Isaiah 55

CHAPTER LV

This chapter first displays the fulness, freeness, excellence,

and everlasting nature of the blessings of the Gospel, and

foretells again the enlargement of Messiah's kingdom, 1-5.

This view leads the prophet to exhort all to seize the precious

opportunity of sharing in such blessings, which were not,

however, to be expected without repentance and reformation,

6, 7.

And as the things now and formerly predicted were so great as

to appear incredible, the prophet points to the omnipotence of

God, who would infallibly accomplish his word, and bring about

those glorious deliverances which he had promised; the happy

effects of which are again set forth by images beautiful and

poetical in the highest degree, 8-13.

NOTES ON CHAP. LV

Verse 1. Ho, every one that thirsteth] "Water," says Kimchi, "is

a metaphor for the law and wisdom: as the world cannot subsist

without water, so it is impossible that it can subsist without

wisdom. The law is also compared to wine and milk: to wine

because wine rejoiceth the heart, as it is written: 'The statutes

of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart,' Ps 19:8. It is

compared also to milk, because milk is the subsistence of the

child; so are the words of the law the nourishment of his soul who

walks in the Divine teaching, and grows up under it."

Come, buy wine and milk] In ancient times our forefathers used

what is now called the old third person singular, ending in eth,

for the imperative mood. We have a fine example of His in the

first verses of this chapter. I shall present them as they stand

in my old MS. Bible:-Alle gee thirstinge cummeth to wateris: and

gee that han not sylver, goth forth and bieth, and etith. Cummeth,

bieth without silver, and without eny chaungyng, wyn and mylc.

Heerith gee, heering me and etith gode thinge, and deliten schal

in fattnesse your soule. Bowith in your eie and cummeth to mee,

heerith and liven schal your soule. And I shall smyten with gou,

everlastynge covenant, the faithful mercies of David.

Verse 2. Wherefore do ye spend] Why should ye be so zealously

attached to a doctrine from which your souls derive neither

comfort nor nourishment?

Verse 3. I will make an everlasting covenant] Heb.

echrethah lachem berith olam, "I will cut the

old or everlasting covenant sacrifice with you." That covenant

sacrifice which was pointed out of old from the very beginning;

and which is to last to the consummation of ages; viz., the Lamb

of God that was slain from the foundation of the world.

The sure mercies of David] That is, says Kimchi, "The MESSIAH,"

called here David; as it is written, "David my servant shall be a

prince over you."

Verse 6. Seek ye the Lord while he may be found] Rab. David

Kimchi gives the true sense of this passage: "Seek ye the Lord,

because he may be found: call upon him, because he is near. Repent

before ye die, for after death there is no conversion of the

soul."

Verse 9. For as the heavens are higher] I am persuaded that

caph, the particle of comparison, is lost in this place, from

the likeness of the particle ki, immediately preceding it. So

Houbigant and Secker. And their remark is confirmed by all the

ancient Versions, which express it; and by the following passage

of Ps 103:11, which is almost the same:-

haarets al shamayim chigboah ki

yereaiv al chasdo gabar

"For as the heavens are high above the earth,

So high is his goodness over them that fear him."

Where, by the nature of the sentence, the verb in the second line

ought to be the same with that in the first; gabah, not

gabar: so Archbishop Secker conjectured; referring however to

Ps 117:2.

Verse 12. The mountains and the hills] These are highly poetical

images to express a happy state attended with joy and exultation.

Ipsi laetitia voces ad sidera jactant

Intonsi montes: ipsae jam carmina rupes,

Ipsa sonant arbusta.

VIRG. Ecl. v. 61.

"The mountain tops unshorn, the rocks rejoice;

The lowly shrubs partake of human voice."

DRYDEN.

Verse 13. Instead of the thorn-"Instead of the thorny bushes"]

These likewise (see note on the preceding verse, and on

Isa 54:11) are general poetical images, expressing a great

and happy change for the better. The wilderness turned into a

paradise, Lebanon into Carmel: the desert of the Gentiles watered

with the heavenly snow and rain, which fail not to have their due

effect, and becoming fruitful in piety and righteousness: or, as

the Chaldee gives the moral sense of the emblem, "instead of the

wicked shall arise the just; and instead of sinners, such as fear

to sin." (compare Isa 35:1, 2; 41:19.

And instead of] The conjunction vau is added,

vetachath, in forty-five MSS. of Kennicott's several of De

Rossi's, and five editions; and it is acknowledged by all the

ancient Versions. The Masoretes therefore might have safely

received it into the text, and not have referred us for it to the

margin. But this is no uncommon case with them. Even in our own

Version the best reading is very often found in the margin.

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