INTRODUCTION TO ISAIAH 30
This chapter contains a complaint of the Jews for their sins and transgressions; a prophecy of their destruction for them; a promise of grace and mercy, and of happy times, to the saints; and a threatening of utter and dreadful ruin to the wicked. The Jews are complained of for their rebellion against God, their slighting his counsel and protection, their trust in Egypt, and application there for help; whither they went with their riches for safety, but in vain, it being contrary to the will and counsel of God, Isaiah 30:1 next follows a denunciation of ruin and destruction for these things, rebellion, and lying, and vain confidence, as well as for contempt of the word of God, which, that it might appear sure and certain, is ordered to be written in a book, Isaiah 30:8 and this ruin is signified by the sudden falling of a wall, and by the breaking of a potter's vessel into pieces, which can never be used more, Isaiah 30:13 and seeing they rejected the way of salvation proposed by the Lord, and took their own way, first destruction is threatened them, which should be very easily brought about, and become so general, that few should escape it, Isaiah 30:15 and then promises of grace and mercy are made to them that wait for the Lord, Isaiah 30:18 such as a dwelling place in Zion, hearing their prayers, granting them teachers to instruct them, and the riddance of idolatry from them, Isaiah 30:19 and also many outward blessings, as seasonable rain, good bread corn, fat pastures, good food for cattle, and fruitfulness of mountains and hills, Isaiah 30:23 likewise an amazing degree of spiritual light and glory, and healing of the Lord's people, Isaiah 30:26 and the chapter is concluded with a threatening Of God's wrath upon the Assyrian, expressed by various similes, as of an angry man, an overflowing torrent, a tempest of thunder, lightning, and hail, and the fire of Tophet, Isaiah 30:27.
Woe to the rebellious children, saith the Lord,.... The Jews, who were, by national adoption, and by outward profession of religion, the "children" of God, but were apostates from him, had turned their backs upon him, deviated from his law, and departed from his worship and ordinances; and therefore a woe is pronounced against them, or they are called upon to consider of their evil ways, and return, that iniquity might not be their ruin:
that take counsel, but not of me; they met and consulted together about their safety, when in danger, but did not ask counsel of the Lord; they did not consult his word, nor his prophets, nor by Urim and Thummim, as in case of war they should more especially:
and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit; they sought for a cover, a shelter, a protection from the enemy, but not from the Spirit of the Lord, in his word and prophets, who would have directed them to a more suitable and sufficient one. Kimchi understands this of their covert and secret counsels, which they laid deep, as they fancied, and sought to hide. The Targum of the former clause and this is,
"that take counsel, but not of my word; that consult a consultation, but do not ask of my prophets:'
that they may add sin to sin; the sins of consulting others, and of putting confidence in a creature, to their other sins of rebellion and apostasy: so wicked men, who are enemies in their minds, by wicked works, to God, and commit acts of hostility against him, and are in danger thereby of eternal ruin, do not consult the word and ministers of the Gospel, but flesh and blood, carnal sense and reason, and seek to cover themselves with the rags of their own righteousness, and not with the robe of Christ's righteousness, and garments of salvation, which the Spirit of God reveals and brings near; and so to their other sins they add that of trusting to their own righteousness, and not submitting to Christ's.
That walk to go down into Egypt,.... That walk out of their own land to go thither; who sent messengers thither to form an alliance, and get help and assistance, or went in person, to secure themselves from present danger. Jarchi refers this to the times of Hoshea, the son of Elah, king of Israel, who sent messengers to So, king of Egypt, 2 Kings 17:4. Jerom to the times of Jeremiah, to the history in his prophecy, Jeremiah 41:17 and others to Zedekiah. Kimchi thinks it respects the time of Ahaz, though there is no account, either in the books of Kings or Chronicles, of sending then to Egypt for help; or else to the times of Hezekiah himself; which latter is right, as appears from the insults of Rabshakeh, when Sennacherib's army was before Jerusalem, Isaiah 36:6,
and have not asked at my mouth: or as the Targum,
"the words of my prophets they have not asked;'
they did not inquire of the prophets of the Lord, whether they should go down or not:
to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh; by making an alliance with him, and receiving men and horses from him, to assist them against the Assyrians; this Pharaoh was he whom the Scriptures call So, 2 Kings 17:4 and by other writers, Sevechus and Sethon:
and to trust in the shadow of Egypt; the protection that would afford them, in which they placed their confidence, and thought themselves safe from their other enemy, by having so powerful an ally; but this was but a shadow, as are whatsoever men trust in short of the Lord himself, be they riches or righteousness, or any creature or creature enjoyment.
Therefore shall the strength of Pharaoh be your shame,.... They should be disappointed of the help and assistance they expected from him, and so be ashamed of their ally, and of confidence in him:
and the trust in the shadow of Egypt your confusion; they should be confounded, when they should find themselves unsupported by the Egyptians, in whom they put their confidence; so all such that trust in the creature, or in an arm of flesh, sooner or later are ashamed and confounded; but those that trust in the Lord never are, neither in this world, nor in that to come.
For his princes were at Zoan,.... That is, the princes of the king of Judah, or of the people of Judah; though it can hardly be thought that princes should be sent ambassadors into Egypt, to enter into an alliance, or request help, without the knowledge, leave, and consent, and indeed order, of the king, under which character they went, as appears from the following clause:
and his ambassadors came to Hanes; these are the same with the princes, for such were sent on this embassy, both for the honour of the kingdom, and for the more easy obtaining of their end; the two places mentioned, to which they went, were two principal cities in Egypt, where probably the king of Egypt was, and his court kept, sometimes at one place, and sometimes at another. Zoan is the same with Tanis, the metropolis of one of the nomes or provinces of Egypt, called from it the Tanitic nome; and so the Targum here renders it, "Tanes": and the Septuagint and Vulgate Latin versions, "Tanis"; See Gill on Isaiah 19:11. The Jews
They were all ashamed of a people that could not profit them,.... The princes, the ambassadors that were sent unto them, and the king or people, or both, that sent them, who hoped for and expected great things from them, but, being disappointed, were filled with shame; because either the Egyptians, who are the people here meant, either could not help them, or would not, not daring to engage with so powerful an enemy as the Assyrian monarch, which is illustrated and confirmed by repeating the same, and using other words:
nor be an help, nor profit, but a shame, and also a reproach: so far from being of any advantage to them, by helping and assisting them against their enemy, wanting either inclination or capacity, or both, that it not only turned to their shame, but even was matter of reproach to them, that ever they made any application to them, or placed any confidence in them for help.
The burden of the beasts of the south,.... Some think this begins a new prophecy, and this the name and inscription of it. The Septuagint version is,
"the vision of the four footed beasts in the wilderness;'
and Kimchi's note is,
"this prophecy, which he prophesied, that the beasts of the south should go out, meaning the beasts of the wilderness, and devour those that went to seek help from Egypt;'
but it respects the same thing as before, as appears by what follows; namely, the messengers going down to Egypt, which lay south of Judea, as Jarchi and Kimchi, Ben Melech and Abarbinel, observe, with beasts carrying riches thither, either for safety, or to obtain help from them:
into a land of trouble and anguish; as it had been to their fathers formerly, and would be no otherwise to them now, notwithstanding their high raised expectations of assistance from them; there may be an allusion to its name Mizraim:
from whence come the young and old lion, the viper, and fiery flying serpent; creatures with which Egypt abounded, as historians relate, and where some of them, at least, were worshipped, and where also men dwelt comparable to these creatures, as for craft and cruelty; though some understand this not of the country of Egypt, into which they went, but of the desert of Arabia, which lay between Judea and Egypt, through which they went; which was a land of trouble and anguish, for want of water, and because of these noxious creatures, of which it was full; see Deuteronomy 8:15,
they will carry their riches upon the shoulders of young asses; which were much used in Judea to carry burdens on, and which were laid chiefly on their shoulders; and this denotes the great quantity of riches that would be, and were carried into Egypt, either by the ambassadors, as presents to the Egyptians, to gain their friendship and assistance; or else by some of the principal inhabitants of Jerusalem and Judea, who, upon hearing of the invasion by Sennacherib, gathered up their riches, and fled to Egypt with them for safety, making use of young asses and camels, as follow:
and their treasures upon the bunches of camels; much used in travelling through the deserts of Arabia, and which have some one, some two humps on their backs, whereby they are better fitted to carry burdens. The word is of the singular number, and only used in this place; and has the signification of honey, as the camels hump is so called, as Jarchi from the Talmud
to a people that shall not profit them; the Egyptians, who were of no service to the Jews, to free them from the invasion of the Assyrians.
For the Egyptians shall help in vain, and to no purpose,.... Not sending help in time, or such as did no service; though they made a show of help, and attempted to help them, or seemed to do so, yet failed to do it:
therefore have I cried; proclaimed or published, either the Lord by the prophet, or the prophet in the name of the Lord, which is much the same:
concerning this, Their strength is to sit still; either concerning this embassy, that it would have been better for the ambassadors to have spared all their toil, and labour, and strength, in going down to Egypt, and have remained quiet and easy in their own country: or, "I cried, or called, to this
Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book,.... Meaning their sins, their rebellion against God, their trust in an arm of flesh, and contempt of the divine word; or the prophecy of their destruction, for these things; and both may be meant; which the Lord orders to be written before their eyes, in some public place, as in the temple, upon a table, a table of wood covered with wax, on which they formerly wrote, and then hung it up against a wall, that it might be read by everyone; and he would have him also engross it in a book, that it might be kept for time to come: now what God would have thus written and engrossed, must be something considerable, and of consequence; and, as it may refer to the sins of this people, may denote the blackness and detestableness of them, as being what they had reason to be ashamed of, when thus set before them; and, as it may refer to their punishment, it may signify the certainty of it:
that it may be for the time to come, for ever and ever; and so continue to their eternal infamy, and for the justification of God in his proceedings against them, and be cautious unto others. The Vulgate Latin version renders it, "for a testimony for ever", a witness for God, and against the Jews; and so the Targum,
"and it shall be in the day of judgment for a witness before me for ever.'
That this is a rebellious people,.... This, with what follows, is what the Lord would have written and engrossed, and remain for ever; or this is a reason why he would have it, for so the words be rendered, "for", or "because, this is a rebellious people
lying children; false spurious ones, only called, not truly, the children of God, and lied when they called themselves so, and were guilty of lying also, not only to God, but to one another:
children that will not hear the law of the Lord; either read, or explained, at least, not so as to be obedient to it; and such must be rebellious ones, and deserve not to be called the children of God. The Targum is,
"children that like not to receive the doctrine of the law of the Lord.'
Which say to the seers, See not,.... The same with the prophets in the next clause, which explains this:
and to the Prophets, prophesy not unto us right things; things agreeable to the mind and will of God, and which ought to be done; not that they, in so many words, said this, but this was the language of their hearts and actions. The Targum is,
"who say to the prophets, prophesy not, and to the teachers, teach us not the doctrine of the law:'
speak unto us smooth things; that peace and prosperity should attend them, though they went on in their sinful courses:
prophesy deceits; for to prophesy peace to them, when destruction was at hand, was to deceive them; and yet they chose rather to be told the one than the other.
Get ye out of the way: turn aside out of the path,.... These two expressions mean one and the same thing; either that the prophets would go out of their usual way of threatening ruin and destruction; or that they would go out of the way of the people, and not stand in it to hinder them pursuing their own lusts and pleasures; or that they would go out of the right way, as the Targum, which is God's way, and join with them; or, at least, connive at, and indulge them, in their ways:
cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us; do not so often make mention of his name, or come to us with a "thus saith the Lord"; let us hear no more of him, or messages from him; and especially under this character of "the Holy One of Israel", who is by nature holy, loves holiness, and requires it, and hates sin. The Targum is,
"remove far from us the word of the Holy One of Israel;'
let us hear no more of that.
Wherefore thus saith the Holy One of Israel,.... The prophet introduces his message with the phrase they objected to: ministers of the word must not seek to please men, nor should they be deterred from the use of phrases, because disliked by natural men: as, in our days, men do not love to hear the name of Christ so often mentioned, or his Gospel, or the glorious truths of it; but the use of them should not be left off on that account, but rather they should be the more inculcated, as we find this phrase was; see Isaiah 30:15,
Because ye despise this word; either this name of the Lord, "the Holy One of Israel"; or this prophecy that was delivered unto them, which reproved them for their confidence in Egypt, and exhorted them to sit still at home, and trust in the Lord; but instead of that they trusted in what was very bad, as follows:
but trust in oppression and perverseness, and stay thereon; either in oppressors, and perverse persons, as the Egyptians were; or in their wealth, got by oppression, rapine, and fraud, which they carried to Egypt, and on which they depended for help and relief; and in that perverse disposition of mind, contradicting the Lord speaking by his prophets, resolving to take their own way, not doubting but that they should have success.
Therefore this iniquity shall be to you as a breach ready to fall,.... Or, "as a falling breach"
swelling out in a high wall; like a wall that bellies out and bulges, and which, when it once begins to do, suddenly falls; and the higher it is, it comes with more force, and the greater is the fall:
whose breaking cometh suddenly, at an instant; and so it is suggested, should be the ruin of this people; the high towering confidence they had in Egypt would fall with its own weight, and they with it, and be broken to pieces in a moment; and which is further illustrated by another simile.
And he shall break it as the breaking of the potter's vessel,.... That is, their confidence in an arm of flesh, and they that place it there; and this either God shall do, or the enemy, and God by him; or rather it may he rendered impersonally, "it shall be broken"; and may refer to the wall to which the ruin of this people is compared, that that when it falls shall be broke to pieces, as a potter's vessel is when it falls upon a pavement, or is dashed against anything, or, struck with a rod of iron:
that is broken in pieces; he shall not spare; or that is broken in pieces without mercy, as the Targum; no pity shall be shown by the enemy, nor mercy from the Lord:
so that there shall not be found in the bursting of it a sherd to take fire from the hearth, or to take water withal out of the pit; as poor people are wont to do, to take fire from the hearth, and water out of a well, in a piece of a broken pitcher
For thus saith the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel,.... This is still repeated, though displeasing to the carnal Jews, who, notwithstanding their ill behaviour to the Lord, condescends to give them the best advice, as follows:
in returning and rest shall ye be saved; or "may be saved"
"if ye return to my law;'
and by "resting" quietly at home, and reposing their trust in the Lord:
in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength; in a quiet submission to the will of God, and in quietly waiting upon him for the issue and event of things, abiding in their own houses, and not in a hurrying tumultuous manner, running here and there for help; and in a holy and humble confidence in the Lord, and in the power of his might, where they should find such strength and security, as Pharaoh king of Egypt could not give them:
and ye would not; would not be persuaded to keep at home, and from going down to Egypt; would not take the advice given, but pursue their own measures and methods of salvation. This is the literal sense of the words; and if they can be accommodated to spiritual and eternal salvation, it may be done in this way: repentance may be meant by "returning", and faith by "rest"; or by "returning and rest" may be designed returning to rest, that is, to Christ, who is the only rest to weary souls: "quietness" may intend peace of conscience, arising from the blood and righteousness of Christ; and "confidence" faith, and an assurance of it, which make men strong Christians; though their strength does not barely lie in these graces, but in the object of them: now faith and repentance are blessings of the covenant of grace, gifts of God, and graces of the Spirit, which go together in the doctrine of salvation, and have a concern in it; though they are not meritorious procuring causes, nor conditions of it; yet in this way God brings his people to salvation, and they enter into, and are descriptive of, the character of such that are saved; there is so close a connection between these and salvation, that none are saved without them; and it may be observed, that this way of saving men through faith and repentance, and by going to Christ alone for rest, and by placing confidence in, and deriving all peace and comfort from him, is disagreeable to unregenerate men; which is a proof of the wretched depravity, and corruption, and perverseness of the will of man.
But ye said, No, for we will flee upon horses,.... Hither and thither to get help and assistance; go down to Egypt for it on them, or thither for them, as some render it; and then face the enemy, and, if we can not conquer him, will flee from him, and so provide for our safety; this is man's way of salvation, as opposed to God's way; see Hosea 1:7 or this may design their fleeing on horses and camels with their riches into Egypt, both for the security of them and their persons, Isaiah 30:6,
therefore shall ye flee; on horses from the enemy, and be pursued and taken by him; this was fulfilled long after, when the city was taken by the Chaldeans; see 2 Kings 25:4,
and, We will ride upon the swift; horses or camels, to the swiftness of which they trusted, and doubted not to get off safe, but would find themselves mistaken:
therefore shall they that pursue you be swift; yea, swifter than the horses and camels they rode on, and overtake them, and either put them to death, or carry them captive. The Chaldeans are represented as very swift, Jeremiah 4:13.
One thousand shall flee at the rebuke of one,.... A troop of horse, consisting of a thousand men, shall flee upon the attack and onset of a single person, so dispirited should they be, and so possessed of the fear of the enemy; what was promised to them with respect to their enemies is here turned against them, Leviticus 26:7,
at the rebuke of five shall ye flee; being attacked by a very small number, the whole army should run away: this denotes with what ease they should be routed, and put to flight; and is to be understood, not of what would be at the present time, but of what should come to pass hereafter, when the Chaldean army should come against them;
till ye be left as a beacon upon the top of a mountain; or, "as the mast of a ship", so the Septuagint and other versions. Jarchi says it signifies a high tree, or tall piece of wood fixed in the earth, like a ship's mast
"till ye are left as a burning torch on the top of a mountain.'
The Syriac version renders it, "as a wild ass", solitary and alone:
and as an ensign on a hill; erected as a trophy of victory. The design of the metaphors is to show that there should be few that should escape falling into the enemy's hand, here and there one, that should he scattered about, and be very thin, as beacons and signs are, and should be warnings to others of pursuing the same foolish and sinful methods and practices.
And therefore will the Lord wait, that he may be gracious unto you,.... Or "yet"
and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you; or, "will exalt himself"
for the Lord is a God of judgment; or, "though he is a God of judgment"
blessed are all they that wait for him; that do not run here and there for help, and are tumultuous, restless, and impatient, but wait God's own time to do them good; that wait for his gracious presence, and the discoveries of his love, for the performance of his promises, for answers of prayer, for all blessings temporal and spiritual, and for eternal glory and happiness; these are happy persons, all and every one of them; they enjoy much now, and it can not be said, nor conceived, what God has prepared for them hereafter; see Isaiah 49:23.
For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem,.... Or, "for the people of Zion
thou shalt weep no more; or, "in weeping thou shall not weep"
he will be very gracious unto thee, at the voice of thy cry; these are the words of the prophet, declaring that the Lord would be gracious to his people at the voice of their prayer and supplication to him in their distress, as he was to the voice of Hezekiah's cry and supplication to him:
when he shall hear it, he will answer thee; he always hears the prayers of his people, and he always answers them, sooner or later, in his own time, and in his own way; see Isaiah 65:24.
And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction,.... Either at this present time, when the city was besieged by Sennacherib; or when it should be besieged by the Chaldeans, when adversity was their bread, and affliction their water; or when they had only bread and water in their adversity and affliction; or a famine of bread and water, as is common in times of a siege. It may refer to the poor, and mean, and afflicted state of the people of God, in the first times of the Gospel especially:
yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more; or, "thy rain"
but thine eyes shall see thy teachers; in their proper place, doing the work of their office: it denotes not a bare seeing them with their bodily eyes, but a seeing them with pleasure and delight, a wistfully looking at them, and a diligent and attentive observance of what they said. Some understand these teachers of Hezekiah and his princes, as Aben Ezra, Kimchi, and Abendana; others of the priests and prophets in his time, the principal of which was Isaiah; others of the prophets a little before, in, and after the Babylonish captivity; it may be applied to John the Baptist, Christ, and his apostles, and other Gospel ministers. Jarchi interprets it of God himself, who teaches to profit, and who would not hide his face from his people; the Targum, of the Shechinah not removing from the sanctuary, but being seen there; and being in the plural number, may denote all the three Persons.
And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee,.... Which may be said in reference to the backsliding and declining state of the people, Isaiah 30:11 and is thought by some to be an allusion to schoolmasters, who stand behind their scholars, or at their backs, to guide, teach, and instruct them; and by others to shepherds following their flocks, who, when they observe any of the sheep going out of the way, call them back; or to travellers, who, coming to a place where are several ways, and being at a loss which way to take, and inclining to turn to the right or left, are called to by persons behind them, and directed in the right way. This "voice behind" is by the Jews
saying, This is the way, walk ye in it; it directs to Christ the way, and who is the only way of life and salvation to be walked in by faith, and to all the lesser paths of duty and doctrine, which to walk in is both pleasant and profitable, and which is the right way; so the Targum paraphrases it,
"this is the right way;'
to which agree the comments of Aben Ezra, Jarchi, and Kimchi; though the Arabic and Syriac versions, following the Septuagint, represent them as the words of seducers, directing to a wrong way: but the words are a promise of being led right, and not a threatening of being led wrong:
when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left; through ignorance or inadvertency, through the prevalence of corruption, or force of temptation; and as it is promised there should be such a voice, so they should have ears to hear, their ears erect to attend to what is said, to observe it, and act according to it.
Ye shall defile also the covering of thy graven images of silver,.... Images made of solid silver, covered with rich and costly garments; or images covered and decorated with plates of silver; see Jeremiah 10:4 these they not only pulled down and defaced, but defiled, to show their contempt and abhorrence of them:
and the ornament of thy molten images of gold; images made of solid gold, covered with an ephod, as the word here used signifies; such an one as the high priest wore, and Micah made for his house of idolatry, Exodus 28:6,
thou shall cast them away as a menstruous cloth; which is not only filthy and loathsome, but defiling; whoever touched it were unclean by the law for a while; or as a woman in her monthly courses, who, during that time, was to be separate from her husband, Leviticus 15:19, &c.; this is used to express the pollution and nauseousness of idols, and of the utter rejection of them:
thou shall say unto it, Get thee hence; Kimchi observes that some say the word signifies "dung; thou shall say to it, thou art dung", and only fit for the dunghill, and to it thou shall go; at the same time cast it out, declaring abhorrence of idols, repentance for worshipping them, and signifying that they would have nothing more to do with them. This shows the efficacy of the word of God when it comes not in word only, but with the power and Spirit of God; it was fulfilled in some measure in Hezekiah's time; see 2 Kings 18:4, and after the Babylonish captivity, when the Jews left off idolatry, and never more returned to it; and when the Gospel prevailed in the Roman Pagan empire, and at the time of the Reformation, and will be more largely accomplished when Popery shall be utterly destroyed through the powerful ministration of the Gospel.
Then shall he give thee rain of thy seed, that thou shalt sow the ground withal,.... Or, "rain to thy seed"
and bread of the increase of the earth; the earth, being watered with rain, should give its increase of corn, of which bread should be made; so that there would be seed to the sower, and bread to the eater, as in Isaiah 55:10,
and it shall be fat and plenteous; or "fat and fat"; very fat and rich, exceeding good bread, and plenty of it; and after the siege of the city by Sennacherib's army was broke up, and that was destroyed, for years following there was great fruitfulness in the land, as was foretold, Isaiah 37:30 and this may denote the great fruitfulness of the Gospel, and the excellency of the spiritual food of it, and of the blessings of grace that come by it:
in that day shall thy cattle feed in large pastures; signifying that there should be pastures for cattle in the several parts of the country, and these large ones, where cattle should feed, and enjoy great plenty. This clause belongs to the next verse Isaiah 30:24, and should of right begin it. The Targum interprets it thus,
"and the righteous shall be nourished with their cattle at that time, with the fat of tender and fat things;'
as the earth would be fruitful, the cattle would be well fed; and so there would be plenty of provision for man and beast.
The oxen likewise and the young asses that ear the ground,.... Or till it; for though these might not be joined together in a yoke, yet they were made use of separately in ploughing land, Deuteronomy 22:10,
shall eat clean provender; the word for "provender" signifies a mixture, such as cattle eat, especially horses, as beans, oats, barley, and fitches, and of which there should be such plenty, that the cattle should eat of it; not of the chaff and husks of these, nor these in their husk and straw, but as cleansed from them, as follows:
which hath been winnowed with the shovel and with the fan: with the former of which the corn was raised up and shook, and with the latter fanned. Now this is expressive of great plenty, that cattle should feed on winnowed corn. The Septuagint indeed render it,
"they shall eat chaff mixed with winnowed barley;'
but if they were to eat chaff with it, there would be no need to winnow it. This may be mystically understood of apostles, and of apostolical men, as Jerom; and of all Gospel preachers, especially in the latter day, who labour in the word and doctrine, and feed upon the pure food of the Gospel themselves, and bring it to others; see 1 Corinthians 9:9, 1 Timothy 5:17.
And there shall be upon every high mountain, and upon every high hill,.... Which were round about Jerusalem, and in other parts of Judea:
rivers and streams of water; such abundance of rain, that it should flow in streams like rivers, from the higher to the lower lands, and water them. This may in a spiritual sense be understood of the great plenty of the ministry of the Gospel, in all the kingdoms of the world, great and small, signified by mountains and hills; and which may also intimate the open and public ministrations of it in them, Zechariah 14:8 or of the blessings of grace, and the graces of the Spirit, communicated everywhere; see Isaiah 41:18, John 7:38. This is applied to the times of the Messiah by the Jews
in the day of the great slaughter; not of Sennacherib's army by the angel, as many Jewish and Christian interpreters understand it; nor of the Babylonians, at the taking of Babylon by Cyrus; but of the antichristian kings, and their armies, Revelation 19:17. So the Targum paraphrases it,
"for the ruin of kings and their armies, in the day of the great slaughter;'
and a great slaughter it will be indeed:
when the towers fall; not the batteries and fortifications raised in the Assyrian camp, at the siege of Jerusalem, which fell when they were destroyed by the angel; or the great men and princes in that army, which then fell; though towers sometimes signify great persons, such as princes; see Isaiah 2:15 and so the Targum interprets it here; and may be true of the antichristian princes; for of the fall of the great city of Rome, and of other cities of the nations, with the towers thereof, is this to be understood, even of mystical, and not of literal Babylon; see Revelation 11:13.
Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun,.... An hyperbolical expression, used to set forth the exceeding great light of the Gospel under the dispensation of it, which would as far exceed the light of the former dispensation, comparable to the moon, as the light of the sun exceeds the light of the moon; as also that great degree of spiritual joy and comfort that should be in those times, especially in the latter day; and the Jews themselves apply this to the times of the Messiah, and to the times after the war of Gog and Magog, after which they say there will be no more sorrow and distress; so Kimchi; and to these times it is applied in the Talmud
and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days; as if the light of seven days was collected together; or as if there were seven suns shining together. The Targum and Jarchi not only make it to be seven times seven, that is, forty nine; but multiply forty nine by seven, and make it three hundred and forty three, or as the light of so many days. Maimonides
in the day that the LORD bindeth up the breach of his people, and healeth the stroke of their wound; not only peace being made, by the blood of Christ, between God and his people, and they healed by his stripes, and Jew and Gentile reconciled in one body on his cross, and through the preaching of the Gospel; but as will be in the latter day, the fulness of the Gentiles will be brought in, and all Israel shall be saved; and all the Lord's people will be one in his hands, and be entirely freed from all grievances and afflictions by the man of sin, who will now be destroyed, and also will be in a sound and healthful state and condition. This will be at the time of the rising and ascending of the witnesses, Revelation 11:11.
Behold, the name of the Lord cometh from far,.... From hence to the end of the chapter Isaiah 30:28 is a very full account, by way of prophecy, of the destruction of the Assyrian army by the Lord; and which is to be considered as a type of the destruction of antichrist, by and at the coming of the Lord Jesus. It is introduced with a "behold", as declaring something of moment and importance worthy of attention, and even wonderful. "The name of the Lord" is the Lord himself; unless it is to be understood of the angel that came in the name of the Lord, and destroyed Sennacherib's army; who may be said to come "from far", because he came from heaven; and from whence Christ the Angel uncreated, in whom the name of the Lord is, will come to judge the world, and to take vengeance on all his and his people's enemies, antichrist and all his followers:
burning with his anger; against the Assyrian monarch and his army. So our Lord, when he shall come forth to make war with the antichristian kings of the earth, his "eyes" shall be "as a flame of fire": and when he comes to judge the world, he will descend in "flaming fire", Revelation 19:12 the day of the Lord will burn as an oven, Malachi 4:1,
and the burden thereof is heavy: the punishment inflicted, in his burning anger and hot displeasure, will be heavy, even intolerable, heavier than it can be borne, as the Targum paraphrases it; see Genesis 4:13,
his lips are full of indignation, and his tongue as a devouring fire; the words he will utter, the sentence he will pronounce, will be dreadful, executed by the angel; so the sharp sword that goes out of the mouth of Christ, with which he will smite the nations; and such the awful sentence pronounced by him on the wicked, "go, ye cursed, into everlasting fire", &c. see Revelation 19:15. So the Targum,
"from before him goes out the curse upon the ungodly, and his Word as a consuming fire.'
And his breath as an overflowing stream,.... Which comes with great swiftness and force, bearing all before it, breathing out nothing but the fire of divine wrath, before which there is no standing; nor could the Assyrian army stand before it, but suddenly, in a moment, was carried away with the force of it: thus our Lord will consume the man of sin with the spirit or breath of his mouth, and destroy him with the brightness of his coming, 2 Thessalonians 2:8, and this stream
shall reach to the midst of the neck; which shows the extreme danger the army would be in, as a man that is up to the neck in water, and can find no way of escaping; and very aptly represents their state and condition, the whole body of the army being encompassed and destroyed by this overflowing stream of divine wrath, only their head, their king Sennacherib was saved; and he in a little time was cut off, when he had got into his country; as the Assyrian army served the Jews, they are served themselves; see Isaiah 8:7,
to sift the nations with the sieve of vanity; that is, the breath, wind, or Spirit of the Lord, compared to an overflowing stream, should be of this use, and have this effect, to sift the people of several nations, of which the Assyrian army consisted, so as to dash them one against another, and utterly destroy them; for they were to be sifted, not with a good and profitable sieve, which retains the corn, and shakes out the chaff, or so as to have some taken out and spared; but with a sieve that lets all through, and so be brought to nothing, as the Vulgate Latin version; and thus will all the antichristian nations be agitated, and shaken, and destroyed, ere long:
and there shall be a bridle in the jaws of the people, causing them to err; from the way they intended to go, namely, up to Jerusalem, and take and sack it, and obliging them to betake themselves another way for their retreat and safety; see Isaiah 37:29.
Ye shall have a song,.... That is, the Jews should have a song, and sing it upon the ruin of the Assyrian army; as the Israelites had, when Pharaoh and his host were drowned in the Red Sea; and so will the Christian church have one, at the fall of Babylon, Revelation 15:1,
as in the night, when a holy solemnity is kept; and gladness of heart, the Jewish feasts always began, the even preceding, and were ushered in with singing songs, and psalms; especially the feast of the passover, which it is thought is alluded to here. It is a common notion of the Jews
as when one goeth with a pipe to come into the mountain of the Lord; the temple; it being usual for persons, that came from distant parts of the land to the temple to worship, to bring pipes along with them in their hands, and play upon them as they were travelling, to divert them, and the company that were with them; see Psalm 42:4. Jarchi thinks the allusion is to the bringing up of the first fruits to the temple at Jerusalem, which was preceded with a pipe, as appears from the Misnah
to the mighty One of Israel; or, "Rock of Israel"
And the Lord shall cause his glorious voice to be heard,.... Or, "the glory of his voice"
and shall show the lighting down of his arm; or the strength of the arm of his power, as the Targum; his mighty arm, and the descent of it; meaning what should descend from heaven at the time of this tempest, as thunderbolts, balls of fire, hailstones, &c.; and by all which may be meant the heavy judgments of God, which fell upon his enemies, and were intolerable unto them: the metaphor is taken from the motion of a man in smiting another, who lifts up his hand, when it falls with the greater might, and rests upon him:
with the indignation of his anger; as when a man strikes in great wrath and fury: the heaping up of words here, and as follows, shows the vehemence and excess of anger:
and with the flame of a devouring fire; or, "of a fire devouring"; the Assyrian army; which, the Jews say, burnt their souls, destroyed their lives, but not their bodies. The Targum is,
"with the flame of fire, which consumes the graven images.'
The destruction of mystical Babylon will be by fire, Revelation 18:8,
with scattering, and tempest, and hailstones; with lightning, which rends things in pieces, and scatters them here and there, and with a violent storm of rain and hail; see Revelation 16:18.
For through the voice of the Lord shall the Assyrian be beaten down,.... As anything is by a storm of thunder, lightning, hail, and rain: or "fear", or be "affrighted", as the Vulgate Latin and Arabic versions render it; Sennacherib, the Assyrian monarch, and that part of his army which escaped, though not destroyed by it, were put into the utmost consternation: this shows that the prophecy in the context refers to the overthrow of the Assyrian army by the angel, when besieging Jerusalem in Hezekiah's time; though the Assyrian is sometimes used for any enemy of God's people at other times, particularly antichrist, and especially the eastern antichrist, the Turk:
which smote with a rod; other nations, particularly the Jews, whom the Assyrian is expressly said to smite with a rod; and because he was an instrument in God's hand for the chastising of that people, he is called the rod of his anger, Isaiah 10:5 but now he that smote shall be smitten himself; him whom God used as a rod to correct others, he will smite with his rod, for his own correction: for this may be understood of God, and be rendered thus, "with a rod, he", that is, God, "shall smite" the Assyrian, as before; so Aben Ezra and Kimchi. The Targum interprets the "rod" of dominion.
And in every place where the grounded staff shall pass,.... The storm before mentioned, the wrath and righteous judgment of God, founded upon his unalterable purposes and decrees; and, wherever it came, would fall with great weight, sink deep, stick fast, and remain fixed and sure, like a rod or staff fastened in the earth:
which the Lord shall lay upon him; or, "cause to rest upon him"
"and there shall be every passage of their princes, and of their mighty ones, on whom the Lord shall cause to rest the vengeance of his power;'
and so the "grounded staff" may be understood of the Assyrian himself, that wherever he should be, this storm of vengeance should follow him, and rest upon him:
it shall be with tabrets and harps; the allusion is to the use of these in war; but, instead of these, no other music would be used at this time than what thunder, and rain, and hailstones made; unless this refers to the joy of God's people, upon the destruction of their enemies; so the Targum,
"with tabrets, and harps shall the house of Israel praise, because of the mighty war which shall be made for them among the people:'
see Revelation 15:2,
and in battles of shaking will he fight with it; the Assyrian camp; or as the Keri, or marginal reading, "with them": with the Assyrians, with the men of the camp; the soldiers, as Kimchi explains it; that is, the Lord will fight with them in battles, by shaking his hand over them in a way of judgment, and thereby shaking them to pieces, and utterly destroying them; see Revelation 19:11.
For Tophet is ordained of old,.... The place long ago appointed for the ruin of the Assyrian army, which pitched here: this was a valley near Jerusalem, the valley of the son of Hinnom; so called, from the drums and tabrets beat upon here, to prevent parents hearing the cries of their infants offered to Molech: into it was brought the filth and dung of the city; here malefactors were buried, it is said; and such as were condemned to burning were burned here; and such as had no burial were cast here; so that it was an image and picture of hell itself: and the word "Gehenna", used for hell, comes from "Gehinnom", or the valley of Hinnom, the name of this place; and some think that is here meant, which from all eternity was appointed as the place of torment for wicked men, So the Targum,
"for hell is ordained from the worlds (or before the worlds), because of their sins.'
It is in the original, "from yesterday": hence Jarchi interprets it of the second day of the creation, which had a yesterday; on which day the Jews suppose hell was made: and so it is interpreted in the Talmud
yea, for the king it is prepared; for Sennacherib king of Assyria; that is, for his army, which perished here, though he did not; or for kings, the singular for the plural; for his princes, which, as he boastingly said, were "altogether kings", Isaiah 10:8 and particularly for Rabshakeh, the general of his army, who might be so called, and was eminently one of these kings. Understood of hell, it may not only be interpreted of Satan, the king and prince of devils, for whom and his angels the everlasting fire of hell is prepared, Matthew 25:41 but also of antichrist, the king of the bottomless pit, and of all antichristian kings; see Revelation 11:9. Some render it, "by the king it is prepared"; so the Vulgate Latin version; by whom may be meant either Hezekiah, who cleared it from idols and idolatrous worship, and so eventually prepared it to make room for the Assyrian army; or else the King of kings. So the Targum,
"the King of worlds (of all worlds) prepared it;'
and he seems manifestly designed in the next clause:
he hath made it deep and large; to hold the whole army alive, and to bury them when dead; and so hell is large and deep enough to hold Satan and all his angels, antichrist and all his followers; yea, all the wicked that have been from the beginning of the world, and will be to the end of it:
the pile thereof is fire and much wood; alluding to the burning of bodies in this place, and particularly of infants sacrificed to Molech; and refers to the burning of the Assyrian army, either by lightning from heaven, or by the Jews when they found them dead the next morning. In hell, the "fire" is the wrath of God; the "wood" or fuel ungodly men:
the breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it; the pile of fire and wood. The Targum is,
"the word of the Lord, like an overflowing torrent of brimstone, shall kindle it;'
it shall be done by his order, at his word of command. In hell, the wrath of God will be like a continual stream of brimstone, keeping up the fire of it, so that it shall ever burn, and never be quenched; hence it is called a lake burning with fire and brimstone; into which Satan, the beast, and false prophet, and the worshippers of antichrist, will be cast, Revelation 14:10. The allusion is to the fire and brimstone rained by Jehovah, from Jehovah, upon Sodom and Gomorrah, Genesis 19:24.
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Gill, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 30". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://pro.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany