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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Isaiah 35

Verse 1

The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.

The solitary place - literally, a dry place, tsiyaah (H6723), without springs of water. A moral wilderness is meant.

For them - namely, on account of the punishment inflicted according to the preceding prophecy on the enemy: probably the blessings set forth in this chapter are included in the causes for joy, Isaiah 55:12.

The rose (Hebrew, chªbatsaalet (H2261)) - rather, the meadow-saffron, an autumnal flower with bulbous roots: so the Syriac (chamizalyotow: evidently the same word slightly changed) translation. The Colchicum autumnale, or autumn crocus: from betsel, a bulb. Royle understands it to be the Polyanthus narcissus. The fragrance of the narcissus makes it more likely than the crocus, which has no such odour. Also the chªbatselet (H2261), in Song of Solomon 2:1, is associated with the lily, which blossoms in spring; whereas the colchicum blossoms in autumn. Chateaubriand mentions the narcissus as growing in the plain of Sharon ('Itineraire,' 2:

130). The rose is not mentioned in the Hebrew Bible: but in the Greek Apocrypha it is, Sir 24:14 , 'I (wisdom) was as a rose plant in Jericho.'

Verse 2

It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the LORD, and the excellency of our God.

The glory of Lebanon - its ornament, namely, its cedars (Isaiah 10:34).

The excellency of Carmel - namely, its beauty.

Sharon - famed for its fertility.

They shall see the glory of the Lord ... excellency - (Isaiah 40:5; Isaiah 40:9.) While the wilderness which had neither "glory" nor "excellency" shall have both "given to it," the Lord shall have all the "glory" and "excellency" ascribed to Him, not to the transformed wilderness (Matthew 5:16).

Verse 3

Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees.

Strengthen ye the weak hands ... confirm the feeble knees. The Hebrew for "strengthen," chazquw (H2388), refers to the strength residing in the hands for grasping and holding a thing manfully; "confirm," to the firmness in the knees with which one keeps his ground, 'aamats (H553), so as not to be dislodged by any other (Michaelis). Encourage the Jews, now desponding, by the assurance of the blessings promised.

Verse 4

Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you.

A fearful heart - margin, hasty; i:e., with a heart fluttered with agitation.

(With) vengeance. The Hebrew is more forcible than the English version.

God will come ... vengeance, (even) God ... a recompence. The sense is the same.

Verses 5-6

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened ... - Language figurative, descriptive of the joy felt at the deliverance from Assyria and Babylon; literally true of the antitypical times of Messiah and His miracles (see marginal references).

Verse 6. Leap - literally fulfilled, Acts 3:8; Acts 14:10.

The tongue of the dumb sing - joyful thanksgivings.

In the wilderness ... waters - (Isaiah 41:18.)

Verse 7

And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes.

The parched ground shall become a pool - or, 'the mirage (Hebrew, shaaraab (H8273), the sun's heat) shall became a (real) lake.' The word occurs in the Koran (Sur., 24: 39), 'The works of the wicked are as the Sarab in the desert; the thirsty take it for water until they come to it, and discover that it is nothing.' The sun's rays refracted on the glowing sands at mid-day give the appearance of a lake of water, and often deceive the thirsty traveler (cf. Jeremiah 2:13). But the Septuagint, Chaldaic, Vulgate, Arabic, and Syriac, all take it as the English version.

Dragons - rather, jackals. The English version has given the same meaning to tan (H8565) and taniyn (H8565). But they are probably distinct. Tan always is found in the plural, tannin. Jeremiah 14:6 favours wild beasts, rather than serpents. The Syriac, according to Pococke, means a jackal, whose mournful howl in the desert is well known. So the Arabic.

Each - namely, jackal.

Grass, with reeds ( chatsiyr (H2682)) - rather, as Vulgate (but Syriac as the English version), 'a dwelling or receptacle (answering to the previous "habitation") for reeds, etc. (which only grow where there is water, Job 8:11). Where once there was no water, water shall abound.

Verse 8

And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.

An highway - such a causeway (raised way, macluwl (H4547), from a Hebrew root, caalal (H5549), to cast up) as was used for the march of armies, valleys being filled up, hills and other obstructions removed (Isaiah 62:10; cf. Isaiah 40:3-4).

The way of holiness - Hebraism for the holy way. Horsley translates, 'The way of the Holy One:' but the words that follow, and Isaiah 35:10, show it is the way leading the redeemed back to Jerusalem, both the literal and the heavenly (Isaiah 52:1; Joel 3:17; Revelation 21:27); still Christ at His coming again shall be the Leader on the way, for which reason it is called, "The way of the Lord" (Isaiah 40:3; Malachi 3:1).

But it (shall be) for those: the wayfaring men - rather, 'for He (the Holy One) shall be with them (Horsley). So DeDieu. The Hebrew pronoun is masculine, whereas the Hebrew for "way" ( derek (H1870)) is generally feminine [wªhuw laamow]. It is not enough that the way is clear and open, unless God go before as the Guide and Pointer out of the way. He alludes to the history, Exodus 13:21 (Calvin).

Though fools - rather, 'and (even) fools;' i:e., the simple shall not go astray-namely, because 'He shall be with them' (Matthew 11:25; 1 Corinthians 1:26-28). We all were and are naturally fools (Titus 3:3). We must know ourselves to be so before we can become wise. The Ethnach (disjunctive) accent of punctuation forbids joining the Hebrew for "the wayfaring man" with the preceding words, as Horsley and DeDieu take it, 'He (Yahweh) shall be with them walking in the way.' The Ethnach binds us to join in with the following words, as the English version.

Verse 9

No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there:

No lion - such as might be feared on the way through the wilderness, which abounded in wild beasts, back to Judea. Every danger shall be warded off the returning people (Isaiah 11:6-9; Ezekiel 34:25; Hosea 2:18). Compare spiritually (Proverbs 3:17).

Verse 10

And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

The ransomed of the Lord shall return ... - language literally applying to the return from Babylon; figuratively and more fully to the completed redemption of both literal and spiritual Israel.

Everlasting joy upon their heads - (Psalms 126:2.) Joy manifested in their countenances. Some fancy an allusion to the custom of pouring oil 'upon the head,' or wearing chaplets in times of public festivity (Ecclesiastes 9:8).

Remarks: The presence of Christ alone can change the moral "wilderness" into the garden of the Lord, yielding the lovely flowers, as well as the wholesome fruits, of righteousness. He shall hereafter manifest His presence visibly, as well as spiritually; then, indeed, all the earth shall "blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing. "The glory" and "the excellency" which then shall be imparted to the regenerated world shall be ascribed, not to the creature, but to 'the Lord our God,' the Creator and King. The realization by faith of the glorious future is what is best calculated to 'strengthen the weak hands and the feeble knees' of the dispirited believer.

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Isaiah 35". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.