Isaiah 34


The prophet earnestly exhorts all nations to attend to the

communication which he has received from Jehovah, as the matter

is of the highest importance, and of universal concern, 1.

The wrath of God is denounced against all the nations that had

provoked to anger the Defender of the cause of Zion, 2, 3.

Great crowd of images, by which the final overthrow and utter

extermination of every thing that opposes the spread of true

religion in the earth are forcibly and majestically set forth;

images so very bold and expressive as to render it impossible,

without doing great violence to symbolical language, to

restrain their import to the calamities which befell the

Edomites in the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, or in that of any

other potentate, or even to the calamities which the enemies of

the Church have yet suffered since the delivery of the

prophecy. Edom must therefore be a type of Antichrist, the last

grand adversary of the people of God; and consequently this

most awful prophecy, in its ultimate signification, remains to

be accomplished, 4-15.

The Churches of God, at the period of the consummation,

commanded to consult the book of Jehovah, and note the exact

fulfilment of these terrible predictions in their minutest

details. Not one jot or tittle relative even to the

circumstances shadowed forth by the impure animals shall be

found to fail; for what the mouth of the Lord has declared

necessary to satisfy the Divine justice, his Spirit will

accomplish, 16, 17.

This and the following chapter make one distinct prophecy; an

entire, regular, and beautiful poem, consisting of two parts: the

first containing a denunciation of Divine vengeance against the

enemies of the people or Church of God; the second describing the

flourishing state of the Church of God consequent upon the

execution of those judgments. The event foretold is represented as

of the highest importance, and of universal concern: ALL nations

are called upon to attend to the declaration of it; and the wrath

of God is denounced against all the nations, that is, all those

that had provoked to anger the Defender of the cause of Zion.

Among those, Edom is particularly specified. The principal

provocation of Edom was their insulting the Jews in their

distress, and joining against them with their enemies, the

Chaldeans; see Am 1:11; Eze 25:12; 35:15; Ps 137:7.

Accordingly the Edomites were, together with the rest of the

neighbouring nations, ravaged and laid waste by Nebuchadnezzar;

see Jer 25:15-26; Mal 1:3, 4, and see

Marsham, Can. Chron. Saec. xviii., who calls this the age of the

destruction of cities. The general devastation spread through all

these countries by Nebuchadnezzar may be the event which the

prophet has primarily in view in the thirty-fourth chapter: but

this event, as far as we have any account of it in history, seems

by no means to come up to the terms of the prophecy, or to justify

so highly wrought and terrible a description; and it is not easy

to discover what connexion the extremely flourishing state of the

Church or people of God, described in the next chapter, could have

with those events, and how the former could be the consequence of

the latter, as it is there represented to be. By a figure, very

common in the prophetical writings, any city or people, remarkably

distinguished as enemies of the people and kingdom of God, is put

for those enemies in general. This seems here to be the case with

Edom and Botsra. It seems, therefore, reasonable to suppose, with

many learned expositors, that this prophecy has a farther view to

events still future; to some great revolutions to be effected in

later times, antecedent to that more perfect state of the kingdom

of God upon earth, and serving to introduce it, which the Holy

Scriptures warrant us to expect.

That the thirty-fifth chapter has a view beyond any thing that

could be the immediate consequence of those events, is plain from

every part, especially from the middle of it, Isa 35:5, 6; where

the miraculous works wrought by our blessed Saviour are so clearly

specified, that we cannot avoid making the application: and our

Saviour himself has moreover plainly referred to this very

passage, as speaking of him and his works, Mt 11:4, 5. He bids

the disciples of John to go and report to their master the things

which they heard and saw; that the blind received their sight, the

lame walked, and the deaf heard; and leaves it to him to draw the

conclusion in answer to his inquiry, whether he who performed the

very works which the prophets foretold should be performed by the

Messiah, was not indeed the Messiah himself. And where are these

works so distinctly marked by any of the prophets as in this

place? and how could they be marked more distinctly? To these the

strictly literal interpretation of the prophet's words directs us.

According to the allegorical interpretation they may have a

farther view: this part of the prophecy may run parallel with the

former and relate to the future advent of Christ; to the

conversion of the Jews, and their restitution to their land; to

the extension and purification of the Christian faith; events

predicted in the Holy Scriptures as preparatory to it. Kimchi

says, "This chapter points out the future destruction of Rome,

which is here called Bosra; for Bosra was a great city of the

Edomites. Now the major part of the Romans are Edomites, who

profess the law of Jesus. The Emperor Caesar (qy. Constantine) was

an Edomite, and so were all the emperors after him. The

destruction of the Turkish empire is also comprehended in this

prophecy."-L. As to the last, I say, Amen!


Verse 1. Hearken-"Attend unto me"] A MS. adds in this line the

word ali, unto me, after leummim; which seems to

be genuine.

Verse 4. And all the host of heaven]

See Clarke on Isa 24:21, and

De Sacra Poesi Hebraeorum, Prael. ix.

Verse 5. For my sword shall be bathed in heaven-"For my sword is

made bare in the heavens"] There seems to be some impropriety in

this, according to the present reading: "My sword is made drunken,

or is bathed in the heavens;" which forestalls, and expresses not

in its proper place, what belongs to the next verse: for the sword

of JEHOVAH was not to be bathed or glutted with blood in the

heavens, but in Botsra and the land of Edom. In the heavens it was

only prepared for slaughter. To remedy this, Archbishop Secker

proposes to read, for bashshamayim, bedamim;

referring to Jer 46:10. But even this is premature, and not in

its proper place. The Chaldee, for rivvethah, has

tithgalli, shall be revealed or disclosed: perhaps he read

teraeh or nirathah. Whatever reading, different I presume

from the present, he might find in his copy, I follow the sense

which he has given of it.

Verse 6. The Lord hath a sacrifice-"For JEHOVAH celebrateth a

sacrifice"] Ezekiel, Eze 39:16, 17, has manifestly imitated this

place of Isaiah. He hath set forth the great leaders and princes

of the adverse powers under the same emblems of goats, bulls,

rams, fatlings, &c., and has added to the boldness of the imagery,

by introducing God as summoning all the fowls of the air, and all

the beasts of the field, and bidding them to the feast which he

has prepared for them by the slaughter of the enemies of his


"And thou, son of man,

Thus saith the Lord JEHOVAH,

Say to the bird of every wing,

And to every beast of the field:

Assemble yourselves, and come;

Gather together from every side,

To the sacrifice which I make for you,

A great slaughter on the mountains of Israel.

And ye shall eat flesh and drink blood:

The flesh of the mighty shall ye eat,

And the blood of the lofty of the earth shall ye drink;

Of rams, of lambs, and of goats,

Of bullocks, all of them the fat ones of Bashan;

And ye shall eat fat, till ye are cloyed,

And drink blood, till ye are drunken;

Of my slaughter, which I have slain for you."

The sublime author of the Revelation, Re 19:17, 18, has taken

this image from Ezekiel, rather than from Isaiah.

Verse 7. The unicorns shall come down] reemim,

translated wild goats by Bishop Lowth. The reem Bochart

thinks to be a species of wild goat in the deserts of Arabia. It

seems generally to mean the rhinoceros.

With blood-"With their blood"] middamam; so two ancient

MSS. of Kennicott's the Syriac, and Chaldee.

Verse 8. The year of recompenses for the controversy of

Zion-"The year of recompense to the defender of the cause of

Zion"] As from dun, din, a judge; so from

rub, rib, an advocate, or defender; Judici Sionis:


Verse 11. The cormorant] kaath, the pelican, from the root

ki, to vomit, because it is said she swallows shell-fish, and

when the heat of her stomach has killed the fish, she vomits the

shells, takes out the dead fish, and eats them.

The bittern] kippod, the hedge-hog, or porcupine.

The owl] yanshoph, the bittern, from

nashaph, to blow, because of the blowing noise it makes,

almost like the lowing of an ox. My old MS. Bible renders the

words thus:-The foule in face like an asse, and the yrchoun, and

the snyte (snipe.)

The line of confusion, and the stones of emptiness-"The plummet

of emptiness over her scorched plains."] The word choreyha,

joined to the 12th verse, embarrasses it, and makes it

inexplicable. At least I do not know that any one has yet made out

the construction, or given any tolerable explication of it. I join

it to the 11th verse, and supply a letter or two, which seem to

have been lost. Fifteen MSS. five ancient, and two editions, read

choreyha; the first printed edition of 1486, I think

nearer to the truth, chor choreyha. I read

becharereyha, or al chorereyha; see Jer 17:6. A

MS. has chodiah, and the Syriac reads chaduah,

gaudium, joining it to the two preceding words; which he likewise

reads differently, but without improving the sense. However, his

authority is clear for dividing the verses as they are here

divided. I read shem, as a noun. They shall boast,

yikreu; see Pr 20:6.

Verse 13. And thorns shall come up in her palaces]

vealu bearmenotheyha; so read all the ancient


A court for owls.] yaanah, the ostrich, from

anah, to cry, because of the noise it makes. "They roar," says

Dr. Shaw, "sometimes like a lion-sometimes like a bull. I have

often heard them groan as if in the utmost distress."

Verse 14. The wild beasts of the desert] tsiyim, the

mountain cats.-Bochart.

Wild beasts of the island] aiyim, the jackals.

The satyr] seir, the hairy one, probably the he-goat.

The screech owl] lilith, the night-bird, the

night-raven, nyctycorax, from layil, or lailah,

the night.

Verse 15. The great owl] kippoz, the ακοντιας, or

darter, a serpent so called because of its suddenly leaping up

or darting on its prey. Probably the mongoz or ichneumon may be


The vultures] daiyoth, the black vultures. My old MS.

Bible renders these names curiously: And ageyn cumen schul

devylis: the beste, party of an asse, and party of a mam: and the

wodwose, the tother schal crien to the tother. There schal byn

lamya, that is, thrisse, or a beste, havynge the body liic a

woman, and hors feet. Ther hadde dichis, the yrchoun, and nurshide

out littil chittis. There ben gadred kiitis, the top to the top.

What language!

Every one with her mate.] A MS. adds el after

ishshah, which seems necessary to the construction; and so the

Syriac and Vulgate. Another MS. adds in the same place eth,

which is equivalent.

Verse 16. My mouth-"For the mouth of JEHOVAH"] For hu,

five MSS., (three ancient,) read Jehovah, and another is so

corrected; so likewise the Septuagint. Two editions have

tsivam; and so the Septuagint, Vulgate, and Arabic, with the

edition of 1486, and a MS. has kebatsam, with the masculine

pronoun instead of the feminine: and so in the next verses it is

lahem, instead of lahen, in fourteen MSS., six of

them ancient.-L. To see the importance of these various readings,

the Hebrew Bible must be consulted.

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