification in these two clauses
following immediately the one upon the other," are not entirely
destitute of force, but are far-outweighed by counter-arguments. They
say that the _apodosis_ begins with the first כן, and that in ver. 15 a
second _apodosis_ follows. But no tolerable thought comes out in this
way;--it is hard to co-ordinate two _apodoses_,--and the transition
from the 2d to the 3d person remains unaccounted for. שמם "to be
desolated" is then transferred to the spiritual desolation and
devastation, and receives the signification "to be horrified," "to be
shocked."--Who the many are that are shocked and offended at the
miserable appearance of the Servant of God, appears from chap. xlix. 4,
according to which the opposition to the Servant of God has its seat
among the covenant people; farther, from the contrast in ver. 15 of the
chapter before us, according to which the respectful surrender belongs
to the _Gentiles_; and farther, from chap. liii. 1, where the unbelief
of the former covenant-people is complained of; from vers. 2-4, where
even the believers from among Israel complain that they had had
difficulty in surmounting the offence of the Cross. משחת, properly
"corruption," stands here as _abstractum pro concreto_, in the
signification, "corrupted," "marred." As to its form, it is in the
_status constructus_ which, in close connections, can stand even [Pg
267] before Prepositions. From the corresponding חדל אישים in chap.
liii. 3, it appears that the Preposition stands here only for the sake
of distinctness, and might as well have been omitted. The מן serves for
designating the distance, "from man," "from the sons of men," so that
He is no more a man, does no more belong to the number of the sons of
men. The correctness of this explanation appears from chap. liii. 3,
and Ps. xxii. 7: "I am a worm and no man." As regards the sense of the
whole parenthesis, many interpreters remark, that we must not stop at
the bodily disfiguration of the Servant of God, but that the expression
must, at the same time, be understood figuratively. Thus, Luther says:
"The Prophet does not speak of the form of Christ as to His person, but
of the political and royal form of a Ruler, who is to become an earthly
King, and does not appear in royal form, but as the meanest of all
servants; so that no more despised man than He has been seen in the
world." But the Prophet evidently speaks, in the first instance, of the
bodily appearance only; and we can the less think of a figurative
sense, that bodily disfiguration forms the climax of misery, and that,
in this _part_, the _whole_ of the miserable condition is delineated.
Even the severe inward sufferings are a matter of course, if the
outward ones have risen to such a pitch. How both of these go hand in
hand is seen from Ps. xxii. These interpreters are, farther, wrong in
this respect, that they refer the pretended figurative expression
solely to the lowliness and humility of the Messiah, and not, at the
same time, to His _sufferings_ also. Thus, among the ancient
interpreters, it was viewed by _Jerome_: "The horrid appearance of His
form is not thereby indicated, but that He came in humility and
poverty;" and among recent interpreters by _Martini_: "The sense of the
passage does not properly refer to the deformity of the face, but to
the whole external weak, poor, and humble condition." But, for that,
the expression is by far too strong. Mere lowliness is no object of
horror (comp. 1 Cor. i. 23, according to which it is the _Cross_ which
offends the Jews); it does not produce a deformity of the countenance;
it cannot produce the effect that the Servant of God should, as it
were, cease to be a man. All this suggests an unspeakable _suffering_
of the Servant of God, and that, moreover, a suffering which, in the
first instance, [Pg 268] manifested itself upon His own holy body.
_Farther_--We must also take into consideration that the _sprinkling_,
in ver. 15, has for its background the shedding of blood, and is the
fruit of it, at first concealed. If any doubt should yet remain, it
would be removed by the subsequent detailed representation of that
which is here given in outline merely. The sole reason of that narrow
view is, that interpreters did not understand the fundamental relation
of the section under consideration to the subsequent section; that they
did not perceive that, here, we have in a complete sketch what there is
given in detail and expansion.--Ver. 15. The verb נזה occurs in very
many passages, and signifies in _Hiphil_, everywhere, "to sprinkle." It
is especially set apart and used for the sprinkling with the blood of
atonement, and the water of purification. When "the anointed priest"
had sinned, he took of the blood of the _sacrifice_, and _sprinkled_ it
before the vail of the sanctuary, Lev. iv. 6; comp. v. 16, 17. The high
priest had, every year, on the great day of atonement, to sprinkle the
_blood_ before the Ark of the Covenant, in order to obtain forgiveness
for the people. Lev. xvi. 14, comp. also vers. 18, 19: "And he shall
sprinkle of the blood upon it (the altar) with his finger seven times,
and cleanse it, and hallow it from the uncleanness of the children of
Israel." In the same manner the verb is used of the sprinkling of blood
upon the healed leper, Lev. xiv. 7, and frequently. According to Numb.
xix. 19, the _clean_ person shall _sprinkle_ upon the unclean, on the
third day, and on the seventh day, "with the water in which are the
ashes of the red heifer" when any one has become unclean by touching a
dead body. The outward material purification frequently serves in the
Old Testament to denote the spiritual purification. Thus, _e.g._, in
Ps. i. 9: "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;" Ezek. xxxvi.
25: "And I sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from
all your filthiness." In all those passages there lies, everywhere, at
the foundation an allusion to the Levitical purifications (the two last
quoted especially refer to Numb. xix.); and this allusion is by no
means so to be understood, as if he who makes the allusion were drawing
the material into the spiritual sphere. On the contrary, he uses as a
figure that which is, in the law, used symbolically. All the laws of
purification in the Pentateuch [Pg 269] have a symbolical and typical
character. That which was done to the outward impurity was, in point of
fact, done to the _sin_ which the people of the Old Testament, well
versed in the symbolical language, beheld under its image. Hence, here
also, the _sprinkling_ has the signification of _cleansing_ from sin.
The expression indicates that Christ is the true High Priest, to whom
the ordinary priesthood with its sprinklings typically pointed. The
expression is a summary of that which, in the following chapter, we are
told regarding the expiation through the suffering and death of the
Servant of God. The words: "When His soul maketh a sin-offering," in
ver. 10, and: "He shall justify," in ver. 11, correspond. Among the
ancient expositors, this translation is followed by the Syriac and
Vulgate, the _asperget_ of which _Jerome_ thus explains: "He shall
sprinkle many nations, cleansing them by His blood, and in baptism
consecrating them to the service of God." In the New Testament, it is
alluded to in several passages. Thus, in 1 Pet. i. 2, where the Apostle
speaks of the ῥαντισμὸς αἵματος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. Farther, in Heb. x. 22:
ἐῤῥαντισμένοι τὰς καρδίας ἀπὸ συνειδήσεως πονηρᾶς; xii. 24: καὶ αἵματι
ῥαντισμοῦ κρεῖττον λαλοῦντι παρὰ τὸν Ἅβελ, and also in chap. ix. 13,
14. Among Christian interpreters, this view was always the prevailing
one, was indeed the view held by the Church. _Schröder observ. ad
origin. Hebr._ c. viii. § 10, raised some objections which were eagerly
laid hold of, and increased by the rationalistic interpreters. Even
some sound orthodox expositors allowed themselves to be thereby
dazzled. _Stier_ declares "that, for this time, he must take the part
of modern Exegesis against the prevailing tradition of the Church." Yet
his disrelish for the doctrine of the atonement held by the Church has
no doubt exercised a considerable influence in this matter; and
_Hofmann_, too, in so decidedly rejecting this explanation, which
rests on such strong arguments, and is not touched by any weighty
counter-arguments, seems not to have been guided by exegetical reasons
only. But let us submit these objections to a closer examination. 1.
"The verb ought not to be construed with the Accusative of the thing to
be sprinkled, but with על." _Reinke_ (in his Monograph on Is. liii.)
brings forward, against this objection, the passage Lev. iv. 16, 17;
but he is wrong in this, inasmuch as את is there not the [Pg 270] sign
of the Accusative, but a Preposition. את ףני in the signification
"before," is, elsewhere also, very frequently used. But even _Gesenius_
is compelled to agree with _Simonis_.[2] and to acknowledge that, in
the proper name יזיה the verb is connected with an Accusative. The
deviation is there still greater, inasmuch as the _Kal_ is, at the same
time, used transitively. But even apart from that, such a deviation
cannot appear strange. It has an analogy in chap. liii. 11, where
הצדיק, which everywhere else is construed with the Accusative, is
followed by ל; and likewise in רפא, followed by ל in chap. liii. 5. The
signification of the verb, in such cases, undergoes a slight
modification. הזה with על means "to sprinkle;" with the Accusative, "to
sprinkle upon." This modification of the meaning has the analogy of
other languages in its favour. In the Ethiopic, the verb נזח, which
corresponds to the Hebrew נזה, is used of the sprinkling of both
persons and things; Heb. ix. 19, xi. 28; Ps. li. 9. In Latin, we may
say: _spargere aquam_, but also _spargere corpus aqua_; _aspergere
quid alicui_, but also _re aliquem_, _conspergere_, _perspergere_,
_respergere quem_. "Why should not this be allowed to the Jews
also,"--remarks _Köcher_--"who have to make up for the defect of
compound verbs by the varied use of simple verbs?" But the Prophet had
a special reason, in the liberty specially afforded by the higher
style, for deviating from the ordinary connection. The על had to be
avoided, because, had it been put, the perception of the correspondence
of the subsequent עליו with the עליך, in ver. 14, would have become
more difficult.--2. It is asserted that it is against the connection;
that the contrast to משם induces us to expect something corresponding.
_Beck_ says: "A change in those who formerly abhorred the Servant is to
be expressed here, not _a deed by the Servant himself_." If there were
here, indeed, a contrast intended to the many who formerly were
shocked, we might answer that, indirectly, the words: "He shall
sprinkle," suggest, indeed, an opposite conduct of the "many Gentiles."
No one is cleansed by the Servant of God, who does not allow himself to
be cleansed by [Pg 271] Him. But no one will desire to be cleansed by
Him, who does not put his whole trust in Him, who does not recognize
Him as his King and Lord. To the contempt and horror with which the
Jews shrink back from the Messiah in His humiliation, would thus be
opposed the faithful, humble confidence, with which the heathens draw
near to the glorified Messiah. But the fact that the real contrast to
the שממו is not יזה, but rather יקפצו, is clearly shown by עליו, which
corresponds with עליך. The יזה corresponds rather to: "He was
disfigured." Just as this states the cause of their being shocked, so
in: "He shall sprinkle," the cause of the shutting of the mouth is
stated. This is also seen from a comparison of chap. liii. 3, 4. His
sufferings appeared formerly as the proof that He was hated by God. Now
that the vicarious value of His suffering manifests itself, it becomes
the reason of humble, respectful submission. Just as, formerly, many
were shocked at Him, because he was so disfigured, so, now, even kings
shall shut their mouth at Him on account of His atonement. Moreover,
one does not exactly see how this reason could be brought forward, as,
in a formal point of view, there is, at all events, "a deed by the
Servant himself" before us, in whatever way we may view the יזה.--3.
"If _sprinkling_ were meant to be equivalent to cleansing by blood, the
matter of purification could not be omitted. If it were objected to
this, that the noun 'blood' might easily be supplied from the verb's
being ordinarily used of cleansing with blood, the objection would be
of no weight, inasmuch as sprinkling was done not only with blood, but
also with water and oil." But the sprinkling with _oil_, denoting
sanctification, appears only quite isolated, and has for its foundation
the sprinkling with blood, comp. Exod. xxix. 21: "And thou shalt take
of the blood which is upon the altar, and of the anointing oil, and
sprinkle it upon Aaron, and he shall be hallowed." The sprinkling with
_water_ has likewise the shedding of blood for its foundation. It was
done with such water only, as had in it the ashes of the sin-offering
of the red heifer. But the Prophet has certainly on purpose made no
express mention of the blood, because that water, too, should be
included. This fact, that the sprinkling here comprehends both, was
perceived by the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, in chap. ix. 13,
14: εἰ γὰρ τὸ αἷμα [Pg 272] ταύρων καὶ τράγων καὶ σποδὸς δαμάλεως
ῥαντίζουσα τοὺς κεκοινωμένους ἁγιάζει πρὸς τὴν τῆς σαρκὸς καθαρότητα·
μᾶλλον τὸ αἷμα τοῦ Χριστοῦ ... καθαριεῖ τὴν συνείδησιν ἡμῶν ἀπὸ νεκρῶν
ἔργων εἰς τὸ λατρεύειν θεῷ ζῶντι. The defilement by dead bodies,
against which the water of purification was specially used, is the most
significant symbol of sinners and sins.--4. "It is, in general, not
probable that the Servant of God, who farther down is described as a
sacrificial beast (!),--who, by taking upon Himself the sins of His
people, dies for them, should here appear as the High Priest justifying
them." Thus _Umbreit_ argues. But in opposition to this view, it is
sufficient to refer to: "He shall justify," in chap. liii. 11, which is
parallel to "He shall sprinkle." That which, in the typical sacrifices,
is separated, is, in the antitypical, most closely connected. Even at
the very first beginnings of sacred history, it was established for all
times, that the difference between him who offers up, and that which is
offered up, should not go beyond the territory of animal sacrifice. But
there is the less ground for setting aside the reference to the
priestly office of the Messiah, that, even before Isaiah, David, in Ps.
cx. 4, designates Christ as the true High Priest on account of the
atonement to be made by Him; and, after Isaiah, Zechariah says in chap.
vi. 13: "And He sitteth and ruleth upon the throne, and He is a Priest
upon His throne."--It has now become current to derive יזה from נזה in
the signification "to leap"--"He shall cause to leap. This explanation
made its appearance at first in a very cautious way." _Martini_ says:
"I myself feel how very far from a right and sure interpretation that
is, which I am now, but very timidly, to advance, regarding the sense
of the received reading יזה." By and by, however, expositors hardened
themselves against the decisive objections which stand in the way of
it. These objections are the following. 1. The Hebrew _usus loquendi_
is in נזה so sure, that we are not entitled to take the explanation
from the Arabic. The verb is, in Hebrew, never used except of _fluids_.
In _Kal_, it does not mean "to leap," but "to spatter," Lev. vi. 20
(27): "And upon whose garment is _spattered_ of the blood;" 2 Kings
ix. 33; Is. lxiii. 5. In _Hiphil_, it is set apart and used exclusively
for the holy sprinklings; and the more frequently it occurs in this
signification, the less are we at liberty to deviate from it. 2. "He
shall make to leap" would be far too indefinite,--a circumstance [Pg
273] which appears from the vague and arbitrary conjectures of the
supporters of this view. _Gesenius_, in his Commentary, _Stier_, and
others, think of a leaping for joy, in support of which they have
quoted the _Kamus_, according to which the verb is used of wanton
asses! According to _Gesenius_ in the _Thesaurus_, _Hofmann_, and
others, the Gentiles are to leap up, in order to show their _reverence_
for the Servant of God. According to _Hitzig_ and others, it is to leap
for _astonishment_, while, according to _Umbreit_ and others, it is for
_joyful admiration_. One sees that the mere "He shall make to leap" is
in itself too meaningless; and interpreters are obliged to make the
best addition which they can.--3. According to this explanation, no
cause is assigned by which the homage of the Gentiles is called forth;
and that cause can the less be omitted, that the horror of the Jews is
traced back to its cause. The parenthesis in ver. 14 lacks its
antithesis; and that this antithesis must lie in יזה, is rendered
probable even by the circumstance, that this word signifies, in a
formal point of view, something which the Servant of God does, and not
something which the Gentiles do, while we should, by the antithesis to
שממו, be led to expect just this.[3]--In the _protasis_, the discourse
is only of many; here, it is of many nations (_Gousset_: "It is
emphatic, so that it comprehends all, and denotes, at the same time,
that they are numerous"), and of kings. This is quite natural; for it
was only members of the covenant-people who felt shocked, while the
reverence is felt by the whole Gentile world.--The _shutting of the
mouth_ occurs elsewhere, too, repeatedly, as a sign of reverence and
humble submission. The reference of עליו to עליך, shows that _Ewald_ is
wrong in explaining it by "besides Him." Since the preceding על
designated the object of the horror,--the substratum of it--it must
here, too, designate the substratum of the shutting of the mouth, and
"over Him," be equivalent to: "on account of Him," "out of reverence
for Him."--In the exposition of the last words, the old translations
differ. We may explain them either: "They to whom it had not been [Pg
274] told, see;" thus the LXX.: οἷς οὐκ ἀνηγγέλη περὶ αὐτοῦ, ὄψονται,
καὶ οἱ οὔκ ἀκηκόασι, συνήσουσι, whom Paul follows in Rom. xv. 21. (In
that context, however, the difference of the two explanations is of no
consequence; the passage would be equally suitable, even according to
the other interpretation.) Or, we may explain them: "That which had not
been told them, they see," &c. Thus the other ancient translations
explain. According to the first view, the connection would be this:
For, in order that ye may not wonder at my speaking to you of nations
and kings, they who, &c. According to the second view, the ground of
the reverence of the heathen kings and their people is stated. That
which formerly had not been told to them, had not been heard by them,
is the expiation by the Servant of God. By Him they receive a blessing
not formerly hoped for or expected, and are thereby filled with silent
reverence towards the Author of the gift. We decide in favour of the
former view, according to which chap. lxvi. 19: "That have not heard my
fame, neither have seen my glory," is parallel. The contrast, in our
verse, to those who did not hear and who now perceive, is, in the
subsequent verse, formed by those who do hear, and do not believe. The
words: "Who had not been told, who did not hear," refer to the
Messianic announcement which was given to Israel only, and from which
the Gentiles were excluded.[4]

Upon this sketch, there follows in chap. liii. 1-10, the enlargement.
First, in vers. 1-3 that is expounded which, in ver. 14 had been said
of the many being _shocked_, and of the _cause_. The commentary upon
שממו "they were shocked," is given in ver. 1: a great portion of the
Jews do not believe in the salvation which had appeared. The
enlargement of: "so marred," &c., is given in vers. 2, 3. The cause of
the [Pg 275] unbelief is, that the glory of the Servant of God is
concealed behind humiliation, misery, and shame.

Chap. liii. 1: "_Who believes that which we hear, and the arm of the
Lord, to whom it is revealed?_"

The Prophet, whose spiritual eye is just falling upon the large, the
enormously large number of unbelievers, overlooks, at the moment, the
other aspect, and, in his grief, expresses that which took place in a
large _portion_ only, in such a manner as if it were general. Similar
representations we elsewhere frequently meet with, _e.g._, Ps. xiv. 3
(compare my Commentary); Jer. v. 1--שמועה is commonly understood in the
signification, "message" or "discourse." But in favour of the
explanation: "That which is heard by us," _q.d._, "that which we hear,"
there is, in the first instance, the _usus loquendi_. The word never
occurs in any other than its original signification, "that which is
heard," and in the signification, "rumour," which is closely connected
with the former. In Isa. xxviii. 9, a passage which is most confidently
referred to in proof of the signification, _institutio_, _doctrina_,
שמועה is that which the Prophet hears from God. The mockers who
exclaim: "Whom will he make to understand שמועה?" take, with a sneer,
out of his mouth the word upon which chap. xxi. 10: "That which I have
heard of the Lord of Hosts, I declare unto you," forms a commentary,
Ἀκοή too, by which, in the New Testament, שמועה is rendered, has not at
all the signification, "discourse," "preaching." Ἀκοή in Rom. x. 16,
17, is not the preaching, but the hearing, as is shown by the μὴ οὐκ
ἤκουσαν in ver. 18. The ἀκοή, according to ver. 17: ἡ δὲ ἀκοὴ διὰ
ῥήματος Θεοῦ, is the passive to the active to the word of God. "Who
believes our ἀκοή, our hearing," _i.e._, that which we hear, which is
made known to us by the Word of God. In a passive sense, ἀκοή stands
likewise in the passages Matt. iv. 24, xiv. 1, xxiv. 6, which _Stier_
cites in support of the signification "discourse," "preaching;" it is
that which has been heard by some one, "rumour," "report." In Heb. iv.
2 (as also in 1 Thess. ii. 13) λόγος ἀκοῆς, is the word which they
heard. That passage: οὐκ ὠφέλησεν ὁ λόγος τῆς ἀκοῆς ἐκείνους, μὴ
συγκεκεραμένους τῇ πίστει τοῖς ἀκούσασι, may simply be considered as a
paraphrase of our: Who believes that which we hear. A second argument
in favour of our explanation: "That which we hear" lies in the relation
[Pg 276] to the preceding, which, only when thus explained, arranges
itself suitably: "Those understand what they formerly did not hear;
Israel, on the contrary, does not believe that which they have heard."
Of great importance, _finally_, is the circumstance, that it is only
with this interpretation that the unity of the speaker in vers. 1-10
can be maintained. In the sequel, the _we_ everywhere refers to the
_believing Church_. But, for this reason, it is difficult to think here
of the order of the teachers, which must be the case when we translate:
"Who believes our preaching." It has been objected that, even in this
case, no real change of subject takes place, but that, in both cases,
the Prophet is speaking, with this difference only, that, in ver. 1, he
numbers himself among the proclaimers of the message, while, in ver. 2
ff., he reckons himself among the believing Congregation. But we shall
be obliged not to bring in the Prophet at all. In ver. 2 ff., the
speaker is the believing Church of the _Future_, in the time after the
appearance of the Saviour, and just so, in ver. 1, the preaching, if it
should be spoken of at all, cannot belong to the Prophet and his
contemporaries, but to those only who came forward with the message of
the manifested Saviour; just as in John xii. 38; Rom. x. 16, our verse
is referred to the unbelief of the Jews in the manifested Saviour. The
cause of the unbelief over which ver. 1 laments is indeed, according to
vers. 2 and 3, the appearance of the Saviour in the form of a Servant,
and His bitter suffering. That, then, must first have taken place,
before the unbelief manifested itself.[5] _Stier_ rightly remarks:
"Between 'the arm of God,' and ourselves, a שמועה is placed as the
medium, and the point is to believe in it." It is the gospel, the
tidings of the manifested Saviour. By the side of the joy over the many
Gentiles who with delight hear and understand the message of the
Servant of God, there is the sorrow over the many in Israel who do not
believe this message.--The _arm of the Lord_ comes into consideration
as the seat of His divine power; comp. chap. xl. 10, li. 5-9, lii. 10.
[Pg 277] According to the context, the manifestation of this power in
Christ is here spoken of _Stier_ says: "In this Servant, the redeeming
arm manifests itself, personifies itself Christ himself is, as it were,
the outstretched arm of the Lord." In Rom. i. 16, the Gospel is
designated as δύναμις θεοῦ εἰς σωτηρίαν παντὶ τῷ πιστεύοντι. גלה is
elsewhere commonly construed with אל or ל, here with על. This indicates
that the revealing of the arm of the Lord is of a _supernatural_ kind,
such an one as conies down from above. The Lord has revealed His arm,
His power and glory, as He has manifested them in the mission of His
servant, _in the eyes of all_ (comp. chap. lii. 10: "The Lord hath made
bare His holy arm in the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of
the earth see the salvation of our God"); but it is really seen by
those only whose eyes God opens. The deeds of God, even the most
manifest, always retain the nature of a mystery which remains concealed
to the worldly disposition. God can be recognised only by God. Of the
ungodly it holds true: "With seeing eyes they do not see, and with
hearing ears they do not hear." What was the _cause_ of this unbelief
in the Son of God, we are told in the sequel. It is the appearance of
the Divine in the form of a servant, which the gross carnal disposition
cannot understand, and by which it is offended. This offence which,
according to the sequel, even the God-fearing had to overcome, is, for
the ungodly, a lasting one.

Ver. 2. "_And He grew up as the sprout before Him, and as the root from
a dry ground. He had no form nor comeliness: and we see Him, but there
is no appearance that we should desire Him._"

The relation of this verse to the preceding one was correctly seen by
_Michaelis_: "The cause of the offence is this, that He does not rise
or stand out like the cedar, but He grows up gradually," &c. The
subject, the Servant of God, is easily inferred from עליו in ver. 15.
This is the more admissible that ver. 1, too, indirectly refers to Him.
He is the subject of the report in whose appearance the arm of the Lord
has been revealed. The _sprout_, the twig, designates, even in itself,
the poor condition; and, notwithstanding _Stier's_ counter-remarks, it
is the pointing to such a poor condition alone which suits the
connection, and there is no reason why we should here already [Pg 278]
supply "from a dry ground." A member of the royal house before its fall
resembled, at his very origin, a proud tree, or, at least, a proud
branch of such a tree. The sprout, here, supposes the stump, גזע. in
chap. xi. 8. יונק elsewhere always signifies "suckling;" comp. here
chap. xi. 8. Of the sprout, elsewhere, the feminine יונקת is used.
According to _Stier_, this deviation from the common use is here not a
matter of accident. Supposing a double sense, he finds it an indication
of the helpless infancy of the Redeemer, and in this a representation
of His lowliness. The LXX.: ὡς παιδίον. The suffix in לפניו "before
Him" refers to the immediately preceding יהוה, not to the people.
_Before Him_, the Lord--known to Him, watched by Him, standing under His
protection, comp. Gen. xvii. 18; Job viii. 16. The lowliness here, and
the contempt of men in ver. 3, form the contrast; He is low, but He
will not remain so; for the eye of the Most High is directed towards
Him. Before the eyes of men who are not able to penetrate to the
substance through the appearance, He is concealed; but God beholds Him,
beholds His concealed glory, beholds His high destination; and because
He beholds, He also takes care, and prepares His transition from
lowliness to glory. But the "before Him" does not by any means here
form the main thought; it only gives a gentle and incidental hint.--The
_root_ denotes here, as in chap. xi. 1, 10, the product of the root,
that whereby it becomes visible, the sprout from the root. In reference
to this parallel passage, _Stier_ strikingly remarks: "It is, by our
modern interpreters, put aside as quietly as possible; for, with a
powerful voice, it proclaims to us two truths: that the same Isaiah
refers to his former prophecy,--and that this Servant of the Lord here
is none other than the Messiah there." A twig which grows up from a dry
place is insignificant and poor. Just as the Messiah is here, in
respect to His state of humiliation, and specially in reference to His
origin from the house of David, sunk into complete obscurity, compared
to a weak, insignificant twig, so He is, in Ezek. xvii. 23, in
reference to His state of glorification, compared to a lofty, splendid
cedar tree, under which all the fowls of heaven dwell. The Jews, in
opposition even to ver. 22 of Ezekiel, expected that He should appear
so from the very beginning; and since He did not appear so, they [Pg
279] despised Him. The ונראהו is, by most of the modern interpreters,
in opposition to the accents, connected with the first member: "He had
no form nor comeliness that _we should have seen Him_." But from
internal reasons, this explanation must be rejected. "To see," in
the sense of "to perceive," would not be suitable. For, how could they
have such views of the condition of the Servant of God, if they
overlooked Him? But it is not possible to adduce any real demonstrative
parallel passage in support of ראה with the Accusat., without ב, ever
having the signification, "to look at," "to consider with delight."
The circumstance that the Future is used in the sense of the Present:
"and we see Him," is explained from the Prophet's viewing it as
present.--The statement that the Servant of God had no form, nor
comeliness, nor appearance, must not be referred to His lowliness
before His sufferings only; we must, on the contrary, perceive, in His
sufferings and death, the completion of this condition; in the _Ecce
Homo_, the full historical realization of it. _Calvin_ rightly points
out that that which here, in the first instance, is said of the Head,
is repeated upon the Church; He says: "This must not be understood of
Christ's person only, who was despised by the world, and was at last
given up to an ignominious death, but of His whole Kingdom which, in
the eyes of men, had no form, nor comeliness, nor splendour."

Ver. 3. "_Despised and most unworthy among men, a man of pains and an
acquaintance of disease, and like one hiding His face from us,
despised, and we esteemed Him not._"

In the preceding verse, we are told what the Servant of God had _not_,
viz., anything which could have attracted the natural man who had no
conception of the inward glory, and as little of the cause why the
Divine appears in the form of a Servant and a sufferer. Here we are
told what He had, viz.: everything to _offend_ and _repulse_ him to
whom the arm of the Lord had not been revealed,--the full measure of
misery and the cross. Instead of "the most unworthy among men," the
text literally translated has: "one ceasing from among men" (חדל in the
signification "ceasing" in Ps. xxxix. 5), _i.e._, one who ceases to
belong to men, to be a man, exactly corresponding to "from man," and
"from the sons of men," in the sketch, ver. 14, and to: "I am a worm
and no man," in Ps. xxii. [Pg 280] The explanation: "Forsaken by men,
rejected of men," is opposed by the _usus loquendi_, and by these
parallel passages.--"A man of pains"--one who, as it were, possesses
pains as his property. There is a similar expression in Prov. xxix. 1:
"A man of chastenings"--one who is often chastened. "An acquaintance of
disease,"--one who is intimately acquainted with it, who has, as it
were, entered into a covenant of friendship with it. The passive
Participle has no other signification than this, Deut. i. 13, 15, and
does not occur in the signification of the active Participle
"knowing."--There is no reason for supposing that disease stands here
_figuratively_. It comprehends also the pain arising from wounds, 1
Kings xxii. 34; Jer. vi. 7, x. 19; and there is so much the greater
reason for thinking of it here, that החלי in ver. 10, evidently refers
to the חלי in this place. As an acquaintance of disease, the Lord
especially showed himself in His _passion_. And then _every sorrow_ may
be viewed as a disease; every sorrow has, to a certain degree, disease
in its train. On Ps. vi., where sickness is represented as the
consequence of hostile persecution, Luther remarks: "Where the heart is
afflicted, the whole body is weary and bruised; while, on the other
hand, where there is a joyful heart, the body is also so much the more
active and strong." הסתיר always means "to hide;" the whole phrase
occurs in chap. l. 6, in the signification "to hide the face." מסתר is
the Participle in _Hiphil_. In the singular, it is true, such a form is
not found any where else; but, in the Plural, it is, Jer. xxix. 8. In
favour of the interpretation: "Like one hiding His face from us,"
is the evident reference to the law in Lev. xiii. 45: "The leper in
whom the plague is, his clothes shall be rent and his head bare, _and
the beard he shall have covered over_, and shall cry: Unclean,
unclean,"--where that which the leper crieth forms the commentary upon
the symbolical act of the covering. They covered themselves, as a sign
of shame, as far as possible, in order to allow of breathing, up to the
nose; hence the mention of the beard. In my Commentary on the Song of
Solomon i. 7, it was proved that covering has every where the meaning
of being put to shame--of being in a shameful condition. The leper was
by the law condemned to be a living representation of _sin_. No horror
was like that which was felt in his presence. _Hence_ [Pg 281] _it is
the highest degree of humiliation and abasement which is expressed by
the comparison with the leper, who must hide his face, whom God has
marked._ It is the more natural to suppose this reference to the leper,
that probably, the חדל אישים likewise pointed to the leper. The leper
was "one ceasing from men." In 2 Kings xv. 5; 2 Chron. xxvi. 21, a
house in which lepers dwell is called a "house of liberty," _i.e._, of
separation from all human society; compare the expression "free among
the dead," in Ps. lxxxviii. 6. Lepers were considered as dead persons.
Uzziah, while in his leprosy, was, according to the passage in
Chronicles already cited, cut off from the house of the Lord, and
forfeited his place there, where all the servants of the Lord dwell
with Him. To leprosy, the term נגוע in ver. 4 likewise points. _Beck's_
objection: "The point in question here is not that which the
unfortunate man does but that which others do in reference to him," is
based upon a misconception. Neither the one nor the other is spoken of
The comparative כ must not be overlooked. The comparison with the
leper, the culminating point of all contempt, is highly suitable to the
parallelism with נבזה. Ordinarily מסתר is now understood as a
_substantivum verbale_: "He was like hiding of the face before Him,"
_i.e._, like a thing or person before which or whom we hide our face,
because we cannot bear its horrible and disgusting appearance. But with
one before whom we hide our face, the Servant of God could not be
compared; the comparison would, in that case, be weak.--נבזה is not the
1st pers. Fut. but Partic. Niph., "despised."--The close of the verse
returns to its beginning, after having been, in the middle, established
and made good.

The second subdivision from ver. 4 to ver. 7 furnishes us with the key
to the sufferings of the Servant of God described in what precedes, by
pointing to their _vicarious character_, to which (ver. 7) the conduct
of the Servant of God under His sufferings corresponds.

Ver. 4. "_But our diseases He bore, and our pains He took upon Him: and
we esteemed Him plagued, smitten of God, and afflicted._"

The words חלי and מכאב of the preceding verse here appear again. He was
laden with disease and pains; but these sufferings, the wages of sin,
were not inflicted upon Him on account [Pg 282] of His own sins, but on
account of our sins, so that the horror falls back upon ourselves, and
is changed into loving admiration of Him. _Beck_ remarks: "Properly
speaking, they had not become sick or unfortunate at all; this had _a
priori_ been rendered impossible by the vicarious suffering of the Son
of God; but since they deserved the sickness and calamity, the averting
of it might be considered as a healing." But this view is altogether
the result of embarrassment. Disease is the inseparable companion of
sin. If the persons speaking are subject to the latter, the disease
cannot be considered as an evil merely threatening them. If they speak
of their diseases, we think, in the first instance, of sickness by
which they have already been seized; and the less obvious sense ought
to have been expressly indicated. In the same manner, the healing
also suggests hurts already existing. But quite decisive is ver. 6,
where the miserable condition clearly appears to have already taken
place.--According to the opinion of several interpreters, by diseases,
all inward and outward sufferings are figuratively designated;
according to the opinion of others, _spiritual_ diseases, sins. But
even from the relation of this verse to the preceding, it appears that
here, in the first instance, diseases and pains, in the ordinary sense,
are spoken of; just as the blind and deaf in chap. xxxv. are, in the
first instance, they who are naturally blind and deaf.--Disease and
pain here cannot be spoken of in a sense different from that in which
it is spoken of there. Diseases, in the sense of _sins_, do not occur
at all in the Old Testament. The circumstance that in the parallel
passage, vers. 11 and 12, the bearing of the _transgressions_ and
_sins_ is spoken of, does not prove anything. The Servant of God bears
them also in their consequences, in their punishments, among which
sickness and pains occupy a prominent place. Of the bearing of outward
sufferings, נשא חלי occurs in Jer. x. 19 also. If the words are rightly
understood, then at once, light falls upon the apostolic quotation in
Matt. viii. 16, 17: πάντας τοὺς κακῶς ἔχοντας ἐθεράπευσεν, ὅπως πληρωθῇ
τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ Ἠσαΐου τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος• αὐτὸς τὰς ἀσθενείας ἡμῶν
ἔλαβε καὶ τὰς νόσους ἐβάστασε; and this deserves a consideration so
much the more careful, that the Evangelist here intentionally deviates
from the Alexandrine version (οὗτος τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἡμῶν φέρει καὶ περὶ
ἡμῶν ὀδυνᾶται). In doing so, "we [Pg 283] do not give an external
meaning to that which is to be understood spiritually;" but when the
Saviour healed the sick, He fulfilled the prophecy before us in its
most proper and obvious sense. And this fulfilment is even now going
on. For him who stands in a living faith in Christ, sickness, pain,
and, in general all sorrow, have lost their sting. But it has not yet
appeared what we shall be, and we have still to expect the complete
fulfilment. In the Kingdom of glory, sickness and pain shall have
altogether disappeared.--Some interpreters would translate נשא by "to
take away;" but even the parallel סבל is conclusive against such a
view; and, farther, the ordinary use of נשא of the bearing of the
punishment of sin, _e.g._, Ezek. xviii. 19; Num. xiv. 33; Lev. v. 1,
xx. 17. But of conclusive weight is the connection with the preceding
verse, where the Servant of God appears as the intimate acquaintance of
sickness, as the man of pains. He has, accordingly, not only _put away_
our sicknesses and pains, but He has, as our substitute, _taken them
upon Him_; He has healed us by His having himself become sick in our
stead. This could be done only by His having, in the first instance, as
a substitute, appropriated our _sins_, of which the sufferings are the
consequence; compare 1 Peter ii. 24: ὃς τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἡμῶν αὐτὸς
ἀνήνεγκεν ἐν τῷ σώματι αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ τὸ ξύλον.--_Plagued_, _smitten of
God_, _afflicted_, are expressions which were commonly used in
reference to the visitation of sinful men. It is especially in the word
_plagued_, which is intentionally placed first, that the reference to a
self-deserved suffering is strongly expressed, compare Ps. lxxiii. 14:
"For all the day long am I _plagued_, and my chastisement is new every
morning." Of Uzziah, visited on account of his sin, it is said in 2
Kings xv. 5: "And the Lord inflicted a _plague_ upon the king, and he
was a leper unto the day of his death." נגע "plague" is in Lev. xiii.,
as it were, _nomen proprium_ for the leprosy, which in the law is so
distinctly designated as a punishment of sin.--הכה too, is frequently
used of the infliction of divine punishments and judgments. Num. xiv.
12; Deut. xxviii. 22. The people did not err in considering the
suffering as a punishment of sin, but only in considering it as a
punishment for the sins committed by the Servant of God himself.
According to the view of both the Old and New Testament, every
suffering is [Pg 284] punishment. The suffering of a perfect saint,
however, involves a contradiction, unless it be vicarious. By his
completely stepping out of the territory of sin, he must also step out
of the territory of evil, which, according to the doctrine established
at the very threshold of revelation, is the wages of sin, for otherwise
God would not be holy and just. Hence, as regards the Servant of God,
we have only the alternatives: either His sinlessness must be doubted,
or the vicarious nature of His sufferings must be acknowledged. The
persons speaking took up, at first, the former position; after their
eyes had been opened, they chose the latter.

Ver. 5, "_And He was pierced for our transgressions, crushed for our
iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and by His
wounds we are healed._"

הוא "He" stands in front, in order emphatically to point out Him who
suffered as a substitute, in contrast to those who had really deserved
the punishment: "He, on account of our transgressions." There is no
reason for deviating:, in the case of חלל, from the original
signification "to pierce," and adopting the general signification "to
wound;" the LXX. ἐτραυματίσθη. _The chastisement of our peace_ is the
chastisement whereby peace is acquired for us. Peace stands as an
individualizing designation of salvation; in the world of contentions,
peace is one of the highest blessings. Natural man is on all sides
surrounded by enemies; δικαιωθέντες ἐκ πίστεως εἰρήνην ἔχομεν πρὸς τὸν
θεὸν διὰ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, Rom. v. 1, and peace with God
renders all other enemies innocuous, and at last removes them
altogether. The peace is inseparable from the substitution. If the
Servant of God has borne our sins, He has thereby, at the same time,
acquired peace; for, just as He enters into our guilt, so we now enter
into His reward. The justice of God has been satisfied through Him; and
thus an open way has been prepared for His bestowing peace and
salvation. The _chastisement_ can, according to the context, be only an
actual one, only such as consists in the infliction of some _evil_. It
is in misconception and narrowness of view that the explanation of the
followers of _Menke_ originated: "The instruction for our peace is with
Him." This explanation militates against the whole context, in which
not the _doctrine_ but the _suffering_ of the Servant of God is spoken
of; against the parallelism [Pg 285] with: "By His wounds we are
healed;" against the עליו, "upon Him," which, according to a comparison
with: "He bore our disease, and took upon Him our pains," must indicate
that the punishment lay upon the sufferer like a pressing _burden_. It
is only from aversion to the doctrine of the vicarious satisfaction of
Christ, that we can account for the fact, that that doctrine could be
so generally received by that theological school. More candid are the
rationalistic interpreters. Thus _Hitzig_ remarks: "_The chastisement
of our peace_ is not a chastisement which would have been salutary for
our morality, nor such as might serve for our salvation, but according
to the parallelism, such as has served for our salvation, and has
allowed us to come off safe and unhurt." _Stier_, too, endeavours to
explain the "chastisement of our peace," in an artificial way.
According to him, there is always implied in מוסר the tendency towards
setting right and healing the chastised one himself; but wherever this
word occurs, a retributive pain and destruction are never spoken of
But, in opposition to this view, there is the fact that מוסר does not
by any means rarely occur as signifying the punishments which are
inflicted upon stiff-necked obduracy, and which bear a destructive
character, and which, therefore, cannot be derived from the principle
of correction, but from that of retribution only. Thus, _e.g._, in
Prov. xv. 10: "Bad _chastisement_ shall be to those that forsake the
way, and he that hateth chastisement shall die," on which _Michaelis_
remarks: "_In antanaclasi ad correptionem amicam et paternum, mortem et
mala quaelibet inferens, in ira_," Ps. vi. 2. Of destructive
punishment, too, the verb is used in Jer. ii. 19. But one does not at
all see how the idea of "setting right" should be suitable here; for
surely, as regards the Servant of God himself, the absolutely
Righteous, the suffering here has the character of chastisement. It is
not the mere suffering, but the chastisement, which is upon Him; but
that necessarily requires that the punishment should proceed from the
principle of _retribution_, and that the Servant of God stands forth as
our Substitute.--נרפא, Preter. Niph., hence "healing has been bestowed
upon us;"--רפא with ל, in the signification "to bring healing," occurs
also in chap. vi. 10, but nowhere else. The healing is an
individualising designation of deliverance from the punishments of sin,
called forth by the [Pg 286] circumstance that disease occupied so
prominent a place among them, and had therefore been so prominently
brought forward in what precedes. In harmony with the Apostolic
quotation, the expression clearly shows that the punitive sufferings
were already lying upon the persons speaking; that by the Substitute
they were not by any means delivered from the future evils, but that
the punishment, the inseparable companion of sin, already existed, and
was taken away by Him.

Ver. 6. "_All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one
to his own way, and the Lord hath made the iniquities of us all to fall
upon Him._"

_Calvin_ remarks: "In order the more strongly to impress upon the
hearts of men the benefits of Christ's death, the Prophet shews how
necessary is that healing which was mentioned before. There is herd an
elegant antithesis; for, in ourselves we are scattered, but, in Christ
collected; by nature we go astray and are carried headlong to
destruction,--in Christ we find the way in which we are led to the gate
of salvation; our iniquities cover and oppress us,--but they are
transferred to Christ by whom we are unburdened."--_All we_--in the
first instance, members of the covenant-people,--not, however, as
contrasted with the rest of mankind, but as partaking in the general
human destiny.--_We have turned every one to his own way_; we walked
through life solitary, forsaken, miserable, separated from God and the
good Shepherd, and deprived of His pastoral care. According to
_Hofmann_, the going astray designates the _liability_ to punishment,
but not the misery of the speakers; and the words also: "We have
turned," &c., mean, according to him, that they chose their own ways,
but not that they walked sorrowful or miserable. But the ordinary use
of the image militates against that view. In Ps. cxix. 176: "I go
astray like a lost sheep, seek thy servant," the going astray is a
figurative designation of being destitute of salvation. The misery of
the condition is indicated by the image of the scattered flock, also in
1 Kings xxii. 17: "I saw all Israel scattered upon the hills as sheep
that have not a shepherd." _Michaelis_ pertinently remarks: "Nothing is
so miserable as sheep without a shepherd,--a thing which Scripture so
often repeats, Num. xxvii. 17," &c. As a commentary upon our passage,
Ezek. xxxiv. 4-6 may serve; [Pg 287] and according to that passage we
shall be compelled to think of their being destitute of the care of a
shepherd: "And they are scattered, because there is no Shepherd; and
they become meat to all the beasts of the field. My sheep wander on all
the mountains, and on every high hill, and over the whole land my sheep
are scattered, and there is none that careth for them, or seeketh
them." The point of comparison is very distinctly stated in Matt. ix.
36 also: ἰδὼν δὲ τοὺς ὄχλους ἐσπλαγχνίσθη περὶ αὐτῶν, ὅτι ἦσαν
ἐσκυλμένοι καὶ ἐῤῥιμένοι ὡσεὶ πρόβατα μὴ ἔχοντα ποιμένα. Without doubt,
turning to one's own ways is sinful, comp. chap. lvi. 11; but here it
is not so much the aspect of sin, as that of misery, which is noticed.
As the chief reason of the sheep's wandering and going astray, the bad
condition of the shepherd must be considered, comp. Jer. l. 6:
"Perishing sheep were my people; their shepherds led them astray," John
x. 8: πάντες ὅσοι πρὸ ἐμοῦ ἦλθον, κλέπται εἰσὶ καὶ λῃσταί--פגע with ב
signifies "to hit;" hence _Hiphil_, "to cause to hit." The iniquities
of the whole community _hit_ the Servant of God in their punishments;
but according to the biblical view, their punishments can come upon Him
only as such, only by His coming forward as a substitute for sinners,
and not because He suffers for the guilt of others to which He remained
a stranger. By this throwing the guilt upon the Servant of God, the
condition of being without a shepherd is _done_ away with, the flock is
gathered from its scattered condition. The wall of separation which was
raised by its guilt, and which separated it from God, the fountain of
salvation, is now removed by His substitution, and the words: "The Lord
is my Shepherd," now become a truth, comp. John x. 4.

Ver. 7. "_He was oppressed, and when He was plagued, He does not open
His mouth, like a lamb which is brought to the slaughter, and as a
sheep which is dumb before her shearers, and He does not open his

In these words, we have a description of the manner in which the
Servant of God _bore_ such sufferings. It flows necessarily from the
circumstance, that it was a vicarious suffering. The substitution
implies that He took them upon Him spontaneously; and this has patience
for its companion. First, the contents of ver. 6 are once more summed
up in the word נגש, "He was oppressed:" then, this condition of the
Servant [Pg 288] of God is brought into connection with His _conduct_,
which, only in this connection, appears in its full majesty.--נגש is
the Preterite in _Niphal_, and not, as _Beck_ thinks, 1st pers. Fut.
_Kal_. For the Future would be here unusual; the verb has elsewhere the
Future in _o_; the suffix is wanting, and the sense which then arises
suits only the untenable supposition that, in vers. 1-10, the
_Gentiles_ are speaking. The _Niphal_ occurs in 1 Sam. xiii. 6, of
Israel oppressed by the Philistines; and in 1 Sam. xiv. 24, of those
borne down by heavy toil and fatigue. נגש and נענה "to be humbled,
oppressed, abused," do not, in themselves essentially differ; it is
only on account of the context, and the contrast implied in it, that
the same condition is once more designated by a word which is nearly
synonymous. The words "and He" separate נענה from what precedes,
and connect it with what follows. The explanation: "He was oppressed,
but He suffered patiently," has this opposed to it, that the two
_Niphals_, following immediately upon one another, cannot here stand in
a different meaning. The idea of patience would here not be a
collateral, but the main idea, and hence, could not stand without a
stronger designation.--In יפתח, the real Future has taken the place of
the ideal Past; it shows that the preceding Preterites are to be
considered as prophetical, and that, in point of fact, the suffering of
the Servant of God is no less future than His glorification. The _lamb_
points back to Exod. xii. 3, and designates Christ as the true paschal
lamb. With a reference to the verse under consideration, John the
Baptist calls Christ the Lamb of God, John i. 29; comp. 1 Pet. i. 18,
19; Acts viii. 32-35. But since it is not the vicarious character of
Christ's sufferings which here, in the first instance, comes into
consideration, but His patience under them, the lamb is associated with
the female sheep, and that not in relation to her slayers, but to her
shearers. The last words: "And He does not open His mouth," are not to
be referred to the lamb, as some think, (even the circumstance that the
preceding רחל is a feminine noun militates against this view), but,
like the first: "He does not open His mouth," to the Servant of God. It
is an expressive repetition, and one which is intended to direct
attention to this feature; comp. the close of ver. 3; Gen. xlix. 4:
Judges v. 16. The fulfilment is shown by 1 Pet. ii. 23: [Pg 289] ὃς
λοιδορούμενος οὐκ ἀντελοιδόρει, πάσχων οὐκ ἠπείλει, παρεδίδου δὲ τῷ
κρίνοντι δικαίως; and likewise Matt. xxvii. 12-14: καὶ ἐν τῷ
κατηγορεῖσθαι αὐτὸν ὑπὸ τῶν ἀρχιερέων καὶ πρεσβυτέρων οὐὲν ἀπεκρίνατο.
Τότε λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ Πιλᾶτος• οὐκ ἀκούεις πόσασου καταμαρτυροῦσιν; καὶ οὐκ
ἀπεκρίθη αὐτῷ πρὸς οὐδὲν ἓν ῥῆμα, ὥστε θαυμάζειν τὸν ἡγεμόνα λίαν.
Comp. xxvi. 62; Mark xv. 5; Luke xxiii. 9; John xix. 9.

The third subdivision of the principal portion, vers. 8-10, describes
_the reward of the Servant of God_, by expanding the words: "Kings
shall shut their mouths on account of Him," in chap. lii. 15, and "He
shall be exalted," in ver. 13.

Ver. 8. "_From oppression and from judgment He was taken, and His
generation who can think it out; for He was cut of out of the land of
the living for the transgression of my people, whose the punishment._"

God--such is the sense--takes Him to himself from heavy oppression, and
He who apparently was destroyed without leaving a trace, receives an
infinitely numerous generation (compare John xii. 32: κᾀγὼ ἑὰν ὑψωθῶ ἐκ
τῆς γῆς πάντας ἑλκύσω πρὸς ἐμαυτόν), as a deserved reward for having,
by His violent death, atoned for the sins of His people, delivered them
from destruction, and acquired them for His property.--עצר
"oppression," as Ps. cvii. 39, properly, according to the signification
of the verb: "Shutting up," "restraining," "hindering." From what goes
before, where the evils from which the Servant of God is here delivered
are described more in detail, it appears that here we have not to think
of a prison properly so called; for there, it is not a prison, but
abuse and oppression which are spoken of.--משפט is commonly referred to
the judgment which the enemies of the Servant of God passed upon Him,
The premised עצר then furnishes the distinct qualification of the
judgment, shows that that which, in a formal point of view, presents
itself as a judicial proceeding, is, in point of fact, heavy
oppression. But, at the same time, משפט serves as a limitation for עצר.
We learn from it that the hatred of the enemies moved within the limits
of judicial proceedings,--just as it happened in the history of Christ.
But behind the human judgment, the _divine_ is concealed, Jer. i. 16;
Ezek. v. 8; Ps. cxliii. 2. This is shown by what precedes, where the
suffering of the Servant of God is so emphatically and repeatedly
designated as the punishment of sin inflicted upon [Pg 290] Him by
God.--לקח with מן "to be taken away from;" according to _Stier_: "taken
away from suffering, being delivered from it by God's having taken Him
to himself, to the land of eternal bliss." This view, according to
which the words refer to the glorification of the Servant of God, has
been adopted by the Church. It is adopted by the Vulgate: "_De angustia
et judicio sublatus est_;" by _Jerome_, who says on this passage: "From
tribulation and judgment He ascended, as a conqueror, to the Father;"
and by _Michaelis_ who thus interprets it: "He was taken away, and
received at the right hand of the Majesty." By several interpretations,
the words are still referred to the state of humiliation of the Servant
of God: "_Through_ oppression and judgment He was _dragged to
execution_." But the Prophet has already, in ver. 3, finished the
description of the mere sufferings of the Servant of God--vers. 4-7
exhibit the cause of His sufferings and His conduct under them; לקח
cannot, by itself, signify "to be dragged to execution"--in that case,
as in Prov. xxiv. 11, "to death" would have been added; מן must be
taken in the signification, "from," "out of," as in the subsequent
מארץ, compare 2 Kings iii. 9, where לקח with מן signifies "to take
from." In the passage under consideration, as well as in those two
passages which refer to the ascension of Elijah, there is a distinct
allusion to Gen. v. 24, where it is said of Enoch: "And he was no more,
for God had _taken_ him."--_And His generation who can think it out?_
דור, properly "circle," is not only the communion of those who are
connected by co-existence, but also of those who are connected by
disposition, be it good or bad.[6] Thus, the generation of the children
of God in Ps. lxxiii. 15; the generation of the righteous, Ps. xiv. 5;
the generation of the upright, in Ps. cxii. 2. Here, the generation of
the Servant of God is the communion of those who are animated by His
Spirit, filled with His life. This company will, after His death,
increase to an infinite greatness. שוח and שיח "to meditate," is
commonly connected with ב of the object, but occurs also with [Pg 291]
the simple Accusative, in the signification "to meditate upon
something," in Ps. cxlv. 5. There is, as it appears, an allusion to the
promise to Abraham, Gen. xiii. 16: "And I make thy seed as the dust of
the earth, so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then
shall thy seed also be numbered,"--a promise which received its
complete fulfilment just by the Servant of God. The explanation which
we have given was adopted by the LXX.: τὴν γενέαν αὐτοῦ τίς διηγήσεται.
Next to it, comes the explanation: "Who can think out His _posterity_;"
but against this, it is conclusive that דור never occurs in the
signification "posterity." The parallel passage in ver. 10: "He shall
see seed," or "posterity," holds good even for our view; for since the
posterity is a _spiritual_ one, it is substantially identical with
_generation_ here. But it may, _a priori_, be expected that the same
thing shall be designated from various aspects. If "generation" be
taken in the signification "posterity," then the words: "He shall see
seed" would be a mere repetition. The appropriateness of the sense
which, according to our explanation, comes out, will become especially
evident, if we consider that, in vers. 8-10, we have the carrying out
of that which, in the sketch, was said of the respectful homage of the
many nations and kings. A whole host of explanations assigns to דור
significations which cannot be vindicated. Thus, the translation of
_Luther_: "Who shall disclose the length of His life?" that of
_Hitzig_: His destiny; that of _Beck_: His importance and influence in
the history of the world; that of _Knobel_: His dwelling place, _i.e._,
His grave, who considered? The signification, "dwelling place," does
not at all belong to דור. In Isaiah xxxviii. 12, דור are the
cotemporaries from whom the dying man is taken away, and who are
withdrawn from him: "My _generation_ is taken away, and removed from me
like a shepherd's tent"--dying Hezekiah there laments. Inadmissible,
likewise, is the explanation: "Who of His cotemporaries will consider,
or considered, it" for את, the sign of the Accusative, cannot stand
before the _Nomin. Absol._ In Nehem. ix. 34, this use is by no means
certain, and, at all events, we cannot draw any inference from the
language of Nehemiah as to that of Isaiah. The Ellipses: "the true
cause of His death," "the importance and fruit of His death," "the
salvation lying behind it" (_Stier_), are very [Pg 292] hard, and the
sense which is purchased by such sacrifices is rather a common-place
one, little suitable to this context, and to the relation to chap. lii.
15.--"_For He was cut off from the land of the living, for the
transgression of my people, whose the punishment._" The reason is here
stated why the Servant of God receives so glorious a reward; why, after
He has been removed to God, a generation so infinitely great is granted
to Him. _He has deserved this reward by His having suffered for the
sins of His people, as their substitute._ The first clause must not be
separated from the second: "for the transgression," &c. For it is not
the circumstance, that the Servant of God suffered a violent death at
all, but that for the sin of His people He took it upon Him, which is
the ground of His glorification. נגזר "to be cut off" never occurs of a
quiet, natural death; not even in the passage, quoted in support of
this use of the word, viz., Psa. lxxxviii. 6; Lam. iii. 54, but always
of a violent, premature death. The cognate נגרז also has, in Psa. xxxi.
23, the signification of extermination. למו, poetical form for להם,
refers to the collective עם. Before it, the relative pronoun is to be
understood: for the sin of my people, whose the punishment, _q.d._,
whose property the punishment was, to whom it belonged. _Stier_ prefers
to adopt the most violent interpretation rather than to conform and
yield to this so simple sense, which, as he says, could be entertained
only by that obsolete theory of substitution where one saves the other
from suffering. Several interpreters take the suffix in למו as a
Singular: "on account of the transgression of my people, punishment was
to Him." And passages, indeed, are not wanting where the supposition
that מו designates the Singular, has some appearance of probability;
but, upon a closer examination, this appearance everywhere vanishes.[7]
Moreover, as we have already remarked, it is, on account of the sense,
inadmissible to separate the two clauses.--By עמי "my people," the
hypothesis of the non-Messianic interpreters is set aside, that in [Pg
293] vers. 1-10 the _Gentiles_ are speaking. It is a single people to
which the speakers belong, the covenant-people, for whose benefit the
atonement and substitution of the Servant of God were, _in the first
instance_, intended (comp. σώσει τὸν λαὸν αὑτοῦ ἀπὸ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν αὐτῶν,
Matth. i. 21) yea, were, to a certain degree, exclusively intended,
inasmuch as the believing Gentiles were received into it as adopted
children. It is a forced expedient to say: every single individual of
the Gentiles, or of their princes, says that the Servant of God has
suffered for the sin of His people, hence also for His own. And just as
inadmissible is the supposition that a representative of the heathen
world is speaking; the whole heathen world cannot be designated as a

Ver. 9. "_And they gave Him His grave with the wicked, and with a rich
in His death, because He had done no violence, neither was any deceit
in His mouth._"

ויתן is intentionally without a definite Subject, _q.d._: it was given
to Him, _Ewald_ § 273a. The acting subject could not be at all more
distinctly marked out, because there was a _double_ subject. Men fixed
for Him the ignominious grave with criminals; by the providence of God,
He received the honourable grave with a rich, and that for the sake of
His innocent sufferings, as a prelude to the greater glorification
which, as a reward, was to be bestowed upon Him, as an example of what
is said in ver. 12: "He shall divide spoil with the strong." The
_wicked_ who are buried apart from others, can be the real criminals
only, the transgressors in ver. 12. Criminals received, among the Jews,
an ignominious burial. Thus _Josephus_, Arch. iv. 8, § 6, says: "He who
has blasphemed God shall, after having been stoned, be hung up for a
day, and be buried quietly and without honour." _Maimonides_ (see
_Iken_ on this passage in the Biblia Hagana ii. 2) says: "Those who
have been executed by the court of justice are not by any means buried
in the graves of their ancestors; but there are two graves appointed
for them by the court of justice,--one for the stoned and burnt; the
other for the decapitated and strangled." Just as the Prophet had, in
the preceding verse, said that the Servant of God would die a violent
death like a criminal, so he says here, that they had also fixed for
Him a grave in common with executed criminals. _And with a rich_ [Pg
294] (they gave Him His grave) _in His death_: they gave Him His grave,
first with the wicked; but, indeed, He received it with a rich, since
God's providence was watching over the dead body of His Servant. ויתן,
in so far as it refers to the first clause, receives its limitation by
the second. Before their fulfilment, the words had the character of a
holy riddle; but the fulfilment has solved this riddle. The designation
of Joseph of Arimathea as ἄνθρωπος πλούσιος in Matt. xxvi. 57, is
equivalent to an express quotation. Although it was by a special divine
providence that the Singular was chosen, yet we may suppose that, in
the first instance, the rich man here is contrasted with the wicked
men, and is an ideal person, the personified idea of the species. _In
His death_ is, in point of fact, equivalent to: "after He had died;"
but, notwithstanding, there is no necessity for giving to the ב the
signification "after." Death rather denotes the _condition of death_;
_in death_ is contrasted with: _in life_. Altogether in the same manner
we find in Lev. xi. 31: "Whosoever doth touch them in their death,"
for, "after they have died." _Farther_--1 Kings xiii. 31: "In my death
you shall bury me in the sepulchre." The Plural מותים "the deaths,"
"conditions of death," cannot be adduced as a proof that the subject of
the prophecy must be a collective person; for, in that case, rather the
Plural of the suffix would be required (Ps. lxxviii. 64 is a rare
exception); and in Ezek. xxviii. 8, 10, death is likewise spoken of in
the Plural. The Plural is formed after the analogy of חיים, for which
reason it commends itself to explain ארץ חיים in the preceding verse,
"land of life," instead of "land of the living." But the Plural can
here the less occasion any difficulty, that it is not dying which is
spoken of, but the continuing condition of death.--_Because He had done
no violence_, &c. על very frequently denotes the cause upon which the
effect depends, _e.g._, in 1 Kings xvi. 7; Ps. xliv. 23, lxix. 8; Jer.
xv. 15; Job xxxiv. 6. The whole following clause is treated as a noun.
Ordinarily, it is explained: Although, &c. But this use of על is quite
isolated; it occurs only in two passages of the Book of Job, in x. 7
and xxxiv. 6. The former explanation is found in the Alexand. version:
ὅτι ἀνομίαν οὐκ ἐποίησε. The innocence is designated negatively, and in
an external manner (חמס and מרמה are gross sins). The reason of this is
[Pg 295] in the intention of His enemies, which is expressed in the
preceding words, to give Him His grave with the wicked. Since He had
not acted like them, God took care that He did not receive their
ignominious burial, but an honourable one. In reference to the passage
under consideration, it is said in 1 Pet. ii. 22: ὃς ἁμαρτίαν οὐκ
ἐποίησε οὐδὲ εὑρέθε δόλος ἐν τῷ στόματι αὐτοῦ. Instead of "violence,"
Peter intentionally employs "sin."--_Hofmann_ has advanced the
following arguments against the explanation which we have given. 1. "By
what is this contrast (which, according to our explanation, is
contained in the words: They gave Him His grave with the wicked, and
with a rich man in His death) to be recognized in the text? There
remains no trace of a contrast, unless it be contained in רשעים and
עשיר. Are these really two ideas so contradictory, that they alone are
sufficient to bring into contrariety two clauses which have altogether
the appearance of being intended for the same purpose?" But in this
argument, _Hofmann_ overlooks the circumstance, that the wicked are
specially _criminals_--for they alone had a peculiar grave--and that it
is not the general relation of the wicked and rich to one another which
comes into consideration, but especially the relation in which they
stand to one another as regards the _burial_. If this be kept in view,
it is at once evident that the contrariety is expressed with sufficient
clearness. From Isa. xxii. 16; Job xxi. 32; Matt. xxvii. 57, it appears
that the rich man, and the honourable grave, are closely connected with
each other. Hence, it must have been by an opposite activity that to
the Servant of God a grave was assigned with the wicked, and with a
rich. 2. "To be rich is not in itself a sin which deserved an
ignominious burial, far less received it, but on the other hand, to
find his grave with a rich man is not an indemnification to the just
for the disgrace of having died the death of a criminal." But the fact
that the first Evangelist reports it so minutely (Matt. xxvii. 57-61)
clearly enough shows the importance of the circumstance; comp. also how
John, in chap. xix. 33 ff., points out the circumstance that Christ's
legs were not broken, as were those of the malefactors. In the little,
the great is prepared and prefigured. And although the burial with a
rich man is, in itself, of no small importance when viewed as the first
point where the exaltation [Pg 296] began--in the connection with the
preceding and following verses, we cannot but look upon it as being
symbolically significant and important. And how could it be otherwise,
since the burial of the Servant of God with a rich man implies that the
rich man himself has been gained for Him? It has, farther, been
objected that Christ was not buried _with_ Joseph, but in his grave
only, but in an ideal point of view _with_ has its full right. Comp.
chap. xiv. 19, where it is said to the king of Babylon: "But thou art
cast out of thy grave," although, bodily, he had not yet been in the
grave; but he had a right to come like his ancestors; he had, in an
ideal point of view, taken his place there.--_Beck_ says: "The orthodox
expositors are strongly embarrassed with these words." That is indeed a
remarkable interchange of positions. Embarrassment!--that is the sign
of everything which unscriptural exegesis advances on this verse. It is
concentrated in the עשיר. The most varied conjectures and freaks are
here so many symptoms of helpless embarrassment. According to the
opinion of several interpreters, the rich man here stands in the sense
of the ungodly. In this, even _Luther_ (marginal note: "rich man, one
who in his doings founds himself on riches," _i.e._, an ungodly man),
and _Calvin_ had preceded them. The assertion that the rich, can simply
stand for the wicked, can neither be proved from Job xxvii. 19 (for
there, according to the context, the rich is equivalent to "he who is
wicked, notwithstanding his riches"), nor from the word of the Lord in
Matt. xix. 23: δυσκόλως πλούσιος εἰσελεύσεται εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τῶν
οὐρανῶν. For that which, on a special occasion, the Lord here says of
the rich, applies to the poor also. Poverty, not less than wealth, is
encompassed with obstacles to conversion, which can be removed only by
the omnipotence of divine grace. According to Matt. xiii. 22, the word
is not only choked by the deceitfulness of riches, but is as much so by
care also, the dangers of which are particularly set forth by our Lord
in Matt. vi. 25 ff. In Prov. xxx. 8, 9 it is said: "Give me neither
poverty nor riches, lest I be full and deny thee, and say: Where is the
Lord? or lest I be poor and steal, and take the name of my God in
vain." The dangers of riches are more frequently pointed out in
Scripture than those of poverty; but this fact is accounted for by the
circumstance, that riches are surrounded [Pg 297] with a glittering
appearance, and that it is therefore necessary to warn those who are
apt to choose them for their highest good. _Stier_ rightly calls to
mind the promise of earthly blessings to those who fear God. But the
circumstance must not be overlooked that the rich comes here into
consideration, chiefly as to his _burial_. The Prophet would then not
only proceed from the idea that all rich people are wicked, but also
would simply suppose that all the rich receive an ignominious burial.
But of that, the parable of the rich man in Luke xvi. 22, knows
nothing: ἀπέθανε δὲ καὶ ὁ πλούσιος καὶ ἐτάφη, according to his riches;
it is in hell only that he receives his reward. In opposition to
_Gesenius_, _Hitzig_ remarks: "That transition of the signification is
a fable." Following the example of _Martini_ he derives עשיר from the
Arabic. But in opposition to that, _Gesenius_ again remarks in the
_Thesaurus_: "_Sed haud minoribus difficultatibus laborat ea ratio, qua
improbitatis significatum voluerunt Martinius et Hitzigius, collata
nimirum radice_ עשר "_caespitavit_." _Tum enim haec radix nullam
prorsum cum verbo_ עשר _necessitudinem habet, ita ut_ עשיר _h. l._ απ.
λεγ. _esset; tum caespitandi vis nusquam ad peccatum, licet ad fortunam
adversam, translata est._" If, with words of such frequent occurrence,
it were allowable to search in the dialects, the business of the
expounder would be a very ungrateful one. Nor does the form, which is
commonly passive, favour this interpretation. According to _Beck_, עשיר
is another form for עריץ. Others would change the reading. _Ewald_
proposes עשיק; Böttcher, עשי רע. Against all those conjectures,
moreover, the circumstance militates, that, according to them, the
verse would still belong to the humiliation of the Servant of God;
whereas the description of the glorification had already begun in the
preceding verse. For בְמותיו "in His death," _Gesenius_ and others
propose to read בָמותיו, to which they assign the signification "His
tomb-hill." But, altogether apart from this arbitrary change of the
vowels, there is opposed to this conjecture the circumstance, that במה
never occurs of the grave. According to _Gesenius_, במות, in Ezek.
xliii. means "tombs;" but the common signification "high places," must
be retained there also. In a spiritual point of view the sanctuaries of
the Lord had become "high places."

Ver. 10. "_And the Lord was pleased painfully to crush_ [Pg 298] _Him:
when His soul hath given restitution, He shall see seed, He shall
prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper through
His hand._"

_And the Lord was pleased_--This pleasure of the Lord is not such an
one as proceeds from caprice. The ground on which it rests has already
been minutely exhibited in what precedes. By the vicarious influence of
this suffering, peace is to be acquired for mankind; and since this
object is based upon the divine nature, upon God's mercy, the choice of
the means also, by which alone it could be attained (for, without a
violation of the divine character, sin could not remain unpunished),
must be traced to the divine character. _Here_ the ground on which the
pleasure rests is stated in the words immediately following,--a
connection which is clearly indicated by the obvious relation in which
the חפץ יהוה of the close stands to יהוה חפץ of the beginning; so that
the sense is: It was the pleasure, &c., and this for the purpose that,
after having made an offering for sin, He should see seed, &c. Hence
the pleasure of the Lord has this in view:--that the will of the Lord
should be realized, His Servant glorified, and the salvation of mankind
promoted. _Painfully to crush Him._ חלה "to be sick," "to suffer
pains." In this sense the _Niphal_ occurs in Amos vi. 6, and the
participle נחלה in the signification "painful," "grievous," in Nah.
iii. 19; Jer. xiv. 17, and other passages, In _Hiphil_ it means: "to
make painful," Mic. vi. 13. The common explanation, "The Lord was
pleased to crush Him, He has made Him sick," has this against it, that
Copula and Suffix are wanting in החלי, and that the word would come in
unconnected, and in a very disagreeable manner. And then the passage in
Micah, which we have quoted, decides against it.--_When His soul hath
given restitution._ There cannot be any doubt that, in a formal point
of view, it is the soul which gives restitution. _Knobel's_
explanation: "His soul gives itself," is not countenanced by the _usus
loquendi_; שים is not a reflective verb. As little can we suppose with
_Hofmann_ that תשים is the second person, and an address to Jehovah. In
opposition to this view, there is not only the circumstance that
Jehovah is spoken _of_ before and afterwards, but, in a material point
of view, the circumstance also, that offerings for sin, and, generally,
all sacrifices, were never offered up _by_ God, [Pg 299] but always
_to_ God. The fact also, that according to the sequel, the Servant of
God receives the reward for His meritorious work, proves that it is
He who offers up the sacrifice. But, on the other hand, it is, in point
of fact, the soul only which can be the _offering_, the _restitution_;
for it could scarcely be imagined that, just here, that should
be omitted on which everything mainly depends. It is sufficiently
evident, from what precedes, _who_ it is that offers the restitution;
what the restitution was, it was necessary distinctly to point out.
_Farther_--In the case of sacrifices, it is just the soul upon which
every thing depends; so that if the soul be mentioned in a context
which treats of sacrifices, it is, _a priori_, probable that it will be
the object offered up. In Lev. xvii. 11, it is said: "For the soul of
the flesh is in the blood, and I give it to you upon the altar, to
atone for your souls, for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for
the soul," viz., by the soul "_per animam, vi animae in eo sanguine
constantis_" (_Gussetius_).[8] The soul, when thus considered as the
passive object, is here therefore in a high degree in its proper place;
and there can the less be any doubt of its occurring here in this
sense, that it occurs twice more in vers. 11 and 12, of the natural
psychical life of the Servant of God, which was given up to suffering
and death. But, on the other hand, if the soul be considered as the
active object, it stands here at all events rather idle,--a
circumstance which is sufficiently apparent from the supposition of
several interpreters, that נפש "soul," stands here simply for the
personal pronoun,--"His soul," for "He," a _usus loquendi_ which occurs
in Arabic, but not in Hebrew. And, strictly speaking, the offering of
the sacrifice does not belong to the soul, but to the spirit of the
Servant of God, compare Heb. ix. 14, according to which passage, Christ
διὰ πνεύματος αἰωνίου ἑαυτὸν προσήνεγκεν ἄμωμον τῷ θεῷ; and on the
subject of the difference between soul and spirit, compare my
Commentary on Ps. iv. p. lxxxvii. But how will it now be possible to
reconcile and harmonize [Pg 300] our two results, that, in a formal
point of view, the soul is that which offers up, and, in a material
point of view, that which is offered up? By the hypothesis that, _in a
rhetorical way of speaking, that is here assigned to the soul as an
action which, in point of fact, is done upon it._ All that is necessary
is to translate: "If His soul puts or gives a trespass-offering;" for,
"to put," stands here, as it does so frequently, in the sense of "to
give," compare Ezek. xx. 28, where it is used in this sense in
reference to sacrifice. But, in point of fact, this is equivalent to:
"If it is made a trespass-offering," or, "If He, the Servant of God,
offers it as a trespass-offering." It is analogous to this when, in Job
xiv. 22, the soul of the deceased laments; and a cognate mode of
representation prevails in Rev. vi. 9, where, to the souls of the
slain, life is assigned for the sole purpose of their giving utterance
to that which was the result of the thought regarding them, in
combination with the circumstances of the time. To a certain degree
analogous is also chap. lx. 7, where it is said of the sacrificial
animals: "They ascend, for my pleasure, mine altar." The fact that it
is in reality the soul which is offered up, is confirmed also by the
remarkable reference to the passage before us in the discourses of our
Lord. Our Lord says in John x. 12: ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ποιμὴν ὁ καλός· ὁ ποιμὴν
ὁ καλὸς τὴν χυχὴν αὑτοῦ τίθησιν ὑπὲρ τῶν προβάτων. Ver. 15: καὶ τὴν
χυχήν μου τίθημι ὑπὲρ τῶν προβάτων. Vers. 17, 18: διὰ τοῦτο ὁ
πατὴρ με ἀγαπᾷ, ὅτι ἐγὼ τίθημι τὴν ψυχήν μου ἵνα πάλιν λάβω αὐτήν.
Οὐδεὶς αἴρει αὐτὴν ἀπʼ ἐμοῦ, ἀλλʼ ἐγὼ τίθημι αὐτὴν ἀπʼ ἐμαυτοῦ·
ἐξουσίαν ἔχω θεῖναι αὐτήν, καὶ ἐξουσίαν ἔχω πάλιν λαβεῖν αὐτήν.
In John xv. 13: μείζονα ταύτης ἀγάπην οὐδεὶς ἔχει ἵνα τὶς τὴν ψυχὴν
αὐτοῦ θῇ ὑπὲρ φίλων αὑτοῦ. The expression: "To put one's soul for some
one," does not, independently and by itself, occur anywhere else in the
New Testament; in John xiii. 37, 38, Peter takes the word out of the
mouth of the Saviour, and in 1 John iii. 16, it is used in reference to
those declarations of our Lord. The expression is nowhere met with in
any profane writers, nor in the Hellenistic _usus loquendi_. The
following reasons prove that it refers to the Old Testament, and
especially to the passage under consideration. 1. Its Hebraizing
character. _De Wette_ and _Lücke_ erroneously take θεῖναι in the sense
of laying down; but that is too negative. It is evident that the
Hebraism "to put," instead of "to give," has been [Pg 301] transferred
into Greek, as is proved by the synonymous δοῦναι τὴν ψυχὴν αὑτοῦ in
Mark x. 45; Matt. xx. 28.--2. The fact that the same uncommon
expression occurs not fewer than five times in the same discourse of
Christ, and that so intentionally and emphatically, is explicable only
when it was thereby intended to point to an important fundamental
passage of the Old Testament.--3. In the discourses of our Lord, the
expression is, no less than in the passage before us, used of His
sacrificial death.--If, then, it be established that those passages in
which our Lord speaks of a _putting_ of His soul, refer to the passage
under consideration, this must be acknowledged of those also in which
He speaks of a _giving_ of His soul, as in Matt. xx. 28: δοῦναι τὴν
ψυχὴν αὑτοῦ λύτρον ἀντὶ πολλῶν, where the λύτρον clearly points to the
אשם here. In all those utterances, the Saviour simply has reduced the
words to what they signify, just as, in quoting the passage Zech. xiii.
7, in Matt. xxvi. 31, He likewise drops the rhetorical figure, the
address to the sword. He himself appears simply as He who offers up;
the soul is that which is offered up.--אשם is, in Numb. v. 5, called
that of which some one has unjustly robbed another, and which he is
bound to _repay_ to him. An essential feature of sin is the _robbing
of God_ which is thereby committed, the debt thereby incurred, which
implies the necessity of _recompence_. All sin-offerings are, in
the Mosaic economy, at the same time debt-offerings; and this feature
is very intentionally and emphatically pointed out in them. If,
besides the sin-offerings, there is still established a kind of
trespass-offerings, the אשם, for sins in which the idea of incurring a
debt comes out with special prominence, this is done only with the
view, that this feature, thus brought forward by itself and
independently, may be so much the more deeply impressed, in order that,
in the other sin-offerings too, it may be the more clearly perceived.
Compare the investigation on the sin-offerings and trespass-offerings
in my work on the _Genuineness of the Pentateuch_, ii. p. 174 ff. But
the sin- and trespass-offerings of the Old Testament typically point to
a true spiritual sin-and trespass-offering; and their chief object was
to awaken in the people of God the consciousness of the necessity of
substitution (compare my Book: _Die Opfer der Heil. Schrift_, Berlin
1852). This antetypical sacrifice will be offered up by the true
High-Priest. For the sins of the human race which [Pg 302] without
compensation, cannot be forgiven, He furnishes the restitution which
could not be paid by the sinners, and thereby works out the
justification of the sinner before God.--To the trespass-offering here,
all those passages of the New Testament point, in which Christ is
spoken of as the sacrifice for our sins, especially 2 Cor. v. 21, where
the apostle says that God made Christ to be ἁμαρτρία for us, that in
Him we might be made righteous before God; Rom. viii. 3, according to
which God sent Christ περὶ ἁμαρτρίας, as a sin-offering; Rom. iii. 25,
where Christ is called ἱλαστήριον, propitiation; 1 John ii. 2: καὶ
αὐτὸς ἱλασμός ἐστι περὶ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν, iv. 10; Heb. ix. 14.--The אִם
at the beginning must not be explained by "_as_" a signification,
which it never has; it has its ordinary signification "when," and the
Future is to be understood as a real Future: the offering of the
trespass-offering is the _condition_ of His seeing, &c., and, according
to the context, indeed, the absolutely _necessary_ condition. The
translation: "Even if" could proceed from one only who had not
understood this context. It is not death in general, but sacrificial
death, which is specially spoken of; and to such a death, which is a
necessary foundation of the glorification, and especially the
foundation of "He shall see seed," "when" only is suitable, and not
"even if."--In the words: "He shall see seed, prolong His days," that
is, in a higher sense, promised to this Servant of God, which, under
the Old Testament, was considered as a distinguished divine blessing.
The spiritual interpretation has the less difficulty, that it must
necessarily be granted in the case of אשם, immediately preceding. Just
in the same relation in which the sin-offering of the Servant of God
stands to the sin-offering of the bullocks and goats, does His
posterity, the length of His days, stand to the ordinary posterity and
length of days. The _seed_ of the Servant of God, identical with His
generation, in ver. 8, are just those for whom, according to the words
immediately preceding, He offers His soul as a trespass-offering--the
many who, according to ver. 12, are assigned to Him as His portion;
who, according to chap. lii. 15, are to be sprinkled by Him; who,
according to ver. 11, are to be justified by Him; they whose sins He
has taken upon Him (ver. 5), and for whom He intercedes before God,
ver. 12. Even in the Old Testament, the word "children" is frequently
used in a spiritual [Pg 303] sense. In Gen. vi. 2, believers appear as
the children of God. The Israelites are not unfrequently designated as
sons of Jehovah. Those prophets who were endowed with specially rich
gifts, were surrounded by a crowd of _sons_ of the prophets. The wise
man, too, looks upon his disciples as his spiritual sons, Prov. iv. 20,
xix. 27; Eccles. xii. 12. In the New Testament, the Lord addresses the
man sick of the palsy by τέκνον. Matt. ix. 2; and with special
emphasis. His apostles as _little children_, τεκνία ἔτι μικρὸν μεθʼ
ὑμῶν εἰμι, John xiii. 33; and the Apostles, too, consider those who
have been awakened by their ministry as their spiritual children, 1
Cor. iv. 17; 1 Tim. i. 2; 1 Pet. v. 13. _The thought is this--that in
the sacrificial death of the Servant of God there will be an animating
power; that, just thereby, He will found His Church._ The words: "He
shall prolong His days," allude, as it appears, to the promise which
was given to David and his seed, comp. Ps. xxi 5: "He asked life of
thee, and thou gavest it to him, even length of days for ever and
ever;" 1 Sam. vii. 13: "I will establish the throne of His kingdom for
ever," comp. ver. 16; Ps. lxxxix. 5, cxxxii. 12,--a promise which found
its final fulfilment in Christ. But the long life here must not be
viewed as _isolated_, but must be understood in close connection both
with what precedes and what follows. It is the life of the Servant of
God in communion with His seed, in carrying out the will of God. חפץ
never means "business," but always "pleasure;" and this signification,
which occurs in chap. xliv. 28 also, is here the less to be given up,
that the חפץ here, at the close, evidently refers to the חפץ at the
beginning. By this reference, the reason is stated why it was the
_pleasure_ of the Lord to crush Him. According to vers. 11 and 12, it
is the pleasure of God that sinners should be justified through Him, on
the foundation of His vicarious suffering; according to chap. xlii. and
xlix., that Israel should be redeemed, and the Gentiles saved. While
the pleasure of the Lord is prospering through His hand, he, at the
same time, sees seed.

In vers. 11 and 12, we have the closing words of the Lord.

Ver. 11. "_On account of the sufferings of His soul He seeth, He is
satisfied; by His knowledge He, the Righteous One, my Servant, shall
justify the many, and He shall bear their iniquities._"

[Pg 304]

The מן in מעמל is "on account of." In ver. 10, to which the discourse
of the Lord is, in the first instance, connected, the suffering
likewise appears as the cause of the glorification. The Vulgate
translates: "_Pro eo quod laboravit anima ejus_;" the LXX. rather
feebly:  ἀπὸ του̂ πόνου τη̂ς ψυχη̂ς αὐτου̂. With יראה the object is
omitted, and that purposely, in order that the words of God may be
immediately connected with ver. 10. We must supply: the fruits and
rewards of His sufferings announced there (just as, in a manner quite
similar, in chap. xlix. 7, "they shall see," refers to the preceding
verse), specially that the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper through
His hand,--which, in the sequel, is enlarged upon. The words: "He is
satisfied," point out that the blissful consequences of the atoning
suffering will take place in the highest fulness. בדעתו must, according
to the accents, be connected with the subsequent words. The knowledge
does not belong to the Servant of God, in so far as it dwells in Him,
but as it concerns Him; just as the ἀγάπη τοῦ θεοῦ in Luke xi. 42, and
in other passages does not mean the love which dwells in God, but the
love which has God for its object. "By His knowledge" is thus
equivalent to: by their knowing Him, getting acquainted with Him, This
knowledge of the Servant of God according to His principal work, as it
was described in what precedes, viz., mediatorial office, or _faith_,
is the subjective condition of justification. As the efficient cause of
it, the vicarious suffering of the Servant of God was represented in
the preceding context. It is just this, which is subjectively
appropriated by the knowledge of the Servant of God, and which must be
conceived of as essential and living. Thus _J. H. Michaelis_ says: _Per
scientiam sui_ (_Clericus_: _Cognitione sui_), _non qua ipse
cognoscit, sed qua vera fide et fiducia ipse tanquam propitiator
cognoscitur._ The explanation: "By His knowledge (in the sense of
understanding) or wisdom," gives a sense unsuitable to the context. In
the whole prophecy, the Servant of God does not appear as a Teacher,
but as a Redeemer; and the relation of צדיק to הצדיק shows that here,
too, He is considered as such. To supply, as is done by some
interpreters: "in which (knowledge) He perceived the only possible
means of redemption and reconciliation, and gave practical effect to
this knowledge," is, after all, too unnatural; the [Pg 305] discourse
would in that case be so incomplete that we should have been shut up to
conjectures. Others translate: "By His doctrine;" but דעת never means
"doctrine." The explanation: "By His full, absolute knowledge of the
divine counsel" (_Hävernick_), or, "by the absolute knowledge of God"
(_Umbreit_), puts into the simple word, which only means "knowledge,"
more than is implied in it. According to the parallelism with the
subsequent words: "He shall bear their iniquities." and according to
the context (for, in the whole section, the Servant of God is not
described as a _Teacher_, but as a _Priest_, as He who, in order to
expiate our sin, has offered himself up as a sacrifice), הצדיק must not
be translated "to convert," but to "justify." In favour of this
translation is also the construction with ל, which is to be accounted
for from a modification of the signification: "to bring righteousness."
But it is specially the position of צדיק which is decisive in favour of
it. It is for the justification only that the personal righteousness of
the Servant of God has that significant meaning which is, in this
manner, assigned to it. Moreover, in the _usus loquendi_, the meaning
_to justify_ only occurs. In it, the verb is used, chap. v. 23, l. 8;
and there is no reason for deviating from it in the only passage which
can be adduced in favour of the signification "to convert," viz., Dan.
xii. 3: "And the wise, משכילים, shall shine as the brightness of the
firmament, and _justify_ many as the stars, for ever and ever." In this
passage, that is applied to believers which, in chap. liii., was
ascribed to Christ. Even a certain strangeness in the style makes us
suppose such a transference; and the fact, that Daniel had our passage
specially in view, cannot be doubted, if we compare the משכילים of
Daniel with the ישכיל with which the prophecy under consideration opens
(chap, lii, 13), and Daniel's: "justify many," with the passage before
us. The justification, which in its full sense belongs to Christ the
Head only, is by Daniel ascribed to the "wise," because they are the
instruments through whom many attain justification; _Calvin_: _Quia
causa sunt ministerialis justitiae et salutis multorum._ _Hävernick_
refers, for a comparison, to 1 Tim. iv. 16: "For, in doing this, thou
shalt save both thyself and them that hear thee." עדיק must not be
immediately connected with עבדי; for, in that case, it ought to have
stood after it, and been qualified [Pg 306] by the article. On the
contrary, עדיק stands first, because it stands by itself and
substantively: "The righteous One, My Servant." A similar construction
occurs, Jer. iii., vii. 10: "And she does not turn unto me, the
treacherous one, בגירה, her sister Judah." By thus making צדיק
prominent, and connecting it immediately with הצדיק, it is intended to
point out the close connection in which the righteousness of the
Servant of God, who, although altogether innocent and sinless, ver. 9,
yet suffered the punishment of sin, stands with the justification to be
bestowed by Him. _Maurer_ thus pertinently expresses this: "To many,
for righteous is my Servant, shall He procure righteousness." By these
words thus the יזה, in chap. lii. 15, is explained; and the seal of the
divine confirmation is impressed upon that which, in vers. 4-6, the
believing Church had said, especially upon the words: "By His wounds we
are healed," ver. 5. The "many" points back to chap. liii. 15, and
forms the contrast not to _all_ (_Stier_: "Because He cannot,
overturning all laws, save all by coercion, or arbitrary will,"--a
limitation which would in this context be out of place), but to _few_:
The one, the many, Rom. v. 15.--"And He shall bear their iniquities;"
the iniquities and their punishment, as a heavy burden which the
Servant of God lifts off from those who are groaning under their
weight, and takes upon himself _Jerome_ says: "And He himself shall
bear the iniquities which they could not bear, and by the weight of
which they were borne down." _Calvin_ expresses himself thus: "A
wonderful change indeed! Christ justifies men by giving them His
righteousness, and in exchange. He takes upon Him their sins, that He
may expiate them." In opposition to those who translate: "He _bore_
their iniquities," (the Future might, in that case, he accounted for
from the Prophet's viewing the whole transaction as present), even
_Gesenius_ has remarked that the preceding and subsequent Futures all
refer to the state of glorification. Even the parallelism with יצדיק
shows that we must translate as the LXX. do: καὶ τὰς ἁμαρτίας αὐτω̂ν
αὐτὸς ἀνοίσει. Moreover, the subject of discourse in the whole verse is
not the _acquiring_ of the righteousness, which was done in the state
of humiliation, but the _communication_ of it, as the subjective
condition of which the knowledge of the Servant of God was mentioned in
the preceding clause. [Pg 307] In the case of every one who, after the
exaltation of the Servant of God, fulfils this condition, He takes upon
Himself their sins, _i.e._, He causes His vicarious suffering to be
imputed to them, and grants them pardon. The expression: "He shall bear
their iniquities" is, in point of fact, identical with: "He shall
_justify_ them." The Servant of God has borne the sin once for all; by
the power of His substitution, effected by the shedding of His blood,
He takes upon himself the sins of every individual who _knows_ Him. The
"taking away" is implied in וסבל in so far only, as it is done by
_bearing_. It was only because he was misled by his rationalistic
tendencies, that _Gesenius_ explains: "And He lightens the burden of
their sins, _i.e._, by His doctrine He shall correct them, and thereby
procure to them pardon." By such an explanation he contradicts himself,
inasmuch as, in ver. 4, he referred the bearing of the diseases and
pains to the vicarious satisfaction. It cannot, in any way, be said of
the Teacher, that he takes upon himself iniquities.

Ver. 12. "_Therefore will I give Him a portion in the many, and He
shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He hath poured out His
soul unto death and was numbered with the transgressors, and He beareth
the sin of many, and for the transgressors He shall make

The first words are thus explained by many interpreters: "Therefore I
will give Him mighty ones for His portion, and strong ones He shall
divide as a spoil." But חלק with ב cannot mean simply "to allot,"
(although, indeed, this explanation is given by the LXX.;  διὰ του̂το
αὐτὸς κληρονομήσει πολλοὺς; Vulg.: _ideo dispertiam ei plurimos_); it
only signifies "to give a portion in," Job xxxix. 17. From the
comparison with רבים in ver. 11 and at the close of this verse, as well
as from the reference to the _many nations_ in the sketch, ver. 15, it
is evident that רבים here, too, cannot mean "mighty ones," but "many."
Even elsewhere, the signification "great ones," "mighty ones," appears
oftentimes to be only forced upon רבים. In Job xxxv. 9, the "many" are
the many evil-doers; and in Job xxxii. 9, the utterance: "Not the
_many_ are wise," is explained from the circumstance, that the view
given by Job's friends was that of the great mass. The fact that the את
in the second clause is not the sign of the Accusative, but a
Preposition, [Pg 308] is probable even from the circumstance, that the
former את commonly stands before qualified nouns only; and, farther
from the corresponding; "with the transgressors." But what is
conclusive is, that the phrase חלק שלל always means "to divide spoil,"
never "to distribute as spoil," and that the phrase חלק שלל את גאים "to
divide spoil with the proud" occurs in Prov. xvi. 19. The reason of the
use of this expression lies in the reference to ordinary victors and
conquerors of the world, especially to Cyrus. By His sufferings and
death, the Servant of God shall secure to himself the same successes as
they do by sword and bow. Although participating in the government of
the world, and dividing spoil are here ascribed to the Servant of
God, yet the participation in worldly triumphs is not spoken of
On the contrary, behind the _equality_ which has given rise to the
secular-looking expression (the thought is merely this, that through
Christ and His sacrificial death, the Kingdom of God enters into the
rank of world-conquering powers), a contrast lies concealed,--as
appears, 1. From what is stated, in the preceding verses, about the
manner in which the Servant of God has attained to this glory. Worldly
triumphs are not acquired by the deepest _humiliation_, by sufferings
and death voluntarily undergone for the salvation of mankind. 2. From
that which the Servant of God, in the state of glory, is to do to those
who turn to Him. According to chap. lii. 15, He is to sprinkle them
with His blood; and this sprinkling is there expressly stated as the
reason of the reverential homage of the Gentile world. He is to justify
them and to bear their sins, ver. 11, and to make intercession for
them, ver. 12. All that does not apply to a worldly conqueror and
ruler.--The merits of the Servant of God are then once more pointed
out,--the merits by which He has acquired so exalted and all-important
a position to himself, and, at the same time, to the Kingdom of God, of
which He is the Head. "Because He hath poured out His soul unto death,"
ערה in the _Niphal_, "to be poured out," means in _Piel_ "to pour out,"
Gen. xxiv. 20, and Ps. cxli. 8, where it is said of the soul: "Do not
pour out my soul," just as here the _Hiphil_ is used. The term has been
transferred to the _soul_ from the _blood_, in which is the soul. Gen.
ix. 4: "Flesh with its soul (namely with its blood) you shall not eat."
Ver. 5: "Your blood in [Pg 309] which your souls." נמנה, "He was
numbered," is here, according to the context, equivalent to: He caused
himself to be numbered; for it is only that which was undergone
voluntarily which can be stated as the reason of the _reward_. This
voluntary undergoing, however, is not implied in the word itself, but
only in the connection with: "He hath poured out His soul;" for that
signifies a voluntary act. The פשעים here, just as the רשעים in ver. 9,
are not sinners, but criminals. This appears from the connection in
which the being "numbered with the transgressors" stands with the
"pouring out of the soul unto death." We can hence think of executed
criminals only. The pure, innocent One was not only numbered with
sinners, such as all men are, but He was numbered with _criminals_. It
is in this sense also that our Lord understands the words, in His
quotation of them in Luke xxii. 37: λέγω γὰρ ὑμῖν, ὅτι ἕτι τοῦτο τὸ
γεγραμμένον δεῖ τελεσθῆναι ἐν ἐμοί, τό• καὶ μετὰ ἀνόμων ἐλογίσθη, καὶ
γὰρ τὸ περὶ ἐμοῦ τέλος ἔχει; Compare Matt. xxvi. 54, where the Lord
strengthens His disciples against the offence of His being taken a
prisoner, by saying, with a view to the passage before us: πῶς οὖν
πληρωθῶσιν αἱ γραφαὶ, ὅτι οὕτω δεῖ γενέσθαι; ver. 56, where, after
having reproached the guards for having numbered Him with criminals: ὡς
ἐπὶ λῃστὴν ἐξήλθετε μετὰ μαχαιρῶν καὶ ξύλων συλλαβεῖν με, He says to
them: τοῦτο δὲ ὅλον γέγονεν ἵνα πληρωθῶσιν αἱ γραφαὶ τῶν προφητῶν..
Mark, in chap. xv. 28, designates the fact that two robbers were
crucified with Christ, as the most perfect fulfilment of our prophecy.
It was in this fact that it came out most palpably, that Christ had
been made like criminals. The rulers of the people caused two common
criminals to be crucified with Him, just that they might declare that
they put Him altogether among their number.--"And He beareth the sin of
many, and for the transgressors He shall make intercession." By והוא,
it is indicated that the subsequent words are no more to be viewed as
depending on תחת אשר.--יפגיע must not, as is done by the LXX., be
referred to the state of humiliation; for the Future in the preceding
verses has reference to the exaltation. The parallel נשא must therefore
be viewed as a _Praeteritum propheticum_. It corresponds with יסבל in
ver. 11, and, like it, does not designate something done but once by
the Servant of God, but something which He does constantly. The
intercession is [Pg 310] here brought into close connection with the
bearing of the sin, by which Christ represents himself as being the
true _sin-offering_ (comp. ver. 10, where He was designated as the true
_trespass-offering_), and hence it is equivalent to: He will make
intercession for sinners, by taking upon himself their sin,--of which
the thief on the cross was the first instance. This close connection,
and the deep meaning suggested by it, are overlooked and lost by those
expositors who, in the intercession, think of prayer only. _The servant
of God, on the contrary, makes intercession, by pleading before God His
merit, as the ground of the acceptance of the transgressors, and of the
pardon of their sins._ This is evident from the connection also in
which: "For the transgressors He shall make intercession," stands with:
"He was numbered with the transgressors." The vicarious suffering is
thereby pointed out as the ground of the intercession. _Calvin_ says:
"Under the Old Testament dispensation, the High-priest, who never went
in without blood, made intercession for the people. What was there
foreshadowed has been fulfilled in Christ. For, in the first place. He
offered up the sacrifice of His body, and shed His blood, and thus
suffered the punishment due to us. And, in the second place, in order
that the expiation might profit us. He undertakes the office of an
advocate, and makes intercession for all who, by faith, lay hold of
this sacrifice." Comp. Rom. viii. 34: ὃς καὶ ἐντυγχάνει ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν;
Hebr. ix. 24, according to which passage Christ is entered into the
holy places νῦν ἐμφανισθῆναι τῷ προσώπῳ τοῦ θεοῦ ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν; 1 John ii.
1: παράκλητον ἔχομεν πρὸς τὸν πατέρα Ἰησοῦν Χριστὸν δίκαιον.

                           * * * * * * * * * *

We have hitherto expounded the passage before us without any regard to
the difference of the interpretation as to the whole, and have supposed
the reference to Christ to be the correct one. But it is still
incumbent upon us: I. to give the history of the interpretation;
II. to refute the arguments against the Messianic interpretation;
III. to state the arguments in favour of it; and IV. to show that the
non-Messianic interpretation is untenable.

[Footnote 1: One needs only to consider passages such as this, to be
enabled to distinguish between the ideal and real Present, and to be
convinced of the utter futility of the chief argument against the
genuineness of the second part, viz., that the Babylonish exile appears
as present. "Proceeding from the certainty of deliverance"--so _Hitzig_
remarks--"the Prophet here _beholds_ in spirit that going on, to which,
in chap. xl. 9, he exhorts." If the Prophet beholds at all in the
spirit, why should he not see in spirit the misery also?]

[Footnote 2: _Simonis. Onom._: יזיה, _quem aspergat_, _i.e._,
_purificet et expiet Domimus_; _Gesenius_: _quod vix aliter explicari
potest quam_: _quem consperget_, _i.e._, _expiabit Jehova._ _Fürst_
gives a different derivation; but it at once shows itself to be

[Footnote 3: In order to defend this explanation, interpreters have
referred to the LXX: οὕτω θαυμάσονται ἔθνη πολλὰ ἐπʼ αὐτῳ̂; but even
_Martini_ remarks: "From a dark passage, they have tried, by ingenious
conjecturing, to bring out any sense whatsoever."]

[Footnote 4: Thus _Theodoret_ says: "For they who did not receive the
prophetic promises and announcements, but served idols, shall, through
the messengers of the truth, see the power of the promised One, and
perceive His greatness." _Jerome_: "The rulers of the world, who had
not the Law and the Prophets, and to whom no prophecies concerning Him
were given, even they shall see and perceive. By the comparison with
them, the hardness of the Jews is reproved, who, although they saw and
heard, yet verified Isaiah's prophecy against them." _Calvin_: "The
Jews had, through the Law and the Prophets, heard something of Christ,
but to the Gentiles He was altogether unknown. Hence it follows that
these words properly refer to the Gentiles."]

[Footnote 5: According to _Knobel_, the author is supposed to speak, in
chap. liii. 1, in his own name and that of the other prophets; in vers.
2-6, in the name of the whole people; in vers. 7-10, in his own name.
An explanation which is compelled to resort to such changes, without
their being in any way clearly and distinctly intimated, pronounces its
own condemnation.]

[Footnote 6: _Gesenius_: _Neglecta actatis notione saepe est genus
hominum, in bonam partem--in malam partem_;--and in reference to the
passage under consideration: _Genus ejus, Servi Jehovae, sunt homines
qui iisdem cum illo studiis tenentur._ In the same manner it is
explained by _Maurer_, who refers to Ps. xiv. 5, xxiv. 6.]

[Footnote 7: The double למו in Deut. xxxiii. 2 refers to Israel, not to
God. In reference to the למו in Is. xliv. 15, _J. H. Michaelis_
remarks: _iis talibus diis._ ver. 7. But the suffix rather refers to
the trees, ver. 14; comp. מהם in ver. 15. If construed thus, the sense
is much more expressive. In Job xxii. 2, משכיל is used collectively. In
Ps. xi. 7, the plural suffix is to be explained from the richness and
fulness of the Divine Being. These are all the passages which _Ewald_
quotes in § 247 d.]

[Footnote 8: Thus _Bähr_, _Symbolik_, ii. S. 207, says: It is not the
material elements of the blood which make it a means of expiation, but
it is the נפש which is connected with it, which is in it, whose
instrument and bearer it is, which gives to it atoning power. The נפש
is thus the centre around which, in the last instance, everything
moves. This is especially confirmed by the circumstance, that the
object of the expiation to be effected by the נפש in the sacrificial
blood, is, according to this passage, the נפש of him who offers up the

[Pg 311]


                           A. WITH THE JEWS.

1. There cannot be any doubt that, in those earlier times, when the
Jews were still more firmly attached to the tradition of their
Fathers,--when the carnal disposition had not yet become so entirely
prevalent among them,--and when controversy with the Christians had not
made them so narrow-minded in their Exegesis, the Messianic explanation
was pretty generally received, at least by the better portion of the
people. This is admitted even by those later interpreters who pervert
the prophecy, _e.g._, _Abenezra_, _Jarchi_, _Abarbanel_, _Moses
Nachmanides_. _Gesenius_ also says: "It was only the later Jews who
abandoned this interpretation,--no doubt, in consequence of their
controversies with the Christians." We shall here collect, from the
existing Jewish writings, the principal passages in which this
interpretation occurs. The whole translation of the Chaldee Paraphrast,
_Jonathan_, notwithstanding the many perversions in which he indulges,
refers the prophecy to Christ. He paraphrases the very first clause: הא
יצלח עבדי משיהא "behold my Servant Messiah shall prosper." The _Medrash
Tanchuma_, an old commentary on the Pentateuch (ed. Cracov. f. 53, c.
3, l. 7), remarks on the words: הֵנִּה יַשְֹכִּיל עַבְדִּי (ed. Cracov. f. 53, c.
3, l. 7): המשיח ירום וגבה ונשא מאוד ורים מן אברהם ונשא ממשה וגדה מן
מלאכי השרת זה מלך ("this is the King Messiah who is high and lifted up,
and very exalted, more exalted than Abraham, elevated above Moses,
higher than the ministering angels"). This passage is remarkable for
this reason also, that it contains the doctrine of the exaltation of
the Messiah above all created beings, and even above the angels
themselves, and, hence, the doctrine of His divinity,--a doctrine
contested by the later Jews. Still more remarkable is a passage from
the very old book _Pesikta_, cited in the treatise _Abkath Rokhel_
(אבקת רוכל, printed separately at Venice in 1597, and reprinted in
_Hulsii Theologia Judaica_, where [Pg 312] this passage occurs p. 309):
"When God created His world He stretched out His hand under the throne
of His glory, and brought forth the soul of the Messiah. He said to
Him: 'Wilt thou heal and redeem my sons after 6000 years?' He answered
Him: 'I will.' Then God said to Him: 'Wilt thou then also bear the
punishment in order to blot out their sins, as it is written: '_But he
bore our diseases_' (chap. liii. 4)? And He answered Him: I will
joyfully bear them." In this passage, as well as in several others
which will be afterwards cited, the doctrine of the vicarious
sufferings of the Messiah is contained, and derived from Is. liii.,
although the later Jews rejected this doctrine. In a similar manner,
Rabbi _Moses Haddarshan_ expresses himself on Gen. i. 3 (Latin in
_Galatinus_, _De Arcanis Cath. ver._ p. 329; in the original in
_Raimund Martini Pug. Fid._ fol. 333; comp. _Wolf_, _Bibl. Hebr._ i. p.
818): "Jehovah said: Messiah, thou my righteous One, those who are
concealed with thee will be such that their sins will bring a heavy
yoke upon thee.--The Messiah answered: Lord of the universe, I
cheerfully take upon myself all those plagues and sufferings; and
immediately the Messiah, out of love, took upon himself all those
plagues and sufferings, as is written in Is. liii.: He was abused and
oppressed." Compare another passage, in which ver. 5 is referred to the
Messiah, in _Raim. Martin_, fol. iv. 30. In the Talmud (_Gemara_,
_tract. Sanhedrim_, chap. xi.), it is said of the Messiah: "He sits
before the gates of the city of Rome among the sick and the leprous"
(according to ver. 3). To the question: What is the name of the
Messiah, it is answered: He is called חיוורא "_the leper_," and, in
proof, ver. 4 is quoted according to the erroneous interpretation of
נגוע by _leprosus_,--an interpretation which is met with in _Jerome_
also.--In the work _Rabboth_ (a commentary on the Pentateuch and the
five _Megilloth_, which, as to its principal portions, is very old,
although much interpolated at later periods, and which, according to
the statements of the Jews, was composed about the year of our Lord
300, comp. _Wolf_, I. c. II., p. 1423, sqq. in commentary on Ruth ii.
14 [p. 46, _ed. Cracov._]), the fifth verse is quoted, and referred to
the sufferings of the Messiah.--In the _Medrash Tillim_ (an allegorical
commentary on the Psalms, printed at Venice in 1546), it is said in Ps.
ii. 7, (fol. 4): "The things of King Messiah and His mysteries are
announced [Pg 313] in the Law, the Prophets, and the Hagiographa. In
the Prophets, _e.g._, in the passage Is. lii. 13, and xlii. 1; in the
Hagiographa, _e.g._, Ps. cx. and Dan. vii. 13." In the book _Chasidim_
(a collection of moral tales, printed at Venice and Basle in 1581) p.
60, the following story is to be found: "There was, among the Jews, a
pious man, who in summer made his bed among fleas, and in winter put
his feet into cold water; and when it froze, his feet froze at the same
time. When asked why he did so, he answered, that he too must make some
little expiation, since the Messiah bears the sin of Israel (משיח סובל
עונות ישראל)." The ancient explanation is, from among the later
interpreters, assented to by _Rabbi Alschech_ (his commentary on Is.
liii. is given entire in _Hulsii Theologia Judaica_, p. 321 sqq.). He
says: "Upon the testimony of tradition, our old Rabbins have
unanimously admitted that King Messiah is here the subject of
discourse. For the same reason, we, in harmony with them, conclude that
King David, _i.e._, the Messiah, must be considered as the subject of
this prophecy,--a view which is indeed quite obvious." We shall see,
however, subsequently, that he adheres to the right explanation only in
the first three verses, and afterwards abandons it. But passages
especially remarkable are found in the cabbalistic book _Sohar_. It is
true that the age of the book is very uncertain; but it cannot be
proved to have been composed under Christian influence. We shall here
quote only some of the principal passages. (_Sohar_, ed. Amstelod. p.
ii. fol. 212; ed. _Solisbac._ p. ii. f. 85; _Sommeri_ theol. _Sohar_
p. 94.) "When the Messiah is told of the misery of Israel in their
captivity, and that they are themselves the cause of it, because they
had not cared for, nor sought after the knowledge of their Lord, He
weeps aloud over their sins; and for this reason it is written in
Scripture (Isa. liii. 5): He was wounded for our transgressions, He was
smitten for our iniquities."--"In the garden of Eden there is an
apartment which is called the sick chamber. The Messiah goes into this
apartment, and summons all the diseases, all the pains, and all the
chastisements of Israel to come upon Him, and they all come upon Him.
And unless He would take them away from Israel, and lay them upon
himself, no man would be able to bear the chastisements of Israel,
which are inflicted upon them on account of the Law, as it is [Pg 314]
written: But He took upon himself our sicknesses," &c. In another
passage (_Sohar_, _ed. Amstelod_ p. iii. f. 218; _Solisbac._ iii. f.
88; _Sommeri theol. Sohar_ p. 89; _Auszüge aus dem Buche Sohar, mit
Deutscher Uebersetzung_, Berlin 52, S. 32), it is said: "When God
wishes to give to the world a means of healing. He smites one of the
pious among them, and for his sake He gives healing to the whole world.
Where, in Scripture, do we find this confirmed? In Isa. liii. 5, where
it is said: He was wounded for our transgressions. He was crushed for
our sins."

What has been said will be a sufficient proof that the ancient Jews,
following tradition, referred the passage to the Messiah; and, as it
appears from the majority of the passages quoted, referred it indeed to
the suffering Messiah. But it would really have been a strange
phenomenon, if this interpretation had remained the prevailing one
among the Jews. According to the declaration of the Apostle, the Cross
of Christ is to the Jews a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks
foolishness. The idea of a suffering and expiating Messiah was
repugnant to the carnally minded Jews. And the reason why it was
repugnant to them is, that they did not possess that which alone makes
that doctrine acceptable, viz., the knowledge of sin, and the
consciousness of the need of salvation,--because, not knowing the
holiness of God, and being ignorant of the import of the Law, they
imagined that through their own strength, by the works of the Law, they
could be justified before God. What they wished for was only an outward
deliverance from their misery and their oppressors, not an internal
deliverance from sin. For this reason, they looked exclusively to those
passages of the Old Testament in which the Messiah in glory is
announced; and those passages they interpreted in a carnal manner. In
addition to this, there were other reasons which could not fail to
render them averse to refer this passage to the suffering Messiah. As
they could not compare the prophecy with the fulfilment,--the deep
abasement of the Messiah which is here announced, the contempt which He
endures, His violent death, appeared to them irreconcileable with those
passages in which nothing of the kind is mentioned, but, on the
contrary, the glorified Messiah only is foretold. They had too little
knowledge of the nature [Pg 315] of prophetic vision to enable them to
perceive that the prophecies are connected with the circumstances of
the time, and, therefore, exhibit a one-sided character,--that they
consist of separate fragments which must be put together in order that
a complete representation of the subject may be obtained. They imagined
that because, in some passages, the Messiah is at once brought before
us in glory, just because He, in this way, represented Himself to the
prophets. He must also appear at once in glory. And, lastly, by their
controversy with Christians, they were led to seek for other
explanations. As long as they understood the passage as referring to a
suffering Messiah, they could not deny that there existed the closest
agreement between the prophecy and the history of Christ. Now since the
Christians, in their controversies with the Jews, always proceeded from
the passages, which by _Hulsius_ is pertinently called a _carnificina
Judaeorum_, and always returned to it,--since they saw what impression
was, in numerous cases, produced by the controversy of the Christians
founded upon this passage, nothing was more natural, than that they
should endeavour to discover an expedient for remedying this evil. And
the discovery of such an expedient was the more easy to them, the more
that, in general, they were destitute of a sense of truth, and
especially of exegetical skill, so that they could not see any reason
for rejecting an interpretation on the ground of its being forced and

In proof of what we have said, we here briefly present the arguments
with which _Abarbanel_ opposes the explanation of a suffering and
expiating divine Messiah. In the first place, by the absurd remark that
the ancient teachers did not intend to give a literal, but an
allegorical explanation, he seeks to invalidate the authority of the
tradition on which the later Jewish interpreters laid so great a
stress, whensoever and wheresoever it agrees with their own
inclination; and, at the same time, he advances the assertion that they
referred the first four verses only to the Messiah,--an assertion which
the passages quoted by us show to be utterly erroneous. Then, after
having combatted the doctrine of original sin, he continues: "Suppose
even that there exists such a thing as original sin,--when God, whose
power is infinite, was willing to pardon, was His hand too short to
redeem (Isa. l. 2), so [Pg 316] that, on this account, He was obliged
to take flesh, and to impose chastisements upon himself? And even
although I were to grant that it was necessary that a single individual
of the human race should bear this punishment, in order to make
satisfaction for all, it would, at all events, have been at least
more appropriate that some one from among ourselves, some wise man or
prophet, had taken upon him the punishment, than that God himself
should have done so. For, supposing even that He became incarnate,
He would not be like one of us.--It is altogether impossible and
self-contradictory that God should assume a body; for God is the first
cause, infinite, and omnipotent. He cannot, therefore, assume flesh,
and subsist as a finite being, and take upon himself man's punishment,
of which nothing whatsoever is written in Scripture.--If the prophecy
referred to the Messiah, it must refer either to the Messiah ben
Joseph, or the Messiah ben David (compare the Treatises at the close of
this work). The former will perish in the beginning of his wars;
neither that which is said of the exaltation, nor that which is said of
the humiliation of the Servant of God applies to him; much less can the
latter be intended." (There then follows a quotation of several
passages treating of the exalted Messiah.)

That it was nevertheless difficult for the carnally-minded among the
Jews to reject the tradition, is seen from the paraphrase of
_Jonathan_. This forms a middle link between the ancient
interpretation--which was retained, even at a later period, by the
better portion of the nation--and the recent interpretation. _Jonathan_
(see his paraphrase, among others, in _Lowth's_ comment, edited by
_Koppe_, on the passage; and in _Hulsii Theol. Judaica_) acknowledges
the tradition, in so far, that he refers the whole prophecy to the
Messiah. On the other hand, he endeavours to satisfy his repugnance to
the doctrine of a suffering and expiating Messiah, by referring,
through the most violent perversions and most arbitrary interpolations,
to the state of glory, every thing which is here said of the state of
humiliation. A trace of the right interpretation may yet perhaps be
found in ver. 12, where _Jonathan_ says that the Messiah will give
_His_ soul unto death; but it may be that thereby he understands
merely the intrepid courage with which the Messiah will expose himself
to all [Pg 317] dangers, in the conflict with the enemies of the

This mode of dealing with the text, however, could satisfy only a few.
They, therefore, went farther, and sought for an entirely different
subject of the prophecy. How very little they were themselves convinced
of the soundness of their interpretation, and satisfied with its
results, may be seen from the example of _Abarbanel_, who advances two
explanations which differ totally, viz., one referring it to the Jewish
people, and the other to king Josiah, and then allows his readers to
make their choice betwixt the two. It is in truth only, that there is
unanimity and certainty; error is always accompanied by disagreement
and uncertainty. This will appear from the following enumeration of the
various interpretations of this passage, which, at a subsequent period,
were current among the Jews. (The principal non-Messianic
interpretations of this passage are found in the Rabbinical Bibles, and
also in _Hulsius_, _l.c._, p. 339, both in the original and
translation.) The interpreters may be divided into two main classes: 1.
Those who by עבד יהוה understand some collective body; and, 2. Those
who refer the prophecy to a single individual. The first class again
falls into two subdivisions, (_a_), those who make the whole Jewish
people the subject, in contrast to the Gentiles; and (_b_) those who
make the better portion of the Jewish people the subject, in contrast
to the ungodly portion. These views, and their supporters, we shall now
proceed to submit to a closer examination.

1. (_a._) Among the non-Messianic interpreters, the most prevalent
opinion is, that the Jewish people are the subject of the prophecy.
This opinion is found at an early period. At this we need not be
surprised, as the cause which produced the deviation from the Messianic
interpretation existed at a period equally early. When _Origen_ was
making use of this passage against some learned Jews, they answered:
that "that which here was prophesied of one, referred to the whole
people, and was fulfilled by their dispersion." This explanation is
followed by _R. Salomo Jarchi_, _Abenezra_, _Kimchi_, _Abarbanel_,
_Lipmann_ (ספר נצחון, fol. 131). The main features of this view are the
following: The prophecy is supposed to describe the misery of the
people in their present exile, the firmness with [Pg 318] which they
bear it for the glory of God, and resist every temptation to forsake
His law and worship; and the prosperity, power, and glory which shall
be bestowed upon them at the time of the redemption. In vers. 1-10, the
Gentiles are supposed to be introduced as speaking, and making a humble
and penitent confession that hitherto they had adopted an erroneous
opinion of the people of God, and had unjustly despised them on account
of their sufferings, inasmuch as their glory now shows, that it was not
for the punishment of their sins that these sufferings were inflicted
upon them. Some of these interpreters, _e.g._, _Abenezra_ and _Rabbi
Lipmann_, understand, indeed, by the עבד יהוה, the pious portion only
of the people who remained faithful to Jehovah; but this makes no
material difference, inasmuch as they, too, contrast the עבד יהוה with
the heathen nations, and not with the ungodly, or less righteous
portion of the nation, as is done by the interpreters of the following

(_b_). Others consider the appellation עבד יהוה as a collective
designation of the pious, and find in this section the idea of a kind
of vicarious satisfaction made by them for the ungodly. Those
interpreters come nearer the true explanation, in so far as they do
not, like those of the preceding class, set aside the doctrine of
vicarious satisfaction, either by a figurative explanation, or, like
_Kimchi_, by the absurd remark, that this doctrine is an error put into
the mouth of the Gentiles. On the other hand, they depart from the true
explanation, in so far that they generalize that which belongs to a
definite subject, and that, flattering the pride of the natural man,
they ascribe to mere man what belongs only to the God-man. Most
distinctly was this view expressed by the Commentator on the book עין
יעקב or עין ישראל, which has been very frequently printed, and which
contains all sorts of tales from the Talmud. He says: "It is right to
suppose that the whole section contains a prophecy regarding the
righteous ones who are visited by sufferings." He then makes two
classes of righteous men:--those who in general must endure many
sufferings and much misery: and those who are publicly executed, as
_Rabbi Akiba_ and others. He supposes that the Prophet shows the
dignity of both of these classes of righteous men, to both of which the
name of a Servant of God is justly due. A similar opinion is held by
_Rabbi_ [Pg 319] _Alshech_. As we have already seen, he refers only
chap. lii. 13-15 to the Messiah, and to His great glory acquired by His
great sufferings. Then the Prophet speaks, as he supposes, in the name
of all Israel, approves of what God had said, and confesses that, by
this declaration of God regarding the sufferings of the Messiah, they
have received light regarding the sufferings of the godly in general.
They perceive it to be erroneous and rash to infer guilt from
suffering; and, henceforth, when they see a righteous man suffering,
they will think of no other reason, than that he bears their diseases,
and that his chastisements are for their salvation. The Servant of God
is thus supposed to be as it were, a personification of the righteous
ones.--A similar view probably lies at the foundation of those passages
of the Talmud, where some portions of the prophecy under consideration
are referred to Moses, and others to _Rabbi Akiba_, who is revered as a
martyr by the Jews. It does not appear that the prophecy was confined
to Moses or Akiba; but it was referred to them, only in so far as they
belonged to the collective body which is supposed to be the subject of

2. That view which makes a single individual other than the Messiah the
subject of the prophecy, has found, with the Jews, comparatively the
fewest defenders. We have already seen, that, besides the explanation
which makes the Jewish people the subject, _Abarbanel_ advances still
another, which refers it to king Josiah. _Rabbi Saadias Haggaon_
explained the whole section of Jeremiah.

Notwithstanding all these efforts, however, the Rabbins have not
succeeded in entirely supplanting the right explanation, and in thus
divesting the passage of all that is dangerous to their system. Among
the Cabbalistical Jews, it is even still the prevailing one. In
numerous cases, it was just this chapter which formed, to proselytes
from Judaism, the first foundation of their conviction of the truth of


Among Christians, the interpretation has taken nearly the same course
as among the Jews. Similar causes have produced [Pg 320] similar
effects in both cases. By both, the true explanation was relinquished,
when the prevailing tendencies had become opposed to its results. And
if we descend to particulars, we shall find a great resemblance even
between the modes of interpretation proposed by both.

1. Even, _a priori_, we could not but suppose otherwise than that the
Christian Church, as long as she possessed Christ, found Him here also,
where He is so clearly and distinctly set before our eyes,--that as
long as she in general still acknowledged the authority of Christ, and
of the Apostles, she could not but, here too, follow their distinct,
often-repeated testimony. And so, indeed, do we find it to be. With the
exception of a certain Silesian, called _Seidel_--who, given up to
total unbelief, asserted that the Messiah had never yet come, nor
would ever come, (comp. _Jac. Martini l._ 3, _de tribus Elohim_, p.
592)--and of _Grotius_, both of whom supposed Jeremiah to be the
subject, no one in the Christian Church has, for seventeen centuries,
ventured to call in question the Messianic interpretation. On the
contrary, this passage was always considered to be the most distinct
and glorious of all the Messianic prophecies. Out of the great mass of
testimonies, we shall quote a few. _Augustine_, _De Civitate Dei_, i.
18, c. 29, says: "Isaiah has not only reproved the people for their
iniquity, and instructed them in righteousness, and foretold to the
people calamities impending over them in the Future; but he has also a
greater number of predictions, than the other prophets, concerning
Christ and the Church, _i.e._, concerning the King, and the Kingdom
established by Him; so that some interpreters would rather call him an
Evangelist than a Prophet." In proof of this assertion, he then quotes
the passage under consideration, and closes with the words: "Surely
that may suffice! There are in those words some things too which
require explanation; but I think that things which are so clear should
compel even enemies, against their will, to understand them." In a
similar manner he expresses himself in: _De consensu Evangelistarum_ l.
i. c. 31. _Theodoret_ remarks on this passage (_opp. ed. Hal._ t. ii.
p. 358): "The Prophet represents to us, in this passage, the whole
course of His (Christ's) humiliation unto death. Most wonderful is the
power of the Holy Spirit. For that which was to take place after many
generations. He showed [Pg 321] to the holy prophets in such a manner
that they did not merely hear Him declare these things, but saw them."
In a similar manner, _Justin_, _Irenaeus_, _Cyril_ of Alexandria, and
_Jerome_, express themselves. From the Churches of the Reformation, we
shall here quote the testimonies of two of their founders only.
_Zwingle_, in _Annot. ad h. l._ (opp. t. iii. Tur. 1544, fol. 292)
says: "That which now follows is so clear a testimony of Christ, that I
do not know whether, anywhere in Scripture, there could be found
anything more consistent, or that anything could be more distinctly
said. For it is quite in vain that the obstinacy and perversity of the
Jews have tried it from all sides." _Luther_ remarks on the passage:
"And, no doubt, there is not, in all the Old Testament Scriptures, a
clearer text or prophecy, both of the suffering and the resurrection of
Christ, than in this chapter. Wherefore it is but right that it should
be well known to all Christians, yea should be committed to memory,
that thereby we may strengthen our faith, and defend it, chiefly
against the stiff-necked Jews who deny their only promised Christ,
solely on account of the offence of His cross."

It was reserved to the last quarter of the last century to be the first
to reject the Messianic interpretation. _At a time when Naturalism
exercised its sway, it could no longer be retained._[1] For, if this
passage contains a Messianic prophecy at all, its contents offer so
striking an agreement with the history of Christ, that its origin
cannot at all be accounted for in the natural way. Expedients were,
therefore, sought for; and these were so much the more easily found,
that the Jews had, in this matter, already opened up the way. All
that was necessary, was only to appropriate their arguments and
counter-arguments, and to invest them with the semblance of solidity by
means of a learned apparatus.

The non-Messianic interpretation among Christians, like those among the
Jews, may be divided into two main classes: 1. Those which are founded
upon the supposition that a collective [Pg 322] body is the subject of
the prophecy; and 2, those which, by the Servant of God, understand any
other single individual except the Messiah. The first class, again,
falls into several sub-divisions: (_a._), those interpretations which
refer the prophecy to the whole Jewish people; (_b._), those which
refer it to the Jewish people in the abstract; (_c._), those which
refer it to the pious portion of the Jewish people; (_d._), those which
refer it to the order of the priests; (_e._), those which refer it to
the order of the prophets.

1. (_a._) Comparatively the greatest number of non-Messianic
interpreters make the whole Jewish people the subject of the prophecy.
This hypothesis is adopted, among others, by _Doederlein_, (in the
preface and annotations, in the third edition of Isaiah, but in such a
manner that he still wavers betwixt this and the Messianic
interpretation, which formerly he had defended with great zeal); by
_Schuster_ (in a special treatise, Göttingen 1794); by _Stephani_
(_Gedanken über die Entstehung u. Ausbildung der Idee von inem
Messias_, _Nürnberg_ 1787); by the author of the letters on Isaiah
liii., in the 6th vol. of _Eichhorn's Bibliothek_; by _Eichhorn_ (in
his exposition of the Prophets); by _Rosenmüller_ (in the second
edition of his Commentary, leaving to others the interpretation which
referred the prophecy to the prophetic order, although he himself had
first recommended it), and many others. The last who defend it are
_Hitzig_, _Hendewerk_, and _Köster_ (_de Serv. Jeh._ Kiel, 38).
Substantially, it has remained the same as we have seen it among the
Jews. The only difference is, that these expositors understand, by the
sufferings of the Servant of God, the sufferings of the Jewish people
in the Babylonish captivity; while the Jewish interpreters understand
thereby the sufferings of the Jewish people in their present exile.
They, too, suppose that, from vers. 1 to 10, the Gentile nations are
introduced as speaking, and make the penitent confession that they have
formed an erroneous opinion of Israel, and now see that its suffering's
are not the punishment of its own sins, but that it had suffered as a
substitute for their sins.

(_b._) The hypothesis which makes the Jewish people in the
abstract--in antithesis to its single members--the subject of this
prophecy, was discovered by _Eckermann_, _theol. Beiträge_, [Pg 323]
Bd. i. H. i. S. 192 ff. According to _Ewald_, the prophecy refers to
"Israel according to its true idea." According to _Bleek_, the Servant
of God is a "designation of the whole people, but not of the people in
its actual reality, but as it existed in the imagination of the
author,--the ideal of the people."

(_c._) The hypothesis, that the pious portion of the Jewish people--in
contrast to the ungodly--are the subject, has been defended especially
by _Paulus_ (_Memorabilien_, Bd. 3, S. 175-192, and _Clavis_ on
Isaiah). His view was adopted by _Ammon_ (_Christologie_, S. 108 ff.).
The principal features of this view are the following:--It was not on
account of their own sins that the godly portion of the nation were
punished and carried into captivity along with the ungodly, but on
account of the ungodly who, however, by apostatising from the religion
of Jehovah, knew how to obtain a better fate. The ungodly drew from it
the inference that the hope of the godly, that Jehovah would come to
their help, had been in vain. But when the captivity came to an end,
and the godly returned, they saw that they had been mistaken, and that
the hope of the godly was well founded. They, therefore, full of
repentance, deeply lament that they had not long ago repented of their
sins. This view is adopted also by _Von Cölln_ in his _Biblische
Theologie_; by _Thenius_ in _Wiener's Zeitschrift_, ii. 1; by _Maurer_
and _Knobel_. The latter says: "Those who were zealous adherents of the
Theocracy had a difficult position among their own people, and had to
suffer most from foreign tyrants." The true worshippers of Jehovah were
given up to mockery and scorn, to persecution and the grossest abuse,
and were in a miserable and horrible condition, unworthy of men and
almost inhuman. The punishments for sin had to be endured chiefly by
those who did not deserve them. Thus the view easily arose that the
godly suffered in substitution for the whole people.

(_d._) The hypothesis which makes the priestly order the subject, has
been defended by the author of: _Ausführliche Erklärung der sämmtlichen
Weissagungen des A. T._ 1801.

(_e._) The hypothesis which makes the collective body of the prophets
the subject, was first advanced by _Rosenmüller_ in the treatise:
_Leiden und Hoffnungen der Propheten Jehovas_, [Pg 324] in _Gablers
Neuestes theol. Journal_, vol. ii. S. 4, p. 333 ff. From him it came as
a legacy to _De Wette_ (_de morte Jes. Chr. expiatoria_, p. 28 sqq.),
and to _Gesenius_. According to _Schenkel_ (_Studien und Kritiken_ 36)
"the prophetic order was the quiet, hidden blossom, which early storms
broke." According to _Umbreit_ the Servant of God is the collective
body of the prophets, or the prophetic order, which is here plainly
represented as the sacrificial beast (!) taking upon itself the sins of
the people. He finds it "rather strange that the Prophet who, in chap.
lxvi. 3 (of course according to a false interpretation), plainly
rejects sacrifice altogether, should speak of the shedding of the blood
of a man, and, moreover, of a pure, sinless man, in the room of the
guilty." The manner in which _Umbreit_ seeks to gain a transition to
the Messianic interpretation, although not in the sense held by the
Christian Church, has been pointed out by us on a former occasion, in
the remarks on chap. xlii. _Hofmann_ (_Schriftbeweis_, ii. 1 S. 89 ff.)
has got up a mixture composed of these explanations which refer the
prophecy to the people, to the godly, to the prophetic order, and, if
one will, of that also which refers it to the Messiah. He says: "The
people as a people are called to be the servant of God; but they do not
fulfil their vocation as a congregation of the faithful; and it is,
therefore, the work of the prophets to restore that congregation, and
hence also the fulfilment of its vocation.--Prophetism itself is
represented not in its present condition only, when it exists in a
number of messengers and witnesses of Jehovah, in the first instance in
Isaiah himself, but also in the final result, into which the fulfilment
of its vocation will lead, when the Servant of Jehovah unites in His
person the offices of a proclaimer of the impending work of salvation,
and of its Mediator, and, from the shame and suffering attached to His
vocation as a witness, passes over into the glory of the salvation
realised in Him." In order to render such a mixture possible,
everything is tried in order to remove the vicarious character of the
sufferings of the Servant of God, since that character is peculiar to
Christ, and excludes every comparison. "Of a priestly self-sacrifice of
the Servant of God"--says _Hofmann_, S. 101, 2--"I cannot find
anything. The assertion that the words יזה גוים, denote a priestly
work, no longer requires a refutation. His [Pg 325] vocation is to be
the mediator of a revelation of God in words; and although the
fulfilment of this vocation brings death upon Him, without His
endeavouring to escape, this is not a proof nor a part of His priestly
vocation. In just the same case is the assertion that the Messiah
appears here as a King also." As long as we proceed from the
supposition that the Prophet predicts truth, we are, by that very
supposition, forbidden to distribute the property of the one among the
many; but that is thus violently set aside. The Rationalistic
interpreters have in this respect an easier task. They allow the
substitution to stand; but they consider it as a vain fancy. The fact
that _Hofmann_ does not recoil from even the most violent
interpretations, in order to remove the exclusive reference to Christ,
appears, _e.g._, from his remark, S. 132, that "the chastisement of our
peace" designates an actual chastisement, which convinces them of their
sin, and of the earnestness of divine holiness, and thus serves for
their salvation. Surely _Gesenius_ and _Hitzig's_ explanations are far
more unbiassed.

2. Among the interpretations which refer the prophecy to a single
individual other than the Messiah, scarcely any one has found another
defender than its own author. They are of importance only in so far, as
they show that most decidedly does the prophecy make the impression,
that its subject is a real person, not a personification; and, farther,
that it could not by any means be an exegetical interest which induced
rationalism to reject the interpretation which referred it to Christ.
The persons that have been guessed at are the following: King Uzziah,
(_Augusti_), King Hezekiah, (_Konynenburg_ and _Bahrdt_), the Prophet
Isaiah himself, (_Stäudlin_), an unknown prophet supposed to have been
killed by the Jews in the captivity (an anonymous author in _Henke's
Magazin_, Bd. i. H. 2), the royal house of David, which suffered
innocently when the children of the unhappy king Zedekiah were killed
at the command of Nebuchadnezzar (_Bolten_ on Acts viii. 33), the
Maccabees (an anonymous writer in the _Theologische Nachrichten_, 1821,
S. 79 ff.) Even at this present time, this kind of explanation is not
altogether obsolete. _Schenkel_ thinks that "the chapter under
consideration may, perhaps, belong to the period of the real Isaiah,
whose language equals that of the description of the Servant of God now
[Pg 326] under consideration, in conciseness and harshness, and may
have been originally a Psalm of consolation in sufferings, which was
composed with a view to the hopeful progeny of some pious man or
prophet innocently killed, and which was rewritten and interpreted by
the author of the book, and embodied in it." _Ewald_ (Proph. ii. S.
407) says: "Farther, the description of the Servant of God is here
altogether very strange, especially v. 8 f., inasmuch as,
notwithstanding all the liveliness with which the author of the book
conceives of Him, He is nowhere else so much and so obviously viewed as
an historical person, as a single individual of the Past. How little
soever the author may have intended it, it was very obvious that the
later generations imagined that they would here find the historical
Messiah. We are therefore of opinion, that the author here inserted a
passage, which appeared to him to be suitable, from an older book where
really a single martyr was spoken of.--It is not likely that the modern
controversy on chap. liii. will ever cease as long as this truth is not
acknowledged;--a truth which quite spontaneously suggested itself, and
impressed itself more and more strongly upon my mind." These are, no
doubt, assertions which cannot be maintained, and are yet of interest,
in so far as they show, how much even those who refuse to acknowledge
it are annoyed by a two-fold truth, viz., that Isaiah is the author of
the prophecy, and that it refers to a personal Messiah.

At all times, however, that explanation which refers the prophecy
to Christ has found able defenders; and at no period has the
anti-Messianic explanation obtained absolute sway. Among the authors of
complete Commentaries on Isaiah, the Messianic explanation was defended
by _Dathe_, _Doederlein_ (who, however, wavers in the last edition of
his translation), _Hensler_, _Lowth_, _Kocher_, _Koppe_, _J. D.
Michaelis_, _v. d. Palm_, _Schmieder_. In addition to these we may
mention: _Storr_, _dissertatio qua Jes. liii. illustratur_, Tübingen,
1790; _Hansi Comment. in Jes. liii._, Rostock 1791 (this work has
considerably promoted the interpretation, although its author often
shows himself to be biassed by the views of the time, and especially,
in the interest of Neology, seeks to do away with the doctrine of
satisfaction); _Krüger_, _Comment. de Jes. liii., interpret_; _Jahn_,
_Append. ad Hermen. fasc ii._; _Steudel_, [Pg 327] _Observ. ad Jes.
liii._, _Tübingen_ 1825, 26; _Sack_, in the _Apologetik_; _Reinke_,
_exegesis in Jes. liii._, Münster 1836; _Tholuck_, in his work: _Das A.
T. in N. T._; _Hävernick_, in the lectures on the Theology of the Old
Testament; _Stier_, in the Comment. on the second part of Isaiah.

[Footnote 1: The author of the article: _Ueber die Mess. Zeiten_ in
_Eichhorn's Bibliothek d. bibl. Literatur_, Bd. 6, p. 655, confesses
quite candidly, that the Messianic interpretation would soon find
general approbation among Bible expositors, had they not, in recent
times, obtained the conviction, "that the prophets do not foretel any
thing of future things, except what they know and anticipate without
special divine inspiration."]

                           * * * * * * * * * *


The arguments against the Messianic interpretation cannot be
designated in any other way than as _insignificant_. There is not one
among them which could be of any weight to him who is able to judge. It
is asserted that the Messiah is nowhere else designated as the Servant
of God. Even if this were the fact, it would not prove anything. But
this name is assigned to the Messiah in Zech. iii. 8--a passage which
interpreters are unanimous in referring to the Messiah--where the Lord
calls the Messiah His Servant _Zemach_, and which the Chaldee
Paraphrast explains by משיחא ויתגלי "_Messiam et revelabitur_;"
farther, in Ezek. xxxiv. 23, 24, not to mention Is. xlii. 1, xlix. 3,
6, l. 10.--It is farther asserted that in the Messianic interpretation
everything is viewed as _future_; but that this is inadmissible for
grammatical and philological reasons. The suffering, contempt, and
death of the Servant of God are here, throughout, represented as past,
since in chap. liii. 1-10, all the verbs are in the Preterite. It is
the glorification only which appears as future, and is expressed in the
Future tense. The writer, therefore, occupies a position between the
sufferings and the glorification, and the latter is still impending.
But the stand-point of the Prophet is not an actual, but a supposed
one,--not a real, but an ideal one. In order to distinguish between
condition and consequence,--in order to put sufferings and
glorification in the proper relation, he takes his stand between the
sufferings and the glorification of the Servant of God, and from that
position, that appears to him as being already past which, in reality,
was [Pg 328] still future. It is only an interpreter so thoroughly
prosaic as _Knobel_ who can advance the assertion: "No prophet
occupies, in prophecy, another stand-point than that which in reality
be occupies." In this, _e.g._, _Hitzig_ does not by any means assent to
him; for be (_Hitzig_) remarks on chap. lii. 7: "Proceeding from the
certainty of the salvation, the Prophet sees, in the Spirit, that
already coming to pass which, in chap. xl. 9, he called upon them
to do." And the same expositor farther remarks on Jer. vi. 24-26: "This
is a statement of how people would then speak, and, thereby, a
description of the circumstances of that time." But in our remarks on
chap. xi. and in the introduction to the second part, we have
already proved that the prophets very frequently occupy an ideal
stand-point, and that such is the case here, the Prophet has himself
expressly intimated. In some places, he has passed from the prophetical
stand-point to the historical, and uses the Future even when he speaks
of the sufferings,--a thing which appears to have been done
involuntarily, but which, in reality, is done intentionally. Thus there
occurs יפתח in ver. 7, תשים in ver. 10, and, according to the
explanations of _Gesenius_ and others, also יפגיע in ver. 12 while, on
the other hand, he sometimes speaks of the glorification in the
Preterite.[1] Compare לקח in ver. 8, נשא in ver. 12. This affords a
sure proof that we are here altogether on an ideal territory. The
ancient translators too have not understood the Preterites as a
designation of the real Past, and frequently render them by Futures.
Thus the LXX. ver. 14: ἐκστήσονται--ἀδοξήσει; _Aqui._ and _Theod._,
ver. 2, ἀναβήσεται.--It is farther asserted, that the idea of a
suffering and expiating Messiah is foreign to the Old Testament, and
stands in contradiction even to its prevailing views of the Messiah.
But this objection cannot be of any weight; nor can it prove anything,
as long as, in the Church of Christ, the authority of Christ is still
acknowledged, who Himself declares that His whole suffering had been
foretold in the books of the Old Testament, and explained to His
disciples the prophecies concerning it. Even the fact, that at [Pg 329]
the time when Christ appeared the knowledge of a suffering Messiah was
undeniably possessed by the more enlightened, proves that the matter
stands differently. This knowledge is shown not only by the Baptist,
but also by Simeon, Luke ii. 34, 35. An assertion to the contrary can
proceed only from the erroneous opinion, that every single Messianic
prophecy exhibits the whole view of the Messiah, whereas, indeed, the
Messianic announcements bear throughout a fragmentary, incidental
character,--a mode of representation which is generally prevalent in
Scripture, and by which Scripture is distinguished from a system of
doctrines. But even if there had existed an appearance of such a
contradiction, it would long ago have been removed by the fulfilment.
But even the appearance of a contradiction is here inadmissible,
inasmuch as the Servant of God is here not only represented as
suffering and expiating, but, at the same time, as an object of
reverence to the whole Gentile world; and the _ground_ of this
reverence is His suffering and expiation. As regards the other passages
of the Old Testament where a suffering Messiah is mentioned, we must
distinguish between the Messiah simply suffering, and the Messiah
suffering as a substitute. The latter, indeed, we meet with in this
passage only. But to make up for this isolated mention, the
representation here is so full and exhaustive, so entirely excludes all
misunderstanding, except that which is bent upon misunderstanding, or
which is the result of evil disposition, is so affecting and so
indelibly impressive, is indeed so exactly in the tone of doctrinal
theology, and therefore different from the ordinary treatment, which is
always incidental, and requires to be supplemented from other passages,
that this single isolated representation, which sounds through the
whole of the New Testament, is quite sufficient for the Church. The
suffering and dying Messiah, on the other hand, we meet with frequently
in other passages of the Old Testament also, although, indeed, not so
frequently as the Messiah in glory. In this light He is brought before
us, _e.g._, in chap. xlix. 50; in Dan. ix.; in Zech. ix. 9, 10, xi. 12,
13. The fact that the humiliation of Christ would precede His
exaltation is distinctly pointed out in the first part of Isaiah also,
in chap. xi. 1,--a passage which contains, in a germ, all that, in the
second part, [Pg 330] is more fully stated regarding the suffering
Messiah, and which has many striking points of contact specially with
chap. liii. And just so it is with Isaiah's contemporary, Micah, who,
in chap. v. 1 (2), makes the Messiah proceed, not from Jerusalem, the
seat of the Davidic family after it was raised to the royal dignity,
but from Bethlehem, where Jesse, the ancestor, lived as a peasant,--as
a proof that the Messiah would proceed from the family of David sank
back into the obscurity of private life. This knowledge, that the
Messiah should proceed from the altogether abased house of David,--a
knowledge which appears as early as in Amos, and which pervades the
whole of prophecy--touches very closely upon the knowledge of His
sufferings. Lowliness of origin, and exaltation of destination, can
hardly be reconciled without severe conflicts. But it is _a priori_
impossible, that the idea of the suffering Messiah should be wanting in
the Old Testament. Since, in the Old Testament, throughout,
righteousness and suffering in this world of sin are represented as
being indissolubly connected, the Messiah, being κατʼ ἐξοχήν the
Righteous One, must necessarily appear also as He who suffers in the
highest degree. If that were not the case, the Messiah would be totally
disconnected from all His types, especially from David, who, through
the severest sufferings, attained to glory, and who in his Psalms,
everywhere considers this course as the normal one, both in the Psalms
which refer to the suffering righteous in general, and in those which
especially refer to his family reaching their highest elevation in the
Messiah; compare my Commentary on the Psalms, Vol. iv., p. lxxx. ff.

[Footnote 1: The same thing occurs also in the parallel passages,
chap. xlix. 9, on which _Gesenius_ was constrained to remark: "As the
deliverance was still impending, the Preterites cannot well be
understood in any other way than as Futures."]

                           * * * * * * * * * *


Even the fact that this is among the Jews the original interpretation,
which was given up from their evil disposition only, makes us
favourably inclined towards it. The authority of tradition is here of
so much the greater consequence, the more that the Messianic
interpretation was opposed to the disposition [Pg 331] of the people.
How deeply rooted was this interpretation, appears even from the
declaration of John the Baptist, John i. 29: ἴδε ὁ ἀμνὸς τοῦ θεοῦ ὁ
αἴρων τῆν ἁμαρτίαν τοῦ κόσμου. There cannot be any doubt that, in this
declaration, he points to the prophecy under consideration, inasmuch as
this passage is the first in Holy Scripture in which the sin-bearing
lamb is spoken of in a spiritual sense. _Bengel_, following the example
of _Erasmus_, remarks, in reference to the article before ἀμνὸς: "The
article looks back to the prophecy which was given concerning Him under
this figure, in Is. liii. 7." As regards θεοῦ, compare ver. 10: "It
pleased the Lord painfully to crush Him," and ver. 2: "Before Him;" as
regards ὁ αἴρων, &c. comp. ver. 4, rendered by the LXX.: οὗ̂τος τὰς
ἁμαρτίας ἡμω̂ν φέρει; comp. ver. 11.

An external argument of still greater weight is the testimony of the
New Testament. Above all, it is the declarations of our Lord himself
which here come into consideration. In Luke xxii. 37, He says that the
prophecies concerning Him were drawing near their perfect fulfilment
(τὰ περὶ ἐμοῦ τέλος ἔχει), comp. Matt. xxvi. 51, and that therefore the
declaration: "And He was reckoned among the transgressors" must be
fulfilled in Him. In Mark ix. 12, the Lord asks: πῶς γέγραπται ἐπὶ τὸν
υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου, ἵνα πολλὰ πάθῃ καὶ ἐξουδενηθῇ, with a reference to
"from man," and "from the sons of man" in lii. 14,--to "He had no form
nor comeliness" in ver. 2,--to "despised," נבזה, which, by _Symmachus_
and _Theodotian_ is rendered by ἐξουδενωμένος, in ver. 3. In the Gospel
of John, the Lord emphatically and repeatedly points out, that the
words: "When His soul hath given restitution," are written concerning
Him; compare remarks on ver. 10. After these distinct quotations and
references, we shall be obliged to think chiefly of our passage, in
Luke xxiv. 25-27, 44-46 also. The opponents themselves grant that, if
in any passage of the Old Testament the doctrine of a suffering and
atoning Messiah is contained, it is in the passage under review. The
circumstance also, that the disciples of the Lord refer, on every
occasion, and with such confidence, the passage to the Lord, likewise
proves that Christ especially interpreted it of His sufferings and
exaltation. Of Matt. viii. 17, and Mark xv. 28, we have already spoken.
John, in chap. xii. 37, 38, and Paul in Rom. x. 16, [Pg 332] find a
fulfilment of chap. liii. 1 in the unbelief of the Jews. In Acts viii.
28-35, Philip, on the question of the eunuch from Ethiopia, as to whom
the prophecy referred, explained it of Christ. After the example of _De
Wette_, _Gesenius_ lays special stress on the circumstance, that the
passage was never quoted in reference to the atoning death of Christ.
But Peter, when speaking of the vicarious satisfaction of Christ, makes
a literal use of the principal passages of the prophecy under
consideration, 1 Pet. ii. 21-25; and it is, in general, quite the usual
way of the New Testament to support its statements by our passage,
whensoever the discourse falls upon this subject; comp. _e.g._, besides
the texts quoted at ver. 10, Mark ix. 12; Rom. iv. 25; 1 Cor. xv. 3; 2
Cor. v. 21; 1 John iii. 5; Pet. i. 19; Rev. v. 6, xiii. 8. Even
_Gesenius_ himself acknowledges elsewhere, that we have here the text
for the whole Apostolic preaching on the atoning death of Jesus. "Most
Hebrew readers"--so he says, Th. iii. S. 191--"who were so familiar
with the ideas of sacrifice and substitution, could not by any means
understand the passage in any other way; and there is no doubt that the
whole apostolic notion of the atoning death of Christ is chiefly based
upon this passage." The circumstance, that the reference to this
passage appears commonly only in the form of an allusion, and not of
express quotation, proves only so much the more clearly, that its
reference to the atoning death of Christ was a point absolutely settled
in the ancient Church.

In favour of the Messianic interpretation are not only the passages
from the second part, chap. xlii., &c., but also, from the first part,
the passage chap. xi. 1, which so remarkably agrees with chap. liii. 2,
that both must be referred to the same subject.

To these external reasons, the internal must be added. The Christian
Church--the best judge--has at all times recognised in this prophecy
the faithful and wonderfully accurate image of her Lord and Saviour in
His atoning sufferings and the glory following upon them, in His
innocence and righteousness, in His meekness and silent patience (the
New Testament, in speaking of them, frequently points back to our
passage), and in the burial with a rich man, ver. 9. The most
characteristic feature is the atoning character of the suffering of the
[Pg 333] Servant of God, and of the shedding of His blood. Several
interpreters have endeavoured to explain away this feature which they
dislike. _Kimchi_ says: "One must not imagine that the case really
stands thus, that in Israel the captivity actually bears the sins and
diseases of the heathens (for that would be opposed to the justice of
God), but that the Gentiles at that time, when seeing the glorious
deliverance of Israel, would thus judge concerning it." A futile
evasion! It is not the Gentiles who speak in chap. liii. 1-10, but the
believing Church. Every sincere reader will at once feel, that it is
not the foolish fancies of others which the Prophet communicates in
these verses, but the divine truth made known to him. The doctrine of
the substitution, the Prophet, moreover, states in his own name, by
saying, "He shall sprinkle many nations;" and so likewise in the name
of God, in chap. liii. 11, 12. According to _Martini_, _De Wette_, and
others, the expressions are to be understood figuratively, and the
contents and substance to be this only, that those severe calamities
which that divine minister would have to sustain would be useful and
salutary to His compatriots. But the fact that the same doctrine
constantly returns under the most varied expressions, is decidedly in
favour of the literal interpretation. Thus, it is said in chap. lii.
15, that the Servant of God should sprinkle many nations; in liii. 4,
that He bore our diseases and took upon Him our pains; in ver. 5, that
He was pierced for our transgressions; in ver. 8, that He bore the
punishment which the people ought to have borne; in ver. 10, that He
offered his soul as a sin-offering; in ver. 11, that by His
righteousness many should be justified; in ver. 12, that He bore the
sins of many, and poured out His soul unto death, and that He could
make intercession for transgressors, because He was numbered with them.
To this it may still be added that in chap. lii. 15 (יזה), liii. 10
(אשם), and ver. 12: "He bears the sins of many," (compare Levit. xvi.
21, 22; _Michaelis_: "_Ut typice hircus pro Israëlitis_") the Servant
of God appears as the antitype of the Old Testament sin-offerings in
which, as has been proved (compare my pamphlet: _Die Opfer der heil.
Schrift_, S. 12 ff.), the idea of substitution in the doctrine of the
Old Testament finds its foundation. There cannot be the least doubt,
that the Prophet could not express himself more clearly, strongly, [Pg
334] and distinctly, if his intention was to state the doctrine of
substitution; and those who undertake to explain it away, would not, by
so doing, leave any thing firm and certain in Scripture. _Rosenmüller_
(_Gabler's_ Journal, ii. S. 365), _Gesenius_, _Hitzig_ have indeed
candidly confessed that the passage contained the doctrine of vicarious
satisfaction, after _Alshech_ had, among the Jews, given the honour to


Passing over mere whims, three explanations present themselves which
require a closer examination, viz.--(1), that which makes the whole
Jewish people the subject; (2), that which refers it to the godly
portion of the Jewish people; and (3), that which refers it to the
collective body of the Prophets. The following reasons militate against
all the three interpretations simultaneously.

1. According to them, the contents of the section in question present
themselves as a mere _fancy_; and its principal thought, the vicarious
suffering of the Servant of God is an absurdity. According to them, the
prophets can no longer be considered as godly men who spake as they
were moved by the Holy Spirit; and their name נביא, by which they
claimed divine inspiration, is a mere pretence. And this reflection is,
at the same time, cast upon the Lord, who, throughout, treats these
visionaries as organs of immediate divine communications.

2. According to all the three explanations, the subject is not a real
person, but an ideal one, a personified collective. But not one sure
analogous instance can be quoted in favour of a personification carried
on through a whole section, without the slightest intimation, that it
is not a single individual who is spoken of. In ver. 3, the subject is
called איש; in vers. 10 and 12 a soul is ascribed to Him; grave and
death are used so as to imply a subject in the Singular. Scripture
never leaves any thing to be guessed. If we had an allegory before us,
distinct hints as to the interpretation would certainly [Pg 335] not be
wanting. It is, _e.g._, quite different in those passages where the
Prophet designates Israel by the name of the Servant of the Lord. In
them, all uncertainty is prevented by the addition of the names of
Jacob and Israel, xli. 8, 9; xliv. 1, 2, 21; xlv. 4; xlviii. 20; and in
them, moreover, the Prophet uses the Plural by the side of the
Singular, to intimate that the Servant of the Lord is an ideal person,
a collective, _e.g._, xlii. 24, 25; xlviii. 20, 21; xliii. 10-14.

3. The first condition of the vicarious satisfaction which, according
to our prophecy, is to be performed by the Servant of God, is,
according to ver. 9 ("Because He had done no violence, neither was any
deceit in His mouth"), but more especially still, according to ver. 11
("He, the righteous one, my Servant, shall justify the many") the
absolute righteousness of the suffering subject. He who is himself
sinful cannot undergo punishment for the sins of others. He is, on the
contrary, visited for his own sins, both as a righteous retribution,
and for sanctification. Of such an one that would indeed be true which,
according to the second clause of ver. 4, was only erroneously supposed
in reference to the Servant of God. All the three interpretations,
however, are unable to prove that this condition existed. All the three
interpretations move on the purely human territory; but on that,
absolute righteousness is not to be found. At the very threshold of
Holy Writ, in Gen. ii. and 3, compare v. 3, the doctrine of the
universal sinfulness of mankind meets us; and how deep a knowledge of
sin pervades the Old Testament, is proved by passages such as Gen. vi.
5, viii. 21; Job xiv. 4, xv. 14-16; Ps. xiv., li. 7; Prov. xx. 9. That
is not a soil on which ideas of substitution could thrive.--The
doctrine of a substitution by men is indeed nowhere else found in the
Old Testament; and _Gesenius_, who (l. c., S. 189) endeavoured to prove
that "it is very general" has not adduced any arguments which are
tenable or even plausible. The guilt of the fathers is visited upon the
children, only when the latter walk in the steps of their fathers, and
the latter are first punished; comp. _Genuineness and Authenticity of
the Pentateuch_, Vol. ii. p. 446 ff. The same holds true in reference
to 2 Sam. xxi. 1-14, The evil spirit which filled Saul, pervaded his
family, at the same time, as we here see in the instance of Michal. It
was probably in the [Pg 336] interest of his family, and with their
concurrence, that the wicked deed had been perpetrated. (_Michaelis_
says: "In order that he might appropriate their goods to himself and to
_his family_, under the pretext of a pious zeal for Judah and Israel.")
As Saul himself was already overtaken by the divine judgment, the crime
was punished in the family who were accomplices. In 2 Sam. xxiv. the
people do not suffer as substitutes for the sin, which David had
committed in numbering the people; but the spirit of pride which had
incited the king to number the people, was widely spread among them.
But the fact, that the king himself was punished in his subjects, is
brought out by his beseeching the Lord, in 2 Sam. xxiv. 17, that He
might rather visit the sin directly upon himself The sin of David and
Bathsheba is not atoned for by the death of the child (2 Sam. xii.
15-18), for David had already obtained pardon, ver. 13. It is not the
child which suffers, but David, whose repentance was to be deepened by
this visitation. In the fact, that the whole army must suffer for what
Achan has committed (Josh. vii. 1), a distinct intimation is implied,
that the criminal does not stand alone, but that, to a certain degree,
the whole community was implicated in his guilt. Substitution is quite
out of the question, inasmuch as Achan himself, with his whole family
and posterity, was burnt. Least of all, finally, can Dan. xi. 35 come
into consideration. According to _Gesenius_, it is there said: "And
they of understanding shall fall, in order to purge, purify, and make
white those (the others)." But בהם refers rather to the משכילים
themselves. Thus, nowhere in the Old Testament, is even the slightest
trace found of a satisfaction to be accomplished by man for man; nor
can it be found there, because, from its very commencement. Scripture
most emphatically declares: πάντας ὑφʼ ἁμαρτίαν εἶναι, Rom. iii. 9.

The explanation, which makes the _Jewish people_ the subject, has
already been overthrown by the parallel passages, before arriving: at
the section under consideration. "Even so far back as chap. xlii. 1,
difficulties are met with," remarks _Beck_. "How is it possible that
the people who, in ver. 19 of that chapter, are described as blind and
deaf, should here appear as being altogether penetrated by the Spirit,
so as to become the teachers of the Gentiles?" "Chap. xlix. is a true
[Pg 337] cross for the interpreters." "Finally, the section, chap. l.,
_Hitzig_ himself is obliged to explain as referring to the Prophet; and
thus this interpretation forfeits the boast of most strictly holding
fast the unity of this notion."

But still more decisively is the interpretation overthrown by the
contents of the section under discussion. The Servant of God has,
according to it, voluntarily taken upon Himself His sufferings
(according to ver. 10, He offers himself as a sacrifice for sin;
according to ver. 12, He is crowned with glory because He has poured
out His soul unto death). Himself sinless, He bears the sins of others,
vers. 4-6, 9. His sufferings are the means by which the justification
of many is effected. He suffers quietly and patiently, ver. 7. Not one
of these four signs can be vindicated for the people of Israel. (a).
The Jews did not go voluntarily into the Babylonish exile, but were
dragged into it by force. (b). The Jewish people were not without sin
in suffering; but they suffered, in the captivity, the punishment of
their own sins. Their being carried away had been foretold by Moses as
a punitive judgment. Lev. xxvi. 14 ff.; Deut. xxviii. 15 ff. xxix. 19
ff., and as such it is announced by all the prophets also. In the
second part, Isaiah frequently reminds Judah that they shall be cast
into captivity by divine justice, and be delivered from it by divine
mercy only; comp. chaps. lvi.-lix., especially chap. lix. 2: "Your
iniquities separate between you and your God, and your sins hide His
face from you that He doth not hear. For your hands are defiled with
blood, and your fingers with iniquity, your lips speak lies, and your
tongue meditates perverseness. Their feet run to evil, and they make
haste to shed innocent blood, their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity,
wasting and destruction are in their paths. The way of peace they know
not, and there is no right in their paths; they pervert their paths;
whosoever goeth therein doth not know peace. Apostacy and denying the
Lord, and departing away from our God, speaking oppression and revolt,
conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood." Comp. chap.
xlii. 24: "Who gave Jacob for a spoil, and Israel to the robbers? Did
not the Lord, He against whom we have sinned, and in whose ways they
would not walk, neither were they obedient unto His law." Farther, [Pg
338] chap. xliii. 26, 27, where the detailed proof that Israel's merits
could not be the cause of their deliverance, inasmuch as they did not
exist at all, is, by the Prophet, wound up by the words: "Put me in
remembrance, let us plead together, declare then that thou mayest be
justified. Thy first father hath sinned, and thy mediators have
transgressed against me. Therefore I profane the princes of the
sanctuary, and give Jacob to the destruction, and Israel to
reproaches." It is solely to the mercy of God that, according to chap.
xlviii. 11, Israel owes deliverance from the severe suffering into
which they fell in the way of their sins. One may confidently assert
there is not a single page in the whole book, which does not offer a
striking refutation of this view. And most miserable are the expedients
to which, in the face of such facts, the defenders of this view betake
themselves. _Rosenmüller_ was of opinion, that the Prophet introduced
those Gentiles only as speaking, who, by this flattery, wished to gain
the favour of the Jews,--without considering that it is just in the
words of the Lord, in ver. 11, that the absolute righteousness of the
Servant of God is most strongly expressed. _Hitzig_ is of opinion, that
the people had indeed suffered for their sins; but that the punishment
had been greater than their sins, and that by this surplus the Gentiles
were benefited. But the Prophet expressly contradicts such a gross
view. He repeatedly declares that the punishment was still mitigated by
mercy; that, in the way of their works, Israel would have found total
destruction. Thus, _e.g._, chap. xlviii. 9: "For my name's sake will I
be long-suffering, and for my praise will I moderate mine anger unto
thee, that I cut thee not off;" chap. i. 9: "Except the Lord of Hosts
had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom; we
should have been like unto Gomorrah." In order to be fully convinced
how much this view of Israel, enforced upon the godly men of the Old
Testament, is in contradiction to their own view, the prayer of Ezra
may still be compared in Neh. ix., especially ver. 20 ff.--(c.) The
sufferings of the Jewish people cannot be vicarious, because they are
destitute of the very first condition of substitution, viz.,
sinlessness and righteousness. That even _Hitzig_ does not venture to
claim for them. But how can an ungodly man, even supposing that his
punishment is too severe, justify others [Pg 339] by a righteousness of
his which does not exist? _Finally_--The fourth sign, patience, so
little belongs to the Jewish people, that it is one of the main tasks
of our Prophet himself to oppose their murmuring impatience; comp.
_e.g._, chap. xlv. 9 ff.

Against the hypothesis that the people are the subject of the prophecy,
there is the circumstance that it carries along with it the unnatural
supposition that, in chap. liii. 1-10, the heathens are introduced as
speaking. Decisive against this supposition are specially the
designation עמי in ver. 8, and the most forced explanation to which it
compels us, in some verses, especially ver. 2.

The interpretation which considers the godly portion of the people to
be the subject of the prophecy, is overthrown by the fact that,
according to the view of Scripture, even those who, in the ordinary
sense, are righteous, are unable to render a vicarious satisfaction for
others. For such, absolute righteousness is required. But the
"righteous ones" are begotten by sinful seed (Ps. li.), and they have
need daily to pray that God would pardon their secret sins, Ps. xix.
13; they themselves live only by the pardoning mercy of God, and cannot
think of atoning for others, Ps. xxxii. Even for believers, the
captivity is, according to chap. xlii., the merited punishment of their
sins. In that passage, the greatness of the mercy of God is pointed
out, who grants a twofold salvation for sins, while infinite punishment
should be their natural consequence. It is not to a single portion of
the people, but to the whole, that, in the passages formerly quoted,
every share in effecting deliverance and salvation is denied. How
little an absolute righteousness existed in the elect, sufficiently
appears from the fact, that, in the second part, it forms a main object
of the Prophet to oppose their want of courage, their despair and
distrust of God. _Farther_--The ungodly could not by any means consider
the sufferings of the righteous ones as vicarious, because they
themselves suffered as much; and as little could they despise the godly
on account of their sufferings. It is a mere invention, destitute of
every historical foundation, to assert that it was especially the
God-fearing who had to suffer so grievously in the captivity. On the
contrary, their fear of God gained for them the respect of the
Gentiles; and among [Pg 340] their own people also, whose sinful
disposition was broken by the punishment, they occupied an honourable
position. Ezekiel we commonly find surrounded by the elders of the
people, listening to his words; and Daniel, Esther, and Mordecai, Ezra,
and Nehemiah, richly furnished with the goods of this world, enjoyed
high esteem in the Gentile world. The fact that the supporters of this
hypothesis are compelled to have recourse to such an unhistorical
fiction, which has been carried to the extreme, especially by _Knobel_,
sufficiently proves it to be untenable.

In opposition to the interpretation which refers the prophecy to the
collective body of the Prophets, _Hitzig_ very justly remarks: "The
supposition that, by the Servant of God, the prophetic order is to be
understood, is destitute of all foundation and probability." In
commenting on chap. xlii. we remarked, that there are no analogous
cases at all in favour of such a personification of the prophetic
order. Moreover, the defenders of this view commonly deny, at the same
time, the genuineness of the second part. From this stand-point it
becomes still more evident, how untenable this hypothesis is. A
prophetic order can, least of all, be spoken of during the time of the
Babylonish captivity. With the captivity, Prophetism began to die out.
Jeremiah in Jerusalem, and Ezekiel among the exiled, already stood very
much isolated. Jeremiah, during the last days of the Jewish state,
stands out everywhere as a single individual, opposed to the whole mass
of the false prophets. "There is no more any prophet," is, at the time
of the destruction by the Chaldeans, the lamentation of the author of
Ps. lxxiv. in ver. 9. According to an unanimous tradition (comp. 1
Maccab. ix. 27, iv. 46, xiv. 41, and the passages from the Talmud and
other Jewish writings in _Knibbe's_ history of the Prophets, S. 347
ff., and in _Joh. Smithi Dissert. de Prophetis_, in the Appendix to
_Clericus'_ Commentary on the Prophets, chap. xii.), Haggai, Zechariah,
and Malachi were the last of the prophets, and according to the
historical books and their own prophecies, the only prophets of their
time. How, now, were it possible that the Prophet should speak of a
great corporation of the prophets, who become not only the founders and
rulers of the new state, but who are to enlighten all the other nations
of the earth with the light of the time religion, [Pg 341] and
incorporate them into the church of God? Of all that is characteristic
of the vocation of the prophets, nothing is found here; while, on the
other hand, almost everything which is said of the Servant of God is in
opposition to the vocation and destination of the prophets. That which
here, above everything, comes into consideration is the _vicarious
satisfaction_. Chap. vi., where the Prophet when, after having
administered the prophetic office for several years, he beheld the
Lord, exclaims: "Woe is unto me for I am undone, because I am a man of
unclean lips, and dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips," is
sufficient to show how far the thoughts of such a vicarious
satisfaction were from the prophets. Such is surely not the ground from
which the delusion of being substitutes for others can grow up. All
those who entertained such a delusion, such as _Gichtel_, _Bourignon_,
_Guyon_, were misled into it by proudly shutting their eyes to their
own sinfulness. It would surely be abasing the prophets without any
cause, if we were to assign to them that delusion. Moreover, the hopes
which here, according to these interpreters, are uttered in reference
to the prophetic order, contradict its idea, and institution. A
prophetic pride would here come out, such as is not equalled by
priestly pride in all history. _Schenkel_, no doubt, is right in
remarking against the interpretation which makes the Jewish people the
subject of the prophecy,--an interpretation of which _Hitzig_ is the
representative: "Is it to believed that the prophets, whose object all
along it was to suppress the moral pride of the people, should wantonly
have awakened it by such a thought?" But _Hitzig_ is equally in the
right when, in opposition to _Schenkel_ and others who refer this
prediction to the prophetic order, he remarks: "It is quite obvious,
how very unsuitable it would be to limit the hitherto wretched
condition and the future glory of the people to the prophets, as if
they alone, as true κατακυριεύοντες τῶν κληρων, constituted the
people." According to this hypothesis, the prophets are supposed to
flatter themselves with the hope that they would be the rulers of the
state again flourishing, and would celebrate worldly triumphs.
Altogether apart from the folly of this hope, it was entirely opposed
to the destiny of the prophetic order. By divine institution, the
dominion in the Kingdom of God had for ever been given over to
David [Pg 342] and his family. By usurping it, the prophets would
have rebelled against God, whose lights they were called to
uphold.--_Farther_, As the principal sphere of the ministry of the
Servant of God, the heathen world here appears. But with it, the
prophets have, nowhere else, any thing to do; their mission is
everywhere to Israel only.--The sufferings which the prophets had to
endure during the captivity, were not different from those of the
people. Every proof, yea, even every probability, is wanting that,
during the time of the captivity, the prophets--and history mentions
and knows only Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel--were pre-eminently
afflicted. On the contrary, they occupy an honourable position.
Jeremiah receives, after the capture of Jerusalem, proofs of esteem
from Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel is entrusted with the highest public
offices. Ezekiel is held in honour by his compatriots. How then could
the people despise the prophets on account of their sufferings? How
could they imagine that they had been smitten by God? How could they
afterwards conceive the idea that the sufferings of the prophets had a
vicarious character?--To what quarter soever we look, impossibilities
present themselves; and if, moreover, we also look at the parallel
passages, we must indeed wonder, that a hypothesis altogether so
untenable should ever have been listened to.

                            CHAPTER LV. 1-5.

The Lord exhorts those who are anxious to be saved, to appropriate the
blessings of salvation which are so liberally offered, and which,
although bestowed without money and price, can alone truly satisfy the
soul, vers. 1 and 2. For He is to make with them a covenant of
everlasting duration, in which the eternal mercy promised to the family
of David is to be realized, ver. 3. David--such is the salvation in
store for the Church--is to be a witness, prince, and lawgiver of all
the Gentiles who, with joyful readiness, shall unite themselves to

[Pg 343]

Ver. 1. "_Ho, all ye that thirst, come ye to the water, and ye that
have no silver, come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk
without silver and without price._"

The discourse is addressed to the members of the Church pining away in
misery. By the water, salvation is denoted, as is not unfrequently the
case, comp. chap. xii. 3: "And with joy ye shall draw water out of the
wells of salvation," xliv. 3; Ps. lxxxvii. 7, lxxxiv. 7, cvii. 35. The
thirsty one is he who stands in need of salvation. To the words: "Ho,
all ye that thirst, come ye to the water," the Lord refers in John vii.
37: ἐάν τις διψᾷ ἐρχέσθω πρός με καὶ πινέτω, where the πρός με had been
added from ver. 3. It is to be observed that Christ there appropriates
to himself what Jehovah is here speaking. _Michaelis_ says: "Christ, in
consequence of the highest identity, makes the words of the Father His
own." There is an evident reference to the same words in Rev. xxi. 6
also: ἐγὼ τῷ διψῶντι δώσω ἐκ τῆς πηγῆς τοῦ ὕδατος τῆς ζωῆς δωρεάν.
Similarly in Rev. xxii. 17: καὶ ὁ διψῶν ἐρχέσθω, ὁ θέλων λαβέτω ὕδωρ
ζωῆς δωρεάν. In a somewhat more distant relation to the words before
us, but yet undeniably depending upon them, is John iv. 10: σὺ ἂν
ᾔτησας αὐτὸν καὶ ἔδωκεν ἄν σοι ὕδωρ ζῶν. Vers. 13, 14: πᾶς ὁ πίνων ἐκ
τοῦ ὕδατος τούτου διψήσει πάλιν• ὃς δʼ ἂν πίῃ ἐκ τοῦ ὕδατος, οὗ ἐγὼ
δώσω αὐτῷ οὐ μὴ διψήσῃ εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα. And so does, in another aspect.
Matt. xi. 28: δεῦτε πρός με οἱ κοπιῶντες καὶ πεφορτισμένοι κᾀγὼ
ἀναπαύσω ὑμᾶς, which, however, has still nearer points of resemblance
to ver. 3; for δεῦτε πρός με corresponds to לכו אלי in that verse; the
words κᾀγὼ ἀναπαύσω ὑμᾶς, to: "Your soul shall live" there, but yet in
such a way that there is, at the same time, a reference to Jer. vi. 16;
the κοπιῶντες καὶ πεφορτισμένοι are the thirsty ones in the verse
before us. It is remarkable to see how important this unassuming
declaration was to our Lord, and how much He had it at heart. We are
thereby urgently called upon, by means of deep and earnest study and
meditation, to arrive at the full meaning of the Old Testament, which
is everywhere connected with the New Testament, not only by the strong
and firm ties of express quotations, but also by the nicest and most
tender threads of gentle allusions. Even Matt. v. 6: μακάριοι οἱ
πεινῶντες καὶ διψῶντες τὴν δικαιοσύνην comes into a close relation to
our passage, as soon as it is recognized that δικαιοσύνην is not the
subjective righteousness [Pg 344] which is excluded from that context,
but rather righteousness as a gift of God, the actual justification,
such as takes place in the bestowal of salvation; so that, hence, the
righteousness there corresponds with the _water_ here. The subsequent
"eat" furnishes the foundation for the fact, that the need of and
desire for salvation, is designated by _hunger_ also,--"_Come ye, buy
and eat._" שבר "to break," is used of the appeasing of thirst (comp.
Ps. civ. 11), and hunger (comp. Gen. xlii. 19); and corn is called שֶׁבֶר
for this reason that it breaks the hunger. The verb never means "to
buy" in general, but only such a buying as affords the means of
appeasing hunger and thirst. Nor does it, in itself, stand in any
relation to corn, except in so far only as the latter is a chief moans
of appeasing hunger. This we see not only from Ps. civ. 11, but also
from that which here immediately follows, where it is used of the
buying of wine and milk. The buying of necessary provisions is commonly
designated by the _Kal_; the selling by the _Hiphil_. In Gen. xli. 26,
the selling too is designated by the _Kal_. He who causes that one can
break or appease, may himself also be designated as he who breaks or
appeases. This verb, so very peculiar, and the noun שֶׁבֶר, occur in a
certain accumulation, in the history of Joseph only; elsewhere, their
occurrence is sporadic only. It is then to the hunger of Israel in
ancient times, and to its being appeased by Joseph, that the double
שברו alludes; and from this circumstance also the fact is to be
explained, that it is first used in reference to food; comp. שברו ואכלו
in our verse, with שבר אכל in Gen. xlii. 7-10. Christ is the true
Joseph, who puts an end to the hunger and thirst of the people of God,
by offering true food and true drink.--The word "eat" suggests
substantial food, bread in contrast to the drink by which it is
surrounded on both sides; compare John vi. 35: ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ἄρτος τῆς
ζωῆς• ὁ ἐρχόμενος πρὸς με οὐ μὴ πεινάσῃ (שברו) καὶ ὁ πιστεύων εἰς ἐμὲ
οὐ μὴ διψήσῃ πώποτε. Ver. 55: ἡ γὰρ σάρξ μου ἀληθῶς ἐστι βρῶσις, καὶ τὸ
αἷμά μου ἀληθῶς ἐστι πόσις. From the sequel (comp. vers. 6, 7), it
appears that the thrice repeated _coming_ and the _buying_ are
accomplished by true repentance, the μετάνοια, which is the
indispensable condition of the participation in the salvation. In John
vi. 35, the words: ὁ ἐρχόμενος πρὸς με are explained by: ὁ πιστεύων εἰς
ἐμὲ. Faith is the soul of repentance.--The circumstance that the [Pg
345] buying is done without money, intimates that the blessings of
salvation are a pure gift of divine grace. These blessings of salvation
are first designated by water; afterwards, by _wine_ and _milk_,--thus
approximating to those passages in which the blessings of the Kingdom
of Christ appear under the image of a rich repast, to which the members
of the Kingdom are invited as guests, Ps. xxii. 26-30; Matt. viii. 11,
xxii. 2; Luke xiv. 16; Rev. xix. 9.--Some Rationalistic interpreters
understand, by the offered blessings, the salutary admonitions of the
Prophet; but decisive against these are vers. 3 and 11, according to
which it is not present, but future blessings, not words, but real
things which are spoken of, viz., the salvation which is to be brought
through Christ. What that is which constitutes the substance of this
salvation, we learn from chap. liii. It is the redemption and
reconciliation by the Servant of God. Yet we must not, after the manner
of several ancient interpreters, limit ourselves to the "evangelical
righteousness." On the contrary, the whole fulness of the salvation in
Christ is comprehended in it; and according to vers. 4 and 5, this
includes the dominion over the world by the Kingdom of God,--its
dominion over the Gentile world, and the investiture of its members
with the full liberty and glory of the children of God.

Ver. 2. "_Wherefore do ye weigh money for that which is not bread, and
your labour for that which satisfieth not? Hearken, hearken unto me,
and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in

From ver. 3, we see that it is not the Prophet, but the Lord who
speaks. "That which is not bread," and "that which satisfieth not," is
something which outwardly has the appearance of good and nutritious
food, and to obtain which the hungry ones therefore strive, and exert
themselves with all their might, but which afterwards shows itself to
be food in appearance only, and which has not the power of satisfying.
"That which is not bread," is, in the first instance, the imagined
salvation which they sought to obtain from idols for much money. This
appears from the intentional literal reference to chap. xlvi. 6, where
the Prophet reproves the folly of those who, in the face of the living
God, "lavish gold out of the bag, and _weigh silver_ in the balance,
and hire a goldsmith, [Pg 346] that he make it a god, work also and
fall down." With perfect justice _Stier_ remarks: "Notwithstanding the
connection with, and allusion to, the circumstances of that time, the
word of the Prophet is to be understood in a general, spiritual way, as
a melancholy, bitter lamentation over the general misery, and man's
deep-rooted perverseness in running with effort and exertion, after
that which is pernicious to the soul, and in serving some Baal better
than Jehovah." "Fatness" occurs as a figurative designation of the
glorious gifts of God, in Ps. xxxvi. 9 also.

Ver. 3. "_Incline your ears and come unto me, hear and your soul shall
live, and I will grant to you an everlasting covenant, the constant
mercies of David._"

The introductory words allude, in a graceful manner, to two Messianic
psalms, and remind us of the fact, that the prophecy before us moves on
the same ground as these psalms. On "incline your ear, and come unto
me, hear," comp. Ps. xlv. 11: "Hear, O daughter, and see, and _incline
thine ear_ (from the fundamental passage, the Singular is here
retained), and forget thy people and thy father's house." On "your soul
shall live," comp. Ps. xxii. 27: "The meek shall eat and be satisfied,
they shall praise the Lord that seek Him, _your heart shall live for
ever_." Analogous are the references to Ps. lxxii. in chap. xi. The
soul _dies_ in care and grief In the words: "I will grant to you," &c.,
there follow the glad tidings which are to heal the dying hearts. כרת
ברית is used of God, even where no reciprocal agreement takes place,
but where He simply confers grace; because every grace which He bestows
imposes, at the same time, an obligation, and may hence be considered
as a covenant. The onesidedness is, in such a case, indicated by the
construction with ל, comp. chap. lxi. 8: "And I give them their reward
in truth, and I make (grant) to them an everlasting covenant," Jer.
xxxii. 40; Ezek. xxxiv. 25; Ps. lxxxix. 4. Since _to make a covenant_
is here identical with _granting mercy_, אכרתה may also be connected
with the subsequent "the constant mercies of David," and there is no
necessity for supposing a Zeugma. The everlasting covenant here, is the
new covenant in Jer. xxxi. 31-34; for the words "I _will_ make" show
that, here too, a new covenant is spoken of. The substance of the
covenant to be made is expressed in the words: [Pg 347] "The constant
mercies of David," &c. By "David," many interpreters here understand
the descendant of David, the Messiah, who, in other passages also,
_e.g._, Jer. xxx. 9, bears the name of His type. Even _Abenezra_ refers
to the fact that, in ver. 4, the Messiah is necessarily required
as the subject. The _constant_ mercies of David are, according to this
view--in parallelism with the "everlasting covenant"--the mercies
constantly continuing, in contrast to the merely transitory mercies,
such as had been those of the first David. According to the opinion of
other interpreters, David designates here, as in Hos. iii. 5, the
family of David who, in Ps. xviii., and in a series of other psalms,
speaks in the name of his whole family. As regards the sense, this
explanation arrives at the same result. For, according to it, the
Messiah is He in whom the Davidic house attains to its fall destiny,
the channel through which the mercies of David flow in upon the Church.
For the latter interpretation, however, is decisive the evident
reference to the divine promise to David, in 2 Sam. vii., especially
vers. 15, 16: "And my mercy shall not depart from him (thy race) ...
and constant (נאמן) is thine house, and thy kingdom for ever before
thee, thy throne shall be firm for ever;" compare Ps. lxxxix. 29: "My
mercy will I keep for him for evermore, and my covenant is constant in
him." Ps. lxxxix. 2, 50: "Lord, where are thy former mercies which thou
swarest unto David in thy truth?" likewise suggest that, by David, not
simply Christ is to be understood, but the Davidic family. The constant
mercies of David are, accordingly, the mercies which have been sworn to
the Davidic house as _constant_, which, therefore, can never rest until
Christ has appeared with His everlasting Kingdom, in which they find
their true and full realization. In the expectation of the Messiah from
the house of David, the prophecy under consideration goes hand in hand
with chap. xi. 1, where the Messiah appears as a twig which proceeds
from the cut-down tree of Jesse; and with chap. ix. 6, according to
which He sits on the throne of David. This passage alone is fully
sufficient against those (_Ewald_, _Umbreit_, and others) who advance
the strange assertion, that the Prophet had altogether given up the
idea of a Messiah from the house of David, and had distributed His
property between Cyrus and the prophetic order, [Pg 348] or the pious
portion of the people. It is of the greatest importance for the
explanation of those passages which treat of the Servant of God, and
forms a point of union for the Messianic passages of the first and
second part. The passage before us is quoted in Acts xiii. 34: ὅτι δὲ
ἀνέστησεν αὐτὸν ἐκ νεκρῶν, μηκέτι μέλλοντα ὑποστρέφειν εἰς διαφθοράν
οὕτως, εἴρηκεν · ὅτι δώσω ὑμῖν τὰ ὅσια Δαυὶδ τὰ πιστά. Ὅσια Δαυὶδ,
_sancta Davidis_, are the sacred, inviolable, inalienably guaranteed
mercies and blessings which have been promised to the house of David.
As certainly as these must be granted, so certainly Christ, who was to
bring them, could not remain in the power of death.

Ver. 4. "_Behold, I give him for a witness to the people, for a prince
and lawgiver of the people._"

Here, and in ver. 5, we have the expansion of the mercies of David.
Their greatness and glory appear from the circumstance that, around his
scion, the whole heathen world, which hitherto was hostile and
pernicious to the Church of God, will gather. The Suffix in נתתיו can
refer only to David, or the family of David. From the connection with
chap. liii., it appears that it is in his descendant, the righteous
One, to whom the heathen and their kings do homage, that David will
attain to the dignity here announced. עד has no other signification
than "witness." Every true doctrine bears the character of a witness.
The teacher sent by God does not teach on his own authority, α μὴ
ἑώρακεν ἐμβατεύων, but only witnesses what he has seen and heard. With
a reference to, and in explanation of the passage before us, Christ
says to Pilate, in John xviii. 37: "For this end was I born, and for
this cause I came into the world, that I should bear _witness_ unto the
truth." And the passages, Rev. i. 5: "And from Jesus Christ who is the
faithful witness," and Rev. iii. 14: "These things says the Amen, the
faithful and true witness," likewise point back to the passage before
us; compare farther, John iii. 11, 32, 33. In John xviii. 37, Rev. i.
5, His being a witness is, just as in the passage before us, connected
with His being a King; so that the reference to this passage cannot be
at all doubtful. It is intentionally that עד is put at the head. It is
intended to intimate that the future dominion of the Davidic dynasty
over the heathen world shall be essentially different from that which,
in former times, it exercised [Pg 349] over some neighbouring people.
It is not based upon the power of arms, but upon the power of truth. He
in whom the Davidic dynasty is to centre shall connect the prophetic
with the regal office; just as already, in the prophecy of the Shiloh,
in Gen. xlix. 10, the prophetic office is concealed behind the royal.
The contrast to the first David can the less be doubtful, that, while
עד is never applied to him, it is just the subsequent נגיד which, in a
series of passages, is ascribed to him. In 2 Sam. vi. 21, David himself
says that the Lord appointed him to be _ruler_ over the people of the
Lord, over Israel; in 2 Sam. vii. 8, Nathan says: "I took thee from the
sheep-cot to be _ruler_ over my people, over Israel;" comp. 1 Sam. xxv.
30; 2 Sam. v. 5. In those passages, however, David is always spoken of
as a ruler over Israel; so that even as regards the נגיד, the second
David, the prince of the _people_, is not only placed on a level with
the first David, but is elevate d above him. For the dominion by force
which David exercised over some heathen nations, נגיד was the less
appropriate designation, inasmuch as it designates the ruler as the
chief of his people.

Ver. 5. "_Behold, thou shall call a nation that thou knowest not, and
nations that knew not thee shall run unto thee, because of the Lord thy
God, and of the Holy One of Israel, for He adorneth thee._"

The words here are addressed to the true Israel, to the exclusion of
those souls who are cut off from among their people, compare Ps.
lxxiii. 1, where Israel and those that are of a clean heart go hand in
hand,--and, in substance, they also were addressed in vers. 1 and 2.
For the thirsty ones, who are there called upon to partake of the
blessings so liberally offered by the Lord, are just the members of the
Church. In connection with that glorification of David, the Church
shall invite nations from a great distance, who were hitherto unknown
to it, to its communion; and those nations who hitherto scarcely knew
by name the Church of God shall joyfully and willingly comply with the
invitation; comp. chap. ii. 2. This great change proceeds from the
Lord, the Almighty and Holy One, who, as the protector and Covenant-God
of His Church, has resolved to glorify it; for _He adorneth thee_. This
glorification consists, according to chap. iv. 2, in the appearance of
[Pg 350] Christ, the immediate consequence of which is the conversion
of the heathen world.

We must now review that exposition by which Rationalism has endeavoured
to deprive our passage of its Messianic import,--an attempt in which
_Grotius_ led the way. _Gesenius_, whom _Hitzig_, _Maurer_, _Ewald_,
and _Knobel_ follow, translates in vers. 3 and 4: "That I may make with
you an everlasting covenant, may show to you constant mercies, as once
to David. Behold, I have made him a ruler of the nations, a prince and
lawgiver of the nations," and refers both of the verses to the first
David. In ver. 5, then, the mercy is to follow which, in some future
time, God will bestow upon the whole people, as gloriously as once upon
the single David. But this explanation proves itself to be, in every
aspect, untenable.[1]

We are the less entitled to put "mercies _like_ David's" instead of
"the mercies of David," that these mercies are, elsewhere also,
mentioned in reference to the eternal dominion promised to David for
his family; comp. Ps. lxxxix. 2, 50. With the epithet, "constant,"
these interpreters do not know what to do. Apart from the promise of
the eternal dominion of his house, no constant mercies can, in the case
of David, be pointed out which would be equally bestowed upon the
people, and upon him. Moreover, נאמנים distinctly points back to 2 Sam.
vii. Ver. 4 forms, according to this explanation, "a historical
reminiscence, most unsuitable in the flow of a prophetic discourse"
(_Umbreit_). But what in itself is quite conclusive is the
circumstance, that the first David could not by any possibility be
designated as the _witness_ of the Gentile nations. It indeed sounds
rather _naïve_ that _Knobel_, after having endeavoured to explain עב of
the "opening up of the law," feels himself obliged to add: "The word
does not, however, occur anywhere else in this signification." Nor
could David, without farther limitation, be designated as "the prince
and lawgiver of the _peoples_;" and that so much the more [Pg 351]
that, in ver. 5, there is an invitation to the Gentile world, and that,
in ver. 4, too, the Gentile world, in the widest sense, is to be
thought of.

After the promise, there follows, in vers. 6-13, the admonition to
repentance based upon it. Repent ye, for the Kingdom of heaven is at
hand, vers. 6, 7. Do not doubt that the Kingdom of heaven is at hand,
because it does not seem probable to you. For the counsels of God go
beyond all the thoughts of men; and, therefore. He and His work must
not be judged by a human measure, vers. 8, 9. With Him, word and deed
are inseparably connected, vers. 10, 11. This will be manifested in
your redemption and glorification, vers. 12, 13.

[Footnote 1: _Vitringa_ already remarked in opposition to it: "This
exposition is rather far fetched, and is the weakest of all that can be
advanced. I add, that the constancy of the promises given to David does
not appear, if we exclude the Kingdom of the Messiah. But are any other
promises of constant and eternal blessings, such as are here promised,
to be thought of?"]

                      THE PROPHECY--CHAP. LXI. 1-3.

As in chaps. xlix. and l., so here, the Servant of God is introduced
as speaking, and announces to the Church what a glorious office the
Lord had bestowed upon Him, namely, to deliver them from the misery in
which they had hitherto been lying, and to work a wonderful change in
their condition. In vers. 4-9, the Prophet takes the word, and
describes the salvation to be bestowed by the Servant of God. In vers.
10 and 11, the Church appears, and expresses her joy and gratitude.

According to the Jewish and Rationalistic interpreters, the Prophet
himself is supposed to be speaking in vers. 1-3. That opinion was last
expressed by _Knobel_: "The author places before his promises a
remembrance of his vocation as a preacher of consolation." In favour of
the Messianic interpretation, in which our Lord himself preceded His
Church (Luke iv. 17-19), are conclusive, not only the parallel
passages, but also the contents of the prophecy itself, which go far
beyond the prophetic territory, and the human territory generally. The
speaker designates himself as He who is called, not merely to announce
the highest blessings to the Church, [Pg 352] but actually to grant
them. He does not represent himself as a mere Evangelist, but rather as
a Saviour.

Ver. 1. "_The Spirit of the Lord Jehovah is upon me, because the Lord
hath anointed me to preach glad tidings unto the meek; He hath sent me
to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and
opening to them that are bound._"

On the words: "The Spirit of the Lord Jehovah is upon me," compare
chap. xi. 2, xlii. 1. יען always means "because of" The whole
succeeding clause stands instead of a noun, so that, in substance,
"because of" is equivalent to "because;" but it never can mean
"therefore." Nor would the latter signification afford a good sense.
The verb משח must, in that case, be subjected to arbitrary
explanations. The anointing, whether it occurs as a symbolical action
really carried out, or as a mere figure, is always a designation of the
gifts of the Holy Spirit; compare 1 Sam. x. 1, xvi. 13, 14, and remarks
on Dan. ix. 24. Since, then, the anointing is identical with the
bestowal of the Spirit, the words: "because the Lord hath anointed me"
must not be isolated, but must be understood in close connection with
the subsequent words; so that the sense is: And He hath, for this
reason, endowed me with His Spirit, in order that I may preach good
tidings, &c. The ענוים are the πρᾳεῖς in Matt. v. 5; עני and ענו are
never confounded with one another. The LXX., whom Luke follows, have
πτωχοῖς. This rendering does not differ so much from the original text
as to make it appear expedient to give up the version at that time
received. In the world of sin, the meek are, at the same time, those
who are suffering; and the glad tidings which imply a contrast to their
misery, show that, here especially, the meek are to be conceived of
as sufferers. The ענוים, in contrast to the wicked, appear, in chap.
xi. also, as the people of the Messiah.--"The binding up"--_Stier_
remarks--"already passes over into the actual bestowal of that which is
announced." The term קרא דרור is taken from the Jubilee year, which was
a year of general deliverance for all those who, on account of debts,
had become slaves; compare Lev. xxv. 10: "And ye shall hallow the
fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land for all the
inhabitants thereof; it shall be a jubilee year unto you, and ye [Pg
353] shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return
every man unto his family." Such a great year of liberty is both to be
proclaimed and to be brought about by the Servant of God. For He does
not announce any thing which He does not, at the same time, grant, as
is clearly shown by ver. 3. His saying is based upon His being and
nature; He delivers from the service of the world, and brings into the
glorious liberty of the children of God.--Most of the modern
interpreters agree with the ancient versions in declaring it to be
wrong to divide the word פקחקוח, although this writing is found in most
of the manuscripts. The word is, "by its form of reduplication, the
most emphatic term for the most complete opening," and designates,
"opening, unclosing of every kind, of the eyes, ears, and heart, of
every barrier and tie from within, or from without." The LXX.,
proceeding upon the fact that פקח occurs, with especial frequency, of
the opening of the eyes, translate: καὶ τυφλοι̂ς ἀνάβλεψιν. Luke does
not wish to set aside this version, because it gives one feature of the
sense; and partly also because of the close resemblance to the parallel
passage, chap. xlii. 7, which, in this way, was brought in and
connected with the passage under consideration. But since outward
deliverance and redemption are, in the first instance, to be thought
of, when opening to the captives is spoken of, be, in order to complete
the sense, adds: ἀποστεῖλαι τεθραυσμένους ἐν ἀφέσει, borrowing the
expression from the Alexand. Vers. itself in chap. lviii. 6.

Ver. 2. "_To proclaim a year of acceptance to the Lord, and a day of
vengeance to our God, to comfort all that mourn._"

"A year ... to the Lord" is a year when the Lord shows himself gracious
and merciful to His people; compare chap. xlix. 8. The words farther
still allude to the Jubilee year; and it is in consequence of this
allusion, that we can account for its being a _year_ instead of a
_time_, indefinitely. In that year, a complete _restitutio in integrum_
took place. It was, for all in misery, a year of mercy, a type of the
times of refreshing (Acts iii. 19) which the Lord grants to His Church,
after it has been exercised by the Cross. Hand in hand with the year of
mercy goes the day of vengeance. When the Lord shows mercy to the meek,
and to them that mourn, this shall, at the same time, be accompanied by
a manifestation of anger [Pg 354] against the enemies of God, and of
His Church. The one cannot be thought of without the other. The mercy
of the Lord towards His people is, among other things also, manifested
in His sitting in judgment upon His and their enemies, upon the proud
world which afflicts and oppresses them. It is only in this respect
that the vengeance here comes into consideration; and it is for this
reason also, that the first feature at once reappears in the third
verse. The Lord, in quoting the verse, limits himself to the first
clause, "His first coming into the world was in the form of meekness,"
and, therefore, in the meantime, the bright side only is brought out.

Ver. 3. "_To put upon them that mourn in Zion,--to give them a crown
for ashes, oil of joy for mourning, garment of praise for a spirit of
heaviness; and they shall be called terebinths of righteousness,
planting of the Lord for glorifying._"

It is in this verse that it comes clearly out, that the speaker is not
merely to announce the mercy of God, but, at the same time, to bestow
it; that the announcement is not an empty one, but one which brings
along with it that which is promised; that it is not a Prophet or
Evangelist who speaks, but the Saviour. Such a change cannot be
effected by merely _announcing_ it. Everywhere, in the second part, it
is brought about, not by words, but by deeds. How were it possible that
by mere words, as long as the reality stood in glaring contrast to
them, the believers could become terebinths of righteousness, a
glorious planting of the Lord?--The connection of the two verbs שום and
נתן is to be accounted for from the circumstance, that the pronoun
suited the first noun only--the ornament for the head. It is only when
שום is understood in the sense, "to put upon," or, "to put on," that
there is a sufficient reason for adding נתן; but that is not the case
when it is taken in the signification "to grant," "to appoint." פאר
"crown," and אפר "ashes," are connected with one another, because
mourners were accustomed to strew ashes on their heads. The expression
"oil of joy," which is to be explained from the custom of people
anointing themselves with oil in cases of joy, is taken from Ps. xlv.
8. As the Messiah there appears as the possessor of the oil of joy, so,
here, He appears as the bestower. In chap. lv. 3, there is [Pg 355]
likewise an allusion to Ps. xlv., and along with it, to Ps. xxii. The
"spirit of heaviness" refers to chap. xlii. 3. The fact that, instead
of it, they receive "garments of praise," intimates that they shall be
altogether clothed with praise, songs of praise for the divine goodness
which manifested itself in them; on the garments as symbols of the
condition, compare remarks on Rev. vii. 14. The "righteousness" which
is appropriate to the spiritual terebinths, is the actual
justification, which the Lord grants to His people at the appearance of
the Messiah. There is in it an allusion to the planting of paradise;
God now prepares for himself a new paradisaical plantation, consisting
of living trees.

[Pg 356]

                         THE PROPHET ZEPHANIAH.

By the inscription, the Prophet's origin is, in a way rather uncommon,
traced back to his fourth ancestor, Hezekiah,--no doubt the king. He
appeared as a prophet under the reign of Josiah--before the time,
however, at which the reforms of that king had attained their
completion, which took place in the 18th year of his reign--and, hence,
prophesied, like his predecessor Habakkuk, in the view of the Chaldean
catastrophe. The prophecy begins with threatening judgment upon the
sinners, and closes with announcing salvation to the believers,--a
circumstance which proves that it forms one whole. The threatening is
distinguished from that of Habakkuk by the circumstance, that it has
more of a general comprehensive character, and does not, as is done in
Habakkuk, view the Chaldean catastrophe as a particular historical
event. It is not an incidental circumstance, that the Chaldeans are not
expressly mentioned by Zephaniah, as is done by Habakkuk, and was done
by Isaiah. The Prophet can, therefore, have had them in view as being,
_in the first instance_ only, the instruments of Divine punishment.

The prophecy begins, in chap. i. 2, 3, with announcing the judgment
impending over the whole world. Then, the Prophet shows how it
manifests itself in Judah; first, in general outlines, vers. 4-7; then,
in detail, vers. 8-18. In close connection, this is followed by a call
to repent, in chap. ii. 1-3. This call is founded on the fearful
character of the impending judgment which, according to vers. 4-15,
will be inflicted not only upon Judah, but also upon the world, and
will especially bring destruction upon all the neighbouring nations: in
the [Pg 357] West, upon the Philistines; in the East, upon Ammon and
Moab; in the South, on Cush; in the North, upon Nineveh, upon whose
destruction the Prophet especially dwells, since, up to that time, it
had been the bearer of the world's power.

In chap. iii., in the first instance, the threatening against Judah is
resumed. Apostate Jerusalem, corrupt in its head and members,
irresistibly hastens on towards judgment. But, notwithstanding, "the
afflicted and poor people of the land" shall not despair. On the
contrary, as salvation cannot proceed from the midst of the people,
they are to put their trust in the Lord. By His judgments (viz., those
declared in chap. ii., which at last shall bring forth the peaceable
fruits of righteousness, compare Isa. xxvi. 9: "For when thy judgments
are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness")
will He break the pride of the Gentile world, and bring about their
conversion,--and the converted Gentile world will bring back to
Jerusalem the scattered Congregation. Being purified and justified, it
will then enjoy the full mercy of the Lord.

The principal passage is chap. iii. 8-13.

Ver. 8. "_Therefore wait ye upon me, saith the Lord, until the day that
I rise up to the prey; for my right is_ (_i.e._, the exercise of my
right consists in this) _to gather the nations, and to assemble the
kingdoms, to pour out upon them mine indignation, all the heat of mine
anger; for all the earth shall be devoured by the fire of my jealousy._
Ver. 9. _For then will I turn unto the nations a clean lip, that they
may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one
shoulder._ Ver. 10. _From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia shall they
bring my suppliants, the daughter of my dispersed for a meat-offering
to me._ Ver. 11. _In that day shall thou not be ashamed for all thy
doings wherein thou hast transgressed against me; for then will I take
away out of the midst of thee them that proudly rejoice in thee, and
thou shall no more be haughty on mine holy mountain._ Ver. 12. _And I
leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they trust
in the name of the Lord._ Ver. 13. _The remnant of Israel shall not do
iniquity nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in
their mouth; for they shall feed and lie down, and none shall make them

[Pg 358]

Zephaniah, who opens the series of the prophets who are preeminently
dependent upon other prophets, just as Habakkuk closes the series of
those pre-eminently independent, leans, in this section, chiefly upon
Isaiah; and it is from this circumstance that it appears, that the
person of the Messiah, although not appearing here, stands in the
background and forms the invisible centre.

"_Therefore_" ver. 8: Since the salvation cannot proceed from the midst
of the people, inasmuch as, in the way of their works, they receive
nothing but destructive punishment. On the words: "Wait ye upon me,"
compare Hab. ii. 3. "The day that the Lord rises up to the prey" is the
time when He will begin His great triumphal march against the Gentile
world. With the words: "For my right," &c., a new argument for the call
"Wait ye upon me," commences. But this does not by any means close with
the 8th verse, but goes on to the end of ver. 10. First: Wait, for I
will judge the nations. It is not without meaning that, as regards your
hope, I refer you to the judgment upon the Gentiles; for, in
consequence of this judgment, their conversion will take place, and a
consequence of their conversion is, that they bring back to Zion her
scattered members. In the thought, that the judgments upon the Gentile
world will break their hardness of heart, and prepare them for their
conversion, Zephaniah follows Isaiah, who, _e.g._ in chap. xix.,
exemplifies it in the case of Egypt, and in chap. xxiii. in that of
Tyre. The bruised reed and the faintly burning wick is not merely a
designation of the single individuals who have been endowed with the
right disposition for the kingdom of God, but of whole nations. "The
clean lip" in ver. 9 forms the contrast to the unclean lips in Is. vi.
With unclean lips they had, in the time of the long-suffering of God,
invoked their idols, Ps. xvi. 4. On the words: "To serve Him with one
shoulder," comp. Is. xix. 23: "And Egypt serves with Asshur." The
words: "From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia," in ver. 10, rest on Is.
xviii. 1. In both of the passages, Ethiopia is the type of the whole
Gentile world to be converted in future. In Is. xviii. Ethiopia offers
itself and all which it has to the Lord; here it brings the scattered
members of the community of the Israelitish people to the Kingdom of
God. עתר always means "to supplicate," [Pg 359] never "to burn
incense." Ezek. viii. 11 must thus be translated: "Every man, his
censer in his hand, and the _supplication_ of the cloud of incense went
up;" compare remarks on Rev. v. 8. The dispersed members of the Church
_supplicate_ that the Lord would again receive them into His communion
(compare Hos. xiv. 3; Jer. xxxi. 9, 18; Zech. xii. 10); and these
supplications cannot remain without an answer, since they from whom
they proceed stand in a close relation to the Lord. "The daughter of my
dispersed" is the daughter or communion, consisting of the dispersed of
the Lord, just as in the phrase "the daughter of the Chaldeans," the
Chaldeans themselves are the daughter or virgin. The designation, in
itself, plainly suggests the dispersed members of the old Congregation,
inasmuch as they only can be designated as the dispersed of the Lord.
To this, moreover, must be added the reference to Deut. iv. 27: "And
the Lord _disperses_ you among the nations;" xxviii. 64: "And the Lord
_disperses_ thee among all the nations from the one end of the earth
even unto the other,"--an announcement which, at the time of Zephaniah,
had already been fulfilled upon the ten tribes, and the fulfilment of
which was soon to commence upon Judah. It is only when the members of
the old Congregation are understood by the suppliants and dispersed,
that the call, "Wait ye upon me" is here established and confirmed. The
offering of the meat-offering signifies, in the symbolism of the Mosaic
law, diligence in good works, such as is to be peculiar to the
redeemed. A single manifestation of it is the missionary zeal which is
here shown by the converted Gentiles.

In harmony with the Song of Solomon, Isaiah announces in several
passages, that the converted Gentiles shall, at some future period,
labour for the restoration of Israel; compare the remarks on Is. xi.
12. Zephaniah here specially refers to the remarkable passage, Is.
lxvi. 18-21, which we must here subject to a somewhat closer
examination: Ver. 18. "And I ... their works and their thoughts; _the
time cometh to gather_ all Gentiles and tongues, and they come and
_see_ my glory." The first hemistich still belongs to the threatening.
The holy God and unholy men, the unholy members of the Church to which
the Lord spake: "Ye shall be holy, for I am holy," and their sinful
thoughts and words are simply placed beside one another, [Pg 360]
other, and it is left to every one to draw from it the inference as to
the fate awaiting them. "I and their works"--what an immense contrast,
a contrast which must be adjusted by the judgment! With the
threatening, the Prophet then connects, by a suitable contrast to the
rejection of a great part of the covenant-people, the calling of the
Gentiles. The glory of the Lord, which the Gentiles see, is His glory
which, up to that time, was concealed, but is now manifested; compare
Is. xl. 5, lx. 2, lii. 10, liii. 1. Ver. 19. "And I set a sign among
them, and send from among them escaped ones unto the nations, to
Tarshish, &c., to the isles afar off that have not heard my fame,
neither have seen my glory, and they declare my glory among the
Gentiles,"--The suffix in בהם can refer to those only from among the
nations and tongues who have come and seen the glory of God. They are
sent out to bring the message of the living God, the message of
salvation to those also who hitherto have not come. By the
demonstration of the Spirit and power, they are marked out as blessed
of the Lord, as His servants, separated from the world given up to
destruction. Just as the wicked, the servants of the prince of this
world, have their _mark_, Gen. iv. 50, so have the servants of God
theirs also, which may be recognised by all who are well disposed. It
is only by one's own fault, and at one's own risk, that the sign is not
understood. The fact that "unto the nations" forms the beginning, and
the "isles afar off"--isles in the sea of the world, kingdoms--the
close, shows that the single names, Tarshish, &c., are only
individualizations. In the following verse, too, all the heathens
are spoken of Ver. 20: "And they bring, out of all nations, your
brethren for a meat-offering unto the Lord, upon horses, &c., to my
holy mountain to Jerusalem, as the children of Israel bring the
meat-offering in a clean vessel unto the house of the Lord." It is in
this verse that it clearly appears, that Zephaniah depends upon it; and
it is by the offering of the spiritual meat-offering that his
dependence is recognized. The subject in "they bring" is the Gentiles,
to whom the message of salvation has been brought. They, having
themselves attained salvation, offer to the Lord, as a meat-offering,
the former members of His Kingdom who were separated from it. It is
they, not the Gentiles who have become believers, who in the second [Pg
361] part of Isaiah, are throughout designated as the _brethren_.
Salvation is first to pass from Israel to the Gentiles, and shall then,
from them, return to Israel. The two verses before us thus contain a
sanction for the mission among the heathens and among Israel. Vers. 18
and 19 divide the conversion of the Gentiles into two main stations; it
is only when the Church has arrived at the second, that the missionary
work among Israel will fully thrive and prosper. To the _clean vessel_
in which the outward sacrifice was offered, correspond the faith and
love with which they, who were formerly heathens, offer the spiritual
meat-offering. Ver. 21: "And of them also will I take for Levitical
priests, saith the Lord." Of them, _i.e._, of those who formerly were
heathens; for it is to them that, in the words preceding, a priestly
function, viz., the offering of the meat-offering, is assigned. Of them
_also_; not merely from among the old covenant-people, to whom, under
the former dispensation, the priestly office was limited. The fact that
the priests are designated as Levitical priests, is intended to keep
out the thought that the point in question related only to priests in a
lower sense, beside whom the Levitical priesthood, attached to natural
descent, would continue to exist in full vigour. Priests with full
dignities and rights are here so much the more required, that,
according to what precedes, the point in question does not refer merely
to a personal relation to the Lord, to immediate access to the throne
of grace, but to the priestly office proper.

Vers. 11-13 describe the internal condition of the redeemed Church of
the future,--a condition so different from the present one. The
expression, "they that proudly rejoice in them," is from Is. xiii. 3.
כי in ver. 13 is to be accounted for from the fact, that wherever there
exists the blessing promised by the Law of God (Lev. xxvi. 6) to
faithfulness, faithfulness itself must exist.

In ver. 14 ff., the Jerusalem of the future is addressed; compare the
expression, "at that time," ver. 20.

[Pg 362]

                         THE PROPHET JEREMIAH.

                      GENERAL PRELIMINARY REMARKS.

In Malachi iii. 1, the Lord promises that He would send His messenger
who should prepare the way before _Him_, who was to come to His temple,
judging and punishing; vers. 23, 24 (iv. 5, 6): that before the coming
of His great and dreadful day, before He smites the land with a curse,
He would send another Elijah, who should bring back the heart of the
fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their
fathers. Even before this prophecy was expressed in words, it had
_actually_ been given in the existence of Jeremiah, who, during the
whole long period of forty-one years, before the destruction, announced
the judgments of the Lord,--who, with burning zeal and ardent love to
the people, preached repentance,--and who, even after the destruction,
sought the small remnant that had been left, and was anxious to secure
it against the new day of the Lord, which, by its obstinate
impenitence, it was drawing down upon itself. It is this typical
relation of Jeremiah to John the Baptist and Christ, of which the
Jewish tradition had an anticipation, although it misunderstood and
expressed it in a gross, outward manner, by teaching that, at the end
of days, Jeremiah would again appear on earth,--it is this, which
invests with a peculiar charm the contemplation of his ministry, and
the study of his prophecies.

The name of the Prophet is to be explained from Exod. xv. 1, from which
it is probably taken. It signifies "The Lord throws." He who bore it
was consecrated to that God who with an almighty hand throws to the
ground all His enemies. From chap. i. 10: "See, I set thee to-day over
the nations [Pg 363] and over the kingdoms, to root out and to pull
down, to destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant," it appears
that it was by a dispensation of divine providence, that the Prophet
bore this name with full right, and that the character of his mission
is thereby designated. The judging and destructive activity which the
Prophet, as an instrument of God, is to exercise, is here not only
placed at the commencement, but four appellations are also devoted to
it, whilst only two are devoted to his healing and planting activity.
As the object of the _throwing_, we have to conceive, not of the
unfaithful covenant-people only. This appears from the mention of the
_nations and kingdoms_ here, and farther, from ver. 14, where the Lord
says to the Prophet: "Out of the North the evil breaks forth upon all
the inhabitants of the earth." To be the herald of the judgment to be
executed upon the whole world by the Chaldeans, was so much the destiny
of the Prophet, that, in chap. i. 3, the eleventh year of Zedekiah, in
which this judgment was brought to a close, as far as Judah was
concerned, is mentioned as the closing point of his ministry. The
Prophet, as is reported by the book itself, still continued his
ministry even among the remnant of the people; but that is lost sight
of The "carrying away of Jerusalem" is treated as the great closing
point; just as, in a manner altogether similar, it is, in the case of
Daniel, in chap. i. 21, the year of Israel's deliverance, although,
according to chap. x. 1, his prophetic ministry extended beyond that

Jeremiah was called to his office when still a youth, in the 13th year
of king Josiah, and hence one year after the first reformation of this
king, who, as early as in the 16th year of his life, and the 8th of his
reign, which lasted 31 years, began to seek the Lord. A king such as
he, unto whom no king before him was like, who turned to the Lord with
all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, (2 Kings
xxiii. 25), in the midst of an evil and adulterous generation, is a
remarkable phenomenon, as little conceivable from natural causes as the
existence of Melchizedec without father, without descent--isolated from
all natural development--in the midst of the Canaanites who, with rapid
strides and irresistibly, hastened on to the completion of their sin.
His existence has the same root as that of Jeremiah,--a fact which
becomes the [Pg 364] more evident when we take into consideration the
connection of the Regal and Prophetical offices in Christ for the
salvation of the people hastening anew to its destruction, and the
faithfulness of the Covenant-God, and His long-suffering which makes
every effort to lead the apostate children to repentance. The zeal of
both, of Josiah and Jeremiah,--although supported by manifold
assistance from other quarters, as _e.g._ by the prophetess Huldah and
the prophet Zephaniah--was unable to stem the tide of prevailing
corruption, and, hence, to stop the tide of the divine judgments. The
corruption was so deeply rooted, that only single individuals could be
saved, like brands from the burning. It had made fearful progress under
the protracted reign of Manasseh, whose disposition must be regarded as
a product of the spirit of the time then prevailing, of which he must
not be considered as the creator, but as the representative only, 2
Kings xxiii. 26, 27, xxiv. 3, 4. The scanty fruits of his late
conversion had been again entirely consumed under the short reign of
his wicked son Amon; it had indeed so little of a comprehensive or
lasting influence, that the author of the Book of Kings thought himself
entitled altogether to pass it over. It was even difficult to put
limits to outward idolatry; and how imperfectly he succeeded in this,
is seen from the prophecies of Jeremiah uttered after the reformation.
And even where he was successful in his efforts; even where an emotion
was manifested, a wish to return to the living fountain which they had
forsaken, even there, the corruption soon broke forth again, only in a
different form. With deep grief, Jeremiah reprovingly reminds the
people of this, whose righteousness was like the morning dew, in chap.
iii. 4, 5: "Hast thou not but lately called me: My Father, friend of my
youth, thou? Will He reserve His anger for ever, will He keep it to the
end? Behold, thus thou spakest, and soon thou didst the evil, didst
accomplish"--an _accomplishment_ quite different from that of the
ancestor. Gen. xxxii. 29. Since the disease had not been healed, but
had only been driven out from one part of the diseased organism, the
foolish inclination to idolatry was followed by as foolish a confidence
in the miserable righteousness by works, in the divine election,--the
offering up of sacrifices, &c., being considered as the sole condition
of its validity. "Trust ye not in lying words"--so [Pg 365] the Prophet
is obliged to admonish them in chap. vii. 4--"saying, The temple of the
Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are they" (the
people imagined that they could not be destroyed, because the Lord had,
according to their opinion, for ever established His residence among
them; compare 1 Cor. iii. 17; 1 Tim. iii. 15). "Thou sayest, I am
innocent; His anger hath entirely turned from me; behold I plead with
thee, because thou sayest: I have not sinned," chap. ii. 35. "To what
purpose shall there come for me incense from Sheba, and sweet cane, the
goodly, from a far country? Your burnt-offerings are not acceptable,
nor your sacrifices pleasant unto me," chap. vi. 20. Towards the end of
Josiah's reign, the approaching judgment of God upon Judah became more
perceptible. The former Asiatic dominion of the Assyrians passed over
entirely to the Chaldeans, whose fresh and youthful strength so much
the more threatened Judah with destruction, that from the Assyrians
they had inherited the enmity to Egypt, on account of which Judah
obtained great importance in their eyes. According to the announcement
of the prophets generally, and of Jeremiah especially, who, at his very
vocation, had it assigned to him as his main task to announce the
calamity from the North, it was by the Chaldeans that the deadly stroke
should be inflicted upon the people implicated in the conflicts of
these hostile powers; but it was the Egyptians who inflicted upon them
the first severe wound. Josiah fell in the battle with Pharaoh Necho.
The people, conscious of guilt, were, by his death, filled with a
fearful expectation of the things that were to come. They had
forebodings that they were now standing at the boundary line where
grace and anger separate (compare remarks on Zech. xii. 11); and these
forebodings were soon converted into bitter certainty by experience.
Jehoiakim ascended the throne, after Jehoahaz or Shall um, had, after a
short reign, been carried away by the Egyptians. He stood to his father
Josiah in just the same relation as did the people to God, in reference
to the mercy which He had offered to them in Josiah. A more glaring
contrast (see its exhibition in chap. xxii.) can hardly be imagined.
Throughout, Jehoiakim shows himself to be entirely destitute not only
of love to God, but also of the fear of God; he furnishes the complete
image of a king whom God had given in anger. He [Pg 366] is a
blood-thirsty tyrant, an exasperated enemy to truth. At the beginning
of his reign, some influence of Josiah's spirit is still seen. The
priests and false prophets, rightly understanding the signs of the
time, came forward with the manifestation of their long restrained
hatred against Jeremiah, in whom they hate their own conscience. They
bring against him a charge of life and death, because he had prophesied
destruction to the city and temple; but the rulers of the people acquit
him, chap. xxvi. This influence, however, soon ceased. The king became
the centre around whom gathered all that was ungodly, which, under
Josiah, had timorously withdrawn into concealment. Soon it became a
power, a torrent overflowing the whole country; and that the more
easily, the weaker were the dams which still existed from the time of
Josiah. One of the first victims for truth who fell, was the prophet
Urijah. The king, imagining that he was able to kill truth itself in
those who proclaimed it, could not bear the thought that he was still
living, although it was in distant Egypt, and caused him to be brought
thence (see l. c). The fact that Jeremiah escaped every danger of death
during the eleven years of this king's reign, although he ever anew
threatened death to the king and destruction to the people, was a
constant miracle, a glorious fulfilment of the divine promise given to
him when he was called (i. 19): "They shall fight against thee, and
they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith _the
Lord_, to deliver thee." The threatened divine punishment advanced,
under Jehoiakim, several steps towards its completion. In the fourth
year of his reign, Jerusalem was, for the first time, taken by the
Chaldeans (compare "_Dissertations on the Genuineness of Daniel_," p.
45 ff.), after the power of the Egyptian Empire had been for ever
broken by the battle at Carchemish on the Euphrates. The victor this
time acted with tolerable mildness; the sin of the people was to appear
in its full light by the circumstance, that God gave them time for
repentance, and did not at once proceed to the utmost rigour, but
advanced, step by step, in His judgments. But here too it was seen that
crime, in its highest degree, becomes madness; the more nearly that
people and king approached the abyss, the greater became the speed with
which they hastened towards it. It is true that they [Pg 367] did not
remain altogether insensible when the threatenings of the Prophet began
to be fulfilled. This is seen from the day of fasting and repentance
which was appointed in remembrance of the first capture by the
Chaldeans (compare "_Dissertations on the Genuineness of Daniel_," p.
49); but fleeting emotions cannot stop the course of sin. Soon it
became worse than it had been before; and therefore the divine
judgments also reached a new station. Even political wisdom advised the
king quietly to submit to dependence on the Chaldeans, which was,
comparatively, little oppressive. It was obvious that, unsupported, he
could effect nothing against the Chaldean power; and, to the
_unprejudiced_ eye, it was as obvious that the Egyptians could not help
him; and even had it been possible, he would only have changed masters.
But, according to the counsel of God, who takes away the understanding
of the wise, these political reasons, obvious though they were, should
not exercise any influence upon him, because his obdurate heart
prevented him from  listening to the religious arguments which Jeremiah
brought before him. _Melancthon_ (opp. ii., p. 407 ff.) points it out
as a remarkable circumstance that, while other prophets, _e.g._,
Samuel, Elisha, Isaiah, exhort to a vigorous opposition to the enemies,
and, in that case, promise divine assistance, yea that, to some extent,
they even took an active part in the deliverance, Jeremiah, on the
other hand, always preaches unconditional submission. The issue, which
is as different as the advice, shows that this difference has not, by
any means, its foundation in the persons, but in the state of things.
The seventy years of Chaldean servitude were irrevocably decreed upon
Judah; even the exact statement of years, which else is so uncommon in
reference to the fate of the covenant-people, shows how firm and
determined was that decree. They had altogether, and more fully than at
any other time, given themselves over to the internal power of
heathenism; according to a divine necessity, they must therefore also
be given over to the external power of the heathen, both for punishment
and reform. God himself could not change that decree, for it rested on
His nature. Hence, it would be in vain though even the greatest
intercessors, Moses and Samuel, should stand before Him, Jer. xv. 1 ff.
Intercessory prayer can be effectual, only if it be offered in [Pg 368]
the name of God. But if such were the case, how foolish was it to rebel
against the Chaldean power; to attempt to remove the effect, while they
allowed the cause to remain; to stop the brook, while the source still
continued to send forth its waters. It would have been foolish, even if
the relative power of the Jews and Chaldeans had been altogether
reversed. For when the Lord sells a people, one can chase a thousand,
and two can put ten thousand to flight (Deut. xxxii. 30). But the
shepherd of the people had become a fool, and did not enquire after the
Lord. He could not, therefore, act wisely; and the whole flock was
scattered, Jer. x. 21. Jehoiakim rebelled against the Chaldeans, and
for some years he was allowed to continue in the delusion of having
acted very wisely, for Nebuchadnezzar had more important things to mind
and to settle. But then he went up against Jerusalem, and put an end to
his reign and life, Jer. xxii. 1-12; 2 Kings xxiv. 2; "_Dissertations
on the Genuineness of Daniel_," p. 49. As yet, the long-suffering of
God, and, hence, the patience of the Chaldeans, were not at an end.
Jehoiachin or Jeconiah was raised to the throne of his father. Even the
short reign of three months gave to the youth sufficient occasion to
manifest the wickedness of his heart, and his enmity to God. Suspicions
against his fidelity arose; a Chaldean army anew entered the city, and
carried away the king, and, along with him, the great mass of the
people. This was the first great deportation. In the providence of God
it was so arranged that, among those who were carried away, there was
the very flower of the nation. The apparent suffering was to them a
blessing. They were, for their good, sent away from the place over
which the storms of God's anger were soon to discharge themselves, into
the land of the Chaldeans, and formed there the nucleus for the Kingdom
of God, in its impending new form, Jer. xxiv. Nothing now seemed to
stand in the way of the divine judgment upon the wicked mass that had
been left behind, like bad figs that no one can eat for badness,--they
whom the Lord had threatened that He would give them over to hurt and
calamity in all the kingdoms of the earth, to reproach, and a proverb,
and a taunt, and a curse, in all places whither He would drive them,
Jer. xxiv. 9. And still the Lord was waiting before He carried out this
[Pg 369] threatening, and smote the land to cursing. Mattaniah or
Zedekiah, the son of Josiah, the uncle of Jehoiachin, who was given
to them for a king, might, at least partially, have averted the evil.
But he too had to learn that the fear of the Lord is the beginning
of wisdom. From various quarters, attempts have been made to exculpate
him, on the plea that his fault was only weakness, which made him
the tool of a corrupt party; but Scripture forms a different estimate
of him, and he who looks deeper will find its judgment to be
correct,--will be able to grant to him that preference only over
Jehoiakim which _C. B. Michaelis_ assigned to him in the words:
"Jehoiakim was of an obdurate and wild disposition; Zedekiah had some
fear of God, although it was a servile, hypocritical fear, but
Jehoiakim had none at all." And even this preference, when more
narrowly examined, amounts to nothing, for it belongs to nature, and
not to grace. Whether corruption manifests itself as weakness, or as a
carnal, powerful opposition to divine truth, is accidental, and depends
upon the diversity of mental and bodily organization. The fact that
Zedekiah did not altogether put away from himself the truth and its
messengers (_Dahler_ remarks: "He respected the Prophet, without having
the power of following his advice; he even protected his life against
his persecutors, but he did not venture to secure him against their
vexation") cannot be put down to his credit; _he was, against his
will, forced to do so_; and indeed he could not resist a powerful
impression of any kind. In a man of Jehoiakim's character, the same
measure of the fear of God would induce us to mitigate our opinion; for
in such a one it could not exist without some support from within.
Confiding in the help of the neighbouring nations, especially the
Egyptians; persuaded by the false prophets and the nobles; himself
seized by that spirit of giddiness and intoxication which, with
irresistible power, carried away the people to the abyss, Zedekiah
broke the holy oath which he had sworn to the Chaldeans, and, after an
obstinate resistance, Jerusalem was taken and destroyed. As yet, the
long suffering of God, and, hence, also that of man, was not
_altogether_ at an end. The conquerors left a comparatively small
portion of the inhabitants in the land. The grace of God gave them
Gedaliah, an excellent man, for their civil superior, and Jeremiah for
their ecclesiastical [Pg 370] superior. The latter preferred to remain
in the smoking ruins, rather than follow the brilliant promises of the
Chaldeans, and was willing to persevere to the last in the discharge of
his duty, although he was by this time far advanced in life, and
oppressed with deep grief But it appears as if the people had been bent
upon emptying, to the last drop, the cup of divine wrath. Gedaliah is
assassinated. Even those who did not partake in the crime fled to
Egypt, disregarding the word of the Lord through the Prophet, who
announced a curse upon them if they fled, but a blessing if they

What the Prophet had to suffer under such circumstances, one may easily
imagine even without consulting history. Even although he had remained
free from all personal vexations and attacks, it could not but be an
immeasurable grief to him to dwell in the midst of such a generation,
to see their corruption increasing more and more, to see the abyss
coming nearer and nearer, to find all his faithful warnings unheeded,
and his whole ministry in vain, at least as far as the mass of the
people were concerned. "O that they would give me in the wilderness a
lodging-place for wayfaring men"--so he speaks as early as under
Josiah, chap. ix. 1 (2)--"and I would leave my people and go from them;
for they are all adulterer, an assembly of treacherous men." But from
these personal vexations and attacks, he neither was, nor could be
exempted. Mockery, hatred, calumny, ignominy, curses, imprisonment,
bonds were his portion. To bear such a burden would have been difficult
to any man, but most of all to a man of his disposition. "The more
tender the heart, the deeper the smart." He was not a second Elijah; he
had a soft disposition, a lively sensibility; his eyes were easily
filled with tears. And he who would have liked so much to live in peace
and love with all, having entered into the service of truth, was
obliged to become a second Ishmael, his hand against every man, and
every man's hand against him. He who so ardently loved his people, must
see this love misconstrued and rejected; must see himself branded as a
traitor to the people, by those men who were themselves traitors. All
these things were to him the cause of violent struggles and conflicts,
which he candidly lays before us in various passages, especially in
chap. xii. and [Pg 371] xx., because, by the victory, the Lord, who
alone could give it, was glorified.

He was sustained by inward consolations, by wonderful deliverances, by
the remarkable fulfilment of his prophecies which he himself lived to
witness; but especially by the circumstance that the Lord caused him to
behold His future salvation with the same clearness as His judgments;
so that he could consider the latter only as transient, and, even by
the most glaring contrast between the appearance and the idea, never
lost the firm hope of the final victory of the former. This hope formed
the centre of his whole life. For a long series of years, he is
somewhat cautious in giving utterance to it; for, just as Hosea in the
kingdom of the ten tribes, so he too has to do with secure and gross
sinners, who must be terrified by the preaching of the Law, and the
message of wrath. But, even here, single sunbeams everywhere constantly
break through the dark clouds. But towards the close, when the total
destruction is already at hand, and his commission to root out and
destroy draws to an end, because now the Lord himself is to speak by
deeds, he can, to the full desire of his heart, carry out the second
part of his calling, viz., to plant and to build (compare chap. i.);
and it is now, that his mouth is overflowing, that it is seen how full
of it his heart had always been. The whole vocation of the Prophet,
_Calvin_ strikingly expresses in these words: "I say simply that
Jeremias was sent by God to announce to the people the last defeat,
and, farther, to proclaim the future redemption, but in such a manner,
that he always puts in the seventy years' exile." That, according to
him, this redemption is not destined for Israel only, but that the
Gentiles also partake in it, appears not incidentally only in the
prophecies to his own people; but it is also prominently brought out in
the prophecies against the foreign nations themselves, _e.g._, in the
prophecy against Egypt, chap. xlvi. 26; against Moab, chap. xlviii. 47;
against Ammon, xlix. 6.

In announcing the Messiah from the house of David (chap, xxii. 5, xxx.
9, xxxiii. 15), Jeremiah agrees with the former prophets. The Messianic
features peculiar to him are the following:--The announcement of a
revelation of God, which by far outshines the former one from above the
Ark of the Covenant, and by which the Ark of the Covenant, with every
[Pg 372] thing attached to it, shall become antiquated, chap. iii.
14-17; the announcement of a new covenant, distinguished from the
former by greater richness in the forgiveness of sins, and the
outpouring of the Holy Spirit: "I give my law in their inward parts,
and I will write it in their hearts," chap. xxxi. 31-34; the intimation
of the impending realization of the promise of Moses: "Ye shall be to
me a kingdom of priests," with which the abolition of the poor form of
the priesthood hitherto is connected, chap. xxxiii. 14-26.

As regards the style of Jeremiah, _Cunaeus_ (_de repub. Hebr._ i. 3, c.
7) pertinently remarks: "The whole majesty of Jeremiah lies in his
negligent language; that rough diction becomes him exceedingly well."
It is certainly very superficial in _Jerome_ to seek the cause of that
_humilitas dictionis_ of the Prophet, whom he, at the same time, calls
_in majestate sensuum profundissimum_, in his origin from the _viculus
Anathoth_. It would be unnatural if it were otherwise. The style of
Jeremiah stands on the same ground as the hairy garment and leather
girdle of Elijah. He who is sorrowful and afflicted in his heart, whose
eyes fail with tears (Lament. ii. 11), cannot adorn and decorate
himself in his dress or speech.

From chap. xi. 21, xii. 5, 6, several interpreters have inferred, that
the Prophet first came forward in his native place Anathoth, and that,
because they there said to him: "Thou shalt not prophecy in the name of
the Lord, else thou shalt die by our hand," he then went to Jerusalem.
But those passages rather refer to an experience which the Prophet made
at an incidental visit in his native place, quite similar to what our
Saviour experienced at Nazareth, according to Luke iv. 24. For in chap.
xxv. 3, Jeremiah says to "all the inhabitants of Jerusalem," that he
had spoken to _them_ since the thirteenth year of Josiah. As early as
in chap. ii. 2, at the beginning of a discourse which bears a general
introductory character, and which immediately follows, and is connected
with his vocation in chap. i., he receives the command: "Go, and cry
into the ears of Jerusalem." The opening speech itself cannot,
according to its contents, have been spoken in some corner of the
country, but in the metropolis only, in the temple more specially, the
centre of the nation and its spiritual dwelling place. It was there
that that must be delivered which was to be told to the whole people as

[Pg 373]

                      THE SECTION, CHAP. III, 14-17.

The whole Section, from chap. iii. 6, to the end of chap. vi., forms
one connected discourse, separated from the preceding context by the
inscription in chap. iii. 6, and from the subsequent context, by the
inscription in chap. vii. 1. This separation, however, is more external
than internal. The contents and tone remain the same through the whole
series of chapters which open the collection of the prophecies of
Jeremiah, and that to such a degree, that we are compelled to doubt the
correctness of the proceeding of those interpreters, who would
determine the chronological order of the single portions, and fix the
exact period in the reign of Josiah to which every single portion
belongs. If such a proceeding were admissible, why should the Prophet
have expressed himself, in the inscription of the Section before us, in
terms so general as: "And the Lord said unto me in the days of Josiah
the king?" Every thing on which these interpreters endeavour to found
more accurate determinations in regard to the single Sections,
disappears upon a closer consideration. Thus, _e.g._, the twofold
reference to the seeking of help from Egypt, in chap. ii. 16 ff.,
xxxvi., xxxvii., on which _Eichhorn_ and _Dahler_ lay so much stress.
We are not entitled here to suppose a reference to a definite
historical event, which, moreover, cannot be historically pointed out
in the whole time of Josiah, but can only be supposed on unsafe and
unfounded conjectures. In both of the passages something future
is spoken of, as is evident from vers. 16 and 19. The thought is
this:--that Asshur, _i.e._, the power on the Euphrates (compare 2 Kings
xxiii. 29), which had. for a long time opened its mouth to swallow up
Judah, just as it had already swallowed up the kingdom of the ten
tribes, would not be conciliated, and that Egypt could not grant help
against him. This thought refers to historical circumstances which had
already existed, and continued to exist for some centuries, and which,
in reference to Israel, is given utterance to as early as by Hosea,
compare Vol. i. p. 164, f. Our view is this: We have here before us,
not so much a series of prophecies, each of which had literally been so
uttered at some particular [Pg 374] period in the reign of Josiah, as
rather a _resumé_ of the whole prophetic ministry of Jeremiah under
Josiah; a collection of all which, being independent of particular
circumstances of that time, had, in general, the destiny to give an
inward support to the outward reforming activity of Josiah, a specimen
of the manner in which the Prophet discharged the divine commission
which he had received a year after the first reformation of Josiah.
Even the manner in which chap ii. is connected with chap. i. places
this relation to his call beyond any doubt. We have thus before us here
the same phenomenon which we have already perceived in several of the
minor prophets; comp. _e.g._, the introduction to Micah.

In the section before us, the Prophet is engaged with a two-fold
object,--first, with the proclamation of salvation for Israel, chap.
iii. 6-iv. 2; secondly, with the threatening for Judah, chap. iv. 3, to
the end of chap. vi. It is only incidentally, in chap. iii. 18, that it
is intimated that Judah also, after the threatening has been fulfilled
upon them, shall partake in the salvation. It is self-evident that
these two objects must not be considered as lying beside one another.
According to the whole context, the announcement of salvation for
Israel cannot have any other object than that of wounding Judah. This
object even comes out distinctly in ver. 6-11, and the import of the
discourse may, therefore, be thus stated: Israel does not continue to
be rejected as pharisaical Judah imagined; Judah does not continue to
be spared.--When the Prophet entered upon his ministry, ninety-four
years had already elapsed since the divine judgment had broken in upon
Israel; every hope of restoration seemed to have vanished. Judah,
instead of being thereby warned; instead of beholding, in the sin of
others, the image of its own; instead of perceiving, in the destruction
of the kingdom of its brethren, a prophecy of its own destruction, was,
on the contrary, strengthened in its obduracy. The fact that it still
existed, after Israel had, long ago, hopelessly perished, as they
imagined, appeared to them as a seal which God impressed upon their
ways. They rejoiced at Israel's calamity, because, in it, they thought
that they saw a proof of their own excellency, just as, at the time of
Christ, the blindness of the Jews was increased by the circumstance
that they still considered themselves as the sole members of [Pg 375]
the Kingdom of God, and imagined the Gentiles to be excluded from it.
The Saviour's announcement of the calling of the Gentiles stands in the
same relation as the Prophet's announcement of the restoration of

                           * * * * * * * * * *

Ver. 14. "_Turn, O apostate children, saith the Lord, for I marry
myself unto you, and I take one of a city, and two of a family, and
bring you to Zion._"

The question here is:--To whom is the discourse here addressed,--to the
members of Israel, _i.e._, the kingdom of the ten tribes, as most of
the interpreters suppose (_Abarbanel_, _Calvin_, _Schmid_, and others),
or, as others assume, to the inhabitants of Judea? The decision has
considerable influence upon the exposition of the whole passage; but it
must unhesitatingly and unconditionally be given in favour of the first
view. There is not one word to indicate a transition; the very same
phrase, "turn, O apostate children," occurs, in ver. 22, of Israel.
Apostate Israel is, in the preceding verses (6, 8, 11,) the standing
expression, while Judah is designated as treacherous, ver. 8-11. The
measure of guilt is determined by the measure of grace. The relation of
the Lord to Judah was closer, and hence, her apostacy was so much the
more culpable. _Farther_--A detailed announcement of salvation for
Judah would here not be suitable, inasmuch as no threatening preceded;
and ver. 18 ("In those days, the house of Judah shall come by the side
of [literally, 'over'] the house of Israel," according to which the
return of Judah is, in the meantime, a subordinate point which has here
been mentioned incidentally) clearly shows that that announcement of
salvation, contained in vers. 14-17, refers to Israel. To Israel the
Prophet immediately returns in ver. 19; for, from the contrast to the
house of Judah in ver. 18, and to Judah and Jerusalem in chap. iv. 3,
it is evident that by the house of Israel in ver. 20, and by the sons
of Israel in ver. 21, Israel, in the stricter sense, is to be
understood. _Finally_--It will be seen from the exposition, that it is
only on the supposition that Israel is addressed, that the contents of
ver. 16, 17, become intelligible.--In our explanation of the words כי
אנכי בעלתי אתכם, we follow the precedent of the Vulgate (_quia ego vir
vester_), of _Luther_ ("I will [Pg 376] marry you to me"), of _Calvin_,
_Schimd_, and others. On the other hand, others, especially _Pococke_,
_ad P.M._ p. 2, _Schultens_ on Prov. xxx. 22, _Venema_, _Schnurrer_,
_Gesenius_, _Winer_, _Bleek_, have made every endeavour to prove that
בעל is used _sensu malo_ here, as well as in chap. xxxi. 32, where it
occurs in a connection altogether similar; so that the decision must be
valid for both of the passages at the same time. This signification
they seek to make out in a twofold way. Some altogether give up the
derivation from the Hebrew _usus loquendi_, and refer solely to the
Arabic, where בעל means _fastidire_. Others derive from the Hebrew
signification, "to rule," that of a tyrannical dominion, and support
their right in so doing, by referring, with _Gesenius_, to other verbs
in which the signification, _to subdue_, _to be distinguished_, _to
rule_, has been changed into that of _looking down_, _despising_, and
_contemning_. As regards the _first_ derivation, even if the Arabic
_usus loquendi_ were proved, we could not from it make any certain
inference as regards the Hebrew _usus loquendi_. But with respect to
this Arabic _usus loquendi_, it is far from being proved and
established. It is true that such would not be the case if there indeed
occurred in Arabic the expression [Arabic: **] _fastidivit vir mulierem
eamque expulit, s. repudiavit_; but it is only by a strange _quid pro
quo_ that interpreters, even _Schultens_ among them, following the
example of _Kimchi_, have saddled this expression upon the Arabic. The
error lies in a hasty view of _Adul Walid_, who, instead of it, has
[Arabic: **] _any one is embarrassed in his affair_. The signification
_fastidire_, _rejicere_, is, in general, quite foreign to the Arabic.
The verb [Arabic: **] denotes only: _mente turbatus_, _attonitus fuit_,
_i.e._, _to be possessed_, _deprived of the use of one's strength_, _to
be embarrassed_, _not to know how to help one's self_: compare the
_Camus_ in _Schultens_ and _Freytag_. As soon as the plain connection
of this signification with the ordinary one is perceived, it is seen at
once, that it is here out of the question. As regards the second
derivation, we must bring this objection against it, that the
fundamental signification of _ruling_, from which that of _ruling
tyrannically_ is said to have arisen, is entirely foreign to the
Hebrew. More clearly than by modern Lexicographers it was seen by
_Cocceius_, that the fundamental, yea the only signification of בעל, is
that of _possessing_, [Pg 377] _occupying_. It may, indeed, be used
also of rulers, as, _e.g._ Isa. xxvi. 13, and 1 Chron. iv. 22; but not
in so far as they rule, but in so far as they possess. On the former
passage: "Jehovah our God, בעלונו אדונים זולתיך, Lords beside thee have
dominion over us," _Schultens_, it is true, remarks: "Every one here
easily recognizes a severe and tyrannical dominion;" but it is rather
the circumstance that the land of the Lord has at all foreign
possessors, which is the real sting of the grief of those lamenting,
and which so much occupies them, that they scarcely think of the way
and manner of the possessing.--Passages such as Is. liv. 1,[1] lxii. 4,
compare Job i. 8, where a relation is spoken of, founded on most
cordial love, show that the signification "_to marry_," does not by any
means proceed from that of ruling, and is not to be explained from the
absolute, slavish dependence of the wife in the East, but rather from
the signification "to possess." And this is farther proved by passages
such as Deut. xxi. 10-13, xxvi. 1, where the _copula carnalis_ is
pointed out as that by which the בעל is completed. And, finally, it is
seen from the Arabic, where the wife is also called, בעלה, [Arabic:
**], just as the husband is called בעל, [Arabic: **].--It is farther
obvious that, in the frequent compositions of בַּעַל with other nouns, in
order, by way of paraphrasis, to form adjectives, the signification
"lord" is far less suitable than that of "possessor," _e.g._, בעל
חלמות, _the dreamer_, בעל אף, _the angry one_, בעל נפש, _the covetous
one_, בעל מזמזת, _the deceitful one_, בעלי עיר _oppidani_, בעלי ברית,
_the members of the covenant_, etc. We arrive at the same conclusion,
if we look to the dialects. Here, too, the signification "to possess"
appears as the proper and original signification. In the Ethiopic, the
verb signifies _multum possedit, dives fuit._ In Arabic, the
significations are more varied; but they may all be traced back to one
root. Thus, _e.g._ [Arabic: **], בעל, according to the _Camus_, "a high
and elevated land which requires only one annual rain; farther, a
palm-tree, or any other tree or plant which is not watered, or which
the sky alone irrigates;" _i.e._, a land, a tree, a plant which
themselves _possess_, which do not require to _borrow_ from others.
This reason of the appellation clearly appears in _Dsheuhari_ (compare
[Pg 378] _Schultens_ l. c.): "It is used of the palm-tree, which, by
its roots, provides for itself drink and sap, so that there is no need
for watering it." In favour of the signification "to rule" in this
verb, the following gloss from the _Camus_ only can be quoted: "Both
(the 1st and 10th conjugations) when construed with עליה _super illum_,
denote: he has taken possession of a thing, and behaved himself proudly
towards it." But the latter clause must be struck out; for it has
flowed only from the false reading [Arabic: **] in _Schultens_, for
which (compare _Freytag_) [Arabic: **] _noluit_ must be read, בעל with
על accordingly signifies "to be the possessor of a thing, and, as such,
not to be willing to give it up to another." And thus every ground has
been taken from those who, from the Hebrew _usus loquendi_, would
interpret בעל in a bad sense,--The same result, however, which we have
reached upon philological grounds, we shall obtain also, when we look
to the context. From it, they are most easily refuted, who, like
_Schultens_, understand the whole verse as a threatening. That which
precedes, as well as that which follows, breathes nothing but pure love
to poor Israel. She is not terrified by threatenings, like Judah who
has not yet drunk of the cup of God's wrath, but allured by the call:
"Come unto me all ye that are weary and heavy laden, _for_ I will give
you rest." But they also labour under great difficulties who, after the
example of _Kimchi_ ("_ego fastidivi vos, eo scil. quod praeteriit
tempore, ac jam colligam vos_"), refer the כי not so much to בעלתי, as
rather to לקהתי: "For I have, it is true, rejected you formerly, but
now I take," &c. This is the only shape in which this interpretation
can still appear; for it is altogether arbitrary to explain כי by
"although," an interpretation still found in _De Wette_. If it had been
the intention of the Prophet to express this sense, nothing surely was
less admissible, than to omit just those words, upon which everything
depended--the words _formerly_ and _now_. לקחתי and בעלתי evidently
stand here in the same relation; both together form the ground for the
return to the Lord. To these reasons we may still add the circumstance
that, according to our explanation, we obtain the beautiful parallelism
with ver. 12: "Return thou, apostate Israel, saith the Lord; I will not
cause mine anger to fall upon you; _for_ I am merciful; I do not keep
anger for ever,"--a circumstance which has already been [Pg 379]
pointed out by _Calvin_. Israel's haughtiness is broken; but
despondency now keeps them from returning to the Lord. He, therefore,
ever anew repeats His invitation, ever anew founds it upon the fact,
that He delights in showing mercy and love to those who have forsaken
Him. The rejection of Israel had, in ver. 8, been represented under the
image of divorce: "Because apostate Israel had committed adultery, I
had put her away, and given her the bill of divorce." What, therefore,
is more natural, than that her being received again, which was offered
to her out of pure mercy, should appear under the image of a new
marriage; and that so much the more, that the apostacy had, even
in the preceding verse, been represented as adultery and whoredom?
("_Thou hast scattered thy ways_, _i.e._, thou hast been running about
to various places after the manner of an impudent whore seeking
lovers"--_Schmid_; compare ver. 6.) Farther to be compared is ver. 22:
"Return ye apostate children, (for) I will heal your apostacy. Behold
we come unto thee, _for_ thou art the Lord our God." The objection that
בעל, in the signification "to take in marriage" is construed with the
Accusative only, is of no weight. In a manner altogether similar, זכר,
which else is connected with the simple Accusative, is, in ver. 16,
followed by the Preposition ב. בעל with ב altogether corresponds to our
"to join onesself in marriage;" and the construction has perhaps a
certain emphasis, and indicates the close and indissoluble connection.
Of still less weight is another objection, viz., that, in that case,
the _Suffix Plur._ is inadmissible. It is just the Israelites who are
the wife; and this is so much the more evident that, in the preceding
verses, and even still in ver. 13, they had been treated as such. Hence
nothing remains but to determine the sense of our passage, as was done
by _Calvin_: "Because despair might take hold of them, in such a manner
that they might be afraid of approaching Him.... He saith that He would
marry himself to them, and that He had not yet forgotten that union
which He once had bestowed upon them." This is the only correct view;
and by thus determining the sense, we at the same time obtain the sure
foundation for the exposition of chap. xxxi. 32; just as, _vice versa_,
the sense which will result from an independent consideration of that
passage, [Pg 380] will serve to confirm that which was here
established.[2] In the right determination of the sense of the
subsequent words, too, _Calvin_ distinguishes himself advantageously
from the earlier, and most of the later interpreters: "God shows that
there was no reason why some should wait for others; and farther,
although the very body of the people might be utterly corrupted in
their sins, yet, if even a few were to return. He would show himself
merciful to them. The covenant had been entered into with the _whole_
people. The single individual might, therefore, have been disposed to
imagine that his repentance was in vain. But in opposition to such
fears, the Prophet says: 'Although only one of a town should come to
me, he shall find an open door; although only two of one tribe come to
me, I will admit even them.'" After him _Loscanus_ too (in his
Dissertation on this passage, Frankf. 1720) has thus correctly stated
the sense: "The small number shall not prevent God from carrying out
His counsel." Thus it is seen--and this is alone suitable in this
context--that the apparent limitation of the promise is, in truth, an
extension of it. How great must God's love and mercy be to Israel, in
how wide an extent must the declaration be true: ἀμεταμέλητα τὰ
χαρίσματα καὶ ἡ κλῆσις τοῦ θεοῦ, Rom. xi. 29, if even a single
righteous Lot is by God delivered from the Sodom of Israel; if Joshua
and Caleb, untouched by the punishment of the sins of the thousands,
reach the Holy Land; if every penitent heart at once finds a gracious
God! Thus it appears that this passage is not by any means in
contradiction to other passages by which a complete restoration of
Israel is promised. On the contrary, the ἐπιτυγχάνειν of the ἐκλογή
(Rom. xi. 7) announced here, is a pledge and guarantee for the more
comprehensive and general mercy.--Expositors are at variance as to the
historical reference of the prophecy. Some, _e.g._ _Theodoret_,
_Grotius_, think exclusively of the return from the Babylonish
captivity. Others (after the example of _Jerome_ and the Jewish
interpreters) think of the Messianic time. It need [Pg 381] scarcely be
remarked, that here, as in so many other passages, this alternative is
out of place. The prophecy has just the very same extent as the matter
itself, and, hence, refers to all eternity. It was a commencement,
that, at the time of Cyrus, many from among the ten tribes, induced by
true love to the God of Israel, joined themselves to the returning
Judeans, and were hence again engrafted by God into the olive-tree. It
was a continuation of the fulfilment that, in later times, especially
those of the Maccabees, this took place more and more frequently. It
was a preparation and prelude of the complete fulfilment, although not
the complete fulfilment itself, that, at the time of Christ, the
blessings of God were poured upon the whole δωδεκάφυλον, Acts xxvi. 7.
The words: "I bring you to Zion," in the verse under consideration,
and: "They shall come out of the land of the North to the land that I
have given for an inheritance unto their fathers," in ver. 18, do not
at all oblige us to limit ourselves to those feeble beginnings; the
idea appears here only in that form, in which it must be realised, in
so far as its realisation belonged to the time of the Old Testament.
Zion and the Holy Land were, at that time, the seat of the Kingdom of
God; so that the return to the latter was inseparable from the return
to the former. Those from among Israel who were converted to the true
God, either returned altogether to Judea, or, at least, there offered
up their sacrifices. But Zion and the Holy Land likewise come into
consideration, as the seat of the Kingdom of God _only_; and, for that
very reason, the course of the fulfilment goes on incessantly, even in
those times when even the North has become Zion and Holy Land.--The
circumstance that two are assigned to a family, while only one is
assigned to a town, shows that we must here think of a larger family
which occupied several towns; and the circumstance that the town is put
together with the family, shows that it is cities of the land of Israel
which are here spoken of, and not those which the exiled ones

Ver. 15. "_And I give you shepherds according to mine heart, and they
feed you with knowledge and understanding._"

The question is:--Who are here to be understood by the shepherds?
_Calvin_ thinks that it is especially the prophets and priests,
inasmuch as it was just the bad condition of these [Pg 382] which had
been the principal cause of the ruin of the people; and that it is the
greatest blessing for the Church, when God raises up true and sincere
teachers. Similar is the opinion of _Vitringa_ (_obs._ lib. vi., p.
417), who, in a lower sense, refers it to Ezra and the learned men of
that time, and, in a higher sense, to Christ. Among the Fathers of the
Church, _Jerome_ remarked: "These are the apostolical men who did not
feed the multitude of the believers with Jewish ceremonies, but with
knowledge and doctrine." Others refer it to leaders of every kind; thus
_Venema_: _Pastores sunt rectores, ductores._ Others, finally, limit
themselves to rulers; thus _Kimchi_ (_gubernatores Israelis cum rege
Messia_), _Grotius_, and _Clericus_. The latter interpretation is, for
the following reasons, to be unconditionally preferred. 1. The image of
the shepherd and of feeding occurs sometimes, indeed, in a wider sense,
but ordinarily of the ruler specially. Thus, in the fundamental
passage, 2 Sam. v. 2, it occurs of David, compare Micah v. 3. Thus also
in Jeremiah ii. 8: "The _priests_ said not. Where is the Lord, and they
that handle the law knew me not, and the shepherds transgressed against
me, and the prophets prophesied in the name of Baal;" comp. ver. 26:
"They, their kings, their princes, and their priests, and their
prophets." 2. The word כלבי contains an evident allusion to 1 Sam.
xiii. 14, where it is said of David: "The Lord hath sought him, a man
after His own heart, and the Lord hath appointed him to be a prince
over His people." 3. All doubt is removed by the parallel passage,
chap. xxiii. 4: "And I raise shepherds over them, and they feed them,
and they fear no more, nor are dismayed." That, by the shepherds, in
this verse, only the rulers can be understood, is evident from the
contrast to the bad rulers of the present, who were spoken of in chap.
xxii., no less than from the connection with ver. 5, where that which,
in ver. 4, was expressed in general, is circumscribed within narrow
limits, and the concentration of the fulfilment of the preceding
promise is placed in the Messiah: "Behold, days come, saith the Lord,
and I raise unto David a righteous _Branch_, and He reigneth as a king
and acteth wisely, and setteth up judgment and justice in the land."
This parallel passage is, in so far also, of importance, as it shews
that the prophecy under consideration likewise had its final reference
to the [Pg 383] Messiah. The kingdom of the ten tribes was punished by
bad kings for its apostacy from the Lord, and from His visible
representative. In the whole long series of Israelitish kings, we do
not find any one like Jehoshaphat, or Hezekiah, or Josiah. And that is
very natural, for the foundation of the Israelitish throne was
rebellion. But, with the cessation of sin, punishment too shall cease.
Israel again turns to that family which is the medium and channel
through which all the divine mercies flow upon the Church of the Lord;
and so they receive again a share in them, and particularly in their
richest fulness in the exalted scion of David, the Messiah. The passage
under consideration is thus completely parallel to Hosea iii. 5: "And
they seek Jehovah their God, and David their king;" and that which we
remarked on that passage is here more particularly applicable; compare
also Ezek. xxxiv. 23: "And I raise over them one Shepherd, and He
feedeth them, my servant David, he shall feed them, and he shall be
their shepherd." The antithesis to the words: "According to mine
heart," is formed by the words in Hos. viii. 4: "They have set up kings
not by me, princes whom I knew not,"--words which refer to the past
history of Israel. Formerly, the rebellious chose for themselves kings
according to the desires of their own hearts. Now, they choose Him whom
God hath chosen, and who, according to the same necessity, must be an
instrument of blessing, as the former were of cursing.--דֵּעָה and הַשְׂכֵּיל
stand adverbially. הִשְכִּיל "to act wisely" is, in appearance only,
intransitive in _Hiphil_. The foundation of wisdom and knowledge is the
living communion with the Lord, being according to His heart, walking
after Him. The foolish counsels of the former rulers of Israel, by
which they brought ruin upon their people, were a consequence of their
apostacy from the Lord. The two fundamental passages are, Deut. iv. 6:
"And ye shall keep and do (the law); for this is your wisdom and
understanding;" xxix. 8 (9): "Ye shall keep the words of this covenant
and do them, that ye may act wisely." Besides the passage under
consideration, the passages Josh. i. 7; 1 Sam. xviii. 14, 15; 1 Kings
ii. 3; Is. lii. 13; Jer. x. 21, xxiii. 5, are founded upon these two
passages. If all these passages are compared with one another, and with
the fundamental passages, one cannot but wonder at the arbitrariness
[Pg 384] of interpreters and lexicographers who, severing several of
these passages from the others, have forced upon the verb השכיל the
signification "to prosper,"--a signification altogether fanciful
_God's_ servants act wisely, because they look up to God; and he who
acts wisely finds prosperity for himself and his people. Hence, it is a
proof of the greatest mercy of God towards His people, when He gives
them His _servants_ for kings.

Ver. 16. "_And it cometh to pass, when ye be multiplied and fruitful in
the land, in those days, saith the Lord, they shall say no more: The
Ark of the Covenant of the Lord! And it will not come into the heart,
neither shall they remember it, nor miss it, nor shall it be made

First, we shall explain some particulars. The words: "When ye be," &c.
refer to Gen. i. 28, As it is God's general providence which brings
about the fruitfulness of all creatures, so it is His special
providence which brings about the increase of His Church whose ranks
have been thinned by His judgments; and it is thus that His promise to
the patriarchs is carried on towards its fulfilment; compare remarks on
Hos, ii. 1. God's future activity in this respect, has an analogy in
His former activity in Egypt, Exod. i. 12. The words: "The Ark of the
Covenant" must be viewed as an exclamation, in which an ellipsis, in
consequence of the emotion, must be supposed, _q.d._ it is the aim of
all our desires, the object of all our longings. The mere mention of
the object with which the whole heart is filled, is sufficient for the
lively emotion. _Venema's_ exposition; _Arca fœderis Jehovae_ sc.
_est_, and that of _De Wette_: "They shall no more speak of the Ark of
the Covenant of Jehovah," are both feeble and un philological. How were
it possible that אמר with the Accusative should mean "to speak of
something?"--עלה על־לב is, in a similar context, just as it is here,
connected with זכר in Is. lxv. 17: "For behold I create a new heaven
and a new earth, and the former shall not be remembered nor come into
the heart," comp. also Jer. li. 50, vii. 31; 1 Cor. ii. 9. זכר with ב
does not simply stand instead of the usual connection with the
Accusative; it signifies a remembering connected with affection, a
recollection joined with ardent longings. פקד is, by many interpreters,
understood in the sense of "to visit," but the signification "to miss"
(Is. xxxiv. 16; 1 Sam. xx. 6-18, xxv. 15; 1 Kings [Pg 385] xx. 39) is
recommended by the connection with the following clause: "Nor shall it
be made again." This supposes that there shall come a time when the Ark
of the Covenant shall no more exist, the time of the destruction of the
temple, which was so frequently and emphatically announced by the
prophets.[3] God, however, will grant so rich a compensation for that
which is lost, that men will neither long for it, nor, urged on by this
longing, make any attempt at again procuring it for themselves by their
own efforts. The main question now arises:--In what respect does the
Ark of the Covenant here come into consideration? The answer is
suggested by ver. 17. The Ark of the Covenant is no more remembered,
because Jerusalem has now, in a perfect sense, become the throne of
God. The Ark of the Covenant comes into consideration, therefore, as
the throne of God, in an imperfect sense. It can easily be proved that
it was so, although there have been disputes as to the manner in which
it was so. The current view was this, that God, as the Covenant God,
had _constantly_ manifested himself above the Cherubim on the Ark of
the Covenant, in a visible symbol, in a cloud. The first important
opposition to this view proceeded from _Vitringa_ who, in the _Obs.
sac._ t. i. p. 169, advances, among other arguments, the following: "It
is not by any means necessary to maintain that, in the holy of holies,
in the tabernacle or the temple of Solomon, there was constantly a
cloud over the Ark; but it may be sufficient to say, that the Ark was
the symbol of the divine habitation, and it was for this reason said
that God was present in the place between the Cherubim, because from
thence proceeded the revelation of His will, and He thus proved to the
Jews that He was present." But this view of _Vitringa_, that it was [Pg
386] merely in an invisible manner that God was present over the Ark of
the Covenant, met with strong opposition; and a note to the second
edition shows, that he himself afterwards entertained doubts regarding
it. By _Thalemann_, a pupil of _Ernesti_, it was afterwards advanced
far more decidedly, and evidently with the intention of carrying it
through, whether it was true or not, in the _Dissertatio de nube super
arcam foederis_ (Leipzig, 1756). He, too, declared, however, that he
did not deny the matter, but only disputed the sign. He found a learned
opponent in _John Eberhard Rau_, Professor at Herborn (_Ravius_, _de
nube super arcam foederis_, Utrecht, 1760; it is a whole book, in which
_Thalemann's_ Treatise is reprinted). The matter is, indeed, very
simple; both parties are right and wrong, and the truth lies between
the two. From the principal passage, in Lev. xvi. 2, it is evident
that, at the annual entry of the High Priest into the holy of holies,
the invisible presence of God embodied itself in a cloud, as formerly
it also did, on extraordinary occasions, during the journey through the
wilderness, and at the dedication of the tabernacle and temple. In that
passage, Aaron is exhorted not to enter the holy of holies at all
times, for that would prove a want of reverence, but only once a year,
"for in the cloud I shall appear over the lid of expiation," (this is
the right explanation of כַּפּרֶת compare _Genuineness of the Pentateuch_,
p. 525 f.) The place where God manifests himself in so visible a manner
when the High Priest enters into it, cannot fail to be a most holy
place to him. It is true that _Vitringa_ (S. 171), and still more
_Thalemann_ (S. 39 in _Rau_), have endeavoured to remove this objection
by their interpretation; but with so plain a violation of all the laws
of interpretation, that it is scarcely worth while to enter farther
upon this exposition, (compare the refutation in _Rau_, S. 40 ff.),
although _J. D. Michaelis_, _Vater_, _Rosenmüller_, and _Bähr_,
(_Symbol. des Mos. Cultus_, i. S. 395), have approved of it.[4] On the
other hand, [Pg 387] there is nothing to favour the supposition of an
ordinary and constant presence of the cloud in the holy of holies. With
such a view, questions at once arise, such as: Whether it came also to
the Philistines? All that _Rau_ advances in favour of it, merely proves
the invisible presence of God, which surely cannot be considered and
called a merely imaginary thing, as is done by him, p. 35. For what, in
that case, would be the Lord's presence in the hearts of believers, and
in the Lord's supper? It is true that Ezekiel, in chap. xi. 22, beholds
the glory of the Lord over the cherubim as being lifted up, and
forsaking the temple before its destruction; but how can we draw any
reference, as to the actual state of things, from visions which,
according to their nature, surround with a body all that is invisible?
Still, as we already remarked, this whole controversy has reference to
the _manner_ only, and not to the _fact_ of God's presence over the Ark
of the Covenant; and the Ark of the Covenant stands here in a wider
sense, and comprehends the cherubim, and "the glory of the Lord
dwelling over them." From a vast number of passages, it can be proved
that this glory of the Lord was constantly and really present over the
Ark of the Covenant, although it was in extraordinary cases only that
it manifested itself in an outward, visible form; compare, besides Lev.
xvi. 2, Lev. ix. 24, where, after Aaron's consecration to the
priesthood, the glory of the Lord appeared to the whole people in
confirmation of his office. To these passages belong all those in which
God is designated as dwelling over the cherubim, such as 1 Chron. xiii.
6; Ps. lxxx. 2; 1 Sam. iv. 4. To it refers the designation of the ark
of the covenant, in a narrower sense, as the footstool of God; comp. 1
Chron. xxviii. 2, where David says: "I had in mine heart to build an
house of rest for the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord, and for the
footstool of our God;" Ps. xcix. 5, cxxxii. 7; Lam. ii. 1. From this
circumstance the fact is explained, that the prayer in distress, as
well as the thanks for deliverance, were offered up before, or towards
[Pg 388] the Ark of the Covenant. After the defeat before Ai (Josh.
vii. 5 ff.), Joshua "rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his
face, before the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord, until the eventide,
he and the elders of Israel, and put dust upon their heads, and Joshua
said: Alas, O Lord God, wherefore hast thou at all brought this people
over Jordan?" After the Lord had appeared to Solomon at Gibeah, and had
given him the promise, he went before the Ark of the Covenant of the
Lord, and offered burnt-offerings, and thank-offerings, 1 Kings iii.
15. In 2 Sam. xv. 32, we are told that David went up the Mount of
Olives very sorrowfully, and when he was come to the place, _where
people were accustomed to worship God_, Hushai met him. According to
that passage, it was the custom of the people, when on the top of the
Mount of Olives, they gained, for the first or last time, a view of the
sanctuary, to prostrate themselves before the God of Israel who dwelt
there. To the Ark of the Covenant, all those passages refer in which it
is said that God dwelleth in the midst of Israel; that He dwelleth in
the temple; that He dwelleth at Zion or Jerusalem, compare _e.g._, the
promise in Exodus xxix. 45: "I dwell in the midst of the children of
Israel," and farther, Ps. ix. 12, cxxxii. 13, 14; 1 Kings vi. 12, 13,
where God promises to Solomon that if he should only walk in His
commandments, and execute His judgments, then would He dwell among the
children of Israel; and afterwards fulfils this promise by solemnly
entering into his temple. Indissolubly connected with this, was the
deep reverence in which the Ark of the Covenant was held in Israel. It
was considered as the most precious jewel of the people, as the centre
of their whole existence. Being the place where the glory of God dwelt
(Ps. xxvi. 8), where He manifested himself in His most glorious
revelation, it was called _the glory of Israel_, compare 1 Sam. iv. 21,
22; Ps. lxxviii. 61. The High Priest Eli patiently and quietly heard
all the other melancholy tidings--the defeat of Israel, and the death
of his sons. But when he who had escaped added: "And the Ark of God is
taken," he fell from off the seat backward by the side of the gate; and
his neck brake, and he died. When his daughter-in-law heard the tidings
that the Ark of the Covenant was taken, she bowed herself and
travailed; for her pains came upon her. And about the time of [Pg 389]
her death, the women that stood by her said unto her: Fear not, for
thou hast borne a son. But she answered not, neither did she take it to
heart, and she named the child Ichabod, and said. The glory is departed
from Israel, because the Ark of the Covenant was taken, and said again:
"The glory is departed from Israel, for the Ark of God is taken." But
in what manner may this dwelling of God over the Ark of the Covenant be
conceived of? Should the Most High God, whom all the heavens, and the
heaven of heavens cannot contain (1 Kings viii. 27), whose throne is
the heaven, and whose footstool is the earth (Is. lxvi. 1), dwell in a
temple made by the hands of men? (Acts vii. 48, ff.) Evidently not in
the manner in which men dwell in a place, who are _in_ it only, not
_out_ of it. Nor in such a manner as the carnally minded suppose, who,
to the warnings of the prophets, opposed their word: "Is not the Lord
among us? none evil can come upon us" (Micah iii. 11), or: "Here is the
temple of the Lord, here is the temple of the Lord, here is the temple
of the Lord" (Jer. vii. 4), imagining that God could not forsake the
place which he had chosen, could not take away the free gift of His
grace. The matter rather stands thus: That which constitutes the
substance and centre of the whole relation of Israel to God, is, that
the God of the heavens and the earth became the God of Israel; that the
Creator of heaven and earth became the Covenant-God, that His general
providence in blessing and punishing became a special one. In order to
make the relation familiar to the people, and thus to make it the
object of their love and fear, God gave them a _praesens numen_ in His
sanctuary, as a prefiguration, and, at the same time, a prelude of the
condescension with which He whom the whole universe cannot contain,
rested in the womb of Mary. And in so doing, He gave them not a
symbolical representation merely, but an embodiment of the idea, so
that they who wished to seek Him as the God of Israel, could find Him
in the temple, and over the Ark of the Covenant only. The circumstance
that it was just there that He took His seat, shows the difference
between this truly _praesens numen_, and that merely imaginery one of
the Gentiles. There was in this no partial favour for Israel, nothing
from which careless sinners could derive any comfort, God's dwelling
among Israel rested on [Pg 390] His holy Law. According as the Covenant
is kept or not, and the Law is observed or not, it manifests itself by
increased blessing, or by severer punishment. If the Covenant be
entirely broken, the consequence is that God leaves His dwelling, and
it is only the curse which remains, and which is greater than the curse
inflicted upon those among whom He never dwelt, and which, by its
greatness, indicates the greatness of the former grace.--Now, if this
be the case with the Ark of the Covenant; if it be the substance and
centre of the whole former dispensation, what, and how much would not
fall along with it, if it fell; and how infinitely great must the
compensation be which was to be granted for it, if, in consequence of
it, no desire and longing after it was to rise at all, if it was to be
regarded as belonging to the πτωχὰ στοιχεῖα, and was to be forgotten as
a mere image and shadow! The fact that the Ark of the Covenant was made
before any thing else, sufficiently shows that every thing sacred under
the Old Testament dispensation depended upon it. _Witsius Misc. t._ i.
p. 439, very pertinently remarks: "The Ark of the Covenant being, as it
were, the heart of the whole Israelitish religion, was made first of
all." Without Ark of the Covenant--no temple; for it became a sanctuary
by the Ark of the Covenant only; for holy, so Solomon says in 2 Chron.
viii. 11, is the place whereunto the Ark of the Covenant hath come.
Without Ark of the Covenant, no priesthood; for what is the use of
servants when there is no Lord present? Without temple and priesthood,
no sacrifice. We have thus before us the announcement of the entire
destruction of the previous form of the Kingdom of God, but such a
destruction of the form as brings about, at the same time, the highest
completion of the substance,--a perishing like that of the seed-corn,
which dies only, in order to bring forth much fruit; like that of the
body, which is sown in corruption, in order to be raised in
incorruption. _Dahler_ remarks: "Because a more sublime religion, a
more glorious state of things will take the place of the Mosaic
dispensation, there will be no cause for regretting the loss of the
symbol of the preceding dispensation, and people will no more remember
it."--It is quite natural that the prophecy should give great offence,
and prove a stumbling-block to Jewish interpreters. Its subject, its
high dignity, just [Pg 391] consists in the announcement that, at some
future period, the shadow should give way to the substance; but it is
just the confounding of the shadow with the substance, the rigid
adherence to the former, which characterises Judaism, which considers
even the Messiah as a minister of the old dispensation only, and views
the great changes to be effected by Him, mainly as external ones. The
embarrassment arising from this, is very clearly expressed in the
following words of _Abarbanel_: "This promise is, then, bad, and
uproots the whole Law. How is it then that Scripture mentions it as
good?" Rabbi _Arama_, in his commentary on the Pentateuch, fol. 101,
says, in reference to this prophecy, נבוכו כל המפרשים "all interpreters
have been perplexed by it." The interpretations by means of which they
endeavour to rid themselves of this embarrassment (see the collection
of them in _Frischmuth's_ dissertation on this passage, Jena; reprinted
in the _Thes. Ant._) are only calculated plainly to manifest it.
_Kimchi_ gives this explanation: "Although ye shall increase and be
multiplied on the earth, yet the nations shall not envy you, nor wage
war against you; and it shall no more be necessary for you to go to war
with the Ark of the Covenant, as was usual in former times, when they
took the Ark of the Covenant out to war. In that time, there will be no
necessity for so doing, as they shall not have any war." The weak
points of this explanation are at once obvious. That which, in the
verse under consideration, is, in a general way, said of the Ark of the
Covenant, is, by it, referred to an altogether special use of it, a
regard to which is excluded by the evident antithesis in ver. 17.
_Abarbanel_ rejects this explanation. He says: "For there is, in the
text, no mention at all of war; and therefore I cannot approve of this
exposition, although _Jonathan_, too, inclines towards it." He himself
brings out this sense: The Ark of the Covenant would then, indeed,
still continue to exist, and be the seat of the Lord; but no more the
exclusive one, no longer the sole sanctuary. "The whole of Jerusalem
shall, as regards holiness and glory, equal the Ark of the Covenant.
For there shall cease with them every evil thing, and every evil
imagination; and there shall be such holiness in the land, that in the
same manner as formerly the Ark was the holiest of all things, so at
that time, Jerusalem shall be [Pg 392] the throne of the Lord." But, by
this explanation, justice is not done to the text. For it is an entire
doing away with the Ark of the Covenant which is spoken of in it, not a
mere diminution of its dignity, produced by the circumstance, that that
which formerly was low shall be exalted. This is particularly evident
from the words: "They will not miss it, neither shall it be made
again." To this argument we may still add that, by this exposition, not
even the object is gained for the sake of which it was advanced. The
nature and substance of the Ark of the Covenant is destroyed, as soon
as it is put on a level with anything else. It is then no more _the_
throne of the Lord; and for this reason, the previous form can no
longer continue to exist, and, along with it, the temple and priesthood
too must fall. If every place in Jerusalem, if every inhabitant of it,
be equally holy, how then can institutions still continue, which are
based on the difference between holy and unholy?--Here a question still
arises. There was no Ark of the Covenant in the second temple. In what
relation to the prophecy under consideration stands this absence of the
Ark of the Covenant, the restoration of which the Jews expect at the
end of the days? There cannot be any doubt that it was really wanting.
Every proof of its existence is wanting. _Josephus_, in enumerating the
catalogue of the _spolia Judaica_, borne before in the triumph, does
not mention it. He says expressly (de Bell. Jud. v. 5, § 5), that the
holy of holies had been altogether empty. Some of the Jewish writers
assert that it had been carried away to Babylon; while most of them,
following the account given in 2 Maccabees, tell us that Josiah or
Jeremiah had concealed it; compare the Treatise by _Calmet_, Th. 6, S.
224-258, _Mosh._ In asking _why_ such was the case, other analogous
phenomena, the absence of the _Urim and Thummim_, the cessation of
prophetism soon after the return from the captivity, must not be lost
sight of. Every thing was intended to impress upon the people the
conviction that their condition was provisional only. It was necessary
that the Theocracy should sink beneath its former glory, in order that
the future glory, which was far to outshine it, should so much the more
be longed for. After having thus determined _why_ it was that the Ark
of the Covenant was wanting, at the second temple, it is easy to [Pg
393] determine the relation of this absence to the prophecy under
consideration. It was the beginning of its fulfilment. In the Kingdom
of God, nothing perishes, without something new arising out of this
decay. The extinction of the old was the guarantee, that something new
was approaching. On the other hand, the absence of the Ark of the
Covenant was, it is true, at the same time, a matter-of-fact prophecy
of a sad character. To those who clung to the form, without having in a
living manner laid hold of the substance, and who, therefore, were not
able to partake in the more glorious display of the substance,--to
these it announced that the time was approaching when the form, to
which they had attached themselves with their whole existence,
was to be broken. Since already one of the great privileges of the
covenant-people, the δόξα (Rom. ix. 4), had disappeared, surely all
that might and would soon share the same fate, which existed only for
the sake of it, and in it only had its significance. In this respect,
the non-restoration of the Ark of the Covenant showed that the Chaldean
destruction and that by the Romans were connected as commencement and
completion; while, in the other aspect, it declared that, with the
return from the captivity, the realization of God's great plan of
salvation was being prepared. Inasmuch as the most complete _fuga
vacui_ is peculiar to the Covenant-God, the emptiness in that place
where formerly the glory of God dwelt, proclaimed aloud the future
fulness.--_Finally_, we have still to determine the special reference
of our verse to Israel, _i.e._, the former kingdom of the ten tribes.
This reference is, by most interpreters, entirely lost sight of, and is
very superficially and erroneously determined by those who, like
_Calvin_, pay attention to it. In the preceding verse, it had been
promised to Israel, that those blessings should again be bestowed upon
them, which they had forfeited by their rebellion against the Davidic
house, and that they should be restored to them with abundant interest.
For David's house is to attain to its completion in its righteous
Sprout. This Shepherd, who is, in the fullest sense, what His ancestor
had only imperfectly been--a man according to the heart of God--shall
feed them with knowledge and understanding. _Here_, a compensation is
promised for the second, infinitely greater loss, which [Pg 394] had,
at all times, been acknowledged as such by the faithful in the kingdom
of the ten tribes. The revelation of the Lord over the Ark of the
Covenant was the magnet which constantly drew them to Jerusalem. Many
sacrificed all their earthly possessions, and took up their abode in
Judea. Others went on a pilgrimage from their natural to their
spiritual home, to the "throne of the glory exalted from the
beginning," Jer. xvii. 12. In vain was every thing which the kings of
Israel did in order to stifle their indestructible longing. Every new
event by which "the glory of Israel" manifested itself as such, kindled
their ardour anew. But here also the great blessing and privilege,
which the believers missed with sorrow, the unbelievers without it, is
to the returning ones given back, not in its previous form, but in a
glorious completion. The whole people have now received eyes to
recognise the value of the matter in its previous form; and yet this
previous form is now looked upon by them as nothing, because the new,
infinitely more glorious form of the same matter occupied their

Ver. 17. "_At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the
Lord; and all the nations shall be gathered into it, because the name
of the Lord is at Jerusalem; neither shall they walk any more after the
wickedness of their evil heart._"

Many interpreters, proceeding upon the supposition that the emphasis
rests upon Jerusalem, have been led to give an altogether erroneous
explanation. It is no more the Ark of the Covenant which will then be
the throne of the Lord, but _all_ Jerusalem. Thus, _e.g._, after the
example of _Jarchi_ and _Abarbanel_, _Manasseh ben Israel_,
_Conciliator_, p. 196: "If we keep in mind that, in the tabernacle or
temple, the Ark was the place where the Lord dwelt (hence Ex. xxv. 22:
'I will speak with thee from above the mercy-seat, from between the two
cherubim'), we shall find that the Lord here says, that the Ark indeed
had formerly been the dwelling-place of the Godhead, but that, at the
time of Messiah, not some one part of the temple only would be filled
with the Godhead, but that this glory should be given to all Jerusalem;
so that whosoever would be in her would have the prophetic spirit." If
it had been the intention of the Prophet to convey this meaning, the
word _all_ could not have been omitted. The throne of the [Pg 395]
Lord, Jerusalem had been even formerly, in so far as she possessed in
her midst the Ark of the Covenant, and hence was the residence of
Jehovah, the city of the great King, Ps. xlviii. 3. The words in the
parallel member: "Because the name of the Lord is at Jerusalem," show
that Jerusalem is called the throne of the Lord, because there is now
in her the true throne of the Lord, just as, formerly, the Ark of the
Covenant. The antithesis to what precedes leads us to expect a
gradation, not in point of quantity, but of quality. The emphasis rests
rather on: "The throne of the Lord;" and these words receive from the
antithesis the more definite qualification: the true throne of the
Lord. Quite similarly, those who boasted that over the Cherubim was the
throne of God, and that the Ark of the Covenant was His footstool, are
told in Is. lxvi. 1: "The heaven is my (true) throne, and the earth my
(true) footstool;" comp. the passages according to which the Ark of the
Covenant is designated as the footstool of God, and, hence, the place
over the Cherubim of the Ark of the Covenant as the throne of the Lord,
p. 387; and farther, Is. lx. 13; Ezra i. 26.--The highest prerogative
of the covenant-people, their highest privilege over the world, is to
have God in the midst of them; and this prerogative, this privilege, is
now to be bestowed upon them in the most perfect manner; so that idea
and reality shall coincide. Perfectly parallel in substance are such
passages as Ezek. xliii., in which the Shechinah which, at the
destruction of the temple had withdrawn, returns to the new temple, the
Kingdom of God in its new and more glorious form. Ver. 2. "And behold
the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the East; and its
voice was like the voice of great waters, and the earth shone with its
splendour." Ver. 7. "And He said unto me, son of man, behold the place
of _my throne_, and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will
dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever, and the house of
Israel shall no more defile my holy place." Zech. ii. 14 (10): "Sing
and rejoice, O daughter of Zion; for, lo, I come and dwell in the midst
of thee," with an allusion to Exod. xxix. 45: "And I dwell among the
children of Israel, and will be their God." The Prophet declares that
the full realization of this promise is reserved for the future; but it
could not be so, unless it had already been realised, throughout all
past history, in God's [Pg 396] dwelling over the Ark of the Covenant;
compare Zech. viii. 3: "Thus saith the Lord, I return unto Zion, and
dwell in the midst of Jerusalem."--If we enquire after the fulfilment,
we are at once met by the words in John i. 14: καὶ ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο
καὶ ἐσκήνωσεν ἐν ἡμῖν, καὶ ἐθεασάμεθα τὴν δόξαν αὐτοῦ, δόξαν ὡς
μονογενοῦς παρὰ πατρός; and that so much the more that these words
contain an evident allusion to the former dwelling of God in the
temple, of which the incarnation of the Logos is looked upon as the
highest consummation. It is true that the dwelling of God among His
people by means of the πνεῦμα Χριστοῦ must not be separated from the
personal manifestation of God in Christ, in whom dwelt the fulness of
the Godhead bodily, σωματικῶς. The former stands to the latter in the
same relation, as does the river to the fountain; it is the river of
living water flowing forth from the body of Christ. Both together form
the true tabernacle of God among men, the new true Ark of the Covenant;
for the old things are the σκιὰ τῶν μελλόντων, τὸ δὲ σῶμα Χριστοῦ, Col.
ii. 17; comp. Rev. xxi. 22: καὶ ναὸν οὐκ εἶδον ἐν αὐτῇ· ὁ γὰρ Κύριος, ὁ
Θεὸς ὁ παντοκράτωρ ναὸς αὐτῆς ἐστι, καὶ τὸ ἀρνίον. The typical import
of the Ark of the Covenant is expressly declared in Heb. ix. 4, 5, and
that which was typified thereby is intimated in chap. iv. 16:
προσερχώμεθα δὲ μετὰ παῤῥησίας τῷ θρόνῳ τῆς χάριτος, where Christ is
designated as the true mercy-seat, as the true Ark of the Covenant.
Just as, formerly, God could be found over the Ark of the Covenant
only, by those from among his people who sought Him; so we have now,
through Christ, boldness and access with confidence in God (Eph. iii.
12); and it is only when offered in His name, in living union with Him,
that our prayers are acceptable, John xvi. 23. A consequence of that
highest realization of the idea of the kingdom of God, and, at the same
time, a sign that it has taken place, and a measure of the blessings
which Israel has to expect from its re-union with the Church of God, is
the gathering of the Gentiles into it, such as, by way of type and
prelude, took place even at the lower manifestations of the presence of
God among the people; compare, _e.g._, Josh. ix. 9: "And they (the
Gibeonites) said unto him: From a very far country thy servants are
come, because of the name (לשם) of Jehovah thy God, for we have heard
the fame of Him, and all that He did in Egypt, [Pg 397] and all that He
did to the two kings of the Amorites," &c. In a manner quite similar it
is, in Zech. ii. 15 (11) also, connected with the Lord's dwelling in
Jerusalem: "And many nations shall be joined to the Lord in that day;
and they shall be my people; and I dwell in the midst of thee."--לשם
יהוה לירושלים must be literally translated: "On account of the name of
the Lord (belonging) to Jerusalem," for: because the name of the Lord
belongs to Jerusalem--is there at home The name of the Lord is the Lord
himself, in so far as He reveals His invisible nature, manifests
himself In the name, His deeds are comprehended; and hence it forms a
bridge betwixt existing and knowing. A God without a name is a θεὸς
ἄγνωστος, Acts xviii. 23. There is an allusion to Deut. xii. 5: "But
unto the place which the Lord your God shall choose out of all your
tribes _to put His name there_, to dwell in it, unto it ye shall seek,
and thither ye shall come." Formerly, when God put His name in an
imperfect manner only, Israel only assembled themselves; but now, all
the Gentiles.--The last words: "Neither shall they walk any more," &c.,
are not by any means to refer to the Gentiles, but to the members of
the kingdom of Israel, or also to the whole of the inhabitants of
Jerusalem, to all the members of the Kingdom of God, including the
subjects of the kingdom of Israel. This appears from a comparison of
the fundamental passage of the Pentateuch, as well as of the parallel
passages in Jeremiah. Wherever שרירות occurs, the covenant-people are
spoken of; everywhere the walking after שרירות of the heart is opposed
to the walking after the revealed law of Jehovah, which Israel alone
possessed. שרירות, which properly means "firmness," is then used of
hardness in sin, of wickedness.[5]

[Footnote 1: _Vitringa_ very correctly remarks on this passage: "בעל,
properly ὁ ἔχων, he who has any thing in his possession is, by an
ellipsis, applied to the husband who, in Exod. xxi. 3, is rightly
called בעל אשה _one who has a wife_."]

[Footnote 2: Against the explanation of _Maurer_: "For I am your Lord;"
and that of _Ewald_: "I take you under my protection," it is decisive
that בעל never means "to be Lord," far less "to take under protection."
בעל, which properly means "to possess," is very commonly used of
marriage;--as early as in the Decalogue, the wife appears as the
noblest _possession_ of the husband--so that _a priori_ this
signification is suggested and demanded.]

[Footnote 3: It is from the circumstance that modern Exegesis is unable
to comprehend the prophetic anticipation of the Future, that the
assertion has proceeded (_Movers_, _Hitzig_) that, even before the
Chaldean destruction, the Ark "must have disappeared in a mysterious
manner." In the view of the Chaldean destruction the Lord is, in Ps.
xcix. 1 (comp. Ps. lxxx. 2), designated as He who sitteth over the
Cherubim. In 2 Chron. xxxv. 3, we have a distinct historical witness
for the existence of the Ark, so late as the 18th year of Josiah. The
fable in 2 Maccab. ii. 4, ff., supposes that the Ark was at its
ordinary place, down to the time of the breaking in of the Chaldean
catastrophe. One might as well infer from chap. iii. 18, that, at the
time when these words were spoken, Judah must already, "in a mysterious
manner," have come into the land of the North.]

[Footnote 4: _Bähr_ advances the assertion, "In a (the) cloud" is
equivalent to: "in darkness." But the parallel passages, Exod. xl. 34
ff., Numb. ix. 15, 16, quoted by _J. H. Michaelis_, are quite
sufficient to overthrow this assertion. And these parallel passages are
so much the more to the point, that by the article the cloud is
designated as being already known; compare _Hofmann_, _Schriftbeweis_
ii. 1, S. 36. The cloud in ver. 13 is not identical with that in ver.
2, but is its necessary parallel. The cloud in ver. 2 symbolises the
truth that the Lord is a consuming fire (compare my remarks on Rev. i.
7); that in ver. 13 is an embodied _Kyrie eleison_, compare remarks on
Rev. v. 8. Cloud with cloud,--that is a noble advice for the Church
when she is threatened by the judgments of God. A thorough refutation
of _Bähr_ has been given by _W. Neumann_: _Beiträge zur Symbolik des
Mos. Cultus_, _Zeitschr. f. Luth. Theol._, 1851, i.]

[Footnote 5: In a certain sense, one may say that שרירות לב is a ἅπαξ
λεγόμενον. It occurs independently in one single passage only, in Deut.
xxix. 18; in the other passages (eight times in Jeremiah, and besides,
in Ps. lxxxi. 13), it was evidently not taken from the living _usus
loquendi_ from which it had disappeared, but from the fundamental
passage in the written code of law. This fact will, _a priori_, appear
probable, when we keep in mind that, among all the books of the
Pentateuch, Jeremiah has chiefly Deuteronomy before his eyes; and among
all the chapters of Deuteronomy, none more than the 29th; and that Ps.
lxxxi. is pervaded by literal allusions to the Pentateuch. But it is
put beyond all doubt, when we enter upon a comparison of the passage in
Deuteronomy with the parallel passages. Here we must begin with Jer.
xxiii. 17, where the verbal agreement comes out most strongly, and then
we shall, in the other passages also (vii. 24, ix. 13, xi. 8, xvi. 12,
xviii. 12, and the passage under consideration), easily perceive that
the word has been borrowed. From a comparison with the fundamental
passage, it appears that it is the intention of the Prophet to convey
here the promise of an eternal duration of the regained blessing, and
to keep off the thought that possibly the people might again, as
formerly, fall from grace. Of him who walks after the שרירות of his
heart, it is said in Deut. xxix. 19 (20): "The Lord will not be willing
to forgive him; for then the anger of the Lord and His jealousy shall
smoke against that man, and all the curses that are written in this
book shall lie upon him, and the Lord blots out his name from under

[Pg 398]

                           CHAPTER XXIII. 1-8.

These verses form a portion only of a greater whole, to which, besides
the whole of chap. xxii., chap. xxiii. 9-40 also belongs. For these
verses contain a prophecy against the false prophets, and by the way
also, against the degenerated priesthood (comp. ver. 11); and this
prophecy easily unites itself with the preceding prophecy against the
kings, so as to form one prophecy against the corrupt leaders of the
people of God. But, for the exposition of the verses before us, it is
only the connection with chap. xxii. which is of importance, and that
so much so that, without carefully attending to it, they cannot at all
be thoroughly understood. For this reason, we shall confine ourselves
to bring it out more clearly.

The Prophet reproves and warns the kings of Judah, first, in general,
announcing to them the judgments of the Lord upon them and their
people,--the fulfilment of the threatenings, Deut. xxix. 22 ff.--if
they are to continue in their hitherto ungodly course, chap. xxii. 1-9.
In order to make a stronger impression, he then particularizes the
general threatening, showing how God's recompensing justice manifests
itself in the fate of the individual apostate kings. First, Jehoahaz is
brought forward, the son and the immediate successor of Josiah, whom
Pharaoh-Necho dethroned and carried with him to Egypt, vers. 10-12. The
declaration concerning him forms a commentary on the name Shallum,
_i.e._, the recompensed one, he whom the Lord recompenses according to
his deeds,--which name the Prophet gives to him instead of the
meaningless name Jehoahaz, _i.e._, God holds. His father, who met his
death in the battle against the Egyptians, may be called happy when
compared with him; for he never returns to his native [Pg 399] land; he
lives and dies in a foreign land. The next whom he brings forward is
Jehoiakim, vers. 13-19. He is a despot who does every thing to ruin the
people committed to him. There is, therefore, the most glaring contrast
between his beautiful name and his miserable fate. The Lord, instead of
raising him up, will cast him down to the lowest depth; not even an
honourable burial is to be bestowed upon him. No one weeps or laments
over him; like a trodden down carcass, he lies outside the gates of
Jerusalem, the city of the great King, which he attempted to wrest from
him, and make his own. Then follows a parenthetical digression, vers.
20-23. Apostate Judah is addressed. The judgment upon her kings is not
one with which she has nothing to do, as little as their guilt belongs
to them as individuals only. It is, at the same time a judgment upon
the people which, by the Lord's anger which they have called forth by
their wickedness, is thrown down into the depth, from the height on
which the Lord's mercy had raised them.--Next follows Jehoiachin, vers.
24-30. In his name "The _Lord_ will establish," the word _will_ has no
foundation; the Lord _will_ reject him, cast him away, and break him in
pieces like a worthless vessel. With his mother, he shall be carried
away from his native land, and die in exile and captivity. Irrevocable
is the Lord's decree, that none of his sons shall ascend the throne of
David, so that he, having begotten children in vain, is to be esteemed
as one who is childless.

At the commencement of the section under consideration (vers. 1 and
2), the contents of chap. xxii. are comprehended into one sentence.
"Woe to the shepherds that destroy and scatter the flock of the Lord."
Woe, then, to those shepherds who have done so. With this is then, in
vers. 3-8, connected the announcement of salvation for the poor
scattered flock. For the same reason, that the Lord visits upon those
who have hitherto been their shepherds, the wickedness of their
doings--viz., because of His being the chief Shepherd, or because of
His covenant-faithfulness, He will in mercy remember them also, gather
them from their dispersion, give, instead of the bad shepherds, a good
one, viz., the long promised and longed for great descendant of David,
who, being a _righteous_ King, shall diffuse justice and righteousness
in the land, and thus [Pg 400] acquire for it righteousness and
salvation from the Lord. So great shall the mercy of the Future be,
that thereby the greatest mercy in the people's past history--their
deliverance out of Egypt--shall be altogether cast into the shade.

There cannot be any doubt that the whole prophecy belongs to the reign
of Jehoiakim; for the end of Jehoiakim and the fate of Jehoiachin are
announced as future events.

_Eichhorn_ asserts that this section was composed under Zedekiah; but
he could do so only by proceeding from his erroneous fundamental view,
that the prophecies are veiled descriptions of historical events. "When
Jeremiah"--so he says--"delivered this discourse, Jehoiakim had not
only already met his ignominious end (xxii. 19), but Jeconiah also was,
with his mother, already carried away captive to Babylon." It is matter
of astonishment that _Dahler_, without holding the same fundamental
view, could yet adopt its result. He specially refers to the
circumstance that, in ver. 24, Jehoiachin is addressed as king,--a
circumstance by which _Berthold_ also supports his view, who, cutting
the knot, advances the position that vers. 1-19 belong to the reign of
Jehoiakim, but vers. 20--xxxii. 8 to the time when Jehoiachin was
carried away to Babylon. (_Maurer_ and _Hitzig_ too suppose that vers.
20 ff. were added at a later period, under the reign of Jehoiachin).
But what difficulty is there in supposing that the Prophet transfers
himself into the time, when he who is now a hereditary prince will be
king,--of which the address is then a simple consequence? It is
undeniable that a connection with chap. xxi. takes place, in which
chapter Jeremiah announces to Zedekiah, threatened by the Chaldeans,
the fall of the Davidic house, and the capture and destruction of the
city. And this connection is to be accounted for by the fact that
Jeremiah here connects with this announcement a former prophecy, in
which, under the reign of Jehoiakim, he had foretold the fall of the
Davidic house. The fate of the house of David is the subject common to
both the discourses. _Küper_ (_Jeremias_, _libror. Sacror. interpres_,
p. 58), supposes that, in the message to Zedekiah, Jeremiah had, at
that time, repeated his former announcement; but this supposition is
opposed by the circumstance that, in chaps. xxii., xxiii., there is no
trace of a reference to Zedekiah and his embassy. _Ewald_ asserts that
Jeremiah [Pg 401] here only puts together what "perhaps" he had
formerly spoken regarding the three kings; but the words in chap. xxii.
1: "Go down into the house of the king of Judah and speak there this
word," is conclusive against this assertion. For, according to these
words, we have here not something put together, but a discourse which
was delivered at a distinct, definite time; although nothing prevents
us from supposing that the going down was done in the Spirit only.

We have here still to make an investigation concerning the names of the
three kings occurring in chap. xxii., the result of which is of
importance for the exposition of ver. 5.--It cannot but appear strange
that the same king who, in the Book of the Kings, is called Jehoahaz,
is here called Shallum only; that the same who is there called
Jehoiachin, has here the name of Jeconias, which is abbreviated into
Conias. The current supposition is, that the two kings had two names
each. But this supposition is unsatisfactory, because, by the context
in which they stand, the names employed by Jeremiah too clearly appear
as _nomina realia_, as new names given to them by which the contrast
between the name and thing was to be removed, and hence are evidently
of the same nature with the _nomen reale_ of the good Shepherd in chap.
xxiii. 6, which, with quite the same right, could have been changed
into a _nomen proprium_ in the proper sense, as has, indeed, been done
by the LXX. The numerous passages in the prophets, where the name
occurs as a designation of the nature and character, _e.g._, Is. ix. 5,
lxii. 4; Jer. xxxiii. 16; Ezek. xlviii. 35, plainly show that a name
which has merely a prophetical warrant (and such an one alone takes
place here, although the name Shallum occurs also in 1 Chron. iii. 15
[in the historical representation itself, however, Jehoahaz is used in
the Book of Kings, and 2 Chron. xxxvi. 1], and the name Jeconias
likewise in 1 Chron. iii. 16, while Jehoiakim is found not only in the
Book of Kings, but also in Ezek. i. 2; for it is quite possible that
those later writers may have drawn from Jeremiah), cannot simply be
considered as a _nomen proprium_; but, on the contrary, that there is a
strong probability that it is not so. And this probability becomes
certainty when that name occurs, either _alone_, as _e.g._, Shallum, or
_first_, as Jeconiah, (which occurs again in chap. xxiv. 1, xxvii. 20;
the abbreviated [Pg 402] Coniah in xxxvii. 1, while, which is well to
be observed, we have in the historical account, chap. lii. 31,
Jehoiachin) in a context, such as that under consideration; especially
when this phenomenon occurs in a prophet such as Jeremiah, in whom,
elsewhere also, many traces of holy wit, and even punning, can be
pointed out.--With reference to the calamity which more and more
threatened Judah, pious Josiah had given to his sons names, which
announced salvation. According to his wish, these names should be as
many actual prophecies, and would, indeed, have proved themselves to be
such, unless they who bore them had made them of no avail by their
apostacy from the Lord, and had thus brought about the most glaring
contrast between idea and reality. That comes out first in the case of
Jehoahaz. He whom the Lord should _hold_, was violently and
irresistibly carried away to Egypt. The Prophet, therefore, calls him
Shallum, _i.e._, the _recompensed_,--not _retribution_, as _Hiller_,
_Simonis_, and _Roediger_ think, nor _retributor_ according to _Fürst_
(comp. _Ewald_ § 154d); the same who, in 1 Chron. v. 38, is called
Shallum, is in 1 Chron. ix. 11, called Meshullam--he upon whom the Lord
has visited the wickedness of his deeds.--As regards the name Jehoiakim
and Jehoiachin, we must, above all things, keep in view the relation of
these names to the promise given to David. In 2 Sam. vii. 12 it is
said: "And I cause to rise up (והקימתי) thy seed after thee, which
shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish (והכינתי) his
kingdom." This passage contains the ground of _both_ names; and this is
the more easily explained, since both of them have one author,
Jehoiakim. Even his former name Eliakim had probably been given to him
by his father Josiah with a view to the promise. When Pharaoh, however,
desired him to change his name--as the name itself shows, we cannot but
supply, in 2 Kings xxiii. 31, such a request to a proposal which was
afterwards approved of by Pharaoh--he performed that change in such a
manner as to bring it into a still nearer relation to the promise, in
which, not El, but Jehovah, is expressly mentioned as He who promised;
and indeed the matter proceeded from Jehovah, the God of Israel. As,
however, from the whole character of Jehoiakim, we cannot suppose that
the twofold naming proceeded from true piety, nothing is more natural
[Pg 403] than to account for it from an opposition to the prophets. The
centre of their announcements was formed by the impending calamity from
the North, and the decline of the Davidic family. The promise given to
David shall indeed be fulfilled in the Messiah; but not till after a
previous deep abasement. Jehoiakim mocking at these threatenings, means
to transfer the salvation from the future into the present. In his own
name, and that of his son, he presented a standing protest to the
prophetic announcement; and this protest could not but call forth a
counter-protest, which we find expressed in the prophecy under
consideration. The Prophet first overthrows the false interpretation:
Jehoiakim is not Jehoiakim, and Jehoiachin is not Jehoiachin, chap.
xxii.; he then restores the right interpretation: the true Jehoiakim
is, and remains, the Messiah, chap. xxiii. 5. As regards the first
point, he. in the case of Jehoiakim, contents himself with the _actual_
contrast, and omits to substitute a truly significant name for the
usurped one, which may most easily be accounted for from the
circumstance, that he thought it to be unsuitable to exercise any kind
of wit, even holy wit, against the then reigning king. But the case is
different with regard to Jehoiachin. The first change of the name into
Jeconiah has its cause not in itself; the two names have quite the same
meaning; it had respect to the second change into Coniah only. In
Jeconiah we have the Future; and this is put first, in order that, by
cutting off the י, the sign of the Future, he might cut off hope; a
Jeconiah without the י says only God establishes, but not that He
_will_ establish. In reference to these names, _Grotius_ came near the
truth; but he erred in the nearer determination, because he did not see
the true state of the matter; so that, according to him, it amounts to
a mere play: "The Jod," he says, "with which the name begins, is taken
away, to intimate that his head shall be diminished; and a Vav is added
at the end as a sign of contempt, _q.d._ that Coniah!" _Lightfoot_
comes nearer to the truth; yet even he was not able to gain assent to
it (compare against him _Hiller_ and _Simonis_ who thought his views
scarcely worth refuting), because he took an one-sided view. He remarks
(_Harmon._ p. 275): "By taking away the first syllable, God intimated
that He would not establish to the progeny of Solomon the [Pg 404]
uninterrupted government and royal dignity, as Jehoiakim, by giving
that name to his son, seems to have expected." Besides these two,
compare farther, _Alting_, _de Cabbala sacra_ § 73.

In conclusion, we must still direct attention to chap. xx. 3. Who,
indeed, could infer from that passage, that, by way of change, _Pashur_
was called also _Magor-Missabib_?

Chap. xxiii. 1. "_Woe to shepherds that destroy and scatter the sheep
of my pasture, saith the Lord._"

It must be well observed that רֹעִים is here without the article, but,
in ver. 2, with it. _Venema_ remarks on this: "A general woe upon bad
shepherds is premised, which is soon applied to the shepherds of Judah,
_q.d._, since Jehovah has denounced a woe upon all bad shepherds,
therefore ye bad shepherds," &c. By the "shepherds," several
interpreters would understand only the false prophets and priests.
Others would at least have them thought of, along with the kings. This
view has exercised an injurious influence upon the understanding of the
subsequent Messianic announcement, inasmuch as it occasioned the
introduction into it of features which are altogether foreign to it. It
is only when it is perceived, that the bad shepherds refer to the kings
exclusively, that it is seen that, in the description of the good
Shepherd, that only is applicable which has reference to Him as a King.
But the very circumstance that, according to a correct interpretation,
nothing else is found in this description, is a sufficient proof that,
by the bad shepherds, the kings only can be understood. But all doubt
is removed when we consider the close connection of the verses under
consideration with chap. xxii. In commenting upon chap. iii. 15, we saw
that, ordinarily, rulers only are designated by the shepherds; compare,
farther, chap. xxv. 34-36, and the imitation and first interpretation
of the passage under review by Ezekiel, in chap. xxxiv. Ps. lxxviii.
70, 71: "He chose David his servant, and took him from the sheep-folds.
He took him from behind the ewes to feed Jacob, His people, and Israel,
His inheritance," shows that a typical interpretation of the former
circumstances of David lies at the foundation of this _usus loquendi_;
compare Ezek. xxxiv. 23, 24: "And I raise over them one Shepherd, and
he feedeth them, my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be
[Pg 405] their shepherd."--What is to be understood by the destroying
and scattering, must be determined partly from ver. 3 and vers. 13 ff.
of the preceding chapter; partly from ver. 3 of the chapter before us.
The former passages show that the acts of violence of the kings, their
oppressions and extortions, come here into consideration (compare Ezek.
xxxiv. 2, 3: "Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed
themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? Ye eat the fat,
and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed, &c., and
with force and with cruelty ye rule them"), while the latter passage
shows that it is chiefly the heaviest guilt of the kings which comes
into consideration, viz., all that by which they became the cause of
the people's being carried away into captivity. To this belonged,
besides their foolish political counsels, which were based upon
ungodliness (comp. chap. x. 21), the negative (_Venema_: "It was their
duty to take care that the true religion, the spiritual food of the
people, was rightly and properly exercised"), and positive promotion of
ungodliness, and of immorality proceeding from it, by which the divine
judgments were forcibly drawn down. It is in this contrast of idea and
reality (_Calvin_: "It is a contradiction that the shepherd should be a
destroyer"), that the woe has its foundation, and that the more, that
it is pointed out that the flock, which they destroy and scatter, is
_God's_ flock. (_Calvin_: "God intimates that, by the unworthy
scattering of the flock, an atrocious injury had been committed against
himself") צאן מרעיתי must not be explained by: "the flock of my
feeding," _i.e._, which I feed. For, wherever מרעית occurs by itself,
it always has the signification "pasture," but never the signification
_pastio_, _pastus_ commonly assigned to it. This signification, which
is quite in agreement with the form of the word, must therefore be
retained in those passages also where it occurs in connection with צאן,
when it always denotes the relation of Israel to God. Israel is called
the flock of God's pasture, because He has given to them the fertile
Canaan as their possession, compare my remarks on Ps. lxxiv. 1. It is,
at first sight, strange that a guilt of the rulers only is spoken of,
and not a guilt of the people; for every more searching consideration
shows that both are inseparable from one another; that bad rulers
proceed from the development of the nation, and are, at the same time,
a punishment [Pg 406] of its wickedness sent by God. But the fact is
easily accounted for, if only we keep in mind that the Prophet had here
to do with the kings only, and not with the people. To them it could
not serve for an excuse that their wickedness was naturally connected
with that of the people. This _natural_ connection was not by any means
a necessary one, as appears from the example of a Josiah, in whose case
it was broken through by divine grace. Nor were they justified by the
circumstance, that they were rods of chastisement in the hand of God.
To this the Prophet himself alludes, by substituting, in ver. 3: "I
have driven away," for "you have driven away," in ver. 2. All which
they had to do, was to attend to their vocation and duty; the carrying
out of God's counsels belonged to Him alone. From what we have
remarked, it plainly follows that we would altogether misunderstand the
expression "flock of my pasture," if we were to infer from it a
contrast of the _innocent_ people with the guilty kings. _Calvin_
remarks: "In short, when God calls the Jews the flock of His pasture,
He has no respect to their condition, or to what they have deserved,
but rather commends His grace which He has bestowed upon the seed of
Abraham." The kings have nothing to do with the moral condition of the
people; they have to look only to God's covenant with them, which is
for them a source of obligations so much the greater and more binding
than the obligations of heathen kings, as Jehovah is more glorious than
Elohim. The moral condition of the people does, to a certain degree,
not even concern God; how bad soever it is, He looks to His covenant;
and when more deeply viewed, even the outward scattering of the flock
is a gathering.

Ver. 2. "_Therefore thus saith the Lord the God of Israel, against the
shepherds that feed my people: Ye have scattered my flock and driven
them away, and have not visited them; behold, I visit upon you the
wickedness of your doings, saith the Lord._"

In the designation of God as Jehovah the God of Israel, there is
already implied that which afterwards is expressly said. Because God is
Jehovah, the God of Israel, the crime of the kings is, at the same
time, a _sacrilegium_; they have desecrated God. It was just here that
it was necessary prominently to point out the fact, that the people
still continued to [Pg 407] be God's people. In another very important
aspect, they were indeed called _Lo-Ammi_ (Hos. i. 9); but that aspect
did not here come into consideration. _Calvin_: "They had estranged
themselves from God; and He too had, in His decree, already renounced
them. But, in one respect, God might consider them as aliens, while, in
respect to His covenant, He still acknowledged them as His, and hence
He calls them His people."--The words "that feed my people," render the
idea still more prominent and emphatic than the simple "the shepherds"
would have done, and hence serve to make more glaring the contrast
presented by the reality. The words "you have not visited them," seem,
at first sight, since graver charges have been mentioned before, to be
feeble. But that which they did, appears in its whole heinousness only
by that which they did not, but which, according to their vocation,
they ought to have done. This reference to their destination imparts
the greatest severity to the apparently mild reproof Similar is Ezek.
xxxiv. 3: "Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill
them that are fed, and ye feed not the flock." The visiting forms the
general foundation of every single activity of the shepherd, so that
the לא פקדתם comprehends within itself all that which Ezekiel
particularly mentions in chap. xxxiv. 4: "The weak ye strengthen not,
and the sick ye heal not, and the wounded ye bind not up, and the
scattered ye bring not back, and the perishing ye seek not."--The
words: "the wickedness of your doings," look back to Deut. xxviii. 20:
"The Lord shall send upon thee curse, terror, and ruin in all thy
undertakings, until thou be destroyed, and until thou perish quickly,
_because of the wickedness of thy doings_, that thou hast forsaken me."
The gentle allusion to that fearful threatening in that portion of the
Pentateuch, which was the best known of all, was sufficient to make
every one supplement from it that, which was there actually and
expressly uttered. Such an allusion to that passage of Deuteronomy can
be traced out, wherever the phrase רע מעללים occurs, which, in later
times, had become obsolete; compare chap. iv. 4 and xxi. 12 (in both of
these passages מפני, too, is introduced); Is. i. 16; Ps. xxviii. 4;
Hos. ix. 15.

Ver. 3. "_And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the
countries whither I have driven them away, and I_ [Pg 408] _bring them
back again to their folds, and they are fruitful and increase._"

Compare chap. xxix. 14, xxxi. 8, 10; Ezek. xxxiv. 12, 13: "As a
shepherd looketh after his flock in the day that he is in the midst of
his flock, the scattered, so will I look after my flock, and I deliver
them out of all the places, where they have been scattered in the day
of clouds and of darkness. And I bring them out from the nations, and
gather them from the countries, and bring them to their land, and feed
them upon the mountains of Israel, in the valleys, and in all the
dwelling places of the land."--A spiritless clinging to the letter has,
here too, led several interpreters to suppose, that the Prophet had
here in view merely the return from the Babylonish captivity, and
perhaps, also, the blessings of the times of the Maccabees, besides
and in addition to it. Altogether apart from the consideration that,
in that case, the fulfilment would very little correspond to the
promise,--for, to the returning ones, Canaan was too little the land of
God to allow of our seeing, in this return, the whole fulfilment of
God's promise--we can, from the context, easily demonstrate the
opposite. With the gathering and bringing back appears, in ver. 4,
closely connected the raising of the good shepherds; and according to
ver. 5, that promise is to find, if not its sole fulfilment, at all
events its substance and centre, in the raising of David's righteous
Branch, the Messiah. And from vers. 7, 8, it appears that it is here
altogether inadmissible to suppose that these events will take place,
one after the other. The particle לכן with which these verses begin,
and which refers to the whole sum and substance of the preceding
promises, shows that the bringing back from the captivity, and the
raising of the Messiah, cannot, by any means, be separated from one
another; and to the same result we are led by the contents of the two
verses also. How indeed could it be said of the bodily bringing back
from the captivity, that it would far outshine the former deliverance
from Egypt, and would cause it to be altogether forgotten? The correct
view was stated as early as by _Calvin_, who says: "There is no doubt
that the Prophet has in view, in the first instance, the free return of
the people; but Christ must not be separated from this blessing of the
deliverance, for, otherwise, it would be difficult to [Pg 409] show the
fulfilment of this prophecy." The right of thus assuming a concurrent
reference to Christ is afforded to us by the circumstance, that Canaan
had such a high value for Israel, not because it was its fatherland in
the lower sense, but because it was the land of God, the place where
His glory dwelt. From this it follows that a bodily return was to the
covenant-people of value, in so far only as God manifested himself as
the God of the land. And since, before Christ, this was done in a
manner very imperfect, as compared with what was implied in the idea,
the value of such a return could not be otherwise than very
subordinate. And in like manner, it follows from it, that the gathering
and bringing back by Christ is included in the promise. For wherever
God is, there is Canaan. Whether it be the old fold, or a new one, is
surely of very little consequence, if only the good Shepherd be in the
midst of His sheep. _As a rule_, such externalities lie without the
compass of prophecy, which, having in view the substance, refers, as to
the way of its manifestation, to history. Into what ridiculous
assertions a false clinging to the letter may lead, appears from
remarks such as those of _Grotius_ on the second hemistich of the
following verse: "They shall live in security under the powerful
protection of the Persian kings." Protection by the world, and
oppression by the world, differed very slightly only, in the case of
the covenant-people. The circumstance that Gentiles ruled over them at
all, was just that which grieved them; and this grief must therefore
continue (compare Neh. ix. 36, 37), although, by the grace of God, a
mild rule had taken the place of the former severe one; for this grace
of God had its proper value only as a prophecy and pledge of a future
greater one. The circumstance that it is to the _remnant_ only that the
gathering is promised (compare Is. x. 22; Rom. ix. 27), points to the
truth, that the divine mercy will be accompanied with justice. _Calvin_
remarks on this point: "The Prophet again confirms what I formerly
said, viz., mercy shall not be exercised until He has cleansed His
Church of filthiness, so great and so horrid, in which she at that time
abounded." One must beware of exchanging the Scriptural hope of a
conversion of Israel on a large scale, in contrast to the small ἐκλογή
at the time of Christ and the Apostles, for the hope of a _general_
conversion in the strict sense. [Pg 410] When considering the relation
of God to the free human nature, the latter is absolutely impossible.
When consistently carried out, it necessarily leads to the doctrine of
universal restoration. It is beyond doubt, that God _wills_ that all
men should be saved; and it would necessarily follow that all men could
be saved, if all the members of one nation could be saved. There is no
word of Scripture in favour of it, except the πᾶς in Paul, which must
just be interpreted and qualified by the contrast to the _small_
ἐκλογή, while there are opposed to it a number of declarations of
Scripture,--especially all those passages of the prophets where, to the
remnant, to the escaped ones of Israel only, salvation is promised.
And, besides the Word of God, there are opposed to it His deeds
also,--especially the great typical prefiguration of things spiritual
by things external at the deliverance of the people from Egypt, when
the _remnant_ only came to Canaan, while the bodies of thousands fell
in the wilderness; and no less at the deliverance from Babylon, when by
far the greatest number preferred the temporary delight in sin to
delight in the Lord in His land.

Ver. 4. "_And I raise shepherds over them, and they feed them; and they
shall fear no more, nor be terrified, neither be lost, saith the

Even here, the reference to 2 Sam. vii. 12, and to the name of
Jehoiakim, is manifest, although, in the subsequent verse, it appears
still more distinctly, compare p. 401. This reference also is a proof
in favour of this prophecy's having been written under Jehoiakim. The
reference was, at that time, easily understood by every one; even the
slightest allusion was sufficient. This reference farther shows that
_Venema_, and several others who preceded him in this view, are wrong
in here thinking of the Maccabees. These are here quite out of the
question, inasmuch as they were not descended from David. Besides the
contrast between the people's apostacy and God's covenant-faithfulness,
the Prophet evidently has still another in view, viz., that between the
apostacy of the Davidic house, and God's faithfulness in the fulfilment
of the promise given to David. The single apostate members of this
family are destroyed, although, appropriating to themselves the
promise, they, in their names, promise deliverance and salvation to [Pg
411] themselves. But from the family itself, God's grace cannot depart;
just because Jehovah is God, a true Jehoiakim and Jehoiachin must rise
out of it. It thus appears that the Maccabees are here as little
referred to as Ezra and Nehemiah, of whom _Grotius_ thinks. Much
stronger ground is there for thinking of Zerubbabel, for his appearance
had really some reference to the promise to David, although as a weak
type and prelude only of the true fulfilment, to which he occupies the
same relation, as does the gathering from the Babylonish captivity to
the gathering by Christ. If, after all, we wish to urge the Plural, we
must not, by any means, sever our verse from ver. 5, and declare this
to be the sense: _first_ will I raise up to you shepherds; _then_, the
Messiah. We must, in that case, following _C. B. Michaelis_, rather
supplement: specially one, the Messiah. In _none_ of Jeremiah's
prophecies are there different stages and degrees in the salvation;
everywhere he has in his view the whole in its completion. Where this
is overlooked, the whole interpretation must necessarily take a wrong
direction, as is most clearly seen in the case of _Venema_. But there
is no reason at all for laying so much stress on the Plural. Every
Plural may be used for designating the idea of the whole species; and
this kind of designation was here so much the more obvious, that the
bad species, with which the good is here contrasted, consisted of a
series of individuals. With the bad pastoral office, the Prophet here
_first_ contrasts the good one; _then_ he gives, in ver. 5, a more
detailed description of the individual who is to represent the species,
in whom the idea of the species is to be completely realised. The
correctness of this interpretation is confirmed by the comparison of
the parallel passage in chap. xxxiii. 15, which, almost _verbatim_,
agrees with that under consideration, and in which only one descendant
of David, viz., the Messiah, is spoken of And that is quite natural;
for, in that passage, there is no antithesis to the bad shepherds,
which was the cause that here, at first, the species was made
prominent. And another confirmation is afforded by Ezek. xxxiv. With
him, too, one good shepherd is mentioned in contrast with the bad
shepherds.--The words: "And they feed them" stand in contrast to "Who
feed my people," in ver. 2. The shepherds mentioned in ver. 2 ought to
feed the flock; but, instead of doing [Pg 412] that, they feed
themselves (compare Ezek. xxxiv. 2); the shepherds, however, mentioned
in our verse, really feed. The former are shepherds in name only, but,
in reality, wolves; the latter are shepherds, both in name and reality.
פקד must be taken in the signification "to be missing," "lacking."
(Compare the Remarks on chap. iii. 16.) There is an allusion to לא
פקדתם in ver. 2. Because the bad shepherd does not visit, the sheep are
not sought, _q.d._, they are lost; but those who did not visit, are
now, in a very disagreeable manner, visited by God (פקד עליכם); the
good shepherd visits, and, therefore, the sheep need not be sought. The
clause: "They shall fear no more, nor be terrified," receives its
explanation from Ezek. xxxiv. 8: "Because my flock are a prey, and meat
to every beast of the field, because they have no shepherd, and because
my shepherds do not concern themselves with the flock."

Ver. 5. "_Behold the days come, saith the Lord, and I raise unto David
a righteous Branch, and He ruleth as a King, and acteth wisely, and
worketh justice and righteousness in the land._"

The expression: "Behold the days come," according to the constant _usus
loquendi_ of Jeremiah, does not designate a progress in time, in
reference to what precedes, but only directs attention to the greatness
of that which is to be announced. It contains, at the same time, an
allusion to the contrast presented by the visible state of things,
which affords no ground for such a thing. How dark soever the present
state of things may be, the time is _still_ coming; although the heart
may loudly say. _No_, the word of _God_ must be more certain.
Concerning צמח, compare Isa. iv. 2, and the passages of Zechariah there
quoted, צדיק stands here in the same signification as in Zech. ix.
9,--different from that which it has in Isa. liii. 11. In the latter
passage, where the Servant of God is described as the High Priest and
sin-offering. His righteousness comes into consideration as the
fundamental condition of justification; here, where He appears as King
only,--as the cause of the diffusion of justice and righteousness in
the land. That there is implied in this a contrast to the former kings,
was pointed out as early as by _Abarbanel_: "He shall not be an
unrighteous seed, such as Jehoiakim and his son, but a righteous [Pg
413] one." _Calvin_ also points out "the obvious antithesis between
Christ and so many false, and, as it were, adulterous sons. For we know
for certain that He alone was the righteous seed of David; for although
Hezekiah and Josiah were legitimate successors, yet, when we look to
others, they were, as it were, monsters. Except three or four, all the
rest were degenerate and covenant-breakers." The words: "I raise unto
David a righteous Branch" are here, as well as in chap. xxxiii. 15, not
by any means equivalent to: a righteous Branch of David. On the
contrary, David is designated as he to whom the act of raising belongs,
for whose sake it is undertaken. God has promised to him the eternal
dominion of his house. How much soever, therefore, the members of this
family may sin against the Lord,--how unworthy soever the people may be
to be governed by a righteous Branch of David, God, as surely as He is
God, must raise Him for the sake of David. The word מֶלֶךְ must not be
overlooked. It shows that מָלַךְ, which, standing by itself, may designate
also another government than by a king, such as, _e.g._, that of
Zerubbabel, is to be taken in its full sense. And this qualification
was so much the more necessary, that the deepest abasement of the house
of David, announced by the Prophet in chap. xxii., compare especially
ver. 30, was approaching, and that thereby every hope of its rising to
_complete_ prosperity seemed to be set aside. Since, therefore, the
faith in this event rested merely on the word, it was necessary that
the word should be as distinct as possible, in order that no one might
pervert, or explain it away. _Calvin_ remarks: "He shall rule as a
King, _i.e._, He shall rule gloriously; so that there do not merely
appear some relics of former glory, but that He flourish and be
powerful as a King, and attain to a perfection, such as existed under
David and Solomon; and even much more excellent."--As regards השכיל, we
have already, in our remarks on chap. iii. 15, proved that it never and
nowhere means "to prosper," "to be prosperous," but always "to act
wisely." It has been shown by _Calvin_ that even the context here
requires the latter signification. He says: "The Prophet seems here
rather to speak of right judgment than of prosperity and success; for
we must read this in connexion with one another: He shall act wisely,
and then work justice and [Pg 414] righteousness. He shall be endowed
with the spirit of wisdom, as well as of justice and righteousness; so
that he shall perform all the offices and duties of a king." Yet
_Calvin_ has not exhausted the arguments which may be derived from the
context. The _whole_ verse before us treats of the endowments of the
King; the whole succeeding one, of the prosperity which, by these
endowments, is imparted to the people. To this may still be added the
evident contrast to the folly of the former shepherds, which was the
consequence of their wickedness, and which, in the preceding chapter,
had been described as the cause of their own, and the people's
destruction; compare chap. x. 21: "For the shepherds are become
brutish, and do not seek the Lord; therefore they do not act wisely,
and their whole flock is scattered." But if here the signification "to
act wisely" be established, then it is also in all those passages where
השכיל is used of David; compare remarks on chap. iii. For the fact,
that the Prophet has in view these passages, and that, according to
him, the reign of David is, in a more glorious manner, to be revived in
his righteous Branch, appears from the circumstance that every thing
else has its foundation in the description of David's reign, in the
books of Samuel. Thus the words: "And he ruleth as a king, and worketh
justice and righteousness in the land," refer back to 2 Sam. viii. 15:
"And David reigned over all Israel, and David wrought justice and
righteousness unto all his people." The foundation of the announcement
of ver. 6 is formed by 2 Sam. viii. 14 (compare ver. 6): "And the Lord
gave prosperity (ויושע) to David in all his ways." But if השכיל,
wherever it occurs of David, must be taken in this sense, then the LXX.
are right also in translating Is. lii. 13 by συνήσει: for, in that
passage, just as in the verse under consideration, David is referred to
as the type of the Messiah. The phrase עשה משפט וצדקה is by _De Wette_
commonly translated: "to _exercise_ justice and righteousness." But the
circumstance that, in Ps. cxlvi. 7, he is obliged to give up this
translation, proves that it is wrong. עשה must rather be explained by
"to work," "to establish." משפט is here, as everywhere else, the
objective right and justice; צדקה, the subjective righteousness. The
_working_ of justice is the means by which _righteousness_ is wrought.
The forced dominion of justice is necessarily followed by the
voluntary, [Pg 415] just as the judgments of God, by means of which He
is sanctified _upon_ mankind, are, at the same time, the means by which
He is sanctified _in_ them. The high vocation of the King to work
justice and righteousness rests upon His dignity, as the bearer of
God's image; comp. Ps. cxlvi. 7; chap. ix. 23: "For I the Lord work
love, justice, and righteousness in the land." Chap. xxii. 15 is,
moreover, to be compared, where it is said of Josiah, the true
descendant of David, "he wrought justice and righteousness," and chap.
xxii. 3, where his spurious descendants are admonished: "Work justice
and righteousness, and deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the
oppressor, and do not oppress the stranger; the fatherless and the
widow do not wrong, neither shed innocent blood in this place."
Farther, still, is the progress to be observed: the King is righteous,
his righteousness passeth over from him to the subjects; then follows
salvation and righteousness from the Lord.--To explanations, such as
that of _Grotius_, who, by the righteous Branch, understands
Zerubbabel, we here need the less to pay any attention, that the fact
of his being in this without predecessors or followers palpably proves
it to be erroneous. If, indeed, we could rely on _Theodoret's_
statement ("The blinded Jews endeavour, with great impudence, to refer
this to Zerubbabel"--then follows the refutation), the older Jews must
have led the way to this perverted interpretation. But we cannot
implicitly rely on _Theodoret's_ statements of this kind. In the Jewish
writings themselves, not the slightest trace of such an interpretation
is to be found. The Chaldean Paraphrast is decidedly in favour of the
Messianic interpretation: אתן אמר יי ואקים הא יומיא לדוד משיח דצדקה
"Behold the days shall come, and I will raise up to David the righteous
Messiah, (not דצדקיא 'the Messiah of the righteous,' as many absurdly
read), saith the Lord." _Eusebius_ (compare _Le Moyne_, _de Jehova
justitia nostra_, p. 23), it is true, refutes the interpretation which
refers it to Joshua, the son of Josedech; but we are not entitled to
infer from this circumstance, that this view found supporters in his
time. His intention is merely to guard against the erroneous
interpretation of Ἰωσεδέκ of the following verse in the Alexandrian
version (καὶ τοῦτο τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ, ὃ καλέσει αὐτὸν κύριος, Ἰωσεδέκ). It
can scarcely be imagined that the translators themselves proceeded from
this erroneous view. For [Pg 416] Josedech, the father of Joshua the
high-priest, is a person altogether obscure. All which they intended,
by their retaining the Hebrew form, was certainly only the wish, to
express that it was a _nomen proprium_ which occurred here; and they
were specially induced to act thus by the circumstance, that this name
was, in their time, generally current, as one of the proper names of
the Messiah.

Ver. 6. "_And in His days Judah is endowed with salvation, and Israel
dwelleth safely; and this is the name whereby they shall call him: The
Lord our righteousness._"

It has already been pointed out that the first words here look back to
David. That which Jeremiah here expresses by several words, Zechariah
expresses more briefly, by calling the Sprout of David צדיק ונושע
"righteous, and protected by God." It makes no difference that, in that
passage, the salvation, the inseparable concomitant of righteousness,
is ascribed to the King, its possessor; while, here, it is ascribed to
the people. For, in that passage, too, it is for his subjects that
salvation is attributed to the King who comes for Zion, just as he is
righteous for Zion also. Israel must here be taken either in the
restricted sense, or in the widest, either as the ten tribes _alone_,
or as the ten tribes along with Judah. It is a favourite thought of
Jeremiah, which recurs in all his Messianic prophecies, that the ten
tribes are to partake in the future prosperity and salvation. He has a
true tenderness for Israel; his bowels roar when he remembers them, who
were already, for so long a time, forsaken and rejected. His lively
hope for Israel is a great testimony of his lively faith. For, in the
case of Israel, the visible state of things afforded still less ground
for hope than in the case of Judah. There is here an allusion to Deut.
xxxiii. 28: ("And He thrusteth out thine enemy from before thee, and
saith: Destroy") "And Israel dwelleth in safety (וישכן ישראל בטח),
alone, Jacob looketh upon a land of corn and wine, and his heavens drop
dew." There can be the less doubt of the existence of this allusion,
that this expression occurs, besides in Deuteronomy, and in the verse
under consideration, only once more in chap. xxxiii. 16,--that a
reference to the majestic close of the blessing of Moses, which
certainly was in the hearts and mouths of all the pious, was very
natural, and that the word תושע has there its analogy in ver. 29: [Pg
417] "Happy art thou, O Israel, who is like unto thee, a people saved
(נֹושַׁע) by the Lord,