Isaiah 27

CHAPTER XXVII

Destruction of the enemies of the Church, 1.

God's care of his vineyard, 2-11.

Prosperity of the descendants of Abraham in the latter days,

12, 13.

The subject of this chapter seems to be the nature, the measure,

and the design of God's dealings with his people. 1. His judgments

inflicted on their great and powerful enemies, Isa 27:1. 2. His

constant care and protection of his favourite vineyard, in the

form of a dialogue, Isa 27:2. 3. The moderation and lenity with

which the severity of his judgments have been tempered, Isa 27:7.

4. The end and design of them, to recover them from idolatry,

Isa 27:9. And, 5. The recalling of them, on their repentance,

from their several dispersions, Isa 27:12. The first verse seems

connected with the two last verses of the preceding chapter.-L.

NOTES ON CHAP. XXVII

Verse 1. Leviathan] The animals here mentioned seem to be the

crocodile, rigid by the stiffness of the backbone, so that he

cannot readily turn himself when he pursues his prey; hence the

easiest way of escaping from him is by making frequent and short

turnings: the serpent or dragon, flexible and winding, which coils

himself up in a circular form: and the sea-monster, or whale.

These are used allegorically, without doubt for great potentates,

enemies and persecutors of the people of God: but to specify the

particular persons or states designed by the prophet under these

images, is a matter of great difficulty, and comes not necessarily

with in the design of these notes. R. D. Kimchi says, leviathan is

a parable concerning the kings of the Gentiles: it is the largest

fish in the sea, called also tannin, the dragon, or rather

the whale. By these names the Grecian, Turkish, and Roman empires

are intended. The dragon of the sea seems to mean some nation

having a strong naval force and extensive commerce. See Kimchi on

the place.

Verse 2. Sing ye unto her] anu lah. Bishop Lowth

translates this, Sing ye a responsive song; and says that

anah, to answer, signifies occasionally to sing responsively;

and that this mode of singing was frequently practised among the

ancient Hebrews. See De Poes. Sac. Heb. Prael. xix., at the

beginning.

This, indeed, was the ancient method of singing in various

nations. The song was divided into distinct portions, and the

singers sang alternately. There is a fine specimen of this in the

song of Deborah and Barak; and also in the Idyls of Theocritus,

and the Eclogues of Virgil.

This kind of singing was properly a dialogue in verse, sung to a

particular tune, or in the mode which is now termed recitativo. I

have seen it often practiced on funeral occasions among the

descendants of the aboriginal Irish. The poems of Ossian are of

this kind.

The learned Bishop distinguishes the parts of this dialogue

thus:-

3. JEHOVAH. It is I, JEHOVAH, that preserve her;

I will water her every moment:

I will take care of her by night;

And by day I will keep guard over her.

4. VINEYARD. I have no wall for my defence:

O that I had a fence of the thorn and brier!

JEHOVAH. Against them should I march in battle,

I should burn them up together.

5. Ah! let her rather take hold of my protection.

VINEYARD. Let him make peace with me!

Peace let him make with me!

6. JEHOVAH. They that come from the root of Jacob shall

flourish, Israel shall bud forth;

And they shall fill the face of the world with

fruit.

A vineyard of red wine] The redder the wine, the more it was

valued, says Kimchi.

Bishop Lowth translates, To the beloved vineyard. For

chemer, red, a multitude of MSS. and editions have chemed,

desirable. This is supported by the Septuagint and Chaldee.

Verse 3. Lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day-"I will

take care of her by night; and by day I will keep guard over her"]

For pen yiphkod, lest any visit it, the Syriac read

veephkod, and I will visit it. Twenty MSS. of Kennicott's,

fourteen of De Rossi's, and two of my own, and six editions read

ephkod, I will visit, in the first person.

Verse 4. Fury is not in me-"I have no wall"] For chemah,

anger, the Septuagint and Syriac read chomah, wall.

An ancient MS. has cheimah. For bah, in her, two

MSS. read bam, in them, plural. The vineyard wishes for a wall

and a fence of thorns-human strength and protection, (as the Jews

were too apt to apply to their powerful neighbours for assistance,

and to trust to the shadow of Egypt:) JEHOVAH replies, that this

would not avail her, nor defend her against his wrath. He counsels

her, therefore, to betake herself to his protection. On which she

entreats him to make peace with her.

From the above note it appears that the bishop reads,

chomah, wall, for chemah, anger or fury, in accordance

with the Syriac and Septuagint. The letter vau makes the

only difference, which letter is frequently absent from many words

where its place is supplied by the point cholem: it might have

been so here formerly; and in process of time both vau and cholem

might have been lost. The Syriac supports the learned bishop's

criticism, as the word [Syriac] shora is there used; which word in

the plural is found, Heb 11:30: "By faith the

walls of Jericho." The bishop thinks the Septuagint is on his

side: to me, it seems neither for nor against the criticism. The

words in the Vatican copy are εγωπολιςοχυρα, I am a fortified

city; which the Arabic follows: but instead of οχυρα, the Codex

Alexandrinus has ισχυρα, I am a STRONG city.

The word chomah, wall, is not found in any MS. in the

collections of Kennicott and De Rossi, nor in any of my own MSS.

However, one of Dr. Kennicott's MSS. has cheimah; but

probably that which now appears to be a yod was formerly a

vau, and now partially obliterated.

This song receives much light from being collated with that in

chap. v.; and perhaps the bishop's criticism will find its best

support from such a collation. In Isa 5:5 of that chapter, God

threatens to take away the wall of his vineyard: this was done;

and here the vineyard complains, I have no wall, and wishes for

any kind of defense rather than be thus naked. This is the only

natural support of the above criticism.

"About Tripoli there are abundance of vineyards and gardens,

inclosed, for the most part, with hedges, which chiefly consist of

the rhamnus, paliurus, oxyacantha," &c. Rawolf, p. 21, 22. A fence

of thorns is esteemed equal to a wall for strength, being commonly

represented as impenetrable. See Mic 7:4; Ho 2:6.

Who would set the briers and thorns against me-"O that I had a

fence of the thorn and brier"] Seven MSS., (two ancient,) and one

edition, with the Syriac, Vulgate, and Aquila, read

veshayith, with the conjunction vau prefixed: Who would set

the briers and thorns. mi yitteneni shamir

shayith, Who shall give me the brier and thorn, i.e., for a

defense: but hear Kimchi: "Who (the vineyard) hath given me

(Jehovah) the brier and the thorn instead of good grapes."

Verse 5. Or-"Ah"] For o I read oi, as it was at

first in a MS. The yod was easily lost, being followed by

another yod.

Verse 6. To take root-"From the root"] For yashresh, I

read, with the Syriac, mishshoresh. And for

yatsits uparach, yatsitsu parach, joining the

vau to the first word, and taking that into construction with

the first part of the sentence, Israel shall bud forth. I suppose

the dialogue to be continued in this verse, which pursues the same

image of the allegory, but in the way of metaphor.

Verse 9. The groves-"And if the groves"] velo. Four

MSS., two ancient, of Kennicott's, and one ancient of my own,

with the Septuagint; this makes a fuller sense.

Verse 10. There shall the calf feed] That is, the king of Egypt,

says Kimchi.

Verse 11. The boughs thereof-"Her boughs"] ketsireyha,

MS. and Vulg.; that is, the boughs of the vineyard, referring

still to the subject of the dialogue above.

The scarcity of fuel, especially wood, in most parts of the east

is so great, that they supply it with every thing capable of

burning; cow-dung dried, roots, parings of fruit, withered stalks

of herbs and flowers; see Mt 6:21-30. Vine-twigs are particularly

mentioned as used for fuel in dressing their food, by D'Arvieux;

La Roque, Palestine, p. 198. Ezekiel says, in his parable of the

vine, used figuratively for the people of God, as the vineyard is

here: "Shall wood be taken thereof to do any work? or will men

take a pin of it to hang any vessel thereon? Behold, it is cast

into the fire for fuel;" Eze 15:3, 4. "If a man abide not in

one," saith our Lord, "he is cast forth as a branch of the vine

and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire,

and they are burned;" Joh 15:6. They employed women and children

to gather these things, and they laid them up in store for use.

The dressing and pruning their vines afforded a good supply of the

last sort of fuel; but the prophet says that the vines themselves

of the beloved vineyard shall be blasted, withered, and broken,

and the women shall come and gather them up, and carry away the

whole of them to make their fires for domestic uses. See Harmer's

Observations, vol. i., p. 254, &c.

Verse 12. The channel of the river] The river Sabbation, beyond

which the Israelites were carried captive.-Kimchi.

Verse 13. The great trumpet shall be blown] Does not this refer

to the time spoken of by our Lord, Mt 24:31:

He shall send forth his angels-the preachers of his Gospel with

a great sound of a trumpet-the earnest invitation to be saved by

Jesus Christ; and shall gather his elect-the Jews, his ancient

chosen people, from the four winds-from all parts of the

habitable globe in which they have been dispersed.

In this prophet there are several predictions relative to the

conversion of Egypt to the true faith, which have not yet been

fulfilled, and which must be fulfilled, for the truth of God

cannot fail. Should Egypt ever succeed in casting off the Ottoman

yoke, and fully establish its independence, it is most likely that

the Gospel of Christ would have a speedy entrance into it; and,

according to these prophecies, a wide and permanent diffusion. At

present the Mohammedan power is a genuine antichrist. This also

the Lord will remove in due time.

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