Isaiah 4

CHAPTER IV

The havoc occasioned by war, and those other calamities which

the prophet had been describing in the preceding chapter, are

represented as so terribly great that seven women should be

left to one man, 1.

Great blessedness of the remnant that shall be accounted worthy

to escape these judgments, 2-4.

The privileges of the Gospel set forth by allusions to the

glory and pomp of the Mosaic dispensation, 5, 6.

NOTES ON CHAP. IV

Verse 1. And seven women] The division of the chapters has

interrupted the prophet's discourse, and broken it off almost in

the midst of the sentence. "The numbers slain in battle shall be

so great, that seven women shall be left to one man." The prophet

has described the greatness of this distress by images and

adjuncts the most expressive and forcible. The young women,

contrary to their natural modesty, shall become suitors to the

men: they will take hold of them, and use the most pressing

importunity to be married. In spite of the natural suggestions of

jealousy, they will be content with a share only of the rights of

marriage in common with several others; and that on hard

conditions, renouncing the legal demands of the wife on the

husband, (see Ex 21:10,) and begging only the name and credit of

wedlock, and to be freed from the reproach of celibacy. See

Isa 54:4, 5. Like Marcia, on a different occasion, and in other

circumstances:-

Da tantum nomen inane

Connubii: liceat tumulo scripsisse, Catonis Marcia.

LUCAN, ii. 342.

"This happened," says Kimchi, "in the days of Ahaz, when Pekah

the son of Remaliah slew in Judea one hundred and twenty thousand

men in one day; see 2Ch 28:6. The widows which were left were so

numerous that the prophet said, 'They are multiplied beyond the

sand of the sea,'" Jer 15:8.

In that day] These words are omitted in the Septuagint, and MSS.

Verse 2. The branch of the Lord-"the branch of JEHOVAH"] The

Messiah of JEHOVAH, says the Chaldee. And Kimchi says, The

Messiah, the Son of David. The branch is an appropriate title of

the Messiah; and the fruit of the land means the great Person to

spring from the house of Judah, and is only a parallel expression

signifying the same; or perhaps the blessings consequent upon the

redemption procured by him. Compare Isa 45:8, where the same

great event is set forth under similar images, and see the note

there.

Them that are escaped of Israel-"the escaped of the house of

Israel."] A MS. has beith yisrael, the house of Israel.

Verse 3. Written among the living] That is, whose name stands in

the enrolment or register of the people; or every man living, who

is a citizen of Jerusalem. See Eze 13:9, where, "they shall not

be written in the writing of the house of Israel," is the same

with what immediately goes before, "they shall not be in the

assembly of my people." Compare Ps 69:28; 87:6; Ex 32:32. To

number and register the people was agreeable to the law of Moses,

and probably was always practised; being, in sound policy, useful,

and even necessary. David's design of numbering the people was of

another kind; it was to enrol them for his army. Michaelis

Mosaisches Recht, Part iii., p. 227. See also his Dissert. de

Censibus Hebraeorum.

Verse 4. The spirit of burning] Means the fire of God's wrath,

by which he will prove and purify his people; gathering them into

his furnace, in order to separate the dross from the silver, the

bad from the good. The severity of God's judgments, the fiery

trial of his servants, Ezekiel (Eze 22:18-22) has set forth at

large, after his manner, with great boldness of imagery and force

of expression. God threatens to gather them into the midst of

Jerusalem, as into the furnace; to blow the fire upon them, and to

melt them. Malachi, Mal 3:2, 3, treats the same subject, and

represents the same event, under the like images:-

"But who may abide the day of his coming?

And who shall stand when he appeareth?

For he is like the fire of the refiner,

And like the soap of the fullers.

And he shall sit refining and purifying the silver;

And he shall purify the sons of Levi;

And cleanse them like gold, and like silver;

That they may be JEHOVAH'S ministers,

Presenting unto him an offering in righteousness."

This is an allusion to a chemist purifying metals. He first

judges of the state of the ore or adulterated metal. Secondly, he

kindles the proper degree of fire, and applies the requisite test;

and thus separates the precious from the vile.

Verse 5. And the Lord will create-One MS., the Septuagint, and

the Arabic, have yabi, He shall bring: the cloud already

exists; the Lord will bring it over. This is a blessed promise of

the presence of God in all the assemblies of his people.

Every dwelling place-"the station"] The Hebrew text has, every

station: but four MSS. (one ancient) omit col, all; very

rightly, as it should seem: for the station was Mount Zion itself,

and no other. See Ex 15:17. And the

Septuagint, Arabic, and MSS., add the same word col, before

mikraeha, probably right: the word has only changed its

place by mistake. mikrayeh, "the place where they were

gathered together in their holy assemblies," says Sal ben Melech.

But twenty-five of Kennicott's MSS., and twenty-two of De

Rossi's fifty-three editions, besides the Septuagint, Syriac, and

Arabic, have the word in the plural number.

A cloud and smoke by day] This is a manifest allusion to the

pillar of a cloud and of fire which attended the Israelites in

their passage out of Egypt, and to the glory that rested on the

tabernacle, Ex 13:21; 40:38. The prophet Zechariah, Zec 2:5,

applies the same image to the same purpose:-

"And I will be unto her a wall of fire round about;

And a glory will I be in the midst of her."

That is, the visible presence of God shall protect her. Which

explains the conclusion of this verse of Isaiah; where the makkaph

between col, and cabod, connecting the two words in

construction, which ought not to be connected, has thrown an

obscurity upon the sentence, and misled most of the translators.

For upon all the glory shall be a defense.] Whatever God

creates, he must uphold, or it will fail, Every degree of grace

brings with it a degree of power to maintain itself in the soul.

Verse 6. A tabernacle] In countries subject to violent tempests,

as well as to intolerable heat, a portable tent is a necessary

part of a traveller's baggage, for defence and shelter. And to

such tents the words of the text make evident allusion. They are

to be met with in every part of Arabia and Egypt, and in various

other places in the East.

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