Isaiah 66


This chapter treats of the same subject with the foregoing.

God, by his prophet, tells the Jews, who valued themselves much

on their temple and pompous worship, that the Most High

dwelleth not in temples made with hands; and that no outward

rites of worship, while the worshippers are idolatrous and

impure, can please him who looketh at the heart, 1-3.

This leads to a threatening of vengeance for their guilt,

alluding to their making void the law of God by their

abominable traditions, their rejection of Christ, persecution

of his followers, and consequent destruction by the Romans. But

as the Jewish ritual and people shadow forth the system of

Christianity and its professors; so, in the prophetical

writings, the idolatries of the Jews are frequently put for the

idolatries afterwards practiced by those bearing the Christian

name. Consequently, if we would have the plenitude of meaning

in this section of prophecy, which the very content requires,

we must look through the type into the antitype, viz., the very

gross idolatries practised by the members of Antichrist, the

pompous heap of human intentions and traditions with which they

have encumbered the Christian system, their most dreadful

persecution of Christ's spiritual and true worshippers, and the

awful judgments which shall overtake them in the great and

terrible day of the Lord, 4-6.

The mighty and sudden increase of the Church of Jesus Christ at

the period of Antichrist's fall represented by the very strong

figure of Sion being delivered of a man-child before the time

of her travail, the meaning of which symbol the prophet

immediately subjoins in a series of interrogations for the sake

of greater force and emphasis, 7-9.

Wonderful prosperity and unspeakable blessedness of the world

when the posterity of Jacob, with the fulness of the Gentiles,

shall be assembled to Messiah's standard, 10-14.

All the wicked of the earth shall be gathered together to the

battle of that great day of God Almighty, and the slain of

Jehovah shall be many, 15-18.

Manner of the future restoration of the Israelites from their

several dispersions throughout the habitable globe, 19-21.

Perpetuity of this new economy of grace to the house of Israel,


Righteousness shall be universally diffused in the earth; and

the memory of those who have transgressed against the Lord

shall be had in continual abhorrence, 23, 24.

Thus this great prophet, after tracing the principal events of

time, seems at length to have terminated his views in eternity,

where all revolutions cease, where the blessedness of the

righteous shall be unchangeable as the new heavens, and the

misery of the wicked as the fire that shall not be quenched.


This chapter is a continuation of the subject of the foregoing.

The Jews valued themselves much upon their temple, and the pompous

system of services performed in it, which they supposed were to be

of perpetual duration; and they assumed great confidence and merit

to themselves for their strict observance of all the externals of

their religion. And at the very time when the judgments denounced

in verses 6 and 12 of the preceding chapter Isa 65:6, 12 were

hanging over their heads, they were rebuilding, by Herod's

munificence, the temple in a most magnificent manner. God

admonishes them, that "the Most High dwelleth not in temples made

with hands;" and that a mere external worship, how diligently

soever attended, when accompanied with wicked and idolatrous

practices in the worshippers, would never be accepted by him. This

their hypocrisy is set forth in strong colours, which brings the

prophet again to the subject of the former chapter; and he pursues

it in a different manner, with more express declaration of the new

economy, and of the flourishing state of the Church under it. The

increase of the Church is to be sudden and astonishing. They that

escape of the Jews, that is, that become converts to the Christian

faith, are to be employed in the Divine mission to the Gentiles,

and are to act as priests in presenting the Gentiles as an

offering to God; see Ro 15:16. And both, now collected into one

body, shall be witnesses of the final perdition of the obstinate

and irreclaimable.

These two chapters manifestly relate to the calling of the

Gentiles, the establishment of the Christian dispensation, and the

reprobation of the apostate Jews, and their destruction executed

by the Romans.-L.

Verse 2. And all those things have been-"And all these things are

mine"] A word absolutely necessary to the sense is here lost out

of the text: li, mine. It is preserved by the Septuagint and


Verse 3. He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man-"He that

slayeth an ox killeth a man"] These are instances of wickedness

joined with hypocrisy; of the most flagitious crimes committed by

those who at the same time affected great strictness in the

performance of all the external services of religion. God, by the

Prophet Ezekiel, upbraids the Jews with the same practices: "When

they had slain their children to their idols, then they came the

same day into my sanctuary to profane it," Eze 23:39. Of the same

kind was the hypocrisy of the Pharisees in our Saviour's time:

"who devoured widows' houses, and for a pretence made long

prayers," Mt 23:14.

The generality of interpreters, by departing from the literal

rendering of the text, have totally lost the true sense of it, and

have substituted in its place what makes no good sense at all; for

it is not easy to show how, in any circumstances, sacrifice and

murder, the presenting of legal offerings and idolatrous worship,

can possibly be of the same account in the sight of God.

He that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine's

blood-"That maketh an oblation offereth swine's blood"] A word

here likewise, necessary to complete the sense, is perhaps

irrecoverably lost out of the text. The Vulgate and Chaldee add

the word offereth, to make out the sense; not, as I imagine, from

any different reading, (for the word wanted seems to have been

lost before the time of the oldest of them, as the Septuagint had

it not in their copy,) but from mere necessity.

Le Clerc thinks that maaleh is to be repeated from the

beginning of this member; but that is not the case in the parallel

members, which have another and a different verb in the second

place, " dam, sic Versiones; putarem tamen legendum participium

aliquod, et quidem zabach, cum sequatur cheth, nisi

jam praecesserat."-SECKER. Houbigant supplies achal, eateth.

After all, I think the most probable word is that which the

Chaldee and Vulgate seem to have designed to represent; that is,

makrib, offereth.

In their abominations.] ubeshikkutseyhem, "and in

their abominations;" two copies of the Machazor, and one of

Kennicott's MSS. have ubegilluleyhem, "and in their

idols." So the Vulgate and Syriac.

Verse 5. Your brethren that hated you-said-"Say ye to your

brethren that hate you"] The Syriac reads imru

laacheychem; and so the Septuagint, Edit. Comp. ειπατεαδελφοις

υμων and MS. Marchal. has αδελφοις and so Cyril and Procopius

read and explain it. It is not easy to make sense of the reading

of the Septuagint in the other editions; ειπατεαδελφοιημωντοις

μισουσινυμας but for ημων, our, MS. I. D. II. also has υμων


Verse 6. A voice of noise from the city, a voice from the

temple, a voice of the Lord] It is very remarkable that similar

words were spoken by Jesus, son of Ananias, previously to the

destruction of Jerusalem. See his very affecting history related

by Josephus, WAR, B. vi., chap. v.

Verse 8. Who hath seen-"And who hath seen"] Twenty MSS., (four

ancient,) of Kennicott's, and twenty-nine of De Rossi's, and two

ancient of my own, and the two oldest editions, with two others,

have umi, adding the conjunction vau; and so read all

the ancient versions. AND who hath seen?

Verse 9. Shall I bring to the birth] haani ashbir,

num ego matricem frangam; MONTANUS. The word means that which

immediately precedes the appearance of the fetus-the breaking

forth of the liquor amnii. This also is an expression that should

be studiously avoided in prayers and sermons.

Verse 11. With the abundance of her glory-"From her abundant

stores."] For mizziz, from the splendour, two MSS. and the

old edition of 1488, have mizziv; and the latter zain

is upon a rasure in three other MSS. It is remarkable that Kimchi

and Sal. ben Melec, not being able to make any thing of the word

as it stands in the text, say it means the same with mizziv;

that is, in effect, they admit of a various reading, or an error

in the text. But as Vitringa observes, what sense is there in

sucking nourishment from the splendour of her glory? He therefore

endeavours to deduce another sense of the word ziz; but, as

far as it appears to me, without any authority. I am more inclined

to accede to the opinion of those learned rabbins, and to think

that there is some mistake in the word; for that in truth is their

opinion, though they disguise it by saying that the corrupted word

means the very same with that which they believe to be genuine. So

in Isa 41:24 they say that

apha, a viper, means the same with ephes, nothing; instead

of acknowledging that one is written by mistake instead of the

other. I would propose to read in this place mizzin or

mizzen, which is the reading of one of De Rossi's MS., (instead

of meziz,) from the stores, from zun, to nourish,

to feed; see Ge 45:23; 2Ch 11:23; Ps 144:13. And this

perhaps may be meant by Aquila, who renders the word by απο

παντοδαπιας with which that of the Vulgate, ab omnimoda

gloria, and of Symmachus and Theodotion, nearly agree. The Chaldee

follows a different reading, without improving the sense;

meyin, from the wine.-L.

Verse 12. Like a river, and-like a flowing stream-"Like the

great river, and like the overflowing stream"] That is, the

Euphrates, (it ought to have been pointed cannahar, ut

fluvius ille, as the river,) and the Nile.

Then shall ye suck-"And ye shall suck at the breast"] These two

words al shad, at the breast, seem to have been omitted in

the present text, from their likeness to the two words following;

al tsad, at the side. A very probable conjecture of

Houbigant. The Chaldee and Vulgate have omitted the two latter

words instead of the two former. See Clarke on Isa 60:4.

Verse 15. The Lord will come with fire-"JEHOVAH shall come as a

fire"] For baesh, in fire, the Septuagint had in their copy

kaesh, as a fire; ωςπυρ.

To render his anger with fury-"To breathe forth his anger in a

burning heat"] Instead of lehashib, as pointed by the

Masoretes, to render, I understand it as lehashshib, to

breathe, from nashab.

Verse 17. Behind one tree-"After the rites of Achad"] The

Syrians worshipped a god called Adad, Plin. Nat. Hist. xxxvii. 11;

Macrob. Sat. i. 23. They held him to be the highest and greatest

of the gods, and to be the same with Jupiter and the sun; and the

name Adad, says Macrobius, signifies one; as likewise does the

word Achad in Isaiah. Many learned men therefore have supposed,

and with some probability, that the prophet means the same

pretended deity. achad, in the Syrian and Chaldean

dialects, is chad; and perhaps by reduplication of the last

letter to express perfect unity, it may have become chadad,

not improperly expressed by Macrobius Adad, without the aspirate.

It was also pronounced by the Syrians themselves, with a weaker

aspirate, hadad, as in Benhadad, Hadadezer, names of their

kings, which were certainly taken from their chief object of

worship. This seems to me to be a probable account of this name.

But the Masoretes correct the text in this place. Their marginal

reading is achath which is the same word, only in the feminine

form; and so read thirty MSS. (six ancient) and the two oldest

editions. This Le Clerc approves, and supposes it to mean Hecate,

or the moon; and he supports his hypothesis by arguments not at

all improbable. See his note on the place.

Whatever the particular mode of idolatry which the prophet

refers to might be, the general sense of the place is perfectly

clear. But the Chaldee and Syriac, and after them Symmachus and

Theodotion, cut off at once all these difficulties, by taking

the word achad in its common meaning, not as a proper name;

the two latter rendering the sentence thus: οπισωαλληλωνενμεσω

εσθιοντωντοκρεαςτοχοιρειον; "One after another, in the midst

of those that eat swine's flesh." I suppose they all read in their

copies achad achad, one by one, or perhaps

achad achar achad, one after another. See a large dissertation

on this subject in Davidis Millii Dissertationes Selectae,

Dissert. vi.-L.

I know not what to make of this place; it is certain that our

translation makes no sense, and that of the learned prelate seems

to me too refined. Kimchi interprets this of the Turks, who are

remarkable for ablutions. "Behind one in the midst" he understands

of a large fish-pond placed in the middle of their gardens. Others

make achad a deity, as above; and a deity of various names it

is supposed to be, for it is Achad, and Chad, and Hadad, and

Achath, and Hecat, an Assyrian idol. Behynd the fyrst tree or

the gate withine forth.-Old MS. Bible.

Verse 18. For I know their works] A word is here lost out of the

present text, leaving the text quite imperfect. The word is

yodea, knowing, supplied from the Syriac. The Chaldee had the

same word in the copy before him, which he paraphrases by

kedemi gelon, their deeds are manifest before me; and the Aldine

and Complutensian editions of the Septuagint acknowledge the same

word επισταμαι, which is verified by MS. Pachom. and the Arabic

version. I think there can be little doubt of its being genuine.

The concluding verses of this chapter refer to the complete

restoration of the Jews, and to the destruction of all the enemies

of the Gospel of Christ, so that the earth shall be filled with

the knowledge and glory of the Lord. Talia saecla currite! Lord,

hasten the time!

It shall come-"And I come"] For baah, which will not

accord with any thing in the sentence, I read ba, with a MS.;

the participle answering to yodea, with which agree the

Septuagint, Syriac, and Vulgate. Perhaps it ought to be

veba, when I shall come, Syr.; and so the Septuagint, according

to Edit. Ald. and Complut., and Cod. Marchal.

Verse 19. That draw the bow] I much suspect that the words

moshechey kesheth, who draw the bow, are a corruption of

the word meshek, Moschi, the name of a nation situated between

the Euxine and Caspian seas; and properly joined with tubal,

the Tibareni. See Bochart, Phaleg. iii. 12. The Septuagint have

μοσοχ, without any thing of the drawers of the bow: the word being

once taken for a participle, the bow was added to make sense of it

kesheth, the bow, is omitted in a MS. and by the Septuagint.

That have not heard my fame-"Who never heard my name"] For

shimi, my fame, I read, with the Septuagint and Syriac,

shemi, my name.

Verse 20. And in chariots-"And in counes"] There is a sort of

vehicle much used in the east, consisting of a pair of hampers or

cradles, thrown across a camel's back, one on each side; in each

of which a person is carried. They have a covering to defend them

from the rain and the sun. Thevenot calls them counes, i. p. 356.

Maillet describes them as covered cages hanging on both sides of

a camel. "At Aleppo," says Dr. Russell, "women of inferior

condition in longer journeys are commonly stowed, one on each side

of a mule, in a sort of covered cradles." Nat. Hist. of Aleppo, p.

89. These seem to be what the prophet means by the word

tsabbim. Harmer's Observations, i. p. 445.

Verse 21. And for Levites] For laleviyim, fifty-nine

MSS., (eight ancient,) have velaleviyim, adding the

conjunction vau, which the sense seems necessarily to require:

and so read all the ancient versions. See Jos 3:3, and the

various readings on that place in Kennicott's Bible.

Verse 24. For their worm shall not die] These words of the

prophet are applied by our blessed Saviour, Mr 9:44, to express

the everlasting punishment of the wicked in Gehenna, or in hell.

Gehenna, or the valley of Hinnom, was very near to Jerusalem to

the south-east: it was the place where the idolatrous Jews

celebrated that horrible rite of making their children pass

through the fire, that is, of burning them in sacrifice to Moloch.

To put a stop to this abominable practice, Josiah defiled, or

desecrated, the place, by filling it with human bones,

2Ki 23:10, 14; and probably it was the custom afterwards to

throw out the carcasses of animals there, when it also became the

common burying place for the poorer people of Jerusalem. Our

Saviour expressed the state of the blessed by sensible images;

such as paradise, Abraham's bosom, or, which is the same thing, a

place to recline next to Abraham at table in the kingdom of

heaven. See Mt 8:11. Coenabat Nerva cum paucis. Veiento

proximus, atque etiam in sinu recumbebat. "The Emperor Nerva

supped with few. Veiento was the first in his estimation, and even

reclined in his bosom." Plin. Epist. iv. 22. Compare Joh 13:23;

for we could not possibly have any conception of it but by analogy

from worldly objects. In like manner he expressed the place of

torment under the image of Gehenna; and the punishment of the

wicked by the worm which there preyed on the carcasses, and the

fire that consumed the wretched victims. Marking however, in the

strongest manner, the difference between Gehenna and the invisible

place of torment; namely, that in the former the suffering is

transient:-the worm itself which preys upon the body, dies; and

the fire which totally consumes it, is soon extinguished:-whereas

in the figurative Gehenna the instruments of punishment shall be

everlasting, and the suffering without end; "for there the worm

dieth not, and the fire is not quenched."

These emblematical images, expressing heaven and hell, were in

use among the Jews before our Saviour's time; and in using them he

complied with their notions. "Blessed is he that shall eat bread

in the kingdom of God," says the Jew to our Saviour, Lu 14:15.

And in regard to Gehenna, the Chaldee paraphrase as I observed

before on Isa 30:33, renders everlasting or continual burnings by

"the Gehenna of everlasting fire." And before his time the son of

Sirach, Sirach 7:17, had said, "The vengeance of the ungodly is

fire and worms." So likewise the author of the book of Judith,

Judith 16:17: "Wo to the nations rising up against my kindred:

the Lord Almighty will take vengeance of them in the day of

judgment, in putting fire and worms in their flesh;" manifestly

referring to the same emblem.-L.

Kimchi's conclusion of his notes on this book is remarkable:-

"Blessed be God who hath created the mountains and the hills,

And hath endued me with strength to finish the book of


He shall rejoice us with good tidings and reports;

He shall show us a token for good:-

And the end of his miracles he shall cause to approach us."

Several of the Versions have a peculiarity in their


And they shall be to a satiety of sight to all flesh.


And thei schul ben into fyllyng of sigt to all fleshe.


And they shall be as a vision to all flesh.


And the wicked shall be punished in hell till the righteous

shall say,-It is enough.


They shall be an astonishment to all flesh;

So that they shall be a spectacle to all beings.


The end of the prophecy of Isaiah the prophet.

Praise to God who is truly praiseworthy.


One of my old Hebrew MSS. after the twenty-first verse repeats

the twenty-third: "And it shall come to pass that from one new

moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh

come to worship before me, saith the Lord."


Number of verses in this book, 1295.

Middle verse,-Isa 33:21.

Masoretic sections, 26.

chazak, Be strong.

In the course of these notes the reader will have often observed

two MSS. of the Septuagint referred to by Bp. Lowth, and marked I.

B. II., I. D. II. They are both in the British Museum. The former

contains the prophets, and was written about the tenth or eleventh

century; and because it once belonged to Pachomius, patriarch of

Constantinople, in the beginning of the sixteenth century, the

bishop often quotes it by the title MS. Pachom. The other contains

many of the historical books, beginning with Ruth, and ending with

Ezra; and has also the Prophet Isaiah. This MS. consists of two

parts,-one apparently written in the eleventh or twelfth century;

the other, in the beginning of the fourteenth. Dr. Grabe and Dr.

Woide, as well as Bp. Lowth, considered these MSS. of great

value and authority.

It may be necessary to say something of the Hebrew MSS. which I

have also frequently quoted. The collations of Kennicott and De

Rossi have been long before the public, and to describe them would

be useless. The collections of the latter Bp. Lowth had never

seen, else he could have strengthened his authorities: these, for

the first time, I have in the preceding notes incorporated with

Bishop Lowth's references, and thus added double strength to the

learned prelate's authorities. But of my own I should say

something, as they form no part of the above collections; and yet

are among the oldest MSS. known to exist. Independently of rolls,

which contain only the Megillah, Esther, and the Pentateuch, they

are ten in number, and formerly belonged to the Rev. Cornelius

Schulting, a Protestant minister of Amsterdam. After his death in

1726, they were sold by public auction, and came into the

possession of the Rev. John Van der Hagen, a reformed minister of

the same place.

In 1733, Jo. Christ. Wolf described these MSS. in the fourth

volume of his Bibliotheca Hebraea, p. 79. A few years ago I had

the singular good fortune to purchase the whole of these at

Utrecht; a collection of MSS., which Dr. Kennicott complains that

he could not by any entreaties obtain the privilege of collating.

These are his own words,-"Wolfius, (Bib. Heb. iv. 79-82,) memorat

codices 10. olim penes Schultingium; quorum plurimi postea erant

penes Rev. Joh. Van der Hagen. Usum Codd. Hagenianorum obtinere

nulla potuit a me precatio." Dissert. Gener. p. 78. sub Cod. 84.

Dr. Kennicott supposed that three of those MSS. had been collated

for him: but in this I believe he was mistaken; as he was also in

supposing that only the greater part of the ten MSS. of Schulting

had fallen into the hands of Mr. Van der Hagen; for the fact is,

the whole ten were purchased by Van der Hagen, and the same ten

are now in my library, being precisely those described by Wolfius,

as above. I have collated the Prophet Isaiah throughout, in two of

the most ancient of these MSS.; and have added their testimony in

many places to the various readings collected by Kennicott and De

Rossi. The very bad state of my health, and particularly of my

eyes, prevented a more extensive collation of these very ancient

and invaluable MSS. Some of the oldest are without any date. They

are marked with the ten first letters of the alphabet. Cod. C. was

written A.D. 1076,-D. in 1286,-G. in 1215,-H. in 1309,-I. in 1136.

In most of these there is an ample harvest of important various


Bishop Lowth, in giving an account of his labours on this

prophet, takes a general view of the difficulties and helps he met

with in his work. This being of considerable importance, I shall

lay an abstract of it before the reader, as a proper supplement to

the preceding sheets. He observes:-

"The Masoretic punctuation,-by which the pronunciation of the

language is given, and the forms of the several parts of speech,

the construction of the words, the distribution and limits of the

sentences, and the connexion of the several members, are fixed,-is

in effect an interpretation of the Hebrew text made by the Jews of

late ages, probably not earlier than the eight century; and may be

considered as their translation of the Old Testament. Where the

words unpointed are capable of various meanings, according as they

may be variously pronounced and constructed, the Jews by their

pointing have determined them to one meaning and construction; and

the sense which they thus give is their sense of the passage, just

as the rendering of a translator into another language is his

sense. The points have been considered as part of the Hebrew text,

and as giving the meaning of it on no less than Divine authority.

Accordingly our public translations in the modern tongues, for the

use of the Church among Protestants, and so likewise the modern

Latin translations, are for the most part close copies of the

Hebrew pointed text, and are in reality only versions at second

hand, translations of the Jews' interpretation of the Old


"To what a length an opinion lightly taken up, and embraced with

a full assent without due examination, may be carried, we may see

in another example of much the same kind. The learned of the

Church of Rome, who have taken the liberty of giving translations

of Scripture in the modern languages, have for the most part

subjected and devoted themselves to a prejudice equally groundless

and absurd. The Council of Trent declared the Latin translation of

the Scriptures, called the Vulgate, which had been for many ages

in use in their Church, to be authentic; a very ambiguous term,

which ought to have been more precisely defined than the fathers

of this council chose to define it. Upon this ground many

contended that the Vulgate Version was dictated by the Holy

Spirit; at least was providentially guarded against all error; was

consequently of Divine authority, and more to be regarded than

even the original Hebrew and Greek texts.

"But a very fruitful source of error proceeded from the Jewish

copyists consulting more the fair appearance of their copy than

the correctness of it, by wilfully leaving mistakes uncorrected,

lest by erasing they should diminish the beauty and the value of

the transcript, (for instance, when they had written a word or

part of a word wrong, and immediately saw their mistake, they left

the mistake uncorrected, and wrote the word anew after it;) their

scrupulous regard to the evenness and fulness of their lines,

which induced them to cut off from the ends of lines a letter or

letters for which there was not sufficient room, (for they never

divided a word, so that the parts of it should belong to two

lines,) and to add to the ends of lines letters wholly

insignificant, by way of expletives to fill up a vacant space:

their custom of writing part of a word at the end of a line, where

there was not room for the whole, and then giving the whole word

at the beginning of the next line.

"These circumstances considered, it would be the most

astonishing of all miracles, if the Hebrew writings of the Old

Testament had come down to us through their hands absolutely pure,

and free from all mistakes whatsoever.

"The ancient VERSIONS, as the principal sources of emendation,

and highly useful in rectifying as well as in explaining the

Hebrew text, are contained in the London Polyglot.

"The Greek Version, commonly called the Septuagint, or of the

seventy interpreters, probably made by different hands, (the

number of them uncertain,) and at different times, as the exigence

of the Jewish Church at Alexandria and in other parts of Egypt

required, is of the first authority. and of the greatest use in

correcting the Hebrew text, as being the most ancient of all; and

as the copy from which it was translated appears to have been free

from many errors which afterwards by degrees got into the text.

But the Greek Version of Isaiah is not so old as that of the

Pentateuch by a hundred years and more, having been made in all

probability after the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, when the

reading of the prophets in the Jewish synagogues began to be

practised; and even after the building of Onias' temple to favour

which there seems to have been some artifice employed in a certain

passage of Isaiah (Isa 19:18) in this Version. And it

unfortunately happens that Isaiah has had the hard fate to meet

with a Greek translator very unworthy of him, there being hardly

any book of the Old Testament so ill rendered in that Version as

this of Isaiah.

"The Arabic Version is sometimes referred to as verifying the

reading of the Septuagint, being, for the most part at least,

taken from that Version.

"The Chaldee paraphrase of Jonathan ben Uzziel, made about or

before the time of our Saviour, though it often wanders from the

text in a wordy allegorical explanation, yet very frequently

adheres to it closely, and gives a verbal rendering of it; and

accordingly is sometimes of great use in ascertaining the true

reading of the Hebrew text.

"The Syriac Version stands next in order of time, but is

superior to the Chaldee in usefulness and authority, as well in

ascertaining as in explaining the Hebrew text. It is a close

translation of the Hebrew language into one of near affinity to

it. It is supposed to have been made as early as the first


"The fragments of the three Greek Versions of Aquila, Symmachus,

and Theodotion, all made in the second century, which are

collected in the Hexapla of Montfaucon, are of considerable use

for the same purpose.

"The Vulgate, being for the most part the translation of Jerome,

made in the fourth century, is of service in the same way, in

proportion to its antiquity.

"In referring to Dr. Kennicott's Collections, I have given the

whole number of manuscripts or editions which concur in any

particular reading; what proportion that number bears to the whole

number of collated copies which contain the Book of Isaiah, may be

seen by comparing it with the catalogue of copies collated, which

is given at the end of that book in the doctor's edition of the

Hebrew Bible.

"Among the manuscripts which have been collated, I consider

those of the tenth, eleventh and twelfth centuries as ancient,

comparatively and in respect of the rest. Therefore in quoting a

number of manuscripts, where the variation is of some importance,

I have added, that so many of that number are ancient, that is,

are of the centuries above mentioned.

"The design of the notes is to give the reasons and authorities

on which the translation is founded; to rectify or to explain the

words of the text; to illustrate the ideas, the images, and the

allusions of the prophet, by referring to objects, notions, and

customs which peculiarly belong to his age and his country; and to

point out the beauties of particular passages. If the reader would

go deeper into the mystical sense, into theological, historical,

and chronological disquisitions, there are many learned expositors

to whom he may have recourse, who have written full commentaries

on this prophet to which title the present work has no

pretensions. The sublime and spiritual uses to be made of this

peculiarly evangelical prophet, must be all founded on a faithful

representation of the literal sense which his words contain. This

is what I have endeavoured closely and exactly to express."

IN conclusion, it may be necessary to give some account of what

I have ventured to superadd to the labours of this very learned

prelate. After consulting the various commentators, who have spent

much time and labour in their endeavours to illustrate this

prophet, I found their interpretations of many of the most

important prophecies strangely different, and often at variance.

Former commentators have taken especial care to bring forth in the

most prominent point of view all those passages which have been

generally understood to refer to our blessed Lord, and the

Christian dispensation. Later critics, especially those on the

continent, have adopted the Jewish plan of interpretation,

referring the parts belonging to the Messiah in his sufferings,

&c., to the prophet himself, or to the children of the captivity

in their state of suffering; and those passages which speak of the

redemption of the world, and the glorious state of the Christian

Church, they apply to the deliverance of the Israelites from the

Babylonish captivity. It is really painful to see what labour and

learning these critics spend to rob the prophet of his title of

evangelical; and to show that even the sacred writers of the New

Testament, in their application of select passages to our Lord,

only followed the popular custom of accommodating passages of the

Sacred Writings to occurrences and events, to which their leading

circumstances bore some kind of resemblance, the application being

only intended to convey the idea of similitude, and not of


While I have cautiously handled those passages, the application

of which was dubious, I have taker care to give my opinion with

firmness on those which seem to have no other meaning than what

they derive from their application to the great work of redemption

by Jesus Christ, and the glory that should follow the outpouring

of his Spirit. Many readers will no doubt suppose that I should

have dwelt more on the spiritual parts of this inimitable book;

but to this there would be scarcely any end. Who could exhaust the

stores of this prophet! and if any thing were left unsaid, some

would still be unsatisfied, to say nothing of the volume being

thereby swollen beyond all reasonable bounds. I have marked enough

for the reader's meditation; and have thrown out a sufficient

number of hints to be improved by ministers of the word of God. To

another class it may appear too critical; but this chiefly applies

to the learned bishop, whose plan, as by far the best in my

judgment, I have followed; and whose collection of various

readings I felt it my duty to complete, a thing that none of his

editors have attempted before. I have therefore added the various

readings collected by De Rossi to those of Dr. Kennicott, which

the bishop had cited as authorities, on which he built his

alterations and critical conjectures.

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