Isaiah 5


This chapter begins with representing, in a beautiful parable,

the tender care of God for his people, and their unworthy

returns for his goodness, 1-7.

The parable or allegory is then dropped; and the prophet, in

plain terms, reproves and threatens them for their wickedness;

particularly for their covetousness, 8-10;

intemperance, 11;

and inattention to the warnings of Providence, 12.

Then follows an enumeration of judgments as the necessary

consequence. Captivity and famine appear with all their

horrors, 13.

Hades, or the grave, like a ravenous monster, opens wide its

jaws, and swallows down its myriads, 14.

Distress lays hold on all ranks, 15;

and God is glorified in the execution of his judgments, 16;

till the whole place is left desolate, a place for the flocks

to range in, 17.

The prophet then pauses; and again resumes his subject,

reproving them for several other sins, and threatening them

with woes and vengeance, 18-24;

after which he sums up the whole of his awful denunciation in a

very lofty and spirited epiphonema or conclusion. The God of

armies, having hitherto corrected to no purpose, is represented

with inimitable majesty, as only giving a hist, and a swarm of

nations hasten to his standard, 25-27.

Upon a guilty race, unpitied by heaven or by earth, they

execute their commission; and leave the land desolate and dark,

without one ray of comfort to cheer the horrid gloom, 28-30.

This chapter likewise stands single and alone, unconnected with

the preceding or following. The subject of it is nearly the same

with that of the first chapter. It is a general reproof of the

Jews for their wickedness; but it exceeds that chapter in force,

in severity, in variety, and elegance; and it adds a more express

declaration of vengeance by the Babylonian invasion.


Verse 1. Now will I sing to my well-beloved a song of my

beloved-"Let me sing now a song," &c.] A MS., respectable for

its antiquity, adds the word shir, a song, after na;

which gives so elegant a turn to the sentence by the repetition of

it in the next member, and by distinguishing the members so

exactly in the style and manner in the Hebrew poetical

composition, that I am much inclined to think it genuine.

A song of my beloved-"A song of loves"] dodey, for

dodim: status constructus pro absoluto, as the grammarians say, as

Mic 6:16; La 3:14, 66, so Archbishop

Secker. Or rather, in all these and the like cases, a mistake of

the transcribers, by not observing a small stroke, which in many

MSS., is made to supply the mem, of the plural, thus,

dodi. shirath dodim is the same with

shir yedidoth, Ps 45:1. In this way of understanding it we

avoid the great impropriety of making the author of the song, and

the person to whom it is addressed, to be the same.

In a very fruitful hill-"On a high and fruitful hill."] Heb.

bekeren ben shamen, "on a horn the son of oil." The

expression is highly descriptive and poetical. "He calls the land

of Israel a horn, because it is higher than all lands; as the horn

is higher than the whole body; and the son of oil, because it is

said to be a land flowing with milk and honey."-Kimchi on the

place. The parts of animals are, by an easy metaphor, applied to

parts of the earth, both in common and poetical language. A

promontory is called a cape or head; the Turks call it a nose.

"Dorsum immane mari summo;" Virgil, a back, or ridge of rocks:-

"Hanc latus angustum jam se cogentis in arctum

Hesperiae tenuem producit in aequora linguam,

Adriacas flexis claudit quae cornibus undas."

Lucan, ii. 612, of Brundusium, i.e., βρεντεσιον, which, in the

ancient language of that country, signifies stag's head, says

Strabo. A horn is a proper and obvious image for a mountain or

mountainous country. Solinus, cap. viii., says, "Italiam, ubi

longius processerit, in cornua duo scindi;" that is, the high

ridge of the Alps, which runs through the whole length of it,

divides at last into two ridges, one going through Calabria, the

other through the country of the Brutii. "Cornwall is called by

the inhabitants in the British tongue Kernaw, as lessening by

degrees like a horn, running out into promontories like so many

horns. For the Britons call a horn corn, in the plural

kern."-Camden. "And Sammes is of opinion, that the country

had this name originally from the Phoenicians, who traded hither

for tin; keren, in their language, being a horn."-Gibson.

Here the precise idea seems to be that of a high mountain

standing by itself; "vertex montis, aut pars montis ad aliis

divisa;" which signification, says I. H. Michaelis, Bibl.

Hallens., Not. in loc., the word has in Arabic.

Judea was in general a mountainous country, whence Moses

sometimes calls it The Mountain, "Thou shalt plant them in the

mountain of thine inheritance;" Ex 15:17. "I pray thee, let me go

over, and see the good land beyond Jordan; that goodly mountain,

and Lebanon;" De 3:25. And in a political and religious view it

was detached and separated from all the nations round it. Whoever

has considered the descriptions given of Mount Tabor, (see Reland,

Palaestin.; Eugene Roger, Terre Sainte, p. 64,) and the views of

it which are to be seen in books of travels, (Maundrell, p. 114;

Egmont and Heyman, vol. ii., p. 25; Thevenot, vol. i., p. 429,)

its regular conic form rising singly in a plain to a great height,

from a base small in proportion, and its beauty and fertility to

the very top, will have a good idea of "a horn the son of oil;"

and will perhaps be induced to think that the prophet took his

image from that mountain.

Verse 2. And gathered out the stones-"And he cleared it from the

stones"] This was agreeable to the husbandry: "Saxa, summa parte

terrae, et vites et arbores laeduct; ima parte refrigerant;"

Columell. de arb. iii. "Saxosum facile est expedire lectione

lapidum;" Id. ii. 2. "Lapides, qui supersunt, [al. insuper sunt,]

hieme rigent, aestate fervescunt; idcirco satis, arbustis, et

vitibus nocent;" Pallad. i. 6. A piece of ground thus cleared of

the stones. Persius, in his hard way of metaphor, calls "exossatus

ager," an unboned field; Sat. vi. 52.

The choicest vine-"Sorek"] Many of the ancient interpreters, the

Septuagint, Aquila, and Theod., have retained this word as a

proper name; I think very rightly. Sorek was a valley lying

between Ascalon and Gaza, and running far up eastward in the tribe

of Judah. Both Ascalon and Gaza were anciently famous for wine;

the former is mentioned as such by Alexander Trallianus; the

latter by several authors, quoted by Reland, Palaest., p. 589 and

986. And it seems that the upper part of the valley of Sorek, and

that of Eshcol, where the spies gathered the single cluster of

grapes, which they were obliged to bear between two upon a staff,

being both near to Hebron were in the same neighbourhood, and that

all this part of the country abounded with rich vineyards. Compare

Nu 13:22, 23; Jud 16:3, 4.

P. Nau supposes Eshcol and Sorek to be only different names for

the same valley. Voyage Noveau de la Terre Sainte, lib. iv., chap.

18. See likewise De Lisle's posthumous map of the Holy Land.

Paris, 1763. See Bochart, Hieroz. ii., col. 725. Thevenot, i, p.

406. Michaelis (note on Jud 16:4, German translation) thinks it

probable, from some circumstances of the history there given, that

Sorek was in the tribe of Judah, not in the country of the


The vine of Sorek was known to the Israelites, being mentioned

by Moses, Ge 49:11, before their coming out of Egypt. Egypt was

not a wine country. "Throughout this country there are no wines;"

Sandys, p. 101. At least in very ancient times they had none.

Herodotus, ii. 77, says it had no vines and therefore used an

artificial wine made of barley. That is not strictly true, for the

vines of Egypt are spoken of in Scripture, Ps 78:47; 105:33; and

see Ge 40:11, by which it should seem that they drank only the

fresh juice pressed from the grape, which was called οινος

αμπελινος; Herodot., ii. 37. But they had no large vineyards, nor

was the country proper for them, being little more than one large

plain, annually overflowed by the Nile. The Mareotic in later

times is, I think, the only celebrated Egyptian wine which we meet

with in history. The vine was formerly, as Hasselquist tells us it

is now, "cultivated in Egypt for the sake of eating the grapes,

not for wine, which is brought from Candia," &c. "They were

supplied with wine from Greece, and likewise from Phoenicia,"

Herodot., iii. 6. The vine and the wine of Sorek therefore,

which lay near at hand for importation into Egypt, must in all

probability have been well known to the Israelites, when they

sojourned there. There is something remarkable in the manner in

which Moses, Ge 49:11, makes mention of it, which, for want of

considering this matter, has not been attended to; it is in

Jacob's prophecy of the future prosperity of the tribe of Judah:-

"Binding his foal to the vine,

And his ass's colt to his own sorek;

He washeth his raiment in wine,

And his cloak in the blood of grapes."

I take the liberty of rendering sorekah, for soreko,

his sorek, as the Masoretes do by pointing iroh, for

iro, his foal. ir, might naturally enough appear in the

feminine form; but it is not at all probable that sorek ever

should. By naming particularly the vine of Sorek, and as the vine

belonging to Judah, the prophecy intimates the very part of the

country which was to fall to the lot of that tribe. Sir John

Chardin says, "that at Casbin, a city of Persia, they turn their

cattle into the vineyards after the vintage, to browse on the

vines." He speaks also of vines in that country so large that he

could hardly compass the trunks of them with his arms. Voyages,

tom. iii., p. 12, 12mo. This shows that the ass might be securely

bound to the vine, and without danger of damaging the tree by

browsing on it.

And built a tower in the midst of it] Our Saviour, who has taken

the general idea of one of his parables, Mt 21:33; Mr 12:1, from

this of Isaiah, has likewise inserted this circumstance of

building a tower; which is generally explained by commentators as

designed for the keeper of the vineyard to watch and defend the

fruits. But for this purpose it was usual to make a little

temporary hut, (Isa 1:8,) which might serve for the short season

while the fruit was ripening, and which was removed afterwards.

The tower therefore should rather mean a building of a more

permanent nature and use; the farm, as we may call it, of the

vineyard, containing all the offices and implements, and the whole

apparatus necessary for the culture of the vineyard, and the

making of the wine. To which image in the allegory, the situation

the manner of building, the use, and the whole service of the

temple, exactly answered. And so the Chaldee paraphrast very

rightly expounds it: Et statui eos (Israelitas) ut plantam vineae

selectae et aedificavi Sanctuarium meum in medio illorum. "And I

have appointed the Israelites as a plant of a chosen vine, and I

have built my sanctuary in the midst of them." So also Hieron. in

loc. AEdificavit quoque turrim in medio ejus; templum videlicet in

media civitate. "He built also a tower in the midst of it, viz.,

his own temple in the midst of the city." That they have still

such towers or buildings for use or pleasure, in their gardens in

the East, see Harmer's Observations, ii. p. 241.

And also made a wine-press therein.-"And hewed out a lake

therein."] This image also our Saviour has preserved in his

parable. yekeb; the Septuagint render it here προληνιον,

and in four other places υποληνιον, Isa 16:10; Joe 3:13;

Hag 2:17; Zec 14:10, I think more properly; and this latter

word St. Mark uses. It means not the wine-press itself, or

calcatorium, which is called gath, or purah; but

what the Romans called lacus, the lake; the large open place or

vessel, which by a conduit or spout received the must from the

wine-press. In very hot countries it was perhaps necessary, or at

least very convenient, to have the lake under ground, or in a cave

hewed out of the side of the rock, for coolness, that the heat

might not cause too great a fermentation, and sour the must. Vini

confectio instituitur in cella, vel intimae domus camera quadam a

ventorum ingressu remota. Kempfer, of Shiras wine. Amaen. Exot. p.

376. For the wind, to which that country is subject, would injure

the wine. "The wine-presses in Persia," says Sir John Chardin,

"are formed by making hollow places in the ground, lined with

masons' work." Harmer's Observations, i., p. 392. See a print of

one in Kempfer, p. 377. Nonnus describes at large Bacchus

hollowing the inside of a rock, and hewing out a place for the

wine-press, or rather the lake:-




αφρον [f. ακρον] ευστραφυλοιοτυπονποιησατολενου

DIONYSIAC. lib. xii., l. 331.

"He pierced the rock; and with the sharpen'd tool

Of steel well-temper'd scoop'd its inmost depth:

Then smooth'd the front, and form'd the dark recess

In just dimensions for the foaming lake."

And he looked-"And he expected"] Jeremiah, Jer 2:21, uses the

same image, and applies it to the same purpose, in an elegant

paraphrase of this part of Isaiah's parable, in his flowing and

plaintive manner:-

"But I planted thee a sorek, a scion perfectly genuine:

How then art thou changed, and become to me the degenerate

shoots of the strange vine!"

Wild grapes-"poisonous berries."] beushim, not merely

useless, unprofitable grapes, such as wild grapes; but grapes

offensive to the smell, noxious, poisonous. By the force and

intent of the allegory, to good grapes ought to be opposed fruit

of a dangerous and pernicious quality; as, in the explication of

it, to judgment is opposed tyranny, and to righteousness,

oppression. gephen, the vine, is a common name or genus,

including several species under it; and Moses, to distinguish the

true vine, or that from which wine is made, from the rest. calls

it, Nu 6:4,

gephen haiyayin, the wine-vine. Some of the other sorts were of

a poisonous quality, as appears from the story related among the

miraculous acts of Elisha, 2Ki 4:39-41. "And one went out into

the field to gather potherbs; and he found a field vine, and he

gathered from it wild fruit, his lapful; and he went and shred

them into the pot of pottage, for they knew them not. And they

poured it out for the men to eat: and it came to pass, as they

were eating of the pottage, that they cried out and said, There is

death in the pot, O man of God; and they could not eat of it. And

he said, Bring meal, (leg. kechu, nine MSS., one edition,)

and he threw it into the pot. And he said, Pour out for the

people, that they may eat. And there was nothing hurtful in the


From some such sorts of poisonous fruits of the grape kind Moses

has taken these strong and highly poetical images, with which he

has set forth the future corruption and extreme degeneracy of the

Israelites, in an allegory which has a near relation, both in its

subject and imagery, to this of Isaiah: De 32:32, 33.

"Their vine is from the vine of Sodom,

And from the fields of Gomorrah:

Their grapes are grapes of gall;

Their clusters are bitter:

Their wine is the poison of dragons,

And the cruel venom of aspics."

"I am inclined to believe," says Hasselquist, "that the prophet

here, Isa 5:2-4, means the hoary nightshade,

solanum incanum; because it is common in Egypt, Palestine, and

the East; and the Arabian name agrees well with it. The Arabs call

it anab el dib, i.e., wolf grapes. The beushim, says

Rab. Chai., is a well known species of the vine, and the worst of

all sorts. The prophet could not have found a plant more opposite

to the vine than this; for it grows much in the vineyards, and is

very pernicious to them; wherefore they root it out: it likewise

resembles a vine by its shrubby stalk;" Travels, p. 289. See also

Michaelis, Questions aux Voyageurs Danois, No. 64.

Verse 3. Inhabitants] yoshebey, in the plural number;

three MSS., (two ancient,) and so likewise the Septuagint and


Verse 6. There shall come up briers and thorns-"The thorn shall

spring up in it"] One MS. has beshamir. The true reading

seems to be bo shamir, which is confirmed by the

Septuagint, Syriac, and Vulgate.

Verse 7. And he looked for judgment] The paronomasia, or play on

the words, in this place, is very remarkable; mishpat, mishpach,

tsedakah, tseakah. There are many examples of it in the other

prophets, but Isaiah seems peculiarly fond of it. See

Isa 13:6; 24:17; 32:7; 28:1; 57:6; 61:3; 65:11, 12. Rabbi

David Kimchi has noticed the paronomasia here: he expected

mishpat, judgment, but behold mishpach, oppression; he

expected tsedakah, righteousness, but behold tseakah,

a cry. The rabbins esteem it a great beauty; their term for it is

tsachoth haltashon, elegance of language.

Oppression-"tyranny."] mishpach, from shaphach,

servum fecit, Arab. Houbigant: shiphchah is serva, a

handmaid or female slave. mispach, eighteen MSS.

Verse 8. Wo unto them that-lay field to field-"You who lay field

unto field"] Read takribu, in the second person; to answer

to the verb following. So Vulgate.

Verse 9. In mine ears.-"To mine ear"] The sentence in the Hebrew

text seems to be imperfect in this place; as likewise in

Isa 22:14, where the very same sense seems to be required as

here. See the note there; and compare 1Sa 9:15. In this place the

Septuagint supply the word ηκουσθη, and the Syriac

eshtama, auditus est JEHOVAH in auribus meis, i.e., niglah,

as in Isa 22:14.

Many houses] This has reference to what was said in the

preceding verse: "In vain are ye so intent upon joining house to

house, and field to field; your houses shall be left uninhabited,

and your fields shall become desolate and barren; so that a

vineyard of ten acres shall produce but one bath (not eight

gallons) of wine, and the husbandman shall reap but a tenth part

of the seed which he has sown." Kimchi says this means such an

extent of vineyard as would require ten yoke of oxen to plough in

one day.

Verse 11. Wo unto them that rise up early] There is a likeness

between this and the following passage of the prophet Amos,

Am 6:3-6, who probably wrote before Isaiah. If the latter be

the copier, he seems hardly to have equalled the elegance of the


"Ye that put far away the evil day

And affect the seat of violence;

Who lie upon beds of ivory,

And stretch yourselves upon your couches;

And eat the lambs from the flock,

And calves from the midst of the stall;

Who chant to the sound of the viol,

And like David invent for yourselves instruments of music;

Who quaff wine in large bowls,

And are anointed with the choicest ointments:

But are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph."

Kimchi says, "they consider not the heavens nor their hosts:

they pray not the morning nor the evening prayer unto the Lord."

Follow strong drink] Theodoret and Chrysostom on this place,

both Syrians, and unexceptionable witnesses in what belongs to

their own country, inform us that shechar (σικερα in the

Greek of both Testaments, rendered by us by the general term

strong drink) meant properly palm wine, or date wine, which was

and is still much in use in the Eastern countries. Judea was

famous for the abundance and excellence of its palm trees; and

consequently had plenty of this wine. "Fiunt (vina) et e pomis;

primumque e palmis, quo Parthi et Indi utun tur, et oriens totus:

maturarum modio in aquae congiis tribus macerato expressoque."

Plin. lib. xiv. 19. "Ab his cariotae [palmae] maxime celebrantur;

et cibo quidem, sed et succo, uberrimae. Ex quibus praecipua vina

orienti; iniqua capiti, unde porno nomen." Id. xiii. 9. καρος

signifies stupefaction: and in Hebrew likewise the wine has its

name from its remarkably inebriating quality.

Verse 13. And their honourable men-"And the nobles"] These

verses have likewise a reference to the two preceding. They that

indulged in feasting and drinking shall perish with hunger and

thirst; and Hades shall indulge his appetite as much as they had

done, and devour them all. The image is strong and expressive in

the highest degree. Habakkuk, Hab 2:5, uses the same image with

great force:-the ambitious and avaricious conqueror.

"Enlargeth his appetite like Hades;

And he is like Death, and will never be satisfied,"

But, in Isaiah, Hades is introduced to much greater advantage,

in person; and placed before our eyes in the form of a ravenous

monster, opening wide his immeasurable jaws, and swallowing them

all together: "Therefore Sheol hath dilated her soul, she hath

opened her mouth beyond limit." Destruction expects more than a

common meal, when God visits Jerusalem for her iniquities. This

seems to refer to the ruin brought on the Jews by the Romans. Our

blessed Lord repeats this parable, and applies it to this very

transaction, Mt 21:33.

Verse 17. The lambs-"And the kids"] gerim, "strangers."

The Septuagint read, more agreeably to the design of the prophet,

carim, αρνες, "the lambs." gedayim, "the

kids," Dr. Durell; nearer to the present reading: and so

Archbishop Secker. The meaning is, their luxurious habitations

shall be so entirely destroyed as to become a pasture for flocks.

After their manner-"Without restraint"] kedobram,

secundum duetum eorum; i.e. suo ipsorum ductu; as their own will

shall lead them.

Verse 18. With a cart-rope-"As a long cable"] The Septuagint,

Aquila, Sym., and Theod., for bechabley, read

kechahley, ωςσχοινιω, or σχοινιοις; and the Septuagint,

instead of shau, read some other word signifying long; ως

σχοινιωμακρω; and so likewise the Syriac, arecha.

Houbigant conjectures that the word which the Septuagint had in

their copies was sarua, which is used Le 21:18; 22:23, for

something in an animal body superfluous, lengthened beyond its

natural measure. And he explains it of sin added to sin, and one

sin drawing on another, till the whole comes to an enormous length

and magnitude; compared to the work of a rope-maker still

increasing and lengthening his rope, with the continued addition

of new materials. "Eos propheta similes facit homini restiario,

qui funem torquet, cannabe addita et contorta, eadem iterans,

donec funem in longum duxerit, neque eum liceat protrahi longius."

"An evil inclination," says Kimchi on this place, from the ancient

rabbins, "is at the beginning like a fine hair-string, but at the

finishing like a thick cart-rope." By a long progression in

iniquity, and a continued accumulation of sin, men arrive at

length to the highest degree of wickedness; bidding open defiance

to God, and scoffing at his threatened judgments, as it is finely

expressed in the next verse. The Chaldee paraphrast explains it in

the same manner, of wickedness increasing from small beginnings,

till it arrives to a great magnitude.-L.

I believe neither the rabbins nor Bishop Lowth have hit on the

true meaning of this place, the prophet seems to refer to idol

sacrifices. The victims they offered were splendidly decked out

for the sacrifice. Their horns and hoofs were often gilded, and

their heads dressed out with fillets and garlands. The cords of

vanity may refer to the silken strings by which they were led to

the altar, some of which were unusually thick. The offering for

iniquity was adorned with fillets and garlands; the sin-offering

with silken cords, like unto cart-ropes. Pride, in their acts of

humiliation, had the upper hand.

Verse 19. Let the counsel of the Holy One] Tryphiodorus has an

expression something like this:-


TRYPH. Il Excid. 239.

Because the counsel of Jupiter was come.

"This expression, ηλυθεβουλη, is, I believe, something uncommon;

but it is exactly paralleled and explained by a passage in Isaiah,

Isa 5:19. The

Septuagint has expressed it in the very same words with

Tryphiodorus: καιελθοιηβουλητουαγιουισραηλινα

γνωμεν."-Merrick's note, ad loc.

Verse 22. Mighty to drink wine] "They show not," says Kimchi,

"their strength in combating their enemies, but in drunkenness and


Verse 23. The righteous] tsaddik, singular, Sept.

Vulg., and two editions.

Verse 24. The flame-"The tongue of fire"] "The flame, because it

is in the shape of a tongue; and so it is called metaphorically."

Sal. ben Melec. The metaphor is so exceedingly obvious, as well

as beautiful, that one may wonder that it has not been more

frequently used. Virgil very elegantly intimates, rather than

expresses, the image;-

Ecce levis summo de vertice visus Iuli

Fundere lumen apex; tactuque innoxia molli

Lambere flamma comas, et circum tempora pasci.

AEn. ii. 682.

"Strange to relate! from young Iulus' head

A lambent flame arose, which gently spread

Around his brows, and on his temples fed."

And more boldly of AEtna darting out flames from its top:-

Interdumque atram prorumpit ad aethera nubem,

Turbine fumantem piceo, et candente favilla:

Attollitque globos flammarum, et sidera lambit.

AEn. iii. 574.

"By turns a pitchy cloud she rolls on high,

By turns hot embers from her entrails fly,

And flakes of mountain flames, that lick the sky."

The disparted tongues, as it were of fire, Ac 2:3, which

appeared at the descent of the Holy Spirit, on the apostles, give

the same idea; that is, of flames shooting diversely into

pyramidal forms, or points, like tongues. It may be farther

observed that the prophet in this place has given the metaphor its

full force, in applying it to the action of fire in eating up and

devouring whatever comes in its way, like a ravenous animal whose

tongue is principally employed in taking in his food or prey;

which image Moses has strongly exhibited in an expressive

comparison: "And Moab said to the elders of Midian, Now shall this

collection of people lick up ali that are around about us, as the

ox licketh up the grass of the field," Nu 22:4. See also

1Ki 18:38.

Their root shall be as rottenness] cammak, like mak;

whence probably our word muck, dung, was derived.

Verse 25. The hills did tremble-"And the mountains trembled"]

Probably referring to the great earthquakes in the days of Uzziah

king of Judah, in or not long before the time of the prophet

himself, recorded as a remarkable era in the title of the

prophecies of Amos., Am 1:1, and by Zechariah, Zec 14:5.

Verse 26. He will-hiss-"He will hist"] "The metaphor is taken

from the practice of those that keep bees, who draw them out of

their hives into the fields, and lead them back again, συρισμασι,

by a hiss or a whistle."-Cyril, on this place; and to the same

purpose Theodoret, ib. In Isa 7:18, the metaphor is more

apparent, by being carried farther, where the hostile armies are

expressed by the fly and the bee:-

"JEHOVAH shall hist the fly

That is in the utmost parts of Egypt;

And the bee, that is in the land of Assyria."

On which place see De 1:44; Ps 118:12; and God calls the

locusts his great army, Joe 2:25; Ex 23:28. See Huet, Quest.

Alnet. ii. 12. sharak or shrak, he shall whistle for

them, call loud and shrill; he shall shriek, and they (their

enemies) shall come at his call.

With speed] This refers to the nineteenth verse. As the scoffers

had challenged God to make speed, and to hasten his work of

vengeance, so now God assures them that with speed and swiftly it

shall come.

Verse 27. None-among them] Kimchi has well illustrated this

continued exaggeration or hyperbole, as he rightly calls it, to

the following effect: "Through the greatness of their courage they

shall not be fatigued with their march; nor shall they stumble

though they march with the utmost speed: they shall not slumber by

day, nor sleep by night; neither shall they ungird their armour,

or put off their sandals to take their rest. Their arms shall be

always in readiness, their arrows sharpened, and their bows bent.

The hoofs of their horses are hard as a rock. They shall not fail,

or need to be shod with iron: the wheels of their carriages shall

move as rapidly as a whirlwind."

Neither shall the girdle] The Eastern people, wearing long and

loose garments, were unfit for action or business of any kind,

without girding their clothes about them. When their business was

finished they took off their girdles. A girdle therefore denotes

strength and activity; and to unloose the girdle is to deprive of

strength, to render unfit for action. God promises to unloose the

loins of kings before Cyrus, Isa 45:1. The girdle is so essential

a part of a soldier's accoutrement, being the last that he puts on

to make himself ready for action, that to be girded, ζωννυσθαι,

with the Greeks means to be completely armed and ready for




Iliad, xi. 15.

τοδεενδυναιταοπλαεκαλουνοιπαλαιοιζωννυσθαι Pausan.

Boeot. It is used in the same manner by the Hebrews: "Let not him

that girdeth himself boast as he that unlooseth his girdle,"

1Ki 20:11; that is, triumph not before the war is finished.

Verse 28. Their horses' hoofs shall be counted like flint-"The

hoofs of their horses shall be counted as adamant"] The shoeing of

horses with iron plates nailed to the hoof is quite a modern

practice, and was unknown to the ancients, as appears from the

silence of the Greek and Roman writers, especially those that

treat of horse medicine, who could not have passed over a matter

so obvious and of such importance that now the whole science takes

its name from it, being called by us farriery. The horseshoes of

leather and iron which are mentioned; the silver and gold shoes

with which Nero and Poppaea shod their mules, used occasionally to

preserve the hoofs of delicate cattle, or for vanity, were of a

very different kind; they enclosed the whole hoof as in a case, or

as a shoe does a man's foot, and were bound or tied on. For this

reason the strength, firmness and solidity of a horse's hoof was

of much greater importance with them than with us, and was

esteemed one of the first praises of a fine horse. Xenophon says

that a good horse's hoof is hard, hollow, and sounds upon the

ground like a cymbal. Hence the χαλκοποδεςιπποι, of Homer, and

Virgil's solido graviter sonat ungula cornu. And Xenophon gives

directions for hardening the horses' hoofs by making the pavement

on which he stands in the stable with roundheaded stones. For want

of this artificial defence to the foot which our horses have,

Amos, Am 6:12, speaks of it as a thing as much impracticable to

make horses run upon a hard rock as to plough up the same rock

with oxen:-

"Shall horses run upon a rock?

Shall one plough it up with oxen?"

These circumstances must be taken into consideration in order to

give us a full notion of the propriety and force of the image by

which the prophet sets forth the strength and excellence of the

Babylonish cavalry, which made a great part of the strength of the

Assyrian army. Xenop. Cyrop. lib. ii.

Like a whirlwind] cassuphah, like the stormy blast. Here

sense and sound are well connected.

Verse 30. If one look unto the land, &c.-"And these shall look

to the heaven upward, and down to the earth"] venibbat

laarets. καιεμβλεψονταιειςτηνγην. So the Septuagint,

according to the Vatican and Alexandrian copies; but the

Complutensian and Aldine editions have it more fully, thus:-και

εμβλεψονταιειςτονουρανονανωκαικατω; and the Arabic from

the Septuagint, as if it had stood thus:-καιεμβλεψονταιεις

ουρανονκαιτηνγηνκατω, both of which are plainly defective;

the words ειςτηνγην, unto the earth, being wanted in the former,

and the word ανω, above, in the latter. But an ancient Coptic

version from the Septuagint, supposed to be of the second century,

some fragments of which are preserved in the library of St.

Germain des Prez at Paris, completes the sentence; for, according

to this version, it stood thus in the Septuagint.-και

εμβλεψονταιειςτονουρανονανωκαιειςγηνκατω; "And they shall

look unto the heavens above and unto the earth beneath," and so it

stands in the Septuagint MSS., Pachom. and I. D. II., according to

which they must have read their Hebrew text in this manner:-

. This is probably the true reading,

with which I have made the translation agree. Compare Isa 8:22;

where the same sense is expressed in regard to both particulars,

which are here equally and highly proper, the looking upwards, as

well as down to the earth: but the form of expression is varied.

I believe the Hebrew text in that place to be right, though not so

full as I suppose it was originally here; and that of the

Septuagint there to be redundant, being as full as the Coptic

version and MSS. Pachom. and I. D. II. represent it in this place,

from which I suppose it has been interpolated.

Darkness-"The gloomy vapour"] The Syriac and Vulgate seem to

have read bearphalach; but Jarchi explains the present

reading as signifying darkness; and possibly the Syriac and

Vulgate may have understood it in the same manner.

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