Isaiah 9


This chapter contains an illustrious prophecy of the Messiah.

He is represented under the glorious figure of the sun, or

light, rising on a benighted world, and diffusing joy and

gladness wherever he sheds his beams, 1-3.

His conquests are astonishing and miraculous, as in the day of

Midian; and the peace which they procure is to be permanent,

as denoted by the burning of all the implements of war, 4, 5.

The person and character of this great Deliverer are then set

forth in the most magnificent terms which the language of

mankind could furnish, 6.

The extent of his kingdom is declared to be universal, and the

duration of it eternal, 7.

The prophet foretells most awful calamities which were ready to

fall upon the Israelites on account of their manifold

impieties, 8-21.


Verse 1. Dimness-"Accumulated darkness"] Either

menuddechah, fem. to agree with aphelah; or

aphel hammenuddach, alluding perhaps to the palpable Egyptian

darkness, Ex 10:21.

The land of Zebulun] Zebulun, Naphtali, Manasseh, that is, the

country of Galilee all round the sea of Gennesareth, were the

parts that principally suffered in the first Assyrian invasion

under Tiglath-pileser; see 2Ki 15:29; 1Ch 5:26. And they were

the first that enjoyed the blessings of Christ's preaching the

Gospel, and exhibiting his miraculous works among them. See Mede's

Works, p. 101, and 457. This, which makes the twenty-third verse

of chap. viii. in the Hebrew, is the first verse in chap. ix. in

our authorized version. Bishop Lowth follows the division in the


Verse 3. And not increased the joy-"Thou hast increased their

joy"] Eleven MSS. of Kennicott's and six of De Rossi's, two

ancient, read lo, it, according to the Masoretical correction,

instead of lo, not. To the same purpose the Targum and


The joy in harvest] kesimchath bakkatsir. For

bakkatsir one MS. of Kennicott's and one of De

Rossi's have katsir, and another hakkatsir,

"the harvest;" one of which seems to be the true, reading, as the

noun preceding is in regimine.

Verse 5. Every battle of the warrior-"The greaves of the armed

warrior"] seon soen. This word, occurring only in this

place, is of very doubtful signification. Schindler fairly tells

us that we may guess at it by the context. The Jews have explained

it, by guess I believe, as signifying battle, conflict: the

Vulgate renders it violenta praedatio. But it seems as if

something was rather meant which was capable of becoming fuel for

the fire, together with the garments mentioned in the same

sentence. In Syriac the word, as a noun, signifies a shoe, or a

sandal, as a learned friend suggested to me some years ago. See

Lu 15:22; Ac 12:8. I take it, therefore, to mean that part of

the armour which covered the legs and feet, and I would render the

two words in Latin by caliga caligati. The burning of heaps of

armour, gathered from the field of battle, as an offering made to

the god supposed to be the giver of victory, was a custom that

prevailed among some heathen nations; and the Romans used it as an

emblem of peace, which perfectly well suits with the design of the

prophet in this place. A medal struck by Vespasian on finishing

his wars both at home and abroad represents the goddess Peace

holding an olive branch in one hand, and, with a lighted torch in

the other, setting fire to a heap of armour. Virgil mentions the


"-Cum primam aciem Praeneste sub ipsa

Stravi, scutorumque incendi victor acervos."

AEn. lib. viii., ver. 561.

"Would heaven, (said he,) my strength and youth recall,

Such as I was beneath Praeneste's wall--

Then when I made the foremost foes retire,

And set whole heaps of conquered shields on fire."


See Addison on Medals, Series ii. 18. And there are notices of

some such practice among the Israelites, and other nations of the

most early times. God promises to Joshua victory over the kings of

Canaan. "To-morrow I will deliver them up all slain before Israel:

thou shalt hough their horses, and burn their chariots with fire,"

Jos 11:6. See also Na 2:13. And the psalmist employs this image

to express complete victory, and the perfect establishment of


"He maketh wars to cease, even to the end of the land:

He breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder;

And burneth the chariots in the fire."

Ps 46:9.

agaloth, properly plaustra, impedimenta, the

baggage-wagons: which however the Septuagint and Vulgate render

scuta, "shields;" and the Chaldee, "round shields," to show the

propriety of that sense of the word from the etymology; which, if

admitted, makes the image the same with that used by the Romans.

Ezekiel, Eze 39:8-10, in his bold manner has carried this image

to a degree of amplification which I think hardly any other of the

Hebrew poets would have attempted. He describes the burning of the

arms of the enemy, in consequence of the complete victory to be

obtained by the Israelites over Gog and Magog:-

"Behold, it is come to pass, and it is done,

Saith the Lord JEHOVAH.

This is the day of which I spoke:

And the inhabitants of the cities of Israel shall go forth.

And shall set on fire the armour, and the shield,

And the buckler, and the bow, and the arrows,

And the clubs and the lances;

And they shall set them on fire for seven years.

And they shall not bear wood from the field;

Neither shall they hew from the forest:

For of the armour shall they make their fires;

And they shall spoil their spoilers,

And they shall plunder their plunderers."

R. D. Kimchi, on this verse says this refers simply to the

destruction of the Assyrians. Other battles are fought man against

man, and spear against spear; and the garments are rolled in blood

through the wounds given and received: but this was with burning,

for the angel of the Lord smote them by night, and there was

neither sword nor violent commotion, nor blood; they were food for

the fire, for the angel of the Lord consumed them.

Verse 6. The government shall be upon his shoulder] That is, the

ensign of government; the sceptre, the sword, the key, or the

like, which was borne upon or hung from the shoulder.

See Clarke on Isa 22:22.

And his name shall be called] El gibbor, the

prevailing or conquering God.

The everlasting Father-"The Father of the everlasting age"] Or

Abi ad, the Father of eternity. The Septuagint have

μεγαληςβουληςαγγελος, "the Messenger of the Great Counsel."

But instead of Abi ad, a MS. of De Rossi has

Abezer, the helping Father; evidently the corruption of some

Jew, who did not like such an evidence in favour of the Christian


Prince of Peace] sar shalom, the Prince of prosperity,

the Giver of all blessings.

A MS. of the thirteenth century in Kennicott's collection has a

remarkable addition here. "He shall be a stumbling-block, ;

the government is on his shoulder." This reading is nowhere else

acknowledged, as far as I know.

Verse 7. Of the increase] In the common Hebrew Bibles, and in

many MSS., this word is written with the close or final .

But in twelve of Kennicott's MSS., and twelve of De Rossi's,

it is written with the open mem; but here it is supposed to

contain mysteries, viz., that Jerusalem shall be shut up, closed,

and confined, till the days of the Messiah.

This is an illustrious prophecy of the incarnation of Christ,

with an enumeration of those characters in which he stands most

nearly related to mankind as their Saviour; and of others by which

his infinite majesty and Godhead are shown. He shall appear as a

child, born of a woman, born as a Jew, under the law, but not in

the way of ordinary generation. He is a Son given-the human

nature, in which the fulness of the Godhead was to dwell, being

produced by the creative energy of the Holy Ghost in the womb of

the Virgin. See Mt 1:20, 21, 23, 25, and Lu 1:35, and Isa 7:14,

and the notes on those passages. As being God manifested in the

flesh, he was wonderful in his conception, birth, preaching,

miracles, sufferings, death, resurrection, and ascension;

wonderful in his person, and wonderful in his working. He is the

Counsellor that expounds the law; shows its origin, nature, and

claims; instructs, pleads for the guilty; and ever appears in the

presence of God for men. He is the mighty God; God essentially and

efficiently prevailing against his enemies, and destroying ours.

He is the Father of eternity; the Origin of all being, and the

Cause of the existence, and particularly the Father, of the

spirits of all flesh. The Prince of peace-not only the Author of

peace, and the Dispenser of peace, but also he that rules by

peace, whose rule tends always to perfection, and produces

prosperity. Of the increase of his government-this Prince has a

government, for he has all power both in heaven and in earth:

and his government increases, and is daily more and more extended,

and will continue till all things are put under his feet. His

kingdom is ordered-every act of government regulated according to

wisdom and goodness; is established so securely as not to be

overthrown; and administered in judgment and justice, so as to

manifest his wisdom, righteousness, goodness, and truth. Reader,

such is that Jesus who came into the world to save sinners!

Trust in HIM!

Isa 9:8-10:4. This whole passage reduced to its proper and

entire form, and healed of the dislocation which it suffers by the

absurd division of the chapters, makes a distinct prophecy, and a

just poem, remarkable for the regularity of its disposition and

the elegance of its plan. It has no relation to the preceding or

following prophecy; though the parts, violently torn asunder, have

been, on the one side and the other, patched on to them. Those

relate principally to the kingdom of Judah; this is addressed

exclusively to the kingdom of Israel. The subject of it is a

denunciation of vengeance awaiting their crimes. It is divided

into four parts, each threatening the particular punishment of

some grievous offence-of their pride, of their perseverance in

their vices, of their impiety, and of their injustice. To which is

added a general denunciation of a farther reserve of Divine wrath,

contained in a distich, before used by the prophet on a like

occasion, Isa 5:25, and here repeated after each part. This makes

the intercalary verse of the poem; or, as we call it, the burden

of the song.

"Post hoc comma (cap. ix. 4) interponitur spatium unius lineae,

in Cod. 2 et 3: idemque observatur in 245. in quo nullum est

spatium ad finem capitis ix." Kennicott, Var. Lect.

"After this clause (Isa 9:4) is interposed the space of one

line in Cod. 2 and 3. The same is likewise observed in Cod. 245,

in which no space exists at the end of chap. ix."

Verse 8. Lord-"JEHOVAH"] For Adonai, thirty MSS. of

Kennicott's, and many of De Rossi's, and three editions, read


Verse 9. Pride and stoutness of heart-"Carry themselves

haughtily"] veyadeu, "and they shall know;" so ours and the

Versions in general. But what is it that they shall know? The verb

stands destitute of its object; and the sense is imperfect. The

Chaldee is the only one, as far as I can find, that expresses it

otherwise. He renders the verb in this place by

veithrabrabu, "they exalt themselves, or carry themselves

haughtily; the same word by which he renders gabehu,

Isa 3:16. He seems, therefore, in this place to have read

vaiyigbehu, which agrees perfectly well with what

follows, and clears up the difficulty. Archbishop Secker

conjectured vayedabberu, referring it to lemor,

in the next verse, which shows that he was not satisfied with the

present reading. Houbigant reads vaiyereu, et pravi facti

sunt, they are become wicked, which is found in a MS.; but I

prefer the reading of the Chaldee, which suits much better with

the context.

Houbigant approves of this reading; but it is utterly

unsupported by any evidence from antiquity: it is a mere mistake

of resh for daleth; and I am surprised that it should be

favoured by Houbigant.

Verse 10. The bricks] "The eastern bricks," says Sir John

Chardin, (see Harmer's Observ. I., p. 176,) "are only clay well

moistened with water, and mixed with straw, and dried in the sun."

So that their walls are commonly no better than our mud walls; see

Maundrell, p. 124. That straw was a necessary part in the

composition of this sort of bricks, to make the parts of the clay

adhere together, appears from Ex 5:7-19. These bricks are

properly opposed to hewn stone, so greatly superior in beauty and

durableness. The sycamores, which, as Jerome on the place says,

are timber of little worth, with equal propriety are opposed to

the cedars. "As the grain and texture of the sycamore is

remarkably coarse and spongy, it could therefore stand in no

competition at all (as it is observed, Isa 9:10) with the cedar,

for beauty and ornament."-Shaw, Supplement to Travels, p. 96. We

meet with the same opposition of cedars to sycamores, 1Ki 10:27,

where Solomon is said to have made silver as the stones, and

cedars as the sycamores in the vale for abundance. By this mashal,

or figurative and sententious speech, they boast that they shall

easily be able to repair their present losses, suffered perhaps by

the first Assyrian invasion under Tiglath-pileser; and to bring

their affairs to a more flourishing condition than ever.

Some of the bricks mentioned above lie before me. They were

brought from the site of ancient Babylon. The straw is visible,

kneaded with the clay; they are very hard, and evidently were

dried in the sun; for they are very easily dissolved in water.

Verse 11. The adversaries of Rezin against him-"The princes of

Retsin against him"] For tsarey, enemies, Houbigant, by

conjecture, reads sarey, princes; which is confirmed by thirty

of Kennicott's and De Rossi's MSS., (two ancient,) one of my own,

ancient; and nine more have tsaddi, upon a rasure, and

therefore had probably at first sarey. The princes of Retsin,

the late ally of Israel, that is, the Syrians, expressly named in

the next verse, shall now be excited against Israel.

The Septuagint in this place give us another variation; for

Retsin, they read har tsiyon, οροςσιων, Mount

Sion, of which this may be the sense; but JEHOVAH shall set up the

adversaries of Mount Sion against him, (i.e., against Israel,) and

will strengthen his enemies together; the Syrians, the

Philistines, who are called the adversaries of Mount Sion. See

Simonis Lex. in voce sachach.

Verse 12. With open mouth-"On every side"] bechol peh,

in every corner, in every part of their country, pursuing them to

the remotest extremities, and the most retired parts. So the

Chaldee bechol athar, in every place.

Verse 14. In one day.] Thirteen MSS. of Kennicott and De

Rossi read beyom, in a day; and another has a rasure in the

place of the letter beth.

Verse 17. The Lord-"JEHOVAH"] For Adonai, a great number

of MSS. read Yehovah.

Verse 18. For wickedness] Wickedness rageth like a fire,

destroying and laying waste the nation: but it shall be its own

destruction, by bringing down the fire of God's wrath, which shall

burn up the briers and the thorns; that is, the wicked themselves.

Briers and thorns are an image frequently applied in Scripture,

when set on fire, to the rage of the wicked; violent, yet

impotent, and of no long continuance. "They are extinct as the

fire of thorns," Ps 118:12. To the wicked themselves, as useless

and unprofitable, proper objects of God's wrath, to be burned up,

or driven away by the wind. "As thorns cut up they shall be

consumed in the fire," Isa 33:12. Both these ideas seem to be

joined in Ps 58:9:-

"Before your pots shall feel the thorn,

As well the green as the dry, the tempest shall

bear them away."

The green and the dry is a proverbial expression, meaning all

sorts of them, good and bad, great and small, &c. So Ezekiel:

"Behold, I will kindle a fire, and it shall devour every green

tree, and every dry tree," Eze 20:47.

D'Herbelot quotes a Persian poet describing a pestilence under

the image of a conflagration: "This was a lightning that, falling

upon a forest, consumed there the green wood with the dry." See

Harmer's Observations, Vol. II., p. 187.

Verse 20. The flesh of his own arm-"The flesh of his neighbour"]

"τουβραχιονοςτουαδελφουαυτου, the Septuagint Alexand. Duplex

versio, quarum altera legit reo, quae vox extat, Jer 6:21.

Nam rea, αδελφος, Ge 43:33.

Recte ni fallor."-SECKER. I add to this excellent remark, that

the Chaldee manifestly reads reo, his neighbour, not

zeroo, his arm; for he renders it by karibeyh, his

neighbour. And Jeremiah has the very same expression:

veish besar reehu yochelu, "and every one

shall eat the flesh of his neighbour," Isa 19:9. This observation,

I think, gives the true reading and sense of this place: and the

context strongly confirms it by explaining the general idea by

particular instances, in the following verse: "Every man shall

devour the flesh of his neighbour;" that is, they shall harass and

destroy one another. "Manasseh shall destroy Ephraim, and Ephraim,

Manasseh;" which two tribes were most closely connected both in

blood and situation as brothers and neighbours; "and both of them

in the midst of their own dissensions shall agree in preying upon

Judah." The common reading, "shall devour the flesh of his own

arm," in connexion with what follows, seems to make either an

inconsistency, or an anticlimax; whereas by this correction the

following verse becomes an elegant illustration of the


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