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by Karl Keil and Franz Delitzsch
The Prophecies of Isaiah
Time of the Prophet
The first prerequisite to a clear understanding and full appreciation of the prophecies of Isaiah, is a knowledge of his time, and of the different periods of his ministry. The first period was in the reigns of Uzziah (b.c. 811-759) and Jotham (759-743). The precise starting-point depends upon the view we take of Isaiah 6:1-13. But, in any case, Isaiah commenced his ministry towards the close of Uzziah's reign, and laboured on throughout the sixteen years of the reign of Jotham. The first twenty-seven of the fifty-two years that Uzziah reigned run parallel to the last twenty-seven of the forty-one that Jeroboam II reigned (b.c. 825-784). Under Joash, and his son Jeroboam II, the kingdom of Israel passed through a period of outward glory, which surpassed, both in character and duration, any that it had reached before; and this was also the case with the kingdom of Judah under Uzziah and his son Jotham. As the glory of the one kingdom faded away, that of the other increased. The bloom of the northern kingdom was destroyed and surpassed by that of the southern. But outward splendour contained within itself the fatal germ of decay and ruin in the one case as much as in the other; for prosperity degenerated into luxury, and the worship of Jehovah became stiffened into idolatry. It was in this last and longest time of Judah's prosperity that Isaiah arose, with the mournful vocation to preach repentance without success, and consequently to have to announce the judgment of hardening and devastation, of the ban and of banishment. The second period of his ministry extended from the commencement of the reign of Ahaz to that of the reign of Hezekiah. Within these sixteen years three events occurred, which combined to bring about a new and calamitous turn in the history of Judah. In the place of the worship of Jehovah, which had been maintained with outward regularity and legal precision under Uzziah and Jotham; as soon as Ahaz ascended the throne, open idolatry was introduced of the most abominable description and in very various forms. The hostilities which began while Jotham was living, were perpetuated by Pekah the king of Israel and Rezin the king of Damascene Syria; and in the Syro-Ephraimitish war, an attack was made upon Jerusalem, with the avowed intention of bringing the Davidic rule to an end. Ahaz appealed to Tiglath-pileser, the king of Assyria, to help him out of these troubles. He thus made flesh his arm, and so entangled the nation of Jehovah with the kingdom of the world, that from that time forward it never truly recovered its independence again. The kingdom of the world was the heathen state in its Nimrodic form. Its perpetual aim was to extend its boundaries by constant accretions, till it had grown into a world-embracing colossus; and in order to accomplish this, it was ever passing beyond its natural boundaries, and coming down like an avalanche upon foreign nations, not merely for self-defence or revenge, but for the purpose of conquest also. Assyria and Rome were the first and last links in that chain of oppression by the kingdom of the world, which ran through the history of Israel. Thus Isaiah, standing as he did on the very threshold of this new and all-important turn in the history of his country, and surveying it with his telescopic glance, was, so to speak, the universal prophet of Israel. The third period of his ministry extended from the accession of Hezekiah to the fifteenth year of his reign. Under Hezekiah the nation rose, almost at the same pace at which it had previously declined under Ahaz. He forsook the ways of his idolatrous father, and restored the worship of Jehovah. The mass of the people, indeed, remained inwardly unchanged, but Judah had once more an upright king, who hearkened to the word of the prophet by his side - two pillars of the state, and men mighty in prayer (2 Chronicles 32:20). When the attempt was afterwards made to break away from the Assyrian yoke, so far as the leading men and the great mass of the people were concerned, this was an act of unbelief originating merely in the same confident expectation of help from Egypt which had occasioned the destruction of the northern kingdom in the sixth year of Hezekiah's reign; but on the part of Hezekiah it was an act of faith and confident reliance upon Jehovah (2 Kings 18:7). Consequently, when Sennacherib, the successor of Shalmaneser, marched against Jerusalem, conquering and devastating the land as he advanced, and Egypt failed to send the promised help, the carnal defiance of the leaders and of the great mass of the people brought its own punishment. But Jehovah averted the worst extremity, by destroying the kernel of the Assyrian army in a single night; so that, as in the Syro-Ephraimitish war, Jerusalem itself was never actually besieged. Thus the faith of the king, and of the better portion of the nation, which rested upon the word of promise, had its reward. There was still a divine power in the state, which preserved it from destruction. The coming judgment, which nothing indeed could now avert, according to Isaiah 6:1-13, was arrested for a time, just when the last destructive blow would naturally have been expected. It was in this miraculous rescue, which Isaiah predicted, and for which he prepared the way, that the public ministry of the prophet culminated. Isaiah was the Amos of the kingdom of Judah, having the same fearful vocation to foresee and to declare the fact, that for Israel as a people and kingdom the time of forgiveness had gone by. But he was not also the Hosea of the southern kingdom; for it was not Isaiah, but Jeremiah, who received the solemn call to accompany the disastrous fate of the kingdom of Judah with the knell of prophetic denunciations. Jeremiah was the Hosea of the kingdom of Judah. To Isaiah was given the commission, which was refused to his successor Jeremiah - namely, to press back once more, through the might of his prophetic word, coming as it did out of the depths of the strong spirit of faith, the dark night which threatened to swallow up his people at the time of the Assyrian judgment. After the fifteenth year of Hezekiah's reign, he took no further part in public affairs; but he lived till the commencement of Manasseh's reign, when, according to a credible tradition, to which there is an evident allusion in Hebrews 11:37 (“they were sawn asunder”),
(Note: According to b. Jebamoth, 49 b, it was found in a roll containing the history of a Jerusalem family; and according to Sanhedrin, 103 b, in the Targum on 2 Kings 21:16.)
he fell a victim to the heathenism which became once more supreme in the land. To this sketch of the times and ministry of the prophet we will add a review of the scriptural account of the four kings, under whom he laboured according to Isaiah 1:1; since nothing is more essential, as a preparation for the study of his book, than a minute acquaintance with these sections of the books of Kings and Chronicles.
I. Historical Account of Uzziah-Jotham - The account of Uzziah given in the book of Kings (2 Kings 15:1-7, to which we may add 2 Kings 14:21-22), like that of Jeroboam II, is not so full as we should have expected. After the murder of Amaziah, the people of Judah, as related in Isaiah 14:21-22, raised to the throne his son Azariah, probably not his first-born, who was then sixteen years old. It was he who built the Edomitish seaport town of Elath (for navigation and commerce), and made it a permanent possession of Judah (as in the time of Solomon). This notice is introduced, as a kind of appendix, at the close of Amaziah's life and quite out of its chronological position, because the conquest of Elath was the crowning point of the subjugation of Edom by Amaziah, and not, as Thenius supposes, because it was Azariah's first feat of arms, by which, immediately after his accession, he satisfied the expectations with which the army had made him king. For the victories gained by this king over Edom and the other neighbouring nations cannot have been obtained at the time when Amos prophesied, which was about the tenth year of Uzziah's reign. The attack made by Amaziah upon the kingdom of Israel, had brought the kingdom of Judah into a state of dependence upon the former, and almost of total ruin, from which it only recovered gradually, like a house that had fallen into decay. The chronicler, following the text of the book of Kings, has introduced the notice concerning Elath in the same place (2 Chronicles 26:1, 2 Chronicles 26:2: it is written Eloth, as in 1 Kings 9:26, and the Septuagint at 2 Kings 14:22). He calls the king Uzziahu; and it is only in the table of the kings of Judah, in 1 Chronicles 3:12, that he gives the name as Azariah. The author of the book of Kings, according to our Hebrew text, calls him sometimes Azariah or Azariahu, sometimes Uzziah or Uzziahu; the Septuagint always gives the name as Azarias. The occurrence of the two names in both of the historical books is an indubitable proof that they are genuine. Azariah was the original name: out of this Uzziah was gradually formed by a significant elision; and as the prophetical books, from Isaiah 1:1 to Zechariah 14:5, clearly show, the latter was the name most commonly used.
Azariah, as we learn from the section in the book of Kings relating to the reign of this monarch (2 Kings 15:1-7), ascended the throne in the twenty-seventh year of Jeroboam's reign, that is to say, in the fifteenth year of his sole government, the twenty-seventh from the time when he shared the government with his father Joash, as we may gather from 2 Kings 13:13. The youthful sovereign, who was only sixteen years of age, was the son of Amaziah by a native of Jerusalem, and reigned fifty-two years. He did what was pleasing in the sight of God, like his father Amaziah; i.e., although he did not come up to the standard of David, he was one of the better kings. He fostered the worship of Jehovah, as prescribed in the law: nevertheless he left the high places ( bamoth ) standing; and while he was reigning, the people maintained in all its force the custom of sacrificing and burning incense upon the heights. He was punished by God with leprosy, which compelled him to live in a sick-house ( chophshuth = chophshith : sickness) till the day of his death, whilst his son Jotham was over the palace, and conducted the affairs of government. He was buried in the city of David, and Jotham followed by him on the throne. This is all that the author of the book of Kings tells us concerning Azariah: for the rest, he refers to the annals of the kings of Judah. The section in the Chronicles relating to Uzziah (2 Chron 26) is much more copious: the writer had our book of Kings before him, as 2 Chronicles 26:3-4, 2 Chronicles 26:21, clearly proves, and completed the defective notices from the source which he chiefly employed - namely, the much more elaborate midrash .
Uzziah, he says, was zealous in seeking Elohim in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in divine visions; and in the days when he sought Jehovah, God made him to prosper. Thus the prophet Zechariah, as a faithful pastor and counsellor, stood in the same relation to him in which Jehoiada the high priest had stood to Joash, Uzziah's grandfather. The chronicler then enumerates singly the divine blessings which Uzziah enjoyed. First, his victories over the surrounding nations (passing over the victory over Edom, which had been already mentioned), viz.: (1.) he went forth and warred against the Philistines, and brake down the wall of Gath, and the wall of Jabneh, and the wall of Ashdod, and built towns b'ashdod and b'phelistim (i.e., in the conquered territory of Ashdod, and in Philistia generally); (2.) God not only gave him victory over the Philistines, but also over the Arabians who dwelt in Gur-baal (an unknown place, which neither the lxx nor the Targumists could explain), and the Mehunim, probably a tribe of Arabia Petraea; (3.) the Ammonites gave him presents in token of allegiance, and his name was honoured even as far as Egypt, to such an extent did his power grow. Secondly, his buildings: he built towers (fortifications) above the corner gate, and above the valley gate, and above the Mikzoa, and fortified these (the weakest) portions of Jerusalem: he also built towers in the desert (probably in the desert between Beersheba and Gaza, to protect either the land, or the flocks and herds that were pasturing there); and dug many cisterns, for he had large flocks and herds both in the shephelah (the western portion of Southern Palestine) and in the mishor (the extensive pasture-land of the tribe territory of Reuben on the other side of the Jordan): he had also husbandmen and vine-dressers on the mountains, and in the fruitful fields, for he was a lover of agriculture. Thirdly, his well-organized troops: he had an army of fighting men which consisted - according to a calculation made by Jeiel the scribe, and Maaseiah, the officer under the superintendence of Nahaniah, one of the royal princes - of 2600 heads of families, who had 307,500 men under their command, “that made war with mighty power to help the king against the enemy.” Uzziah furnished these, according to all the divisions of the army, with shields, had spears, and helmet, and coats of mail, and bows, even with slinging-stones. He also had ingenious slinging-machines ( balistae ) made in Jerusalem, to fix upon the towers and ramparts, for the purpose of shooting arrows and large stones. His name resounded far abroad, for he had marvellous success, so that he became very powerful.
Up to this point the chronicler has depicted the brighter side of Uzziah's reign. His prosperous deeds and enterprises are all grouped together, so that it is doubtful whether the history within these several groups follows the chronological order or not. The light thrown upon the history of the times by the group of victories gained by Uzziah, would be worth twice as much if the chronological order were strictly observed. But even if we might assume that the victory over the Philistines preceded the victory over the Arabians of Gur-baal and the Mehunim, and this again the subjugation of Ammon, it would still be very uncertain what position the expedition against Edom - which was noticed by anticipation at the close of Amaziah's life - occupied in relation to the other wars, and at what part of Uzziah's reign the several wars occurred. All that can be affirmed is, that they preceded the closing years of his life, when the blessing of God was withdrawn from him.
The chronicler relates still further, in Isaiah 26:16, that as Uzziah became stronger and stronger, he fell into pride of heart, which led him to perform a ruinous act. He sinned against Jehovah his God, by forcing his way into the holy place of the temple, to burn incense upon the altar of incense, from the proud notion that royalty involved the rights of the priesthood, and that the priests were only the delegates and representatives of the king. Then Azariah the high priest, and eighty other priests, brave men, hurried after him, and went up to him, and said, “This does not belong to thee, Uzziah, to burn incense of Jehovah; but to the priests, and sons of Aaron, who are consecrated to burn incense: go out of the sanctuary, for thou sinnest; and this is not for thine honour with Jehovah Elohim!” Then Uzziah was wroth, as he held the censer in his hand; and while he was so enraged against the priests, leprosy broke out upon his forehead in the sight of the priests, in the house of Jehovah, at the altar of incense. When Azariah the high priest and the rest of the priests turned to him, behold, he was leprous in his forehead; and they brought him hurriedly away from thence - in fact, he himself hasted to go out - for Jehovah had smitten him. After having thus explained the circumstances which led to the king's leprosy, the chronicler follows once more the text of the book of Kings - where the leprosy itself is also mentioned - and states that the king remained a leper until the day of his death, and lived in a sick-house, without ever being able to visit the temple again. But instead of the statement in the book of Kings, that he was buried in the city of David, the chronicler affirms more particularly that he was not placed in the king's sepulchre; but, inasmuch as he was leprous, and would therefore have defiled it, was buried in the field near the sepulchre. But before introducing this conclusion to the history of Uzziah's reign, and instead of referring to the annals of the kings of Judah, as the author of the book of Kings has done, or making such citations as we generally find, the author simply states, that “the rest of the acts of Uzziah, first and last, did Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, write.”
It cannot possibly be either the prophecies of Isaiah of the time of Uzziah, or a certain historical portion of the original book of Isaiah's predictions, to which reference is here made; for in that case we should expect the same notice at the close of the account of Jotham's reign, or, at any rate, at the close of that of Ahaz (cf., 2 Chronicles 27:7 and 2 Chronicles 28:26). It is also inconceivable that Isaiah's book of predictions should have contained either a prophetical or historical account of the first acts of Uzziah, since Isaiah was later than Amos, later even than Hosea; and his public ministry did not commence till the close of his reign-in fact, not till the year of his death. Consequently the chronicler must refer to some historical work distinct from “the visions of Isaiah.” Just as he mentions two historical works within the first epoch of the divided kingdom, viz., Shemaiah's and Iddo's - the former of which referred more especially to the entire history of Rehoboam, and the latter to the history of Abijah - and then again, in the second epoch, an historical work by Jehu ben Hanani, which contained a complete history of Jehoshaphat from the beginning to the end; so here, in the third epoch, he speaks of Isaiah ben Amoz, the greatest Judaean prophet of this epoch as the author of a special history of Uzziah, which was not incorporated in his “visions” like the history of Hezekiah (cf., 2 Chronicles 32:32), but formed an independent work. Besides this prophetical history of Uzziah, there was also an annalistic history, as 2 Kings 15:6 clearly shows; and it is quite possible that the annals of Uzziah were finished when Isaiah commenced his work, and that they were made use of by him. For the leading purpose of the prophetical histories was to exhibit the inward and divine connection between the several outward events, which the annals simply registered. The historical writings of a prophet were only the other side of his more purely prophetic work. In the light of the Spirit of God, the former looked deep into the past, the latter into the present. Both of them had to do with the ways of divine justice and grace, and set forth past and present, alike in view of the true goal, in which these two ways coincide.
Jotham succeeded Uzziah, after having acted as regent, or rather as viceroy, for several years (2 Kings 15:32-38). He ascended the throne in the second year of Pekah king of Israel, in the twenty-fifth year of his age, and reigned for sixteen years in a manner which pleased God, though he still tolerated the worship upon high places, as his father had done. He built the upper gate of the temple. The author has no sooner written this than he refers to the annals, simply adding, before concluding with the usual formula concerning his burial in the city of David, that in those days, i.e., towards the close of Jotham's reign, the hostilities of Rezin of Damascus and Pekah of Israel commenced, as a judgment from God upon Judah. The chronicler, however, makes several valuable additions to the text of the book of Kings, which he has copied word for word down to the notice concerning the commencement of the Syro-Ephraimitish hostilities (vid., 2 Chronicles 27:1-9). We do not include in this the statement that Jotham did not force his way into the holy place in the temple: this is simply intended as a limitation of the assertion made by the author of the book of Kings as to the moral equality of Jotham and Uzziah, and in favour of the former. The words, “the people continued in their destructive course,” also contain nothing new, but are simply the shorter expression used in the Chronicles to indicate the continuance of the worship of the high places during Jotham's reign. But there is something new in what the chronicler appends to the remark concerning the building of the upper gate of the temple, which is very bold and abrupt as it stands in the book of Kings, viz., “On the wall of the Ophel he built much (i.e., he fortified this southern spur of the temple hill still more strongly), and put towns in the mountains of Judah, and erected castles and towers in the forests (for watchtowers and defences against hostile attacks). He also fought with the king of the Ammonites; and when conquered, they were obliged to give him that year and the two following a hundred talents of silver, ten thousand cors of wheat, and the same quantity of barley. Jotham grew stronger and stronger, because he strove to walk before Jehovah his God.” The chronicler breaks off with this general statement, and refers, for the other memorabilia of Jotham, and all his wars and enterprises, to the book of the Kings of Israel and Judah.
This is what the two historical books relate concerning the royal pair - Uzziah-Jotham - under whom the kingdom of Judah enjoyed once more a period of great prosperity and power - ”the greatest since the disruption, with the exception of that of Jehoshaphat; the longest during the whole period of its existence, the last before its overthrow” (Caspari). The sources from which the two historical accounts were derived were the annals: they were taken directly from them by the author of the book of Kings, indirectly by the chronicler. No traces can be discovered of the work written by Isaiah concerning Uzziah, although it may possibly be employed in the midrash of the chronicler. There is an important supplement to the account given by the chronicler in the casual remark made in 1 Chronicles 5:17, to the effect that Jotham had a census taken of the tribe of Gad, which was settled on the other side of the Jordan. We see from this, that in proportion as the northern kingdom sank down from the eminence to which it had attained under Jeroboam II, the supremacy of Judah over the land to the east of the Jordan was renewed. But we may see from Amos, that it was only gradually that the kingdom of Judah revived under Uzziah, and that at first, like the wall of Jerusalem, which was partially broken down by Joash, it presented the aspect of a house full of fissures, and towards Israel in a very shaky condition; also that the Ephraimitish ox- (or calf-) worship of Jehovah was carried on at Beersheba, and therefore upon Judaean soil, and that Judah did not keep itself free from the idolatry which it had inherited from the fathers (Amos 2:4-5). Again, assuming that Amos commenced his ministry at about the tenth year of Uzziah's reign, we may learn at least so much from him with regard to Uzziah's victories over Edom, Philistia, and Ammon, that they were not gained till after the tenth year of his reign. Hosea, on the other hand, whose ministry commenced at the very earliest when that of Amos was drawing to a close, and probably not till the last five years of Jeroboam's reign, bears witness to, and like Amos condemns, the participation in the Ephraimitish worship, into which Judah had been drawn under Uzziah-Jotham. But with him Beersheba is not referred to any more as an Israelitish seat of worship (Amos 5:5); Israel does not interfere any longer with the soil of Judah, as in the time of Amos, since Judah has again become a powerful and well-fortified kingdom (Hosea 8:14, cf., Hosea 1:7). But, at the same time, it has become full of carnal trust and manifold apostasy from Jehovah (Hosea 5:10; Hosea 12:1); so that, although receiving at first a miraculous deliverance from God (Hosea 1:7), it is ripening for the same destruction as Israel (Hosea 6:11).
This survey of the kingdom of Judah in the time of Uzziah-Jotham by the Israelitish prophet, we shall find repeated in Isaiah; for the same spirit animates and determines the verdicts of the prophets of both kingdoms.
II. Historical Account of Ahaz and the Syro-Ephraimitish War. - The account of Ahaz, given in the book of Kings and in the Chronicles (2 Kings 16; 2 Chronicles 28:1), may be divided into three parts: viz., first, the general characteristics; secondly, the account of the Syro-Ephraimitish war; and thirdly, the desecration of the temple by Ahaz, more especially by setting up an altar made after the model of that at Damascus.
(Note: On the temple at Damascus, whose altar Ahaz imitated, see the Commentary on the Book of Job.)
(1.) 2 Kings 16:1-4. Ahaz ascended the throne in the seventeenth year of Pekah. He was then twenty years old (or twenty-five according to the lxx at 2 Chronicles 28:1, which is much more probable, as he would otherwise have had a son, Hezekiah, in the tenth years of his age), and he reigned sixteen years. He did not please God as his forefather David had done, but took the way of the kings of Israel, and even made his son pass through the fire (i.e., burnt him in honour of Moloch), according to the abominations of the (Canaanitish) people whom Jehovah had driven out before Israel; and he offered sacrifice and burnt incense upon the high places, and upon the hills, and under every green tree. The Deuteronomic colouring of this passage is very obvious. The corresponding passage in the Chronicles is 2 Chronicles 28:1-4, where the additional fact is mentioned, that he even made molten images for Baalim, and burnt incense in the valley of Hinnom, and burnt his children in the fire (“ his children,” a generic plural like “the kings” in 2 Chronicles 28:16, and “the sons” in 2 Chronicles 24:25: “ burnt, ” ויּבער , unless the reading ויּעבר be adopted, as it has been by the lxx, “he caused to pass through.”) (2.) 2 Kings 16:5-9. Then (in the time of this idolatrous king Ahaz) the following well-known and memorable event occurred: Rezin the king of Aram, and Pekah the son of Remaliah king of Israel, went up against Jerusalem to war, and besieged Ahaz, “but could not overcome him,” i.e., as we may gather from Isaiah 7:1, they were not able to get possession of Jerusalem, which was the real object of their expedition. “At that time” (the author of the book of Kings proceeds to observe), viz., at the time of this Syro-Ephraimitish war, Rezin king of Aram brought Elath to Aram (i.e., wrested again from the kingdom of Judah the seaport town which Uzziah had recovered a short time before), and drove the Judaeans out of Elath ( sic); and Aramaeans came to Elath and settled there unto this day. Thenius, who starts with the needless assumption that the conquest of Elath took place subsequently to the futile attempt to take Jerusalem, gives the preference to the reading of the Keri, “and Edomites ( Edomina ) came to Elath,” and would therefore correct l'aram (to Aram) into l'edom (to Edom). “Rezin,” he says, “destroyed the work of Uzziah, and gave Edom its liberty again, in the hope that at some future time he might have the support of Edom, and so operate against Judah with greater success.” But, in answer to this, it may be affirmed that such obscure forms as ארומים for ארמּים are peculiar to this account, and that the words do not denote the restoration of a settlement, but mention the settlement as a new and remarkable fact. I therefore adopt Caspari's conclusion, that the Syrian king transplanted a Syrian colony of traders to Elath, to secure the command of the maritime trade with all its attendant advantages; and this colony held its ground there for some time after the destruction of the Damascene kingdom, as the expression “to this day,” found in the earlier source of the author of the book of Kings, clearly implies.
But if the conquest of Elath fell within the period of the Syro-Ephraimitish war, which commenced towards the end of Jotham's reign, and probably originated in the bitter feelings occasioned by the almost total loss to Judah of the country on the east of the Jordan, and which assumed the form of a direct attack upon Jerusalem itself soon after Ahaz ascended the throne; the question arises, How was it that this design of the two allied kings upon Jerusalem was not successful? The explanation is given in the account contained in the book of Kings (2 Kings 16:7): “Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglath-pelezer ( sic) the king of Asshur, to say to him, I am thy servant, and thy son; come up, and save me out of the hand of Aram, and out of the hand of the king of Israel, who have risen up against me. And Ahaz took the silver and the gold that was found in the house of Jehovah, and in the treasures of the palace, and sent it for a present to the king of Asshur. The king hearkened to his petition; and went against Damascus, and took it, and carried the inhabitants into captivity to Kir, and slew Rezin.” And what did Tiglath-pileser do with Pekah? The author of the book of Kings has already related, in the section referring to Pekah (2 Kings 15:29), that he punished him by taking away the whole of the country to the east of the Jordan, and a large part of the territory on this side towards the north, and carried the inhabitants captive to Assyria. This section must be supplied here - an example of the great liberty which the historians allowed themselves in the selection and arrangement of their materials. The anticipation in 2 Kings 16:5 is also quite in accordance with their usual style: the author first of all states that the expedition against Jerusalem was an unsuccessful one, and then afterwards proceeds to mention the reason for the failure - namely, the appeal of Ahaz to Assyria for help. For I also agree with Caspari in this, that the Syrians the Ephraimites were unable to take Jerusalem, because the tidings reached them, that Tiglath-pileser had been appealed to by Ahaz and was coming against them; and they were consequently obliged to raise the siege and made a speedy retreat.
The account in the Chronicles (2 Chron 28:5-21) furnishes us with full and extensive details, with which to supplement the very condensed notice of the book of Kings. When we compare the two accounts, the question arises, whether they refer to two different expeditions (and if so, which of the two refers to the first expedition and which to the second), or whether they both relate to the same expedition. Let us picture to ourselves first of all the facts as given by the chronicler. “Jehovah, his God,” he says of Ahaz, “delivered him into the hand of the king of Aram, and they (the Aramaeans) smote him, and carried off from him a great crowd of captives, whom they brought to Damascus; and he was also given into the hand of the king of Israel, who inflicted upon him a terrible defeat.” This very clearly implies, as Caspari has shown, that although the two kings set the conquest of Jerusalem before them as a common end at which to aim, and eventually united for the attainment of this end, yet for a time they acted separately. We are not told here in what direction Rezin's army went. But we know from 2 Kings 16:6 that it marched to Idumaea, which it could easily reach from Damascus by going through the territory of his ally - namely, the country of the two tribes and a half. The chronicler merely describes the simultaneous invasion of Judaea by Pekah, but he does this with all the greater fulness.
“Pekah the son of Remaliah slew in Judah a hundred and twenty thousand in one day, all valiant men, because they forsook Jehovah, the God of their fathers. Zichri, an Ephraimitish hero, slew Ma'asejahu the king's son, and Azrikam the governor of the palace, and Elkanah, the second in rank to the king. And the Israelites carried away captive of their brethren two hundred thousand women, boys, and girls, and took away much spoil from them, and brought this booty to Samaria.” As the Jewish army numbered at that time three hundred thousand men (2 Chronicles 25:5; 2 Chronicles 26:13), and the war was carried on with the greatest animosity, these numbers need not be regarded as either spurious or exaggerated. Moreover, the numbers, which the chronicler found in the sources he employed, merely contained the estimate of the enormous losses sustained, as generally adopted at that time of the side of Judah itself.
This bloody catastrophe was followed by a very fine and touching occurrence. A prophet of Jehovah, named Oded (a contemporary of Hosea, and a man of kindred spirit), went out before the army as it came back to Samaria, and charged the victors to release the captives of their brother nation, which had been terribly punished in God's wrath, and by so doing to avert the wrath of God which threatened them as well. Four noble Ephraimitish heads of tribes, whose names the chronicler has preserved, supported the admonition of the prophet. The army then placed the prisoners and the booty at the disposal of the princes and the assembled people: “And these four memorable men rose up, and took the prisoners, and all their naked ones they covered with the booty, and clothed and shod them, and gave them to eat and drink, and anointed them, and conducted as many of them as were cripples upon asses, and brought them to Jericho the palm-city, to the neighbourhood of their brethren, and returned to Samaria.” Nothing but the rudest scepticism could ever seek to cast a slur upon this touching episode, the truth of which is so conspicuous. There is nothing strange in the fact that so horrible a massacre should be followed by a strong manifestation of the fraternal love, which had been forcibly suppressed, but was not rekindled by the prophet's words. We find an older fellow-piece to this in the prevention of a fratricidal war by Shemaiah, as described in 1 Kings 12:22-24.
Now, when the chronicler proceeds to observe in 2 Chronicles 28:16, that “at that time Ahaz turned for help to the royal house of Assyria” ( malce asshur ), in all probability this took place at the time when he had sustained two severe defeats, one at the hands of Pekah to the north of Jerusalem; and another from Rezin in Idumaea. The two battles belong to the period before the siege of Jerusalem, and the appeal for help from Assyria falls between the battles and the siege. The chronicler then mentions other judgments which fell upon the king in his estrangement from God, viz.: (1.) “Moreover the Edomites came, smote Judah, and carried away captives;” possibly while the Syro-Ephraimitish war was still going on, after they had welcomed Rezin as their deliverer, had shaken off the Jewish yoke, and had supported the Syrian king against Judah in their own land; (2.) the Philistines invaded the low land ( shephelah ) and the south land ( negeb ) of Judah, and took several towns, six of which the chronicler mentions by name, and settled in them; for “Jehovah humbled Judah because of Ahaz the king of Israel (an epithet with several sarcastic allusions), for he acted without restraint in Judah, and most wickedly against Jehovah.” The breaking away of the Philistines from the Jewish dominion took place, according to Caspari, in the time of the Syro-Ephraimitish war. The position of 2 Chronicles 28:18 in the section reaching from 2 Chronicles 28:5 to 2 Chronicles 28:21 (viz., 2 Chronicles 28:18, invasion of the Philistines; 2 Chronicles 28:17, that of the Edomites) renders this certainly very probable, though it is not conclusive, as Caspari himself admits.
In 2 Chronicles 28:20, 2 Chronicles 28:21, the chronicler adds an appendix to the previous list of punishments: Tiglath-Pilnezer (sic) the king of Asshur came upon him, and oppressed him instead of strengthening him; for Ahaz had plundered both temple and palace, and given the treasures to the king of Asshur, without receiving any proper help in return. Thenius disputes the rendering, “He strengthened him not” (cf., Ezekiel 30:21); but Caspari has shown that it is quite in accordance with the facts of the case. Tiglath-pileser did not bring Ahaz any true help; for what he proceeded to do against Syria and Israel was not taken in hand in the interests of Ahaz, but to extend his own imperial dominion. He did not assist Ahaz to bring ether the Edomites or the Philistines into subjection again, to say nothing of compensating him for his losses with either Syrian or Ephraimitish territory. Nor was it only that he did not truly help him: he really oppressed him, by making him a tributary vassal instead of a free and independent prince - a relation to Asshur which, according to many evident signs, was the direct consequence of his appeal for help, and which was established, at any rate, at the very commencement of Hezekiah's reign. Under what circumstances this took place we cannot tell; but it is very probable that, after the victories over Rezin and Pekah, a second sum of money was demanded by Tiglath-pileser, and then from that time forward a yearly tribute. The expression used by the chronicler-”he came upon him” - seems, in fact, to mean that he gave emphasis to this demand by sending a detachment of his army; even if we cannot take it, as Caspari does, in a rhetorical rather than a purely historical sense, viz., as signifying that, “although Tiglath-pileser came, as Ahaz desired, his coming was not such as Ahaz desired, a coming to help and benefit, but rather to oppress and injure.”
(3.) The third part of the two historical accounts describes the pernicious influence which the alliance with Tiglath-pileser exerted upon Ahaz, who was already too much inclined to idolatry (2 Kings 16:10-18). After Tiglath-pileser had marched against the ruler of Damascus, and delivered Ahaz from the more dangerous of his two adversaries (and possibly from both of them), Ahaz went to Damascus to present his thanks in person. There he saw the altar (which was renowned as a work of art), and sent an exact model to Uriah the high priest, who had an altar constructed like it by the time that the king returned. As soon as Ahaz came back he went up to this altar and offered sacrifice, thus officiating as priest himself (probably as a thanksgiving for the deliverance he had received). The brazen altar (of Solomon), which Uriah had moved farther forward to the front of the temple building, he put farther back again, placing it close to the north side of the new one (that the old one might not appear to have the slightest preference over the new), and commanded the high priest to perform the sacrificial service in future upon the new great altar; adding, at the same time, “And (as for) the brazen altar, I will consider (what shall be done with it).” “And king Ahaz,” it is stated still further, “broke out the borders of the stools, and took away the basons; and the sea he took down from the oxen that bare it, and set it upon a stone pedestal (that took the place of the oxen). And the covered sabbath-hall which had been built in the temple, and the outer king's entrance, he removed into the temple of Jehovah before the king of Assyria.” Thenius explains this as meaning “he altered them” (taking away the valuable ornaments from both), that he might be able to take with him to Damascus the necessary presents for the king of Asshur. Ewald's explanation, however, is better than this, and more in accordance with the expression “before,” viz., “in order that he might be able to secure the continued favour of the dreaded Assyrian king, by continually sending him fresh presents.” But הסב does not mean to alter, and בית ה = בבית ה would be an unmeaning addition in the wrong place, which would only obscure the sense. If the great alterations mentioned in 2 Kings 16:17 were made for the purpose of sending presents to the king of Assyria with or from the things that were removed, those described in 2 Kings 16:18 were certainly made from fear of the king; and, what appears most probable to me, not to remove the two splendid erections from the sight of the Assyrians, nor to preserve their being used in the event of an Assyrian occupation of Jerusalem, but in order that his relation to the great king of Assyria might not be disturbed by his appearing as a zealous worshipper of Jehovah. They were changes made from fear of man and servility, and were quite in keeping with the hypocritical, insincere, and ignoble character of Ahaz. The parallel passage in the Chronicles is 2 Chronicles 28:22-25. “In the time of his distress,” says the chronicler in his reflective and rhetorical style, “he sinned still more grievously against Jehovah: he, king Ahaz. He sacrificed to the gods of Damascus, who had smitten him. For the gods of the kings of Aram, he said, helped them; I will sacrifice to them, that they may also help me. And they brought him and all Israel to ruin. And Ahaz collected together the vessels of the house of God, and cut them in pieces, and shut the doors of the house of Jehovah, and made himself altars in ever corner of Jerusalem. And in every town of Judah he erected high places to burn incense to other gods, and stirred up the displeasure of Jehovah the God of his fathers.” Thenius regards this passage as an exaggerated paraphrase of the parallel passage in the book of Kings, and as resting upon a false interpretation of the latter. But the chronicler does not affirm that Ahaz dedicated the new altar to the gods of Damascus, but rather that in the time of the Syro-Ephraimitish war he attempted to secure for himself the same success in war as the Syrians had obtained, by worshipping their gods. The words of Ahaz, which are reported by him, preclude any other interpretation. He there states - what by no means contradicts the book of Kings - that Ahaz laid violent hands upon the furniture of the temple. All the rest - namely, the allusion to his shutting the temple - gates, and erecting altars and high places on every hand - is a completion of the account in the book of Kings, the historical character of which it is impossible to dispute, if we bear in mind that the Syro-Ephraimitish war took place at the commencement of the reign of Ahaz, who was only sixteen years old at the time.
The author of the book of Kings closes the history of the reign of Ahaz with a reference to the annals of the kings of Judah, and with the remark that he was buried in the city of David (2 Kings 16:19-20). The chronicler refers to the book of the kings of Judah and Israel, and observes that he was indeed buried in the city (lxx “in the city of David”), but not in the king's sepulchre (2 Chronicles 28:26-27). The source employed by the chronicler was his midrash of the entire history of the kings; from which he made extracts, with the intention of completing the text of our book of Kings, to which he appended his work. His style was formed after that of the annals, whilst that of the author of the book of Kings is formed after Deuteronomy. But from what source did the author of the book of Kings make his extracts? The section relating to Ahaz has some things quite peculiar to itself, as compared with the rest of the book, viz., a liking for obscure forms, such as Eloth (2 Kings 16:6), hakkomim (2 Kings 16:7), Dummesek (2 Kings 16:10), and Aromim (2 Kings 16:6); the name Tiglath-peleser;
(Note: This mode of spelling the name, also the one adopted by the chronicler ( Tiglath-pilnezer), are both incorrect. Pal is the Assyrian for son, and according to Oppert ( Expédition Scientifique en Mésopotamie ), the whole name would read thus: Tiglatḣpalli̇shiar , i.e., reverence to the son of the zodiac (the Assyrian Hercules).)
מכף instead of מיד , which is customary elsewhere; the rare and more colloquial term jehudim (Jews); the inaccurate construction את־המסגרות המכונות (2 Kings 16:17); and the verb בּקּר (to consider, 2 Kings 16:15), which does not occur anywhere else.
These peculiarities may be satisfactorily explained on the assumption that the author employed the national annals; and that, as these annals had been gradually composed by the successive writings of many different persons, whilst there was an essential uniformity in the mode in which the history was written, there was also of necessity a great variety in the style of composition. But is the similarity between 2 Kings 16:5 and Isaiah 7:1 reconcilable with this annalistic origin? The resemblance in question certainly cannot be explained, as Thenius supposes, from the fact that Isaiah 7:1 was also taken from the national annals; but rather on the ground assigned by Caspari - namely, that the author of the Chronicles had not only the national annals before him, but also the book of Isaiah's prophecies, to which he directs his readers' attention by commencing the history of the Syro-Ephraimitish war in the words of the portion relating to Ahaz. The design of the two allies, as we know from the further contents of Isaiah 1, was nothing less than to get possession of Jerusalem, to overthrow the Davidic government there, and establish in its stead, in the person of a certain ben - Tāb ' êl (“son of Tabeal,” Isaiah 7:6), a newly created dynasty, that would be under subjection to themselves. The failure of this intention is the thought that is briefly indicated in 2 Kings 16:5 and Isaiah 7:1.
III. Historical Account of Hezekiah, more especially of the first six years of his reign. - The account given of Hezekiah in the book of Kings is a far more meagre one than we should expect to find, when we have taken out the large section relating to the period of the Assyrian catastrophe (2 Kings 18:13-20:19), which is also found in the book of Isaiah, and which will come under review in the commentary on Isaiah 36-39. All that is then left to the author of the book of Kings is 2 Kings 18:1-12 and 2 Kings 20:20, 2 Kings 20:21; and in these two paragraphs, which enclose the section of Isaiah, there are only a few annalistic elements worked up in Deuteronomical style. Hezekiah began to reign in the third year of Hosea king of Israel. He was twenty-five years old when he came to the throne, and reigned twenty-nine years. He was a king after the model of David. He removed the high places, broke in pieces the statutes, cut down the Asheroth, and pounded the serpent, which had been preserved from the time of Moses, and had become an object of idolatrous worship. In his confidence in Jehovah he was unequalled by any of his followers or predecessors. The allusion here is to that faith of his, by which he broke away from the tyranny of Asshur, and also recovered his supremacy over the Philistines. We have no means of deciding in what years of Hezekiah's reign these two events - the revolt from Asshur, and the defeat of the Philistines - occurred. The author proceeds directly afterwards, with a studious repetition of what he has already stated in Isaiah 17:1-14 in the history of Hosea's reign,
(Note: The Chabor nehar Gozan (Eng. ver.: Habor by the river of Gozan), which is mentioned in both passages among the districts to which the Israelitish exiles were taken, is no doubt the Châbūr , which flows into the Tigris from the east above Mosul, and of which it is stated in Merâsid ed . Juynboll , that “it comes from the mountains of the land of Zauzân,” a district of outer Armenia lying towards the Tigris, which is described by Edrisi in Jaubert's translation, Pt. ii. p. 330. Another river, on the banks of which Ezekiel's colony of exiles lived, is the Chebar, which flows from the north-east into the Euphrates, and the source of which is in the Mesopotamian town of Râs - el - 'ain , a place celebrated through the marvellous springs of this Chaboras, the praises of which have often been sung.)
to describe Shalmanassar's expedition against Israel in the fourth year of Hezekiah's reign (the seventh of Hosea's), and the fall of Samaria, which took place, after a siege of three years, in the sixth year of Hezekiah's reign, and the ninth of Hosea's. But as Shalmanassar made no attack upon Judah at the time when he put an end to the kingdom of Israel, the revolt of Hezekiah cannot have taken place till afterwards. But with regard to the victory over the Philistines, there is nothing in the book of Kings to help us even to a negative conclusion. In 2 Kings 20:20, 2 Kings 20:21, the author brings his history rapidly to a close, and merely refers such as may desire to know more concerning Hezekiah, especially concerning his victories and aqueducts, to the annals of the kings of Judah.
The chronicler merely gives an extract from the section of Isaiah; but he is all the more elaborate in the rest. All that he relates in 2 Chron 29:2-31 is a historical commentary upon the good testimony given to king Hezekiah in the book of Kings (2 Kings 18:3), which the chronicler places at the head of his own text in 2 Chronicles 29:2. Even in the month Nisan of the first year of his reign, Hezekiah re-opened the gates of the temple, had it purified from the defilement consequent upon idolatry, and appointed a re-consecration of the purified temple, accompanied with sacrifice, music, and psalms (Isaiah 29:3.). Hezekiah is introduced here (a fact of importance in relation to Isaiah 38) as the restorer of “the song of the Lord” ( Shir Jehovah ), i.e., of liturgical singing. The Levitical and priestly music, as introduced and organized by David, Gad, and Nathan, was heard again, and Jehovah was praised once more in the words of David the king and Asaph the seer. The chronicler then relates in Isaiah 30 how Hezekiah appointed a solemn passover in the second month, to which even inhabitants of the northern kingdom, who might be still in the land, were formally and urgently invited. It was an after-passover, which was permitted by the law, as the priests had been busy with the purification of the temple in the first month, and therefore had been rendered unclean themselves: moreover, there would not have been sufficient time for summoning the people to Jerusalem. The northern tribes as a whole refused the invitation in the most scornful manner, but certain individuals accepted it with penitent hearts. It was a feast of joy, such as had not been known since the time of Solomon (this statement is not at variance with 2 Kings 23:22), affording, as it did, once more a representation and assurance of that national unity which had been rent in twain ever since the time of Rehoboam. Caspari has entered into a lengthened investigation as to the particular year of Hezekiah's reign in which this passover was held. He agrees with Keil, that it took place after the fall of Samaria and the deportation of the people by Shalmanassar; but he does not feel quite certain of his conclusion. The question itself, however, is one that ought not to be raised at all, if we think the chronicler a trustworthy authority. He places this passover most unquestionably in the second month of the first year of Hezekiah's reign; and there is no difficulty occasioned by this, unless we regard what Tiglath-pileser had done to Israel as of less importance than it actually was. The population that was left behind was really nothing more than a remnant; and, moreover, the chronicler draws an evident contrast between tribes and individuals, so that he was conscious enough that there were still whole tribes of the northern kingdom who were settled in their own homes. He then states in 2 Chronicles 31:1, that the inhabitants of the towns of Judah (whom he calls “all Israel,” because a number of emigrant Israelites had settled there) went forth, under the influence of the enthusiasm consequent upon the passover they had celebrated, and broke in pieces the things used in idolatrous worship throughout both kingdoms; and in 2 Chronicles 31:2., that Hezekiah restored the institutions of divine worship that had been discontinued, particularly those relating to the incomes of the priests and Levites. Everything else that he mentions in 32:1-26, 2 Chronicles 32:31, belongs to a later period than the fourteenth year of Hezekiah's reign; and so far as it differs from the section in Isaiah, which is repeated in the book of Kings, it is a valuable supplement, more especially with reference to 2 Kings 22:8-11 (which relates to precautions taken in the prospect of the approaching Assyrian siege). But the account of Hezekiah's wealth in 2 Chronicles 32:27-29 extends over the whole of his reign. The notice respecting the diversion of the upper Gihon (2 Chronicles 32:30) reaches rather into the period of the return after the Assyrian catastrophe, than into the period before it; but nothing can be positively affirmed.
Having thus obtained the requisite acquaintance with the historical accounts which bear throughout upon the book of Isaiah, so far as it has for its starting-point and object the history of the prophet's own times, we will now turn to the book itself, for the purpose of acquiring such an insight into its general plan as is necessary to enable us to make a proper division of our own work of exposition.
Arrangement of the Collection
We may safely enter upon our investigation with the preconceived opinion that the collection before us was edited by the prophet himself. For, with the exception of the book of Jonah, which belongs to the prophetico-historical writings rather than to the literature of prediction, or the prophetical writings in the ordinary acceptation of the term, all the canonical books of prophecy were written and arranged by the prophets whose names they bear. The most important to our purpose is the analogy of the larger books of Jeremiah and Ezekiel. No one denies that Ezekiel prepared his work for publication exactly as it lies before us now; and Jeremiah informs us himself, that he collected and published his prophecies on two separate occasions. Both collections are arranged according to the two different points of view of the subject-matter and the order of time, which are interwoven the one with the other. And this is also the case with the collection of Isaiah's prophecies. As a whole, it is arranged chronologically. The dates given in Isaiah 6:1; Isaiah 7:1; Isaiah 14:28; Isaiah 20:1, are so many points in a progressive line. The three principal divisions also form a chronological series. For Isaiah 1-6 set forth the ministry of Isaiah under Uzziah-Jotham; Isaiah 7-39, his ministry under Ahaz and Hezekiah down to the fifteenth year of the reign of the latter; whilst Isaiah 40-66, assuming their authenticity, were the latest productions of the deepest inner-life, and were committed directly to writing. In the central part, the Ahaz group (Isaiah 7-12) also precedes the Hezekiah group (Isaiah 13-39) chronologically. But the order of time is interrupted in several places by an arrangement of the subject-matter, which was of greater importance to the prophet. The address in Isaiah 1 is not the oldest, but is placed at the head as an introduction to the whole. The consecration of the prophet (Isaiah 6:1-13), which ought to stand at the beginning of the Uzziah-Jotham group, if it relates to his original consecration to his office, is placed at the end, where it looks both backwards and forwards, as a prophecy that was in course of fulfilment. The Ahaz group, which follows next (Isaiah 7-12), is complete in itself, and, as it were, from one casting. And in the Hezekiah group (Isaiah 13-39) the chronological order is frequently interrupted again. The prophecies against the nations (Isaiah 14:24-32), which belong to the Assyrian period, have a massa upon Babel, the city of the world's power, for their opening piece (Isaiah 13-14:23); a massa upon Tyre, the city of the world's commerce, which was to be destroyed by the Chaldeans, for their finale (Isaiah 23); and a shorter massa upon Babel, for a party-wall dividing the cycle into two halves (Isaiah 21:1-10); and all the prophecies upon the nations run into a grand apocalyptic epilogue (Isaiah 24-27), like rivers into a sea. The first part of the Hezekiah group, the contents of which are pre-eminently ethnic (Isaiah 13-27), are interwoven with passages which may not have been composed till after the fifteenth year of Hezekiah's reign. The grand epilogue (Isaiah 34-35), in which the second portion of the Hezekiah group dies away, is also another such passage. This second part is occupied chiefly with the fate of Judah, the judgment inflicted upon Judah by the imperial power of Assyria, and the deliverance which awaited it (Isaiah 27-33). This prediction closes with a declaration, in Isaiah 34-35, on the one hand, of the judgment of God upon the world of Israel's foes; and on the other hand, of the redemption of Israel itself. This passage, which was composed after the fifteenth year of Hezekiah's reign, is followed by the historical portions (Isaiah 36-39), which enclose in a historical frame the predictions of Isaiah delivered when the Assyrian catastrophe was close at hand, and furnish us with the key to the interpretation not only of Isaiah 7-35, but of Isaiah 40-66 also.
Taking the book of Isaiah, therefore, as a whole, in the form in which it lies before us, it may be divided into two halves, viz., Isaiah 1-39, and Isaiah 40-66. The former consists of seven parts, the latter of three. The first half may be called the Assyrian, as the goal to which it points is the downfall of Asshur; the second the Babylonian, as its goal is the deliverance from Babel. The first half, however, is not purely Assyrian; but there are Babylonian pieces introduced among the Assyrian, and such others, as a rule, as break apocalyptically through the limited horizon of the latter. The following are the seven divisions in the first half. (1.) Prophecies founded upon the growing obduracy of the great mass of the people (Isaiah 2-6). (2.) The consolation of Immanuel under the Assyrian oppressions (Isaiah 7-12). These two form a syzygy, which concludes with a psalm of the redeemed (Isaiah 12:1-6), the echo, in the last days, of the song at the Red Sea. The whole is divided by the consecration of the prophet (Isaiah 6:1-13), which looks backwards and forwards with threatenings and promises. It is introduced by a summary prologue (Isaiah 1), in which the prophet, standing midway between Moses and Jesus the Christ, commences in the style of the great Mosaic ode. (3.) Predictions of the judgment and salvation of the heathen, which belong, for the most part, to the time of the Assyrian judgment, though they are enclosed and divided by Babylonian portions. For, as we have already observed, and oracle concerning Babel, the city of the world-power, forms the introduction (Isaiah 13-14:23); an oracle concerning Tyre, the city of the world's commerce, which was to receive its mortal wound from the Chaldeans, the conclusion (Isaiah 23); and a second oracle on the desert by the sea, i.e., Babel, the centre (Isaiah 21:1-10). (4.) To this so thoughtfully arranged collection of predictions concerning the nations outside the Israelitish pale, there is attached a grand apocalyptic prophecy of the judgment of the world and the last things (Isaiah 24-27), which gives it a background that fades away into eternity, and forms with it a second syzygy. (5.) From these eschatological distances the prophet returns to the realities of the present and of the immediate future, and describes the revolt from Asshur, and its consequences (Isaiah 28-33). The central point of this group is the prophecy of the precious corner-stone laid in Zion. (6.) This is also paired off by the prophet with a far-reaching eschatological prediction of revenge and redemption for the church (Isaiah 34-35), in which we already hear, as in a prelude, the keynote of Isaiah 40-66. (7.) After these three syzygies we are carried back, in the first two historical accounts of Isaiah 36-39, into the Assyrian times, whilst the other two show us in the distance the future entanglement with Babylon, which was commencing already. These four accounts are arranged without regard to the chronological order, so that one half looks backwards and the other forwards, and thus the two halves of the book are clasped together. The prophecy in Isaiah 39:5-7 stands between these two halves like a sign-post, with the inscription “To Babylon” upon it. It is thither that the further course of Israel's history tends. There, from this time forward, is Isaiah buried in spirit with his people. And there, in Isaiah 40-66, he proclaims to the Babylonian exiles their approaching deliverance. The trilogical arrangement of this book of consolation has been scarcely disputed by any one, since it was first pointed out by Rückert in his Translation and Exposition of Hebrew Prophets (1831). It is divided into three sections, each containing three times three addresses, with a kind of refrain at the close.
The Critical Questions
The collection of Isaiah's prophecies is thus a complete work, most carefully and skilfully arranged. It is thoroughly worthy of the prophet. Nevertheless, we should be unable to attribute it to him in its present form, (1.) if it were impossible that Isaiah 13-14:23; Isaiah 21:1-10; 23; 24-27; 34-35, could have been composed by Isaiah, and (2.) if the historical accounts in Isaiah 36-39, which are also to be found in 2 Kings 18:13-20:19, have been copied from the book of Kings, or even directly from the national annals. For if the prophecies in question be taken away, the beautiful whole unquestionably falls into a confused quodlibet, more especially the book against the nations; and if Isaiah 36-39 were not written directly by Isaiah, the two halves of the collection would be left without a clasp to bind them together. It would be irregular to think of deciding the critical questions bearing upon this point now, instead of taking them up in connection with our exegetical inquiries. At the same time, we will put the reader in possession at once of the more general points, which cause us to dissent from the conclusions of the modern critics, who regard the book of Isaiah as an anthology composed of the productions of different authors.
The critical treatment of Isaiah commenced as follows: It began with the second part. Koppe first of all expressed some doubts as to the genuineness of Isaiah 1. Doderlein then gave utterance to a decided suspicion as to the genuineness of the whole; and Justi, followed by Eichhorn, Paulus, and Bertholdt, raised this suspicion into firm assurance that the whole was spurious. The result thus obtained could not possibly continue without reaction upon the first part. Rosenmüller, who was always very dependent upon his predecessors, was the first to question whether the oracle against Babylon in Isaiah 13-14:23 was really Isaiah's, as the heading affirms; and to his great relief, Justi and Paulus undertook the defence of his position. Further progress was now made. With the first oracle against Babylon in Isaiah 13-14:23, the second, in Isaiah 21:1-10, was also condemned; and Rosenmüller was justly astonished when Gesenius dropped the former, but maintained that the arguments with regard to the latter were inconclusive. There still remained the oracle against Tyre in Isaiah 23, which might either be left as Isaiah's, or attributed to a younger unknown prophet, according to the assumption that it predicted the destruction of Tyre by Assyrians or by Chaldeans. Eichhorn, followed by Rosenmüller, decided that it was not genuine. But Gesenius understood by the destroyers the Assyrians; and as the prophecy consequently did not extend beyond Isaiah's horizon, he defended its authenticity. Thus the Babylonian series was set aside, or at any rate pronounced thoroughly suspicious. But the keen eyes of the critics made still further discoveries. Eichhorn found a play upon words in the cycle of predictions in Isaiah 24-27, which was unworthy of Isaiah. Gesenius detected an allegorical announcement of the fall of Babylon. Consequently they both condemned these three chapters; and it had its effect, for Ewald transferred them to the time of Cambyses. Still shorter work was made with the cycle of predictions in Isaiah 34-35, on account of its relation to the second part. Rosenmüller pronounced it, without reserve, “a song composed in the time of the Babylonian captivity, when it was approaching its termination.” This is the true account of the origin of the criticism upon Isaiah. It was in the swaddling-clothes of rationalism that it attained its maturity. Its first attempts were very juvenile. The names of its founders have been almost forgotten. It was Gesenius, Hitzig, and Ewald, who first raised it to the eminence of a science.
If we take our stand upon this eminence, we find that the book of Isaiah contains prophecies by Isaiah himself, and also prophecies by persons who were either directly or indirectly his disciples. The New Testament passages in which the second half of the book of Isaiah is cited as Isaiah's, are no proof of the contrary, since Psalms 2:1-12, for example, which has no heading at all, is cited in Acts 4:25 as David's, merely because it is contained in the Davidic Psalter, and no critic would ever feel that he was bound by that. But many objections present themselves to such a conclusion. In the first place, nothing of the kind can be pointed out in any of the other canonical books of prophecy, except indeed the book of Zechariah, in which Isaiah 9-14 is said to stand in precisely the same position as Isaiah 40-66, according to Hitzig, Ewald, and others; with this difference, however, that Isaiah 40-66 is attributed to a later prophet than Isaiah, whereas Zech. 9-14 is attributed to one or two prophets before the time of Zechariah. But even De Wette, who maintained, in the first three editions of his Introduction to the Old Testament, that Zech was written before the captivity, altered his views in the fourth edition; and Köhler has lately confirmed the unity of the book of Zechariah after an unbiased investigation. It is Zechariah himself who prophesies of the last times in Isaiah 9-14, in images drawn from the past, and possibly with the introduction of earlier oracles. It remains, therefore, that not a single book of prophecy is open to any such doubts as to the unity of its authorship and Hitzig admits that even the book of Jeremiah, although interpolated, does not contain spurious sections. Nevertheless, it is quite possible that something extraordinary might have taken place in connection with the book of Isaiah. But there are grave objections even to such an assumption as this in the face of existing facts. For example, it would be a marvellous occurrence in the history of chances, for such a number of predictions of this particular kind to have been preserved - all of them bearing so evidently the marks of Isaiah's style, that for two thousand years the have been confounded with his own prophecies. It would be equally marvellous that the historians should know nothing at all about the authors of these prophecies; and thirdly, it would be very strange that the names of these particular prophets should have shared the common fate of being forgotten, although they must all have lived nearer to the compiler's own times than the old model prophet, whose style they imitated. It is true that these difficulties are not conclusive proofs to the contrary; but, at any rate, they are so much to the credit of the traditional authorship of the prophecies attacked. On the other hand, the weight of this tradition is not properly appreciated by opponents. Wilful contempt of external testimony, and frivolity in the treatment of historical data, have been from the very first the fundamental evils apparent in the manner in which modern critics have handled the questions relating to Isaiah. These critics approach everything that is traditional with the presumption that it is false; and whoever would make a scientific impression upon them, must first of all declare right fearlessly his absolute superiority to the authority of tradition. Now tradition is certainly not infallible. No more are the internal grounds of the so-called higher criticism, especially in the questions relating to Isaiah. And in the case before us, the external testimony is greatly strengthened by the relation in which Zephaniah and Jeremiah, the two most reproductive prophets, stand not only to Isaiah 40-66, but also to the suspected sections of the first half. They had these prophecies in their possession, since they evidently copy them, and incorporate passages taken from them into their own prophecies; a fact which Caspari has most conclusively demonstrated, but which not one of the negative critics has ventured to look fairly in the face, or to set aside by counter-proofs of equal force. Moreover, although the suspected prophecies do indeed contain some things for which vouchers cannot be obtained from the rest of the book, yet the marks which are distinctly characteristic of Isaiah outweigh by far these peculiarities, which have been picked out with such care; and even in the prophecies referred to, it is Isaiah's spirit which animates the whole, Isaiah's heart which beats, and Isaiah's fiery tongue which speaks in both the substance and the form.
Again, the type of the suspected prophecies - which, if they are genuine, belong to the prophet's latest days - is not thoroughly opposed to the type of the rest; on the contrary, those prophecies which are acknowledged to be genuine, present many a point of contact with this; and even the transfigured form and richer eschatological contents of the disputed prophecies have their preludes there. There is nothing strange in this great variety of ideas and forms, especially in Isaiah, who is confessedly the most universal of all the prophets, even if we only look at those portions which are admitted to be genuine, and who varies his style in so masterly a way to suit the demands of his materials, his attitude, and his purpose. One might suppose that these three counter-proofs, which can be followed up even to the most minute details, would have some weight; but for Hitzig, Ewald, and many others, they have absolutely none. Why not? These critics think it impossible that the worldwide empire of Babel, and its subsequent transition to Medes and Persians, should have been foreseen by Isaiah in the time of Hezekiah. Hitzig affirms in the plainest terms, that the very same Caligo futuri covered the eyes of the Old Testament prophets generally, as that to which the human race was condemned during the time that the oracle at Delphi was standing. Ewald speaks of the prophets in incomparably higher terms; but even to him the prophetic state was nothing more than a blazing up of the natural spark which lies slumbering in every man, more especially in Ewald himself. These two Coryphaei of the modern critical school find themselves hemmed in between the two foregone conclusions, “There is no true prophecy,” and “There is no true miracle.” They call their criticism free; but when examined more closely, it is in a vice. In this vice it has two magical formularies, with which it fortifies itself against any impression from historical testimony. It either turns the prophecies into merely retrospective glances ( vaticinia post eventum ), as it does the account of miracles into sagas and myths; or it places the events predicted so close to the prophet's own time, that there was no need of inspiration, but only of combination, to make the foresight possible. This is all that it can do. Now we could do more than this. We could pronounce all the disputed prophecies the production of other authors than Isaiah, without coming into contact with any dogmatical assumptions: we could even boast, as in the critical analysis of the historical books, of the extent to which the history of literature was enriched through this analysis of the book of Isaiah. And if we seem to despise these riches, we simply yield to the irresistible force of external and internal evidence. This applies even to Isaiah 36-39. For whilst it is true that the text of the book of Kings is the better of the two, yet, as we shall be able to prove, the true relation is this, that the author of the book of Kings did not obtain the parallel section (2 Kings 18:13-20:19) from any other source than the book of Isaiah. We have similar evidence in 2 Kings 24:18. and Isaiah 25:1, as compared with Jer, that the text of a passage may sometimes be preserved in greater purity in a secondary work than in the original work from which it was taken. It was Isaiah's prophetico-historical pen which committed to writing the accounts in Isaiah 36-39. The prophet not only wrote a special history of Uzziah, according to 2 Chronicles 26:22, but he also incorporated historical notices of Isaiah in his “vision” (2 Chronicles 32:32). We reserve the fuller demonstration of all this. For whilst, on the one hand, we consider ourselves warranted in rejecting those tendencies of modern criticism, to which naturalistic views of the world have dictated at the very outset full-blown negative results, and we do so on the ground of supernatural facts of personal experience; on the other hand, we are very far from wishing to dispute the well-founded rights of criticism as such.
For centuries, yea, for thousands of years, no objection was raised as to the Davidic origin of a psalm headed “a psalm of David,” to say nothing of a prophecy of Isaiah; and therefore no such objection was refuted. Apart from the whims of a few individuals,
(Note: e.g., that of Abenezra, who regarded king Jehoiakim, who was set free in the thirty-seventh year of his Babylonian captivity, as the author of Isaiah 40-60.).
which left no traces behind them, it was universally assumed by both Jewish and Christian writers down to the last century, that all the canonical books of the Old Testament had the Holy Ghost as their one auctor primarius , and for their immediate authors the men by whose names they are called. But when the church in the time of the Reformation began to test and sift what had been handed down; when the rapid progress that was made in classical and oriental philology compelled the students of the Scriptures to make larger if not higher demands upon themselves; when their studies were directed to the linguistic, historical, archaeological, aesthetic - in short, the human-side of the Scriptures, and the attempt was made to comprehend the several aspects presented by sacred literature in their progressive development and relation to one another - Christian science put forth many branches that had never been anticipated till then; and biblical criticism sprang up, which from that time forward has been not only an inalienable, but a welcome and even necessary, member in the theological science of the church. That school of criticism, indeed, which will not rest till all miracles and prophecies, which cannot be set aside exegetically, have been eliminated critically, must be regarded by the church as self-condemned; but the labour of a spiritual criticism, and one truly free in spirit, will not only be tolerated, because “the spiritual man discerneth all things” (1 Corinthians 2:15), but will be even fostered, and not looked upon as suspicious, although its results should seem objectionable to minds that are weakly strung, and stand in a false and fettered attitude in relation to the Scriptures. For it will be no more offended that the word of God should appear in the form of a servant, than that Christ Himself should do so; and, moreover, criticism not only brings any blemishes in the Scriptures to the light, but affords an ever-deepening insight into its hidden glory. It makes the sacred writings, as they lie before us, live again; it takes us into its very laboratory; and without it we cannot possibly obtain a knowledge of the historical production of the biblical books.
Exposition in Its Existing State
It was at the time of the Reformation also that historico-grammatical exposition first originated with a distinct consciousness of the task that it had to perform. It was then that the first attempt was made, under the influence of the revival of classical studies, and with the help of a knowledge of the language obtained from Jewish teachers, to find out the one true meaning of the Scriptures, and an end was put to the tedious jugglery of multiplex Scripturae sensus . But very little was accomplished in the time of the Reformation for the prophecies of Isaiah.
Calvin's Commentarii answer the expectations with which we take them up; but Luther's Scholia are nothing but college notes, of the most meagre description. The productions of Grotius, which are generally valuable, are insignificant in Isaiah, and, indeed, throughout the prophets. He mixes up things sacred and profane, and, because unable to follow prophecy in its flight, cuts off its wings. Aug. Varenius of Rostock wrote the most learned commentary of all those composed by writers of the orthodox Lutheran school, and one that even now is not to be despised; but though learned, it is too great a medley, and written without discipline of mind. Campegius Vitringa († 1722) threw all the labours of his predecessors into the shade, and none even of his successors approach him in spirit, keenness, and scholarship. His Commentary on Isaiah is still incomparably the greatest of all the exegetical works upon the Old Testament. The weakest thing in the Commentary is the allegorical exposition, which is appended to the grammatical and historical one. In this the temperate pupil of the Cocceian school is dependent upon what was then the prevalent style of the commentary in Holland, where there was an utter absence of all appreciation of the “complex-apotelesmatical” character of prophecy, whilst the most minute allusions were traced in the prophets to events connected with the history of both the world and the church. The shady sides of the Commentary are generally the first to present themselves to the reader's eye; but the longer he continues to use it, the more highly does he learn to value it. There is deep research everywhere, but nowhere a luxuriance of dry and dead scholarship. The author's heart is in his work. He sometimes halts in his toilsome path of inquiry, and gives vent to loud, rapturous exclamations. But the rapture is very different from that of the Lord Bishop Robert Lowth, who never gets below the surface, who alters the Masoretic text at his pleasure, and goes no further than an aesthetic admiration of the form.
The modern age of exegesis commenced with that destructive theology of the latter half of the eighteenth century, which pulled down without being able to build. But even this demolition was not without good result. The negative of anything divine and eternal in the Scriptures secured a fuller recognition of its human and temporal side, bringing out the charms of its poetry, and, what was of still greater importance, the concrete reality of its history. Rosenmüller's Scholia are a careful, lucid, and elegant compilation, founded for the most part upon Vitringa, and praiseworthy not only for the judicious character of the selection made, but also for the true earnestness which is displayed, and the entire absence of all frivolity. The decidedly rationalistic Commentary of Gesenius is more independent in its verbal exegesis; displays great care in its historical expositions; and is peculiarly distinguished for its pleasing and transparent style, for the survey which it gives of the whole of the literature bearing upon Isaiah, and the thoroughness with which the author avails himself of all the new sources of grammatical and historical knowledge that have been opened since the days of Vitringa. Hitzig's Commentary is his best work in our opinion, excelling as it does in exactness and in the sharpness and originality of its grammatical criticisms, as well as in delicate tact in the discovery of the train of thought and in thoroughness and precision in the exposition of well-pondered results; but it is also disfigured by rash pseudo-critical caprice, and by a studiously profane spirit, utterly unaffected by the spirit of prophecy. Hendewerk's Commentary is often very weak in philological and historical exposition. The style of description is broad, but the eye of the disciple of Herbart is too dim to distinguish Israelitish prophecy from heathen poetry, and the politics of Isaiah from those of Demosthenes. Nevertheless, we cannot fail to observe the thoughtful diligence displayed, and the anxious desire to point out the germs of eternal truths, although the author is fettered even in this by his philosophical standpoint. Ewald's natural penetration is universally recognised, as well as the noble enthusiasm with which he dives into the contents of the prophetical books, in which he finds an eternal presence. His earnest endeavours to obtain deep views are to a certain extent rewarded. But there is something irritating in the self-sufficiency with which he ignores nearly all his predecessors, the dictatorial assumption of his criticism, his false and often nebulous pathos, and his unqualified identification of his own opinions with truth itself. He is a perfect master in the characteristics of the prophets, but his translations of them are stiff, and hardly to any one's taste. Umbreit's Practical Commentary on Isaiah is a useful and stimulating production, exhibiting a deep aesthetic and religious sensibility to the glory of the prophetic word, which manifests itself in lofty poetic language, heaping image upon image, and, as it were, never coming down from the cothrunus. Knobel's prose is the very opposite extreme. The precision and thoroughness of this scholar, the third edition of whose Commentary on Isaiah was one of his last works (he died, 25th May 1863), deserve the most grateful acknowledgment, whether from a philological or an archaeological point of view; but his peculiar triviality, which amounts almost to an affectation, seems to shut his eyes to the deeper meaning of the work, whilst his excessive tendency to “historize” ( historisiren , i.e., to give a purely historical interpretation to everything) makes him blind even to the poetry of the form. Drechsler's Commentary was a great advance in the exposition of Isaiah. He was only able to carry it out himself as far as Isaiah 27:1-13; but is was completed by Delitzsch and H. A. Hahn of Greifswald († 1st Dec. 1861), with the use of Drechsler's notes, though they contained very little that was of any service in relation to Isaiah 40-66. This was, comparatively speaking, the best commentary upon Isaiah that had appeared since the time of Vitringa, more especially the portion on Isaiah 13-27. Its peculiar excellency is not to be found in the exposition of single sentences, which is unsatisfactory, on account of the comminuting, glossatorial style of its exegesis, and, although diligent and thorough enough, is unequal and by no means productive, more especially from a grammatical point of view; but in the spiritual and spirited grasp of the whole, the deep insight which it exhibits into the character and ideas of the prophet and of prophecy, its vigorous penetration into the very heart of the plan and substance of the whole book. In the meantime (1850), there had appeared the Commentary written by the catholic Professor Peter Schegg, which follows the Vulgate, although with as little slavishness as possible, and contains many good points, especially the remarks relating to the history of translation. At the same time there also appeared the Commentary of Ernst Meier, the Tübingen orientalist, which did not get beyond the first half. If ever any one was specially called to throw fresh light upon the book of Isaiah, it was C. P. Caspari of Christiania; but all that has yet appeared of his Norwegian Commentary only reaches to the end of Isaiah 5. Its further progress has been hindered partly by the exhaustive thoroughness at which he aimed, and the almost infinite labour which it involved, and partly by the fact that the Grundtvig controversy involved him in the necessity of pursuing the most extensive studies in ecclesiastical history. In the meantime, he has so far expanded his treatise om Serapherne (on the Seraphim), that it may be regarded as a commentary on Isaiah 6:1-13; and rich materials for the prophetic sayings which follow may be found in his contributions to the introduction to the book of Isaiah, and to the history of Isaiah's own times, which appeared as a second volume of our biblico-theological and apologetico-critical Studien (1858), his Programme on the Syro-Ephraimitish war (1849), and his comprehensive and by no means obsolete article, entitled, “Jeremiah a witness to the genuineness of Isaiah 34, and therefore also to that of Isaiah 13:1-14:23, and Isaiah 21:1-10,” which appeared in the Zeitschrift für d. ges. luth. Theologie u. Kirche (1843), together with an excursus on the relation of Zephaniah to the disputed prophecies of Isaiah.
We shall reserve those works which treat more particularly of the second part of the book of Isaiah for our special introduction to that part. But there are two other distinguished commentaries that we must mention here, both of them by Jewish scholars: viz., that of the M. L. Malbim (Krotoshin 1849), which is chiefly occupied with the precise ideas conveyed by synonymous words and groups of words; and that of S. D. Luzzatto of Padua - a stimulating work, entitled Profeta Isaia volgarizzato e commentato ad uso degli Israeliti, which aims throughout at independence, but of which only five parts have yet appeared.
Appendix to Isaiah
Introduction/Exposition of Its Existing State
In the commentary on the second half of Isaiah 40-66, I have referred here and there to the expositions of J. Heinemann (Berlin 1842) and Isaiah Hochstädter (Carlsruhe 1827), both written in Hebrew - the former well worthy of notice for criticism of the text, the latter provided with a German translation. For the psalm of Hezekiah (ch. 38) Professor Sam. David Luzzatto of Padua lent me his exposition in manuscript. Since then this great and noble-minded man has departed this life (on the 29th Sept. 1865). His commentary on Isaiah, so far as it has been printed, is full of information and of new and stirring explanations, written in plain, lucid, rabbinical language. It would be a great misfortune for the second half of this valuable work to remain unprinted. I well remember the assistance which the deceased afforded me in my earlier studies of the history of the post-biblical Jewish poetry (1836), and the affection which he displayed when I renewed my former acquaintance with him on the occasion of his publishing his Isaiah; so that I lament his loss on my own account as well as in the interests of science. “Why have you allowed twenty-five years to pass,” he wrote to me on the 22nd Feb. 1863, “without telling me that you remembered me? Is it because we form different opinions of the עלמה and the ילד ילד לנו of Isaiah? Are you a sincere Christian? Then you are a hundred times dearer to me than so many Israelitish scholars, the partizans of Spinoza, with whom our age swarms.” These words indicate very clearly the standpoint taken in his writings.
Of the commentaries written in English, I am acquainted not only with Lowth, but with the thoroughly practical commentary of Henderson (1857), and that of Joseph Addison Alexander, Prov. in Princeton (1847, etc.), which is very much read as an exegetical repertorium in England also. But I had neither of them in my possession.
What I have said here on Isaiah 1:1 as the heading to the whole book, or at any rate to Isaiah 1-39, has been said in part by Photios also in his Amphilochia, which Sophocles the M.D. has published complete from a MS of Mount Athos (Athens 1858, 4).
Hofmann in his Schriftbeweis (ii. 2, 541) maintains with Knobel, that מצּבת cannot be shown to have any other meaning than “plant.” It is never met with in this sense, which it might have (after נצב = נטע = נ ), though it is in the sense of statua and cippus , which, when applied to a tree deprived of its crown, can only mean stipes or truncus . - We take this opportunity of referring to a few other passages of his work: Isaiah 8:22. “And the deep darkness is scared away: m e nuddâch with the accusative of the object used with the passive.” But this is only possible with the finite verb, not with the passive participle. Isaiah 9:2. “By the fact that Thou hast made the people many, Thou hast not made the joy great; but now they rejoice before Thee (who hast appeared).” It is impossible that הרבית and הגדלת , when thus surrounded with perfects relating to the history of the future, should itself relate to the historical past - Isaiah 18:1-7. “It is Israel in its dispersion which is referred to here as a people carried away and spoiled, but which from that time forward is an object of reverential awe - a people that men have cut in pieces and trampled under foot, whose land streams have rent in pieces.” But does not this explanation founder on נורא מן־הוא והלאה ? In the midst of attributes which point to ill-treatment, can this passage be meant to describe the position which Israel is henceforth to hold as one commanding respect (see our exposition)? - Isaiah 19:18. “Egypt the land of cities will be reduced to five cities by the judgment that falls upon it.” But how can the words affirm that there will be only five cities in all, when there is nothing said about desolation in the judgment predicted before? - Isaiah 21:1-10. “What the watchman on the watch-tower see is not the hostile army marching against Babel, but the march of the people of God returning home from Babel.” Consequently tsemed pârâshı̄m does not mean pairs of horsemen, but carriages full of men and drawn by horses. But we can see what tsemed pârâshı̄m is from 2 Kings 9:25 ( ro ̄ kh e bhı̄m ts e mâdı̄m ), and from the combination of rekhebh and pârâshı̄m (chariots and horsemen) in Isaiah 22:7; Isaiah 31:1. And the rendering “carriages” will never do for Isaiah 21:7, Isaiah 21:9. Carriages with camels harnessed to them would be something unparalleled; and rekhebh gâmâl (cf., 1 Samuel 30:17) by the side of tsemed pârâshı̄m has a warlike sound.
Professor Schegg travelled by this very route to Jerusalem (cf., p. 560, Anm. 2): From Gifneh he went direct to Tayibeh (which he imagined to be the ancient Ai), and then southwards through Muchmas, Geba, Hizmeh, 'Anata, and el-Isawiye to Jerusalem.
No ( No ̄ ' 'Amo ̄ n in Nahum 3:8) is the Egyptian nu - Amun = Διόσπολις ( nu the spelling of the hieroglyphic of the plan of the city, with which the name of the goddess Nu̇ t = Rhea is also written). The ordinary spelling of the name of this city corresponds to the Greek ̓Αμμωνόπολις .
(Compare Grashof, Ueber das Schiff bei Homer und Hesiod, Gymnasial-programm 1834, p. 23ff.). The μεσόδμη (= μεσοδόμη ) is the cross plank which connects the two sides of the ship. A piece is cut out of this on the side towards the rudder, in which the mast is supported, being also let into a hole in the boards of the keel ( ἱστοπέδη ) and there held fast. The mast is also prevented from falling backwards by ropes or stays carried forward to the bows ( πρότονοι ). On landing, the mast is laid back into a hollow place in the bottom of the ship ( ἱστοδόκη ). If the stays are not drawn tight, the mast may easily fall backwards, and so slip not only out of the μεσόδμη but out of the ἱστοπέδη also. This is the meaning of the words בּל־יהזּקוּ כן־תּרנם . It would be better to understand ke ̄ n as referring to the ἱστοπέδη than to the μεσόδμη . The latter has no “hole,” but only a notch, i.e., a semicircular piece cut out, and serves as a support to the mast; the former, on the contrary, has the mast inserted into it, and serves as a ke ̄ n , i.e., a basis, theca, loculamentum . Vitringa observes (though without knowing the difference between μεσόδμη and ἱστοπέδη ): “ Oportet accedere funes, qui thecam firment, h. e. qui malum sustinentes thecae succurrant, qui quod theca sola per se praestare nequit absque funibus cum ea veluti concurrentes efficiant .”
This transition from words of Jehovah concerning Himself to words relating to Him, may also be removed by adopting the following rendering: “For my mouth, it has commanded it, and its (my mouth's) breath, it has brought it together” ( ru ̄ cho ̄ = ru ̄ a ̆ ch pı̄ , Psalms 30:6; Job 15:30).
I am wrong in describing it here as improbable that the land would have to be left uncultivated during the year 713-12 in consequence of the invasion that had taken place, even after the departure of the Assyrians. Wetzstein has referred me to his Appendix on the Monastery of Job (see Comm. on Job, Appendix), where he has shown that the fallow-land ( wâghia ) of a community, which is sown in the autumn of 1865 and reaped in the summer of 1866, must have been broken up, i.e., ploughed for the first time, in the winter of 1864-65. “If this breaking up of the fallow ( el - Būr ) were obliged to be omitted in the winter of 1864-65, because of the enemy being in the land, whether from the necessity for hiding the oxen in some place of security, or from the fact that they had been taken from the peasants and consumed by the foe, it would be impossible to sow in the autumn of 1865 and reap a harvest in the summer of 1866. And if the enemy did not withdraw till the harvest of 1865, only the few who had had their ploughing oxen left by the war would find it possible to break up the fallow. But neither the one nor the other could sow, if the enemy's occupation of the land had prevented them from ploughing in the winter of 1864-65. If men were to sow in the newly broken fallow, they would reap no harvest, and the seed would only be lost. It is only in the volcanic and therefore fertile region of Haurân (Bashan) that the sowing of the newly broken fallow ( es - sikak ) yields a harvest, and there it is only when the winter brings a large amount of rain; so that even in Haurân nothing but necessity leads any one to sow upon the sikak . In western Palestine, even in the most fruitful portions of it (round Samaria and Nazareth), the farmer is obliged to plough three times before he can sow; and a really good farmer follows up the breaking up of the fallow ( sikak ) in the winter, the second ploughing ( thânia ) in the spring, and the third ploughing ( tethlith ) in the summer, with a fourth ( terbı̄a ) in the latter part of the summer. Consequently no sowing could take place in the autumn of 713, if the enemy had been in the land in the autumn of 714, in consequence of his having hindered the farmer from the sikak in the winter of 714-3, and from the thânia and tethlith in the spring and summer of 713. There is no necessity, therefore, to assume that a second invasion took place, which prevented the sowing in the autumn of 713.”
On 2 Kings 20:9 - Even הלך is syntactically admissible in the sense of iveritne ; see Genesis 21:7; Psalms 11:3; Job 12:9.
ἀλμενιχακά in Plut., read Porph., viz., in the letter of Porphyrios to the Egyptian Anebo in Euseb. praep. iii. 4, init.: τάς τε εἰς τοὺς δεκανοὺς τομὰς καὶ τοὺς ὡροσκόποὺς καὶ τοὺς λεγομένους κραταιοὺς ἡγεμόνας , ὧν καὶ ὀνόματα ἐν τοῖς ἀλμενιχιακοῖς φέρεται ; compare Jamblichos, de Mysteriis, viii. 4: τά τε ἑν τοῖς σαλμεσχινιακοῖς μέρος τι βραχύτατον περιέχει τῶν ̔Ερμαικῶν διατάξεων . This reading σαλμεσχινιακοῖς has been adopted by Parthey after two codices and the text in Salmasius, de annis clim . 605. But ἀλμενιχιακοῖς is favoured by the form Almanach (Hebr. אלמנק , see Steinschneider, Catal. Codd. Lugduno-Ba tav. p. 370), in which the word was afterwards adopted as the name of an astrological handbook or year-book. In Arabic the word appears to me to be equivalent to 'l - mnâch , the encampment (of the stars); but to all appearance it was originally an Egyptian word, and possibly the Coptic monk (old Egyptian mench ), a form or thing formed, is hidden beneath it.
נואשׁ - Fleischer says: “Just as in Arabic 'ml and rj' the meaning of hope springs out of the idea of stretching and drawing out, so do Arabic ayisa and ya'isa ( spem deposuit , desperavit ) signify literally to draw in, to compress; hence the old Arabic ya'asun = sillun , consumption, phthisis . And the other old Arabic word waysun , lit., squeezing, res angustae = fakr wa-faka , want, need, and penury, or in a concrete sense the need, or thing needed, is also related to this.”
Μήνη appears in μ ηναγύρθς = μ ητραγύρθς as the name of Cybele, the mother of the gods. In Egyptian, Menhi is a form of Isis in the city of Hat-uer. The Ithyphallic Min, the cognomen of Amon, which is often written in an abbreviated form with the spelling men (Copt. MHIN , signum ), is further removed.
לבּהלה . Fleischer says: “ בּהל and Arabic bahala are so far connected, that the stem בהל , like בלהּ , signifies primarily to let loose, or let go. This passes over partly into outward overtaking or overturning, and partly into internal surprise and bewildering, and partly also (in Arabic) into setting free on the one hand, and outlawing on the other (compare the Azazel-goat of the day of atonement, which was sent away into the wilderness); hence it is used as an equivalent for Arabic la‛ana ( execrare ).”
the Fifth Week after Epiphany