Isaiah 65

CHAPTER LXV

We have here a vindication of God's dealings with the Jews,

1, 2.

To this end the prophet points out their great hypocrisy, and

gives a particular enumeration of their dreadful abominations,

many of which were committed under the specious guise of

sanctity, 3-5.

For their horrid impieties, (recorded in writing before

Jehovah,) the wrath of God shall certainly come upon them to

the uttermost; a prediction which was exactly fulfilled in

the first and second centuries in the reigns of the Roman

emperors Vespasian, Titus, and Hadrian, when the whole Jewish

polity was dissolved, and the people dispersed all over the

world, 6, 7.

Though God had rejected the Jews, and called the Gentiles, who

sought him not, (Ro 9:24-26,)

yet a remnant from among the former shall be preserved, to whom

he will in due time make good all his promises, 8-10.

Denunciation of Divine vengeance against those idolaters who

set in order a table for Gad, and fill out a libation to Meni,

ancient idolatries, which, from the context, and from the

chronological order of the events predicted, have a plain

reference to the idolatries practised by Antichrist under the

guise of Christianity, 11, 12.

Dreadful fate which awaits these gross idolaters beautifully

contrasted with the great blessedness reserved for the

righteous, 13-16.

Future restoration of the posterity of Jacob, and the happy

state of the world in general from that most glorious epoch,

represented by the strong figure of the creation of NEW heavens

and a NEW earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness, and into which

no distress shall be permitted to enter, 17-19.

In this new state of things the term of human life shall be

greatly protracted, and shall possess none of that uncertainty

which attaches to it in "the heavens and the earth which are

now." This is elegantly illustrated by the longevity of a tree;

manifestly alluding to the oak or cedar of Lebanon, some

individuals of which are known to have lived from seven to ten

centuries, 20-23.

Beautiful figures shadowing forth the profound peace and

harmony of the Church of Jesus Christ, which shall immediately

follow the total overthrow of Antichrist; with a most gracious

promise that the great chain of Omnipotence shall be put upon

every adversary, so that none will be able any longer to hurt

and destroy in all God's holy mountain, 24, 25.

This chapter contains a defence of God's proceedings in regard

to the Jews, with reference to their complaint in the chapter

preceding. God is introduced declaring that he had called the

Gentiles, though they had not sought him; and had rejected his own

people for their refusal to attend to his repeated call; for their

obstinate disobedience, their idolatrous practices, and detestable

hypocrisy. That nevertheless he would not destroy them all; but

would preserve a remnant, to whom he would make good his ancient

promises. Severe punishments are threatened to the apostates; and

great rewards are promised to the obedient in a future flourishing

state of the Church.-L.

NOTES ON CHAP. LXV

Verse 1. I am sought of them that asked not for me "I am made

known to those that asked not for me"] nidrashti, εμφανης

εγενομην, the Septuagint, Alexandrian, and St. Paul, Ro 10:20;

who has however inverted the order of the phrases, εμφανης

εγεομην, "I was made manifest," and ευρεδην, "I was found," from

that which they have in the Septuagint. nidrashti means,

"I am sought so as to be found." Vitringa. If this be the true

meaning of the word, then shaalu, "that asked," which

follows, should seem defective, the verb wanting its object: but

two MSS., one of them ancient, have shealuni,"asked me;"

and another MS. shealu li, "asked for me;" one or other of

which seems to be right. But Cocceius in Lex., and Vitringa in his

translation, render nidrashti, by "I have answered;" and so

the verb is rendered by all the ancient Versions in Eze 20:3, 31.

If this be right, the translation will be, "I have answered those

that asked not." I leave this to the reader's judgment; but have

followed in my translation the Septuagint and St. Paul, and the

MSS. above mentioned. bikeshuni is written regularly and

fully in above a hundred MSS. and in the oldest edition,

bikeshuni.-L.

Verse 3. That sacrificeth in gardens, and burneth incense upon

altars of brick-"Sacrificing in the gardens, and burning incense

on the tiles"] These are instances of heathenish superstition, and

idolatrous practices, to which the Jews were immoderately addicted

before the Babylonish captivity. The heathen worshipped their

idols in groves; whereas God, in opposition to this species of

idolatry, commanded his people, when they should come into the

promised land, to destroy all the places wherein the Canaanites

had served their gods, and in particular to burn their groves with

fire, De 12:2, 3. These apostate Jews sacrificed upon altars

built of bricks; in opposition to the command of God in regard to

his altar, which was to be of unhewn stone, Ex 20:26. Et pro uno

altari, quod impolitis lapidibus Dei erat lege constructum, coctos

lateres et agrorum cespites hostiarum sanguine cruentabant. "And

instead of one altar which, according to the law of God, was, to

be constructed of unhewn stones, they stained the bricks and turfs

of the fields with the blood of their victims." Hieron. in loc. Or

it means, perhaps, that they sacrificed upon the roofs of their

houses, which were always flat, and paved with brick, or tile, or

plaster of terrace. An instance of this idolatrous practice we

find in 2Ki 23:12, where it is said that Josiah "beat down the

altars that were on the top of the upper chamber of Ahaz, which

the kings of Judah had made." See also Zep 1:5. Sir

John Chardin's MS. note on this place of Isaiah is as follows:

"Ainsi font tous les Gentiles, sur les lieux eleves, et sur les

terrasses, appellez latcres, parceque sont faits de briq." "Who

dwell in the sepulchres, and lodge in the caverns," for the

purposes of necromancy and divination; to obtain dreams and

revelations. Another instance of heathenish superstition: so

Virgil:-

Huc dona sacerdos

Cum tulit, et caesarum ovium sub nocte silenti

Pellibus incubuit stratis, somnosque petivit:

Multa modis simulacra videt volitantia miris,

Et varias audit voces, fruiturque deorum

Colloquio, atque imis Acheronta affatur Avernis.

AEn. vii. 86.-L.

"Here in distress the Italian nations come,

Anxious, to clear their doubts, and learn their doom.

First, on the fleeces of the slaughtered sheep,

By night the sacred priest dissolves in sleep:

When in a train, before his slumbering eye,

Thin airy forms and wondrous visions fly.

He calls the powers who guard the infernal floods,

And talks inspired, familiar with the gods."

PITT.

There was a practice exactly like this which prevailed among the

Highlanders of Scotland; an authentic account of this is given by

Sir Walter Scott, in a note on his poem called The Lady of the

Lake. It is as follows:-

"The Highlanders, like all rude people, had various

superstitious modes of inquiring into futurity. One of the most

noted was the Taghairm, mentioned in the text. A person was

wrapped up in the skin of a newly-slain bullock, and deposited

beside a waterfall, or at the bottom of a precipice, or in some

other strange, wild, and unusual situation, where the scenery

around him suggested nothing but objects of horror. In this

situation he revolved in his mind the question proposed; and

whatever was impressed upon him by his exalted imagination passed

for the inspiration of the disembodied spirits who haunt these

desolate recesses. In some of the Hebrides, they attributed the

same oracular power to a large black stone by the sea-shore, which

they approached with certain solemnities; and considered the first

fancy which came into their own minds after they did so, to be the

undoubted dictate of the tutelar deity of the stone; and as such

to be, if possible, punctually complied with. Martin has recorded

the following curious modes of Highland augury, in which the

Taghairm, and its effects upon the person who was subjected to it,

may serve to illustrate the text.

"It was an ordinary thing among the over-curious to consult an

invisible oracle concerning the fate of families and battles, &c.

This was performed three different ways; the first was by a

company of men, one of whom, being detached by lot, was afterwards

carried to a river, which was the boundary between two villages.

Four of the company laid hold on him; and, having shut his eyes,

they took him by the legs and arms, and then, tossing him to and

again, struck his hips with force against the bank. One of them

cried out, What is it you have got here? Another answers, A log of

birch-wood. The other cries again, Let his invisible friends

appear from all quarters, and let them relieve him by giving an

answer to our present demands; and in a few minutes after, a

number of little creatures came from the sea, who answered the

question, and disappeared suddenly. The man was then set at

liberty; and they all returned home, to take their measures

according to the prediction of their false prophets; but the poor

deluded fools were abused, for the answer was still ambiguous.

This was always practised in the night, and may literally be

called the works of darkness.

"I had an account from the most intelligent and judicious men in

the Isle of Skie, that, about sixty-two years ago, the oracle was

thus consulted only once, and that was in the parish of Kilmartin,

on the east side, by a wicked and mischievous race of people, who

are now extinguished, both root and branch.

"The second way of consulting the oracle was by a party of men,

who first retired to solitary places, remote from any house; and

there they singled out one of their number, and wrapt him in a big

cow's hide, which they folded about him. His whole body was

covered with it, except his head, and so left in this posture all

night, until his invisible friends relieved him, by giving a

proper answer to the question in hand; which he received, as he

fancied, from several persons that he found about him all that

time. His consorts returned to him at the break of day, and then

he communicated his news to them; which often proved fatal to

those concerned in such unwarrantable inquiries.

"There was a third way of consulting, which was a confirmation

of the second above mentioned. The same company who put the man

into the hide took a live cat, and put him on a spit. One of the

number was employed to turn the spit, and one of his consorts

inquired of him, What are you doing? He answered, I roast this cat

until his friends answer the question; which must be the same that

was proposed by the man shut up in the hide. And afterwards, a

very big cat (in allusion to the story of 'the King of the Cats,'

in Lord Lyttleton's Letters, and well known in the Highlands as a

nursery tale) comes, attended by a number of lesser cats, desiring

to relieve the cat turned upon the spit, and then answers the

question. If this answer proved the same that was given to the man

in the hide, then it was taken as a confirmation of the other,

which, in this case, was believed infallible.

"Mr. Alexander Cooper, present minister of North-Vist, told me

that one John Erach, in the Isle of Lewis, assured him it was his

fate to have been led by his curiosity with some who consulted

this oracle, and that he was a night within the hide, as

above-mentioned; during which time he felt and heard such terrible

things, that he could not express them. The impression it made on

him was such as could never go off; and he said for a thousand

worlds he would never again be concerned in the like performance,

for this had disordered him to a high degree. He confessed it

ingenuously, and with an air of great remorse; and seemed to be

very penitent under a just sense of so great a crime. He declared

this about five years since, and is still living in the Lewis for

any thing I know."-Description of the Western Isles, p. 110. See

also PENNANT'S Scottish Tour, vol. ii. p. 361.

Verse 4. Which remain among the graves] "For the purpose of

evoking the dead. They lodged in desert places that demons might

appear to them; for demons do appear in such places, to those who

do believe in them."-Kimchi.

In the monuments-"In the caverns"] bannetsurim, a word

of doubtful signification. An ancient MS. has batstsurim,

another batstsurim, "in the rocks;" and Le Clec thinks the

Septuagint had it so in their copy. They render it by εντοις

στηλαιοις, "in the caves."

Which eat swine's flesh] This was expressly forbidden by the

law, Le 11:7, but among the heathen was in principal request in

their sacrifices and feasts. Antiochus Epiphanes compelled the

Jews to eat swine's flesh, as a full proof of their renouncing

their religion, 2Mac. 6:18; 7:1. "And the broth of abominable

meats," for lustrations, magical arts, and other superstitious and

abominable practices.

In their vessels] For keleyhem, a MS. had at first

bichleyhem. So the Vulgate and Chaldee, (and the

preposition seems necessary to the sense,) "in their vessels."

Verse 5. For I am holier than thou] So the Chaldee renders it.

kedashticha is the same with kadashti

mimmecha. In the same manner chazaktani, Jer 20:7, is

used for chazacta mimmenni, "thou art stronger than

I."-L.

Verse 6. Behold, it is written before me] Their sin is

registered in heaven, calling aloud for the punishment due to it.

I will-recompense into their bosom] The bosom is the place where

the Asiatics have their pockets, and not in their skirts like the

inhabitants of the west. Their loose flowing garments have

scarcely any thing analogous to skirts.

Into their bosom] For al, ten MSS. and five editions

have el. So again at the end of this verse, seventeen MSS.

and four editions have al.-L.

Verse 7. Your iniquities, and the iniquities of your

fathers-"Their iniquities, and the iniquities of their fathers"]

For the pronoun affixed of the second person chem, your, twice,

read hem, their, in the third person; with the Septuagint and

Houbigant.-L.

Verse 8. A blessing is in it] The Hebrews call all things which

serve for food berachah, "a blessing." On this verse Kimchi

remarks: "As the cluster of grapes contains, besides the juice,

the bark, and the kernels, so the Israelites have, besides the

just, sinners among them. Now as the cluster must not be destroyed

because there is a blessing, a nutritive part in it; so Israel

shall not be destroyed, because there are righteous persons in it.

But as the bark and kernels are thrown away, when the wine is

pressed out, so shall the sinners be purged away from among the

just, and on their return from exile, shall not be permitted to

enter into the land of Israel;" Eze 20:38.

For my servant's sakes-"For the sake of my servant"] It is to be

observed that one of the Koningsburg MSS. collated by Lilienthal

points the word abdi, singular; that is, "my servant,"

meaning the Messiah; and so read the Septuagint, which gives a

very good sense. In two of my old MSS. it is pointed abadai,

and abdi, "my servant," this confirms the above reading.

Verse 9. An inheritor of my mountains-"An inheritor of my

mountain"] hari, in the singular number; so the Septuagint

and Syriac; that is, of Mount Sion. See Isa 65:11 and Isa 56:7,

to which Sion, the pronoun feminine singular, added to the verb in

the next line, refers; yereshuah, "shall inherit her."-L.

Verse 10. Sharon-and the valley of Achor] Two of the most

fertile parts of Judea; famous for their rich pastures; the former

to the west, not far from Joppa; the latter north of Jericho, near

Gilgal.

Verse 11. That prepare a table for that troop-"Who set in order

a table for Gad"] The disquisitions and conjectures of the learned

concerning Gad and Meni are infinite and uncertain: perhaps the

most probable may be, that Gad means good fortune, and Meni the

moon. "But why should we be solicitous about it?" says Schmidius.

"It appears sufficiently, from the circumstances, that they were

false gods; either stars, or some natural objects; or a mere

fiction. The Holy Scriptures did not deign to explain more clearly

what these objects of idolatrous worship were; but chose rather,

that the memory of the knowledge of them should be utterly

abolished. And God be praised, that they are so totally abolished,

that we are now quite at a loss to know what and what sort of

things they were." Schmidius on the place, and on Jud 2:13, Bibl.

Hallensia.

Jerome, on the place, gives an account of this idolatrous

practice of the apostate Jews, of making a feast, or a

lectisternium, as the Romans called it, for these pretended

deities. Est in cunctis urbibus, et maxime in AEgypto, et in

Alexandria, idololatriae vetus consuetudo, ut ultimo die anni, et

mensis ejus qui extremus est, ponant mensam refertam varii generis

epulis, et poculum mulso mixtum; vel praeteriti anni vel futuri

fertilitatem auspicantes. Hoc autem faciebant et Israelitae,

omnium simulachrorum portenta venerantes; et nequaquam altari

victimas, sed hujusmodi mensae liba fundebant. "In all cities, and

especially in Egypt and Alexandria, it was an ancient idolatrous

custom on the last day of the year, to spread a table covered with

various kinds of viands, and a goblet mixed with new wine,

referring to the fertility either of the past or coming year. The

Israelites did the same, worshipping all kinds of images, and

pouring out libations on such tables," &c. See also Le Clerc on

the place; and on lxvi. 17, and Dav. Millii Dissert. v.

The allusion to Meni, which signifies number, is obvious. If

there had been the like allusion to Gad, which might have been

expected, it might perhaps have helped to let us into the meaning

of that word. It appears from Jerome's version of this place, that

the words τωδαιμονιω, to a demon, (or δαιμονι, as some copies

have it,) and τητυχη, to fortune, stood in his time in the Greek

version in an inverted order from that which they have in the

present copies; the latter then answering to gad, the former to

meni: by which some difficulty would be avoided; for it is

commonly supposed that gad signifies τυχη, fortune. See

Ge 30:11, apud

Sept. This matter is so far well cleared up by MSS. Pachom. and

I. D. II., which agree in placing these two words in that order,

which Jerome's version supposes.-L.

My Old MS. Bible translates: That putten the borde of fortune;

and offreden licours upon it; and so the Vulgate.

ετοιμαζοντεςτωδαιμονιωτραπεζανκαιπληρουντεςτητυχη

κερασμα Preparing a table for the demon, and filling up, or

pouring out, a libation to fortune."-Septuagint.

Ye have set up an aulter unto fortune

And geven rich drink offeringes unto treasure.

COVERDALE.

Verse 12. Therefore will I number you] Referring to Meni, which

signifies number. "Rabbi Eliezar said to his disciples, Turn to

God one day before you die. His disciples said, How can a man know

the day of his death? He answered, Therefore it is necessary that

you should turn to God to-day, for possibly ye may die to-morrow."

Verse 13. My servants shalt eat, but ye shall be hungry] Rabbi

Joachan ben Zachai said in a parable: There was a king who invited

his servants, but set them no time to come to the feast. The

prudent and wary who were among them adorned themselves; and,

standing at the gate of the king's house, said, Is there any thing

lacking in the king's house? i.e., Is there any work to be done in

it? But the foolish which were among them went, and mocking said,

When shall the feast be, in which there is no labour? Suddenly,

the king sought out his servants: they who were adorned entered

in, and they who were still polluted entered in also. The king was

glad when he met the prudent, but he was angry when he met the

foolish. Therefore he said, Let those sit down, and let them

eat; but let these stand and look on.

This parable is very like that of the wise and foolish virgins,

Mt 25:1-14, and that of the marriage of the king's son,

Mt 22:1-14.

Verse 15. Shall slay thee-"Shall slay you"] For

vehemithecha, shall slay thee, the Septuagint and Chaldee read

vehemithechem, shall slay you, plural.

Verse 17. I create new heavens and a new earth] This has been

variously understood. Some Jews and some Christians understand it

literally. God shall change the state of the atmosphere, and

render the earth more fruitful. Some refer it to what they call

the Millennium; others, to a glorious state of religion; others,

to the re-creation of the earth after it shall have been destroyed

by fire. I think it refers to the full conversion of the Jews

ultimately; and primarily to the deliverance from the Babylonish

captivity.

Verse 18. Rejoice for ever in that which I create-"Exult in the

age to come which I create"] So in Isa 9:6

abi ad, πατηρτουμελλοντοςαιωνος, "the father of the age to

come," Sept. See Bishop Chandler, Defence of Christianity, p. 136.

Verse 19. The voice of weeping, &c.] "Because of untimely deaths

shall no more be heard in thee; for natural death shall not happen

till men be full of days; as it is written, Isa 65:20:

There shall be no more thence an infant of days, i.e., the

people shall live to three or five hundred years of age, as in the

days of the patriarchs; and if one die at one hundred years, it is

because of his sin; and even at that age he shall be reputed an

infant; and they shall say of him, An infant is dead. These

things shall happen to Israel in the days of the Messiah."-Kimchi.

Verse 20. Thence-"There"] For mishsham, thence, the

Septuagint, Syriac, and Vulgate, read sham, there.

Verse 22. They shall not build, and another inhabit] The reverse

of the curse denounced on the disobedient, De 28:30: "Thou shalt

build a house, and thou shalt not dwell therein; thou shalt plant

a vineyard, and shalt not gather the grapes thereof."

For as the days of a tree] It is commonly supposed that the oak,

one of the most longlived of the trees, lasts about a thousand

years; being five hundred years growing to full perfection, and as

many decaying: which seems to be a moderate and probable

computation. See Evelyn, Sylva, B. III. chap. iii. The present

emperor of China, in his very ingenious and sensible poem entitled

Eloge de Moukden, a translation of which in French was published

at Paris, 1770, speaks of a tree in his country which lives more

than a hundred ages: and another, which after fourscore ages is

only in its prime, pp. 37, 38. But his imperial majesty's

commentators, in their note on the place, carry the matter much

farther; and quote authority, which affirms, that the tree last

mentioned by the emperor, the immortal tree, after having lived

ten thousand years, is still only in its prime. I suspect that the

Chinese enlarge somewhat in their national chronology, as well as

in that of their trees. See Chou King. Preface, by Mons. de

Guignes. The prophet's idea seems to be, that they shall live to

the age of the antediluvians; which seems to be very justly

expressed by the days of a tree, according to our notions. The

rabbins have said that this refers to the tree of life, which

endures five hundred years.-L.

Verse 23. They shall not labour in vain-"My chosen shall not

labour in vain"] I remove bechirai, my elect, from the end

of the twenty-second to the beginning of the twenty-third verse,

on the authority of the Septuagint, Syriac, and Vulgate, and a

MS.; contrary to the division in the Masoretic text.-L. The

Septuagint is beautiful: My chosen shall not labour in vain,

neither shall they beget children for the curse; for the seed is

blessed of the Lord, and their posterity with them."

Nor bring forth for trouble-"Neither shall they generate a

short-lived race"] labbehalah, in festinationem, "what shall

soon hasten away." ειςκαταραν for a curse, Sept. They seem to

have read lealah.-Grotius. But Ps 78:33 both justifies and

explains the word here:-

yemeyhem bahebel vayechal

babbehalah ushenotham

"And he consumed their days in vanity;

And their years in haste."

μετασπουδης, say the Septuagint. Jerome on this place of Isaiah

explains it to the same purpose: "ειςανυπαρξιαν, hoc est, ut esse

desistant."

Verse 24. Before they call, I will answer] I will give them all

they crave for, and more than they can desire.

Verse 25. The wolf and the lamb, &c.] The glorious salvation

which Jesus Christ procures is for men, and for men only: fallen

spirits must still abide under the curse: "He took not on him the

nature of angels, but the seed of Abraham."

Shall feed together] For keechad, as one, an ancient MS.

has yachdav, together; the usual word, to the same sense, but

very different in the letters. The Septuagint, Syriac, and Vulgate

seem to agree with the MSS.-L.

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