Isaiah 33


This chapter contains the sequel of the prophecy respecting

Sennacherib. The prophet addresses himself to the Assyrian

monarch, 1-4.

The mercy and power of God acknowledged by the Jews, 5, 6.

Distress and despair of the Jews at the approach of

Sennacherib, 7-9.

Gracious promise of deliverance, 10-13.

Dreadful apprehensions of the wicked, and security of the

righteous, 14-17.

The security of the Jews under the reign of Hezekiah, and the

wretched condition of Sennacherib and his army, 18-24.

The plan of the prophecy continued in this chapter, and which is

manifestly distinct from the foregoing, is peculiarly elegant. To

set it in a proper light, it will be necessary to mark the

transitions from one part of it to another.

In Isa 33:1, the prophet addresses himself to Sennacherib,

briefly, but strongly and elegantly, expressing the injustice of

his ambitious designs, and the sudden disappointments of them.

In Isa 33:2, the Jews are introduced offering up their earnest

supplications to God in their present distressful condition; with

expressions of their trust and confidence in his protection.

In Isa 33:3, 4 the prophet in the name of God, or rather God

himself, is introduced addressing himself to Sennacherib, and

threatening him that, notwithstanding the terror which he had

occasioned in the invaded countries, yet he should fall, and

become an easy prey to those whom he had intended to subdue.

In Isa 33:5, 6, a chorus of Jews is introduced, acknowledging

the mercy and power of God, who had undertaken to protect them;

extolling it with direct opposition to the boasted power of their

enemies, and celebrating the wisdom and piety of their king

Hezekiah, who had placed his confidence in the favour of God.

Then follows, in Isa 33:7-9, a description of the distress and

despair of the Jews, upon the king of Assyria's marching against

Jerusalem, and sending his summons to them to surrender, after the

treaty he had made with Hezekiah on the conditions of his paying,

as he actually did pay to him, three hundred talents of silver and

thirty talents of gold. 2Ki 18:14-16.

In Isa 33:10, God himself is again introduced, declaring that

he will interpose in this critical situation of affairs, and

disappoint the vain designs of the enemies of his people, by

discomfiting and utterly consuming them.

Then follows, Isa 33:11-22, still in the person of God, which

however falls at last into that of the prophet, a description of

the dreadful apprehensions of the wicked in those times of

distress and imminent danger; finely contrasted with the

confidence and security of the righteous, and their trust in the

promises of God that he will be their never-failing strength and


The whole concludes, in the person of the prophet, with a

description of the security of the Jews under the protection of

God, and of the wretched state of Sennacherib and his army, wholly

discomfited, and exposed to be plundered even by the weakest of

the enemy.

Much of the beauty of this passage depends on the explanation

above given of Isa 33:3, 4, as addressed by the prophet, or by

God himself, to Sennacherib; not as it is usually taken, as

addressed by the Jews to God, Isa 33:3, and then Isa 33:4, as

addressed to the Assyrians. To set this in a clear light, it may

be of use to compare it with a passage of the Prophet Joel; where,

speaking of the destruction caused by the locusts, he sets in the

same strong light of opposition as Isaiah does here, the power of

the enemy, and the power of JEHOVAH, who would destroy that enemy.

Thus Isaiah to Sennacherib:-

"When thou didst raise thyself up, the nations were dispersed"-

Isa 33:3.

"But now will I arise, saith JEHOVAH; Now will I be exalted."

Isa 33:10.

And thus Joel, Joe 2:20, 21:-

"His stink shall come up, and his ill savour shall ascend;

Though he hath done great things.

Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice;

For JEHOVAH will do great things."-L.


Verse 1. And dealest treacherously-"Thou plunderer"]

See Clarke on Isa 21:2.

When thou shalt make an end to deal treacherously-"When thou art

weary of plundering"] " cannelothecha, alibi non extat in s.

s. nisi f. Job 15:29

-simplicius est legere kechallothecha. Vid.

Capell.; nec repugnat Vitringa. Vid. Da 9:24.

calah hatim."-Secker.

Verse 2. Be thou their arm every morning-"Be thou our strength

every morning"] For zeroam, their arm, the Syriac, Chaldee,

and Vulgate read zeroenu, our arm, in the first person of

the pronoun, not the third: the edition of Felix Pratensis has

zerootheynu in the margin.

The prophet is here praying against the enemies of God's people;

and yet this part of the prayer seems to be in their behalf: but

from the above authorities it appears that OUR arm is the true

reading, though I do not find it confirmed by any of Kennicott's,

De Rossi's, or my own MSS. My old MS. Bible has,-Be thou oure arm

in erly.

Verse 3. At the noise of the tumult-"From thy terrible voice"]

For hamon, "multitude," the Septuagint and Syriac read

amica, "terrible," whom I follow.

Verse 6. His treasure-"Thy treasure."] 'O θησαυροςσου, Sym.

He had in his copy otsarcha, "thy treasure," not

otsaro, "his treasure."

Verse 7. Their valiant ones shall cry without-"The mighty men

raise a grievous cry"] Three MSS. read erelim, that is,

lions of God, or strong lions. So they called valiant men

heroes; which appellation the Arabians and Persians still use. See

Bochart. Hieroz. Part I. lib. iii. cap. 1. "Mahomet, ayant reconnu

Hamzeh son oncle pour homme de courage et de valeur, lui donne le

titre ou surnom d'Assad Allah, qui signifie le lion de Dieu."

D'Herbelot, p. 427. And for chatsah, the Syriac and

Chaldee, read kashah, whom I follow. The Chaldee, Syriac,

Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion read ereh lahem,

or yireh, with what meaning is not clear.

The word erellam, which we translate valiant ones, is

very difficult; no man knows what it means. Kimchi supposes that

it is the name of the angel that smote the Assyrian camp! The

Vulgate, and my old MS., translate it seers; and most of the

Versions understand it in this way. None of the MSS. give us any

help, but as we see above in Lowth.

Verse 9. Bashan and Carmel shake off their fruits-"Bashan and

Carmel are stripped of their beauty."] φανεραεσται, made

manifest. Sept. They read veneerah.

Verse 11. Your breath-"And my spirit"] "For ruchechem,

your spirit, read ruchi kemo." Secker. Which reading

is confirmed by the Chaldee, where meywri, "my word,"

answers to ruchi, "my spirit."

Verse 14. The sinners in Zion are afraid] Zion has been

generally considered as a type of the Church of God. Now all the

members of God's Church should be holy, and given to good works;

sinners in Zion, therefore, are portentous beings! but, alas!

where are they not? The Targum on this verse is worthy of notice:

"The sinners in Zion are broken down; fear hath seized the

ungodly, who are suffering for their ways. They say, Who among us

shall dwell in Zion, where the splendour of the Divine Majesty is

like a consuming fire? Who of us shall dwell in Jerusalem, where

the ungodly are judged and delivered into hell for an eternal

burning?" Everdurynge brennyngis. Old MS. Bible.

Verse 15. That stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood-"Who

stoppeth his ears to the proposal of bloodshed"] A MS. reads

bedamim, "in blood."

Verse 18. Where is the scribe?] The person appointed by the king

of Assyria to estimate their number and property in reference to

their being heavily taxed.

Where is the receiver?] Or he who was to have collected this


Where is he that counted the towers?] That is, the commander of

the enemy's forces, who surveyed the fortifications of the city,

and took an account of the height, strength, and situation of the

walls and towers, that he might know where to make the assault

with the greatest advantage; as Capaneus before Thebes is

represented in a passage of the Phoenissae of Euripides, which

Grotius has applied as an illustration of this place:-



Ver. 187.

"To these seven turrets each approach he marks;

The walls from their proud summit to their base

Measuring with eager eye."

He that counted the towers-"Those who were ordered to review the

fortified places in Judea, that they might be manned and

provisioned for the king of Assyria. So sure was he of gaining

Jerusalem and subduing the whole of Judea, that he had already

formed all these arrangements."-Dodd's notes.

Verse 20. Look upon Zion-"Thou shalt see Zion"] For chazeh,

"see," read techezeh, "thou shalt see," with the

Chaldee.-Houbigant. At the end of this verse we find in the

Masoretic Bibles this note, chatsi hassepher, "the middle

of the book;" that is the middle of the book of Isaiah.

Verse 21. The glorious Lord-"The glorious name of JEHOVAH"] I

take shem for a noun, with the Septuagint and Syriac. See

Ps 20:1; Pr 18:10.

Verse 23. Thy tacklings are loosed] Here the Assyrians are

represented under the figure of a ship wrecked by a violent storm;

and the people on the beach, young, old, feeble, and diseased,

gathering the spoil without any to hinder them. Kimchi, who

understands the whole of this chapter of Hezekiah and the king of

Assyria, says, "There are others of our rabbins who apply it all

to the days of the Messiah."

Their mast-"Thy mast"] For tornam, "their mast," the

Syriac reads torneycha, "thy mast;" the Septuagint and

Vulgate, tornecha, οιστοςσουεκλινεν, "thy mast is

fallen aside."-Septuagint. They seem to have read natah or

panah, tornecha, or rather, lo con,

"is not firm," the negative having been omitted in the present

text by mistake. However, I have followed their sense, which seems

very probable, as the present reading is to me extremely obscure.

Verse 24. And the inhabitant shall not say] This verse is

somewhat obscure. The meaning of it seems to be, that the army of

Sennacherib shall by the stroke of God be reduced to so shattered

and so weak a condition, that the Jews shall fall upon the remains

of them, and plunder them without resistance; that the most infirm

and disabled of the people of Jerusalem shall come in for their

share of the spoil; the lame shall seize the prey; even the sick

and the diseased shall throw aside their infirmities, and recover

strength enough to hasten to the general plunder. See above.

The last line of the verse is parallel to the first, and

expresses the same sense in other words. Sickness being considered

as a visitation from God, a punishment of sin; the forgiveness of

sin is equivalent to the removal of a disease. Thus the psalmist:-

"Who forgiveth all thy sin;

And healeth all thine infirmities."

Ps 103:3.

Where the latter line only varies the expression of the former.

And our blessed Saviour reasons with the Jews on the same

principle: "Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy,

Thy sins are forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed,

and walk?" Mr 2:9. See also Mt 8:17; Isa 53:4. Qui locus

Isaiae, 1Pe 2:24, refertur ad remissionem peccatorum: hic vero ad

sanationem morborum, quia ejusdem potentiae et bonitatis est

utrumque praestare; et, quia peccatis remissis, et morbi, qui

fructus sunt peccatorum, pelluntur. "Which passage of Isaiah has

reference, in 1Pe 2:24, to

the remission of sins, and here to the healing of diseases,

because both are effects of the same power and goodness; and

because with the remission of sins was associated the removal of

disorders, the fruits of sin."-Wetstein on Mt 8:17.

That this prophecy was exactly fulfilled, I think we may gather

from the history of this great event given by the prophet himself.

It is plain that Hezekiah, by his treaty with Sennacherib, by

which he agreed to pay him three hundred talents of silver and

thirty talents of gold, had stripped himself of his whole

treasure. He not only gave him all the silver and gold that was in

his own treasury and in that of the temple, but was even forced to

cut off the gold from the doors of the temple and from the

pillars, with which he had himself overlaid them, to satisfy the

demands of the king of Assyria: but after the destruction of the

Assyrian army, we find that he "had exceeding much riches, and

that he made himself treasuries for silver, and for gold, and for

precious stones," &c. 2Ch 32:27. He was so rich, that out of

pride and vanity he displayed his wealth to the ambassadors from

Babylon. This cannot be otherwise accounted for, than by the

prodigious spoil that was taken on the destruction of the Assyrian

army.-L. And thus, in the providence of God, he had the wealth

which was exacted from him restored.

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