Isaiah 25


The short glance which the prophet gave at the promised

restoration of the people of God and the Messiah's kingdom, in

the close of the preceding chapter, makes him break out into a

rapturous song of praise in this, where although he alludes to

temporal mercies, such as the destruction of the cities which

had been at war with Zion, the ruin of Moab, and other signal

interpositions of Divine Providence in behalf of the Jews; yet

he is evidently impressed with a more lively sense of future

and much higher blessings under the Gospel dispensation, in

the plenitude of its revelation, of which the temporal

deliverances vouchsafed at various tines to the primitive

kingdoms of Israel and Judah were the prototypes, 1-5.

These blessings are described under the figure of a feast made

for all nations, 6;

the removing of a veil from their faces, 7;

the total extinction of the empire of death by the resurrection

from the dead, the exclusion of all sorrow, and the final

overthrow of all the enemies of the people of God, 8-12.

It does not appear to me that this chapter has any close and

particular connexion with the chapter immediately preceding, taken

separately, and by itself. The subject of that was the desolation

of the land of Israel and Judah, by the just judgment of God, for

the wickedness and disobedience of the people: which, taken by

itself, seems not with any propriety to introduce a hymn of

thanksgiving to God for his mercies to his people in delivering

them from their enemies. But taking the whole course of

prophecies, from the thirteenth to the twenty-fourth chapter

inclusive, in which the prophet foretells the destruction of

several cities and nations, enemies to the Jews, and of the land

of Judah itself, yet with intimations of a remnant to be saved,

and a restoration to be at length effected by a glorious

establishment of the kingdom of God: with a view to this extensive

scene of God's providence in all its parts, and in all its

consequences, the prophet may well be supposed to break out into

this song of praise; in which his mind seems to be more possessed

with the prospect of future mercies than with the recollection of

the past.-L.


Verse 1. Thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth.] That

is, All thy past declarations by the prophets shall be fulfilled

in their proper time.

Verse 2. A city-"The city"] Nineveh, Babylon, Ar, Moab, or any

other strong fortress possessed by the enemies of the people of


For the first meir, of a city, the Syriac and Vulgate

read hair, the city; the Septuagint and Chaldee read

arim, cities, in the plural, transposing the letters. After

the second meir, a MS. adds lagol, for a heap.

A palace of strangers-"The palace of the proud ones"] For

zarim, strangers, MS. Bodl. and another read zedim, the

proud: so likewise the Septuagint; for they render it ασεβων

here, and in Isa 25:5, as they do in some other places: see

De 18:20, 22. Another MS. reads

tsarim, adversaries; which also makes a good sense. But

zarim, strangers, and zedim, the proud, are often

confounded by the great similitude of the letters daleth and

resh. See Mal 3:15; 4:1; Ps 19:14, in the

Septuagint; and Ps 54:5, where the

Chaldee reads zedim, compared with Ps 86:16.

Verse 4. As a storm against the wall-"Like a winter-storm."] For

kir, read kor: or, as ir from

arar, so kir from karar.-Capellus.

Verse 5. Of strangers-"Of the proud"] The same mistake here as

in Isa 25:2: see the note there. See Clarke on Isa 25:2.

Here zedim, the proud, is parallel to

aritsim, the formidable: as in Ps 54:5, and Ps 86:14.

The heat with the shadow of a cloud-"As the heat by a thick

cloud"] For choreb, the Syriac, Chaldee, Vulgate, and two

MSS. read kechoreb, which is a repetition of the beginning of

the foregoing parallel line; and the verse taken out of the

parallel form, and more fully expressed, would run thus: "As a

thick cloud interposing tempers the heat of the sun on the burnt

soil; so shalt thou, by the interposition of thy power, bring low

and abate the tumult of the proud, and the triumph of the


Verse 6. In this mountain] Zion, at Jerusalem. In his Church.

Shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast] Salvation

by Jesus Christ. A feast is a proper and usual expression of joy

in consequence of victory, or any other great success. The feast

here spoken of is to be celebrated on Mount Sion; and all people,

without distinction, are to be invited to it. This can be no other

than the celebration of the establishment of Christ's kingdom,

which is frequently represented in the Gospel under the image of a

feast; "where many shall come from the east and west, and shall

sit down at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom

of heaven;" Mt 8:11. See also Lu 14:16; 24:29, 30. This sense is

fully confirmed by the concomitants of this feast expressed in the

next verse, the removing of the veil from the face of the nations,

and the abolition of death: the first of which is obviously and

clearly explained of the preaching of the Gospel; and the second

must mean the blessing of immortality procured for us by Christ,

"who hath abolished death, and through death hath destroyed him

that had the power of death."

Of wines on the lees-"Of old wines"] Heb. lees; that is, of

wines kept long on the lees. The word used to express the lees in

the original signifies the preservers; because they preserve the

strength and flavour of the wine. "All recent wines, after the

fermentation has ceased, ought to be kept on their lees for a

certain time, which greatly contributes to increase their strength

and flavour. Whenever this first fermentation has been deficient,

they will retain a more rich and sweet taste than is natural to

them in a recent true vinous state; and unless farther

fermentation is promoted by their lying longer on their own lees,

they will never attain their genuine strength and flavour, but run

into repeated and ineffectual fermentations, and soon degenerate

into a liquor of an acetous kind. All wines of a light and austere

kind, by a fermentation too great, or too long continued,

certainly degenerate into a weak sort of vinegar; while the

stronger not only require, but will safely bear a stronger and

often-repeated fermentation; and are more apt to degenerate from a

defect than excess of fermentation into a vapid, ropy, and at

length into a putrescent state." Sir Edward Barry, Observations on

the Wines of the Ancients, p. 9, 10.

Thevenot observes particularly of the Shiras wine, that, after

it is refined from the lees, it is apt to grow sour. "Il a

beaucoup de lie; c'est pourquoi il donne puissemment dans la

teste; et pour le rendre plus traitable on le passe par un chausse

d'hypocras; apres quoi il est fort clair, et moins fumeux. Ils

mettent ce vin dans des grandes jarres de terres qui tiennent dix

ou douze jusqu'a quatorze carabas: mais quand l'on a entame une

jarre, il faut la vuider au plutost, et mettre le vin qu'on en

tire dans des bouteilles ou carabas; car si l'on y manque en le

laissant quelque tems apres que la jarre est entamee il se gate et

s'aigrit." Voyages, Tom. ii. p. 245.-"It has much sediment, and

therefore is intoxicating. In order to make it more mellow, they

strain it through a hypocrates' sleeve, after which it is very

clear and less heady. They lay up this wine in great earthen jars,

which hold from ten to fourteen carabas: but when a jar is

unstopped, it is necessary to empty it immediately, and put the

wine into bottles, or carabas; for if it be left thus in the jar,

it will spoil and become acid."

The caraba, or girba, is a goat's skin drawn off from the

animal, having no apertures but those occasioned by the tail, the

feet, and the neck. One opening is left, to pour in and draw off

the liquor. This skin goes through a sort of tanning process, and

is often beautifully ornamented, as is the case with one of these

girbas now lying before me.

This clearly explains the very elegant comparison, or rather

allegory, of Jeremiah, Jer 48:11; where the reader will find a

remarkable example of the mixture of the proper with the

allegorical, not uncommon with the Hebrew poets:-

"Moab hath been at ease from his youth,

And he hath settled upon his lees;

Nor hath he been drawn off from vessel to vessel,

Neither hath he gone into captivity:

Wherefore his taste remaineth in him,

And his flavour is not changed."

Sir John Chardin's MS. note on this place of Jeremiah is as

follows: "On change ainsi le vin de coupe en coupe en Orient; et

quand on en entame une, il faut la vuider en petites coupes ou

bouteilles, sans quoy il s'aigrit. "They change the wine from

vessel to vessel in the east; and when they unstop a large one, it

is necessary to empty it into small vessels, as otherwise it will

grow sour."

Verse 7. The face of the covering cast over all people-"The

covering that covered the face of all the peoples"] MS. Bodl.

reads al peney chol. The word peney, face, has

been removed from its right place into the line above, where it

makes no sense; as Houbigant conjectured. "The face of the

covering," &c. He will unveil all the Mosaic ritual, and show by

his apostles that it referred to, and was accomplished in, the

sacrificial offering of Jesus Christ.

Verse 8. He will swallow up death] He, by the grace of God, will

taste death for every man. Heb 2:9. Probably,

swallow up death, and taste death, in both these verses, refer

to the same thing: Jesus dying instead of a guilty world. These

forms of speech may refer to the punishment of certain criminals;

they were obliged to drink a cup of poison. That cup which every

criminal in the world must have drunk, Jesus Christ drank for

them; and thus he swallowed up death: but as he rose again from

the dead, complete victory was gained.

From these three verses we learn:-

I. That the Gospel is a plenteous provision: "I will make a

feast for all people."

II. That it is a source of light and salvation: "I will destroy

the veil. I will abolish death. and bring life and immortality to


III. That it is a source of comfort and happiness: "I will wipe

away all tears from off all faces."

As in the Arabic countries a covering was put over the face of

him who was condemned to suffer death, it is probable that the

words in Isa 25:7 may refer to this. The whole world was

condemned to death, and about to be led out to execution, when the

gracious Lord interposed, and, by a glorious sacrifice, procured a

general pardon.

Verse 9. It shall be said-"Shall they say"] So the Septuagint

and Vulgate, in the plural number. They read veameru, the

Syriac reads veamarta, thou shalt say. They shall say,

i.e., the Jews and the Gentiles-Lo, this [Jesus Christ] is our

God: we have waited for him, according to the predictions of the

prophets. We have expected him, and we have not been disappointed;

therefore will we be glad, and rejoice in his salvation.

Verse 10. Shall the hand of the Lord rest-"The hand of JEHOVAH

shall give rest"] Heb. tenuach, quiescet. Annon

taniach, quietem dabit, shall rest; shall give rest, ut Graeci,

αναπαυσινδωσει, et Copt.?-Mr. WOIDE. That is, "shall give peace

and quiet to Sion, by destroying the enemy;" as it follows.

As straw is trodden down-"As the straw is threshed"] Hoc juxta

ritum loquitur Palastinae et multarum Orientis provinciarum, quae

ob pratorum et foeni penuriam paleas preparant esui animantium.

Sunt autem carpenta ferrata rotis per medium in serrarum modum se

volventibus, quae stipulam conterunt; et comminuunt in paleas.

Quomodo igitur plaustris ferratis paleae conteruntur, sic

conteretur Moab sub eo; sive sub Dei potentia, sive in semetipso,

ut nihil in eo integri remaneat. "This is spoken in reference to

the mode of threshing in Palestine, and various other Asiatic

provinces. Because of the scarcity of meadow land and hay they

make chopped straw for the cattle. They have large wheels studded

over with iron teeth or nails, by which, on the out-of-door

threshing-floors, they pound and reduce the straw into chaff. As,

therefore, the straw is reduced to chaff by bringing the iron-shod

wheel over it; so shall Moab be bruised by the power of God, that

nothing whole shall remain."-Hieron. in loc.

See Clarke on Isa 28:27.

For the dunghill-"Under the wheels of the car."] For

madmenah, the Septuagint, Syriac, and Vulgate read

mercabah, which I have followed. See Jos 15:31, compared with

Jos 19:5, where there is a mistake very nearly the same. The

keri, bemi, is confirmed by twenty-eight MSS., seven ancient,

and three editions.

Verse 11. As he that swimmeth spreadeth forth his hands to

swim-"As he that sinketh stretcheth out his hands to swim"]

There is great obscurity in this place: some understand God as the

agent; others, Moab. I have chosen the latter sense, as I cannot

conceive that the stretching out of the hands of a swimmer in

swimming can be any illustration of the action of God stretching

out his hands over Moab to destroy it. I take hashshocheh,

altering the point on the sin. on the authority of the

Septuagint, to be the participle of shachah, the same with

shuach, and shachach, to bow down, to be depressed;

and that the prophet designed a paronomasia here, a figure which

he frequently uses between the similar words shachah, and

shechoth. As tachtaiv, in his place, or on the spot,

as we say in the preceding verse, gives us an idea of the sudden

and complete destruction of Moab; so bekirbo, in the midst

of him, means that this destruction shall be open, and exposed to

the view of all: the neighbouring nations shall plainly see him

struggling against it, as a man in the midst of the deep waters

exerts all his efforts by swimming, to save himself from


Copyright information for Clarke