Isaiah 2


Prophecy concerning the kingdom of the Messiah, and the

conversion of the Gentile world, 1-5.

Great wickedness and idolatry of the unbelieving Jews, 6-9.

Terrible consternation that will seize the wicked, who shall in

vain seek for rocks and mountains to hide them from the face

of God in the day of his judgments, 10-17.

Total destruction of idolatry in consequence of the

establishment of Messiah's kingdom, 18-21.

An exhortation to put no confidence in man, 22.

The prophecy contained in the second, third, and fourth

chapters, makes one continued discourse. The first five verses of

Isa 2:1-5 foretell the kingdom of Messiah, the conversion of

the Gentiles, and their admission into it. From the sixth verse to

the end of the second chapter Isa 2:6-22 is foretold the

punishment of the unbelieving Jews for their idolatrous practices,

their confidence in their own strength, and distrust of God's

protection; and moreover the destruction of idolatry, in

consequence of the establishment of Messiah's kingdom. The whole

of the third chapter, with the first verse of the fourth, is a

prophecy of the calamities of the Babylonian invasion and

captivity; with a particular amplification of the distress of the

proud and luxurious daughters of Sion; Isa 4:2-6 promises to the

remnant, which shall have escaped this severe purgation, a future

restoration to the favour and protection of God.

This prophecy was probably delivered in the time of Jotham, or

perhaps in that of Uzziah, as Isaiah is said to have prophesied in

his reign; to which time not any of his prophecies is so

applicable as that of these chapters. The seventh verse of the

second, and the latter part of the third chapter, plainly point

out times in which riches abounded, and luxury and delicacy

prevailed. Plenty of silver and gold could only arise from their

commerce; particularly from that part of it which was carried on

by the Red Sea. This circumstance seems to confine the prophecy

within the limits above mentioned, while the port of Elath was in

their hands; it was lost under Ahaz, and never recovered.


Verse 2. In the last days-"In the latter days"] "Wherever the

latter times are mentioned in Scripture, the days of the Messiah

are always meant," says Kimchi on this place: and, in regard to

this place, nothing can be more clear and certain. And the

mountain of the Lord's house, says the same author, is Mount

Moriah, on which the temple was built. The prophet Micah,

Mic 4:1-4, has repeated this prophecy of the establishment of

the kingdom of Christ, and of its progress to universality and

perfection, in the same words, with little and hardly any material

variation: for as he did not begin to prophesy till Jotham's time,

and this seems to be one of the first of Isaiah's prophecies, I

suppose Micah to have taken it from hence. The variations, as I

said, are of no great importance. Ver. 2. hu, after

venissa, a word of some emphasis, may be supplied from Micah, if

dropped in Isaiah. An ancient MS. has it here in the margin. It

has in like manner been lost in Isa 53:4, (see note on the

place, See Clarke on Isa 53:4) and in Ps 22:29, where it is supplied

by the Syriac, and Septuagint. Instead of

col haggoyim, all the nations, Micah has only

ammim, peoples; where the Syriac has

col ammim, all peoples, as probably it ought to be. Ver. 3. For the

second el, read veel, seventeen

MSS., one of my own, ancient, two editions, the Septuagint,

Vulgate, Syriac, Chaldee, and so Micah, Mic 4:2. Ver. 4. Micah

adds ad rachok, afar off, which the Syriac also reads in

this parallel place of Isaiah. It is also to be observed that

Micah has improved the passage by adding a verse, or sentence,

for imagery and expression worthy even of the elegance of Isaiah:-

"And they shall sit every man under his vine,

And under his fig tree, and none shall affright them:

For the mouth of JEHOVAH, God of hosts, hath spoken it."

The description of well established peace, by the image of

"beating their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into

pruning-hooks," is very poetical. The Roman poets have employed

the same image, Martial, xiv. 34. "Falx ex ense."

"Pax me certa ducis placidos curvavit in usus:

Agricolae nunc sum; militis ante fui."

"Sweet peace has transformed me. I was once the property of the

soldier, and am now the property of the husbandman."

The prophet Joel, Joe 3:10, hath reversed it, and applied it to

war prevailing over peace:-

"Beat your ploughshares into swords,

And your pruning-hooks into spears."

And so likewise the Roman poets:-

________________Non ullus aratro

Dignus honos: squalent abductis arva colonis,

Et curvae rigidum falces conflantur in ensem.

Virg., Georg. i. 506.

"Agriculture has now no honour: the husbandmen being taken away

to the wars, the fields are overgrown with weeds, and the crooked

sickles are straightened into swords."

Bella diu tenuere viros: erat aptior ensis

Vomere: cedebat taurus arator equo

Sarcula cessabant; versique in pila ligones;

Factaque de rastri pondere cassis erat.

Ovid, Fast. i. 697.

"War has lasted long, and the sword is preferred to the plough.

The bull has given place to the war-horse; the weeding-hooks to

pikes; and the harrow-pins have been manufactured into helmets."

The prophet Ezekiel, Eze 17:22-24, has presignified the same

great event with equal clearness, though in a more abstruse form,

in an allegory; from an image, suggested by the former part of the

prophecy, happily introduced, and well pursued:-

"Thus saith the Lord JEHOVAH:

I myself will take from the shoot of the lofty cedar,

Even a tender scion from the top of his scions will I

pluck off:

And I myself will plant it on a mountain high and


On the lofty mountain of Israel will I plant it;

And it shall exalt its branch, and bring forth fruit,

And it shall become a majestic cedar:

And under it shall dwell all fowl of every wing;

In the shadow of its branches shall they dwell:

And all the trees of the field shall know,

That I JEHOVAH have brought low the high tree;

Have exalted the low tree;

Have dried up the green tree;

And have made the dry tree to flourish:

I JEHOVAH have spoken it, and will do it."

The word venathatti, in this passage, Eze 17:22, as the

sentence now stands, appears incapable of being reduced to any

proper construction or sense. None of the ancient versions

acknowledge it, except Theodotion, and the Vulgate; and all but

the latter vary very much from the present reading of this clause.

Houbigant's correction of the passage, by reading instead of

venathatti, veyoneketh, and a tender scion-which is not

very unlike it, perhaps better veyonek, with which the

adjective rach will agree without alteration-is ingenious and

probable; and I have adopted it in the above translation.-L.

Verse 3. To the house] The conjunction vau is added by

nineteen of Kennicott's, thirteen of De Rossi's MSS., one of my

own, and two editions, the Septuagint, Syriac, Vulgate, Arabic,

and some copies of the Targum; AND to the house. It makes the

sentence more emphatic.

He will teach us of his ways] Unless God grant a revelation of

his will, what can we know?

We will walk in his paths] Unless we purpose to walk in the

light, of what use can that light be to us?

For out of Zion shall go forth the law] In the house of God, and

in his ordinances only, can we expect to hear the pure doctrines

of revelation preached. 1. God alone can give a revelation of his

own will. 2. We must use the proper means in order to know this

will. 3. We should know it in order to do it. 4. We should do it

in order to profit by it. 5. He who will not walk in the light

when God vouchsafes it, shall be shut up in everlasting darkness.

6. Every man should help his neighbour to attain that light, life,

and felicity: "Come ye, and let us walk in the light of the Lord."

Verse 4. Neither shall they learn war any more.] If wars are

necessary, how deep must that fall be that renders them so! But

what a reproach to humanity is the trade of war! Men are regularly

instructed in it, as in any of the necessary arts.

"How to dislodge most souls from their frail shrines

By bomb, sword, ball, and bayonet, is the art

Which some call great and glorious!"

And is this a necessary part of a finished education in

civilized society? O Earth! Earth! Earth!

Verse 6. They be replenished-"And they multiply"] Seven MSS. and

one edition, for yaspiku, read yaspichu, "and

have joined themselves to the children of strangers;" that is, in

marriage or worship.-Dr. JUBB. So Vulg., adhaeserunt. Compare

Isa 14:1. But the very learned professor Chevalier

Michaelis has explained the word yesupachu, Job 30:7,

(German translation, note on the place,) in another manner; which

perfectly well agrees with that place, and perhaps will be found

to give as good a sense here. saphiach, the noun, means corn

springing up, not from the seed regularly sown on cultivated land,

but in the untilled field, from the scattered grains of the former

harvest. This, by an easy metaphor, is applied to a spurious brood

of children irregularly and casually begotten. The Septuagint seem

to have understood the verb here in this sense, reading it as the

Vulgate seems to have done. This justifies their version, which

it is hard to account for in any other manner: καιτεκναπολλα

αλλοφυλαεγενηθηαυτοις. Compare Ho 5:7, and the

Septuagint there. But instead of ubeyaldey, "and in the

children," two of Kennicott's and eight of De Rossi's MSS. have

ucheyaldey, "and as the children." And they sin

impudently as the children of strangers. See De Rossi.

And are soothsayers-"They are filled with diviners"] Heb. "They

are filled from the east;" or "more than the east." The sentence

is manifestly imperfect. The Septuagint, Vulgate, and Chaldee,

seem to have read kemikkedem; and the latter, with another

word before it, signifying idols; "they are filled with idols as

from of old." Houbigant, for mikkedem, reads

mikkesem, as Brentius had proposed long ago. I rather think that

both words together give us the true reading: mikkedem,

mikkesem, "with divination from the east;" and that the first word

has been by mistake omitted, from its similitude to the second.

Verse 7. Their land is also full of horses-"And his land is

filled with horses"] This was in direct contradiction to God's

command in the law: "But he (the king) shall not multiply horses

to himself; nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end

that he should multiply horses; neither shall he greatly multiply

to himself silver and gold," De 17:16, 17. Uzziah seems to have

followed the example of Solomon, see 1Ki 10:26-29, who first

transgressed in these particulars; he recovered the port of Elath

on the Red Sea, and with it that commerce which in Solomon's days

had "made silver and gold as plenteous at Jerusalem as stones,"

2Ch 1:15. He had an army of 307,500 men, in which, as we may

infer from the testimony of Isaiah, the chariots and horse made a

considerable part. "The law above mentioned was to be a standing

trial of prince and people, whether they had trust and confidence

in God their deliverer." See Bp. Sherlock's Discourses on

Prophecy. Dissert. iv., where he has excellently explained the

reason and effect of the law, and the influence which the

observance or neglect of it had on the affairs of the Israelites.

Verse 8. Their land also is full of idols-"And his land is

filled with idols"] Uzziah and Fotham are both said,

2Ki 15:3, 4, 34, 35, "to have done that which was right in the

sight of the Lord;" that is, to have adhered to and maintained the

legal worship of God, in opposition to idolatry and all irregular

worship; for to this sense the meaning of that phrase is commonly

to be restrained; "save that the high places were not removed

where the people still sacrificed and burned incense." There was

hardly any time when they were quite free from this irregular and

unlawful practice, which they seem to have looked upon as very

consistent with the true worship of God; and which seems in some

measure to have been tolerated, while the tabernacle was removed

from place to place, and before the temple was built. Even after

the conversion of Manasseh, when he had removed the strange gods,

commanded Judah to serve JEHOVAH the God of Israel, it is added,

"Nevertheless the people did sacrifice still on the high places,

yet unto JEHOVAH their God only," 2Ch 33:17. The worshipping on

the high places therefore does not necessarily imply idolatry; and

from what is said of these two kings, Uzziah and Jotham, we may

presume that the public exercise of idolatrous worship was not

permitted in their time. The idols therefore here spoken of must

have been such as were designed for a private and secret use. Such

probably were the teraphim so often mentioned in Scripture; a kind

of household gods, of human form, as it should seem, (see

1Sa 19:13, and compare Ge 31:34,) of different magnitude, used

for idolatrous and superstitious purposes, particularly for

divination, and as oracles, which they consulted for direction in

their affairs.

Verse 9. Boweth down-"Shall be bowed down"] This has reference

to the preceding verse. They bowed themselves down to their idols,

therefore shall they be bowed down and brought low under the

avenging hand of God.

Therefore forgive them not.] "And thou wilt not forgive


Verse 10. "When he ariseth to strike the earth with terror."] On

the authority of the Septuagint, confirmed by the Arabic and an

ancient MS., I have added here to the text a line, which in the

19th and 21st verses Isa 2:19, 21 is repeated together with the

preceding line, and has, I think, evidently been omitted by

mistake in this place. The MS. here varies only in one letter from

the reading of the other two verses; it has baarets, instead

of haarets. None of De Rossi's MSS. confirm this addition.

The line added is, When he ariseth to strike the earth with


Verse 11. Be humbled] " shaphel veshach, read

shaphelu shach."-Dr. Durell. Which rectifies the grammatical

construction. No MS. or version confirms this reading.

Verse 13. - 16. And upon all the cedars-"Even against all the

cedars"] Princes, potentates, rulers, captains, rich men, &c.-So

Kimchi. These verses afford us a striking example of that

peculiar way of writing, which makes a principal characteristic of

the parabolical or poetical style of the Hebrews, and in which the

prophets deal so largely, namely, their manner of exhibiting

things Divine, spiritual, moral, and political, by a set of images

taken from things natural, artificial, religious, historical, in

the way of metaphor or allegory. Of these nature furnishes much

the largest and the most pleasing share; and all poetry has

chiefly recourse to natural images, as the richest and most

powerful source of illustration. But it may be observed of the

Hebrew poetry in particular, that in the use of such images, and

in the application of them in the way of illustration and

ornament, it is more regular and constant than any other poetry

whatever; that it has for the most part a set of images

appropriated in a manner to the explication of certain subjects.

Thus you will find, in many other places besides this before us,

that cedars of Lebanon and oaks of Bashan, are used in the way of

metaphor and allegory for kings, princes, potentates of the

highest rank; high mountains and lofty hills, for kingdoms,

republics, states, cities; towers and fortresses, for defenders

and protectors, whether by counsel or strength, in peace or war;

ships of Tarshish and works of art, and invention employed in

adorning them, for merchants, men enriched by commerce, and

abounding in all the luxuries and elegances of life, such as those

of Tyre and Sidon; for it appears from the course of the whole

passage, and from the train of ideas, that the fortresses and the

ships are to be taken metaphorically, as well as the high trees

and the lofty mountains.

Ships of Tarshish] Are in Scripture frequently used by a

metonymy for ships in general, especially such as are employed in

carrying on traffic between distant countries, as Tarshish was the

most celebrated mart of those times, frequented of old by the

Phoenicians, and the principal source of wealth to Judea and the

neighbouring countries. The learned seem now to be perfectly well

agreed that Tarshish is Tartessus, a city of Spain, at the mouth

of the river Baetis, whence the Phoenicians, who first opened this

trade, brought silver and gold, (Jer 10:9; Eze 27:12,) in which

that country then abounded; and, pursuing their voyage still

farther to the Cassiterides, (Bogart, Canaan, i. c. 39; Huet,

Hist. de Commerce, p. 194,) the islands of Scilly and Cornwall,

they brought from thence lead and tin.

Tarshish is celebrated in Scripture, 2Ch 8:17, 18; 9:21, for

the trade which Solomon carried on thither, in conjunction with

the Tyrians. Jehoshaphat, 1Ki 22:48; 2Ch 20:36, attempted

afterwards to renew their trade. And from the account given of his

attempt it appears that his fleet was to sail to Ezion-geber on

the Red Sea; they must therefore have designed to sail round

Africa, as Solomon's fleet had done before, (see Huet, Histoire de

Commerce, p. 32,) for it was a three years' voyage, (2Ch 9:21,)

and they brought gold from Ophir, probably on the coast of Arabia;

silver from Tartessus; and ivory, apes, and peacocks, from Africa.

" Afri, Africa, the Roman termination, Africa terra.

Tarshish, some city or country in Africa. So the Chaldee on

1Ki 22:49, where it renders

Tarshish by Aphricah; and compare 2Ch 20:36, from

whence it appears, to go to Ophir and to Tarshish is one and the

same thing."-Dr. Jubb. It is certain that under Pharaoh Necho,

about two hundred years afterwards, this voyage was made by the

Egyptians; Herodot. iv. 42. They sailed from the Red Sea, and

returned by the Mediterranean, and they performed it in three

years, just the same time that the voyage under Solomon had taken

up. It appears likewise from Pliny, Nat. Hist., ii. 67, that the

passage round the Cape of Good Hope was known and frequently

practised before his time, by Hanno the Carthaginian, when

Carthage was in its glory; by one Eudoxus, in the time of Ptolemy

Lathyrus, king of Egypt; and Coelus Antipater, a historian of good

credit, somewhat earlier than Pliny, testifies that he had seen a

merchant who had made the voyage from Gades to Ethiopia. The

Portuguese under Vasco de Gama, near three hundred years ago,

recovered this navigation, after it had been intermitted and lost

for many centuries.-L.

Verse 14. See Clarke on Isa 2:13.

Verse 15. See Clarke on Isa 2:13.

Verse 16. See Clarke on Isa 2:13.

Verse 18. Shall utterly abolish-"Shall disappear"] The ancient

versions and an ancient MS. read yachalpu, plural. One of my

MSS. reads yachaloph, probably a mistake for


Verse 19. - 21. Into the holes of the rocks-"Into caverns of

rocks"] The country of Judea being mountainous and rocky, is full

of caverns, as appears from the history of David's persecution

under Saul. At En-gedi, in particular, there was a cave so large

that David with six hundred men hid themselves in the sides of it;

and Saul entered the mouth of the cave without perceiving that any

one was there, 1Sa 24:3.

Josephus, Antiq., lib. xiv., c. 15, and Bell. Jud., lib. 1, c.

16, tells us of a numerous gang of banditti, who, having infested

the country, and being pursued by Herod with his army retired into

certain caverns almost inaccessible, near Arbela in Galilee, where

they were with great difficulty subdued. Some of these were

natural, others artificial. "Beyond Damascus," says Strabo, lib.

xvi., "are two mountains called Trachones, from which the country

has the name of Trachonitis; and from hence towards Arabia and

Iturea, are certain rugged mountains, in which there are deep

caverns, one of which will hold four thousand men." Tavernier,

Voyage de Perse, part ii., chap. iv., speaks of a grot, between

Aleppo and Bir, that would hold near three thousand horse. "Three

hours distant from Sidon, about a mile from the sea, there runs

along a high rocky mountain, in the sides of which are hewn a

multitude of grots, all very little differing from each other.

They have entrances about two feet square: on the inside you find

in most or all of them a room of about four yards square. There

are of these subterraneous caverns two hundred in number. It may,

with probability at least, be concluded that these places were

contrived for the use of the living, and not of the dead. Strabo

describes the habitations of the Troglodytae to have been somewhat

of this kind."-Maundrell, p. 118. The Horites, who dwelt in Mount

Seir, were Troglodytae, as their name horim, imports. But

those mentioned by Strabo were on each side of the Arabian gulf.

Mohammed (Koran, chap. xv. xxvi.) speaks of a tribe of Arabians,

the tribe of Thamud, "who hewed houses out of the mountains, to

secure themselves." Thus, "because of the Midianites, the children

of Israel made them the dens which are in the mountains, and caves

and strong holds," Jud 6:2. To these they betook themselves for

refuge in times of distress and hostile invasion: "When the men of

Israel saw that they were in a strait, for the people were

distressed, then the people did hide themselves in caves, and in

thickets, and in rocks, and in high places, and in pits,"

1Sa 13:6, and see Jer 41:9. Therefore "to enter into the rock,

to go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the

earth," was to them a very proper and familiar image to express

terror and consternation. The prophet Hosea, Ho 10:8, hath

carried the same image farther, and added great strength and

spirit to it:

"They shall say to the mountains, Cover us;

And to the hills, Fall on us;"

which image, together with these of Isaiah, is adopted by the

sublime author of the Revelation, Re 6:15, 16, who frequently

borrows his imagery from our prophet.-L.

Verse 20. See Clarke on Isa 2:19.

Ver. 20. Which they made each one for himself to worship-"Which

they have made to worship"] The word lo, for himself, is

omitted by two ancient MSS., and is unnecessary. It does not

appear that any copy of the Septuagint has it, except MS. Pachom,

and MS. I. D. II., and they have εαυτοις, lahem, to


To the moles] They shall carry their idols with them into the

dark caverns, old ruins, or desolate places, to which they shall

flee for refuge; and so shall give them up, and relinquish them to

the filthy animals that frequent such places, and have taken

possession of them as their proper habitation. Bellonias, Greaves,

P. Lucas, and many other travellers, speak of bats of an enormous

size, as inhabiting the Great Pyramid. See Harmer, Obs., vol. ii.,

455. Three MSS. express chapharperoth, the moles, as one


Verse 21. See Clarke on Isa 2:19.

Verse 22. Cease ye from man] Trust neither in him, nor in the

gods that he has invented. Neither he, nor they, can either save

or destroy.

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