Isaiah 35

CHAPTER XXXV

Flourishing state of the Church of God consequent to the awful

judgments predicted in the preceding chapter. The images

employed in the description are so very consolatory and sublime

as to oblige us to extend their fulfilment to that period of

the Gospel dispensation when Messiah shall take unto himself

his great power and reign. The fifth and sixth verses were

literally accomplished by our Saviour and his apostles: but

that the miracles wrought in the first century were not the

only import of the language used by the prophet, is

sufficiently plain from the context. They, therefore, have a

farther application; and are contemporary with, or rather a

consequence of, the judgments of God upon the enemies of the

Church in the latter days; and so relate to the greater

influence and extension of the Christian faith, the conversion

of the Jews, their restoration to their own land, and the

second advent of Christ. Much of the imagery of this chapter

seems to have been borrowed from the exodus from Egypt: but it

is greatly enlivened by the life, sentiments, and passions

ascribed to inanimate objects; all nature being represented as

rejoicing with the people of God in consequence of their

deliverance; and administering in such an unusual manner to

their relief and comfort, as to induce some commentators to

extend the meaning of the prophecy to the blessedness of the

saints in heaven, 1-10.

The various miracles our Lord wrought are the best comment on

this chapter, which predicts those wondrous works and the glorious

state of the Christian Church. See the parallel texts in the

margin.

On this chapter Bishop Lowth has offered some important

emendations. I shall introduce his translation, as the best yet

given of this singular prophecy:-

1. The desert and the waste shall be glad;

And the wilderness shall rejoice, and flourish:

2. Like the rose shall it beautifully flourish;

And the well-watered plain of Jordan shall also rejoice:

The glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it,

The beauty of Carmel and of Sharon;

These shall behold the glory of JEHOVAH,

The majesty of our God.

3. Strengthen ye the feeble hands,

And confirm ye the tottering knees.

4. Say ye to the faint-hearted, Be ye strong;

Fear ye not; behold your God!

Vengeance will come; the retribution of God:

He himself will come, and will deliver you.

5. Then shall be unclosed the eyes of the blind;

And the ears of the deaf shall be opened:

6. Then shall the lame bound like the hart,

And the tongue of the dumb shall sing;

For in the wilderness shall burst forth waters,

And torrents in the desert:

7. And the glowing sand shall become a pool,

And the thirsty soil bubbling springs:

And in the haunt of dragons shall spring forth

The grass with the reed and the bulrush.

8. And a highway shall be there;

And it shall be called The way of holiness:

No unclean person shall pass through it:

But he himself shall be with them, walking in the way,

And the foolish shall not err therein:

9. No lion shall be there;

Nor shall the tyrant of the beasts come up thither:

Neither shall he be found there;

But the redeemed shall walk in it.

10. Yea, the ransomed of JEHOVAH shall return;

They shall come to Sion with triumph;

And perpetual gladness shall crown their heads.

Joy and gladness shall they obtain;

And sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

NOTES ON CHAP. XXXV

Verse 1. Shall be glad] yesusum; in one MS. the

mem seems to have been added; and sum is upon a rasure in

another. None of the ancient versions acknowledge it; it seems to

have been a mistake, arising from the next word beginning with the

same letter. Seventeen MSS. have yesusum, both vaus

expressed; and five MSS. yesusum, without the vaus.

Probably the true reading is, "The wilderness and the dry place

shall be glad." Not for them.

Verse 2. Rejoice even with joy and singing-"The well-watered

plain of Jordan shall also rejoice"] For veranen, the

Septuagint read yarden, ταερηνατουιορδανου, "the

deserts of Jordan." Four MSS. read gulath; see Jos 15:19:

"Irrigua Jordani;" Houbigant. gidoth, Ripae Jordani, "the

banks of Jordan;" Kennicott. See De S. Poesi Hebr. Praelect. xx.

note.

Unto it] For lah, to it, nine MSS. of Kennicott's and

four of De Rossi's read lecha, to thee. See ibid.

Verse 7. The parched ground-"The glowing sand"] sharab;

this word is Arabic, [Arabic] as well as Hebrew, expressing in

both languages the same thing, the glowing sandy plain, which in

the hot countries at a distance has the appearance of water. It

occurs in the Koran, chap. xxiv.: "But as to the unbelievers,

their works are like a vapour in a plain, which the thirsty

traveller thinketh to be water, until, when he cometh thereto, he

findeth it to be nothing." Mr. Sale's note on this place is, "The

Arabic word serab signifies that false appearance which in the

eastern countries is often seen on sandy plains about noon,

resembling a large lake of water in motion, and is occasioned by

the reverberation of the sun beams: 'by the quivering undulating

motion of that quick succession of vapours and exhalations which

are extracted by the powerful influence of the sun.'-Shaw, Trav.

p. 378. It sometimes tempts thirsty travellers out of their way;

but deceives them when they come near, either going forward, (for

it always appears at the Same distance,) or quite vanishing." Q.

Curtius has mentioned it: "Arenas vapor aestivi solis accendit;

camporumque non alia, quam vasti et profundi aequoris species

est."-Lib. vii., c. 5. Dr. Hyde gives us the precise meaning and

derivation of the word. "Dictum nomen Barca habberakah,

splendorem, seu splendentem regionem notat; cum ea regio radiis

solaribus tam copiose collustretur, ut reflexum ab arenis lumen

adeo intense fulgens, a longinquo spectantibus, ad instar corporis

solaris, aquarum speciem referat; et hinc arenarum splendor et

radiatio, (et lingua Persica petito nomine,) dicitur [Arabic]

serab, i.e., aquae superficies seu superficialis aquarum

species." Annot. in Peritsol., cap. ii.

"Shall spring forth"] The he in rebitseh seems to

have been at first mem in MS. Bodl., whence Dr. Kennicott

concludes it should be rebitsim. But instead of this word

the Syriac, Vulgate, and Chaldee read some word signifying to

grow, spring up, or abound. Perhaps paretsah, or

paretsu, or parats hachatsir, as Houbigant reads.-L.

Verse 8. And a highway] The word vederech is by mistake

added to the first member of the sentence from the beginning of

the following member. Sixteen MSS. of Dr. Kennicott's, seven

ancient, and two of De Rossi's have it but once; so likewise the

Syriac, Septuagint, and Arabic.

Err therein.] A MS. of Dr. Kennicott's adds bo, in it,

which seems necessary to the sense, and so the Vulgate, per eam,

"by it." One of De Rossi's has sham, there.

But it shall be for those-"But he himself shall be with them,

walking in the way."] That is, God; see Isa 35:4. "Who shall

dwell among them, and set them an example that they should follow

his steps." Our old English Version translated the place to this

purpose, our last translators were misled by the authority of the

Jews, who have absurdly made a division of the verses in the midst

of the sentence, thereby destroying the construction and the

sense.

Verse 9. It shall not be found there-"Neither shall he be found

there"] Three MSS. read velo, adding the conjunction; and so

likewise the Septuagint and Vulgate. And four MSS., one

ancient, read yimmatsa, the verb, as it certainly ought to

be, in the masculine form.

The redeemed shall walk there] geulim. Those whose

forfeited inheritances are brought back by the kinsman, goel,

the nearest of kin to the family. This has been considered by all

orthodox divines as referring to the incarnation of our Lord, and

his sacrificial offering. After geulim, one of De Rossi's

MSS. adds ad olam, for ever, "The redeemed shall walk

there for ever."

Verse 10. The ransomed] peduyey, from padah,

"to redeem by paying a price." Those for whom a price was paid

down to redeem them from bondage and death.

Sighing shall flee away.] anachah. Never was a sorrowful

accent better expressed than in this strong guttural word,

an-ach-ah; nearly the same with the Irish in their funeral

wailings, och-och-on. The whole nation express all their mournful

accents by these three monosyllables.

THIS chapter contains the following parts:-

1. We have here blessed promises of the latter-day glory.

2. The prophet may be considered as addressing the teachers of

the Gospel, to show them that it was their business to encourage

and direct the people in their expectation of redemption.

3. A promise of the manifestation of God among men is given.

4. The miracles which Christ should work are explicitly

mentioned.

5. The privileges of Christianity are specified; there shall be,

1. Thorough teaching; 2. Holy walking.

6. Perfect safety.

7. Complete happiness. And-

8. Final glory.

The chapter shows also that no impurity should be tolerated in

the Church of God; for as that is the mystical body of Christ, it

should be like himself, without spot or wrinkle, or any such

thing.

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