Isaiah 63


The prophet, (or rather the Church he represents,) sees the

great Deliverer, long promised and expected, making his

appearance, after having crushed his enemies, like grapes in

the wine-vat. The comparison suggests a lively idea of the

wrath of Omnipotence, which its unhappy objects can no more

resist than the grapes can resist the treader. Indeed, there is

so much pathos, energy, and sublimity in this remarkable

passage, as hardly any thing can be conceived to exceed. The

period to which it refers must be the same with that predicted

in the nineteenth chapter of the Revelation, some parts of

which are expressed in the same terms with this, and plainly

enough refer to the very sudden and total overthrow of

Antichrist, and of all his adherents and auxiliaries, of which

the destruction of Babylon, the capital of Chaldea, and of

Bozra, the chief city of the Edomites, was the prototype, 1-6.

At the seventh verse commences a penitential confession and

supplication of the Jews, as uttered in their present

dispersion, 7-19.

The very remarkable passage with which this chapter begins seems

to me to be, in a manner, detached from the rest, and to stand

singly by itself; having no immediate connexion with what goes

before, or with what follows, otherwise than as it may pursue the

general design, and stand in its proper place in the order of

prophecy. It is by many learned interpreters supposed that Judas

Maccabeus and his victories make the subject of it. What claim

Judas can have to so great an honour will, I think, be very

difficult to make out; or how the attributes of the great person

introduced can possibly suit him. Could Judas call himself the

announcer of righteousness, mighty to save? Could he talk of the

day of vengeance being in his heart, and the year of his redeemed

being come? or that his own arm wrought salvation for him?

Besides, what were the great exploits of Judas in regard to the

Idumeans? He overcame them in battle, and slew twenty thousand of

them. And John Hyrcanus, his brother Simon's son and successor,

who is called in to help out the accomplishment of the prophecy,

gave them another defeat some time afterward, and compelled them

by force to become proselytes to the Jewish religion, and to

submit to circumcision: after which they were incorporated with

the Jews, and became one people with them. Are these events

adequate to the prophet's lofty prediction? Was it so great an

action to win a battle with considerable slaughter of the enemy or

to force a whole nation by dint of the sword into Judaism? or was

the conversion of the Idumeans, however effected, and their

admission into the Church of God, equivalent to a most grievous

judgment and destruction, threatened in the severest terms? But

here is another very material circumstance to be considered,

which, I presume, entirely excludes Judas Maccabeus, and even the

Idumeans, properly so called. For the Idumea of the prophet's time

was quite a different country from that which Judas conquered. For

during the Babylonish captivity the Nabatheans had driven the

Edomites out of their country; who upon that took possession of

the southern parts of Judea, and settled themselves there; that

is, in the country of the whole tribe of Simeon and in half of

that of Judah. See Prideaux, ad. an. 740 and 165. And the

metropolis of the Edomites, and of the country thence called

Idumea, which Judas took, was Hebron, 1Macc. 5:65, not Bozrah.

I conclude, therefore, that this prophecy has not the least

relation to Judas Maccabeus. It may be asked, to whom, and to what

event does it relate? I can only answer, that I know of no event

in history to which, from its importance and circumstances, it can

be applied: unless, perhaps, to the destruction of Jerusalem and

the Jewish polity; which in the Gospel is called the coming of

Christ and the days of vengeance, Mt 16:28; Lu 21:22. But

though this prophecy must have its accomplishment, there is no

necessity for supposing that it has been already accomplished.

There are prophecies, which intimate a great slaughter of the

enemies of God and his people, which remain to be fulfilled; these

in Ezekiel, Eze 38:2, and in the Revelation of St. John,

Re 20:8, are called

Gog and Magog. This prophecy of Isaiah may possibly refer to the

same or the like event. We need not be at a loss to determine the

person who is here introduced, as stained with treading the

wine-press, if we consider how St. John in the Revelation has

applied this image of the prophet, Re 19:13, 15, 16.

Compare Isa 34:1-8-L.


Verse 1. Who is this that cometh from Edom] Probably both Edom

and Bozrah are only figurative expressions, to point out the place

in which God should discomfit his enemies. Edom signifies red, and

Bozrah, a vintage. Kimchi interprets the whole of the destruction

of Rome.

I that speak in righteousness-"I who publish righteousness"] A

MS. has hammedabber, with the demonstrative article added

with greater force and emphasis: The announcer of righteousness. A

MS. has tsedakah, without be prefixed; and so the

Septuagint and Vulgate. And thirty-eight MSS. (seven

ancient) of Dr. Kennicott's, and many of De Rossi's, and one of my

own, add the conjunction vau to rab, and mighty; which

the Septuagint, Syriac, and Vulgate confirm.-L.

Verse 2. Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel] For

lilebushecha, twenty-nine MSS. (nine ancient) of Kennicott's,

and thirty of De Rossi's, and one edition, have

lilebusheycha in the plural; so the Septuagint and Syriac. And

all the ancient Versions read it with mem, instead of the first

lamed. But the true reading is probably malbushecha

in the singular, as in Isa 63:3.-L.

Verse 3. And of the people there was none with me] I was wholly

abandoned by them: but a good meaning is, No man has had any part

in making the atonement; it is entirely the work of the Messiah

alone. No created being could have any part in a sacrifice that

was to be of infinite merit.

And I will stain-"And I have stained"] For egalti, a verb

of very irregular formation, compounded, as they say, of the two

forms of the preterite and future, a MS. has egalehu, the

regular future with a pleonastic pronoun added to it, according to

the Hebrew idiom: "And all my raiment, I have stained it." The

necessity of the verb's being in the past tense seems to have

given occasion to the alteration made in the end of the word. The

conversive vau at the beginning of the sentence affects the

verb, though not joined to it; of which there are many examples:-

anithani remim umikkarney

"And thou wilt hear me (or hear thou me) from among the horns of

the unicorns," Ps 22:22.-L.

Instead of al begadai, upon my garments, one of my

ancient MSS. has larets begadai, to the earth: but this

word is partly effaced, and al written in the margin by a later


Verse 5. And my fury-"And mine indignation"] For

vachamathi, nineteen MSS. (three ancient) of Kennicott's, nine

of De Rossi's, and one of mine, and four editions, have

vetsidkathi, and my righteousness; from Isa 59:16, which I

suppose the transcriber retained in his memory. It is true that

the Versions are in favour of the common reading; but that noticed

above seems to stand on good authority, and is a reading both

pleasing and impressive. Opposite, in the margin, my MS. has the

common reading by a later hand.

Verse 6. And make them drunk in my fury-"And I crushed them in

mine indignation"] For vaashkerem, and I made them drunken,

twenty-seven MSS., (three ancient,) twelve of De Rossi's, and

the old edition of 1488, have vaashabberem, and I crushed

them: and so the Syriac and Chaldee. The Septuagint have

omitted this whole line.

Verse 7. I will mention the loving-kindnesses of the Lord] The

prophet connects the preceding mercies of God to the Jews with the

present prospect he has of their redemption by the Messiah; thus

making a circle in which eternal goodness revolves. The remaining

part of this chapter, with the whole chapter following, contains a

penitential confession and supplication of the Israelites in their

present state of dispersion, in which they have so long

marvellously subsisted, and still continue to subsist, as a

people; cast out of their country; without any proper form of

civil polity or religious worship, their temple destroyed, their

city desolated and lost to them, and their whole nation scattered

over the face of the earth, apparently deserted and cast off by

the God of their fathers, as no longer his peculiar people.

They begin with acknowledging God's great mercies and favours to

their nation, and the ungrateful returns made to them on their

part, that by their disobedience they had forfeited the protection

of God, and had caused him to become their adversary. And now the

prophet represents them, induced by the memory of the great things

that God had done for them, as addressing their humble

supplication for the renewal of his mercies. They beseech him to

regard them in consideration of his former loving-kindness, they

acknowledge him for their Father and Creator, they confess their

wickedness and hardness of heart, they entreat his forgiveness,

and deplore their present miserable condition under which they

have so long suffered. It seems designed as a formulary of

humiliation for the Israelites, in order to their conversion.

The whole passage is in the elegiac form, pathetic and elegant;

but it has suffered much in our present copy by the mistakes of


The praises of the Lord-"The praise of JEHOVAH"] For

tehilloth, plural, twenty-nine MSS. (three ancient) and two

editions, have tehillath, in the singular number; and so the

Vulgate renders it; and one of the Greek versions, in the margin

of Cod. Marchal. and in the text of MSS. Pachom. and I. D. II. την

αινεσινκυριου, "the praise of the Lord."-L.

Verse 8. - 9. So he was their Saviour. In all their

affliction-"And he became their Saviour in all their distress"]

I have followed the translation of the Septuagint in the latter

part of the eighth, and the former part of the ninth verse; which

agrees with the present text, a little differently divided as to

thee members of the sentence. They read miccol, out of all,

instead of bechol, in all, which makes no difference in the

sense; and tsar they understand as tsir. και


ουδεαγγελος "And he was salvation to them in all their

tribulation; neither an ambassador nor an angel, but himself saved

them." An angel of his presence means an angel of superior order,

in immediate attendance upon God. So the angel of the Lord says to

Zacharias, "I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God,"

Lu 1:19. The presence of JEHOVAH, Ex 33:14,15, and the angel,

Ex 33:20, 21, is JEHOVAH himself; here an angel of his presence

is opposed to JEHOVAH himself, as an angel is in the following

passages of the same book of Exodus. After their idolatrous

worshipping of the golden calf, "when God had said to Moses, I

will send an angel before thee-I will not go up in the midst of

thee-the people mourned," Ex 33:2-4. God afterwards comforts

Moses, by saying, "My presence (that is I myself in person, and

not by an angel) will go with thee," Ex 33:14. αυτος

προπορευσομαισου, "I myself will go before thee," as the

Septuagint render it.

The MSS. and editions are much divided between the two readings

of the text and margin in the common copies, lo, not, and

lo, to him. All the ancient Versions express the chetib reading,

lo, not.

And he bare them and carried them all the days of old-"And he

took them up, and he bore them, all the days of old."]

See Clarke on Isa 46:3.-L.

Verse 9. See Clarke on Isa 63:8.

Verse 10. And he fought against them] Twenty-six MSS. (ten

ancient) and the first edition, with another, add the conjunction

vau, vehu, and he.

Verse 11. Moses and his people-"Moses his servant"] For

ammo, his people, two MSS. (one of them ancient) and one of my

own, (ancient,) and one of De Rossi's, and the old edition of

1488, and the Syriac, read abdo, his servant. These two

words have been mistaken one for the other in other places;

Ps 78:71, and Ps 80:5, for

ammo, his people, and ammecha, thy people, the Septuagint

read abdo, his servant, and abdecha, thy servant.

Where is he that brought them up out of the sea with the

shepherd of his flock? where &c.-"How he brought them up from the

sea, with the shepherd of his flock; how," &c.] For aiyeh,

how, interrogative, twice, the Syriac Version reads eich,

how, without interrogation, as that particle is used in the Syriac

language, and sometimes in the Hebrew. See Ru 3:18; Ec 2:16.

The shepherd of his flock] That is, Moses. The MSS. and editions

vary in this word; some have it roeh, in the singular number;

so the Septuagint, Syriac, and Chaldee. Others roey,

plural, the shepherds.-L.

Verse 13. - 14. That led them through the deep-As a beast goeth

down into the valley] In both these verses there is an allusion to

the Israelites going through the Red Sea, in the bottom of which

they found no more inconvenience than a horse would in running in

the desert, where there was neither stone nor mud; nor a beast in

the valley, where all was plain and smooth.

Verse 14. The Spirit of the Lord caused him to rest-"The Spirit

of JEHOVAH conducted them."] For tenichennu, caused him to

rest, the Septuagint have ωδηγησεναυτους, conducted them;

they read tanchem. The Syriac, Chaldee, and Vulgate

read tanchennu, conducted him. Two MSS. have the word

without the yod in the middle. See Clarke on Isa 63:13.

Verse 15. And thy strength-"And thy mighty power"] For

geburotheycha, plural, thirty-two MSS. (seven ancient) and

twenty-one of De Rossi's, and seven editions, have

geburathecha, singular.

Are they restrained?] For elai, from (or in regard to) me,

the Septuagint and Syriac read eleynu, from us.-L.

Verse 16. Our Redeemer; thy name is from everlasting-"O deliver

us for the sake of thy name."] The present text reads, as our

translation has rendered it, "Our Redeemer, thy name is from

everlasting." But instead of meolam, from everlasting, an

ancient MS. has lemaan, for the sake of, which gives a much

better sense. To show the impropriety of the present reading, it

is sufficient to observe, that the Septuagint and Syriac

translators thought it necessary to add aleynu, upon us, to

make out the sense; That is, "Thy name is upon us, or we are

called by thy name, from of old." And the Septuagint have rendered

goalenu, in the imperative mood, ρυσαιημας, deliver


Verse 17. Why hast thou made us to err] A mere Hebraism, for why

hast thou permitted us to err. So, Lead us not into temptation; do

not suffer us to fall into that to which we are tempted.

Verse 18. The people of thy holiness have possessed it but a

little while-"It is little that they have taken possession of thy

holy mountain"] The difficulty of the construction in this place

is acknowledged on all hands. Vitringa prefers that sense as the

least exceptionable which our translation has expressed; in which

however there seems to be a great defect; that is, the want of

that in the speaker's view must have been the principal part of

the proposition, the object of the verb, the land, or it, as our

translators supply it, which surely ought to have been expressed,

and not to have been left to be supplied by the reader. In a word,

I believe there is some mistake in the text; and here the

Septuagint help us out; they had in their copy har, mountain,

instead of am, people, τουορουςτουαγιουσου, the

mountain of thy Holy One. "Not only have our enemies taken

possession of Mount Sion, and trodden down thy sanctuary; even far

worse than this has befallen us; thou hast long since utterly cast

us off, and dost not consider us as thy peculiar people."-L.

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