Isaiah 25:11
And he shall spread forth his hands in the midst of them, as he that swimmeth spreadeth forth his hands to swim: and he shall bring down their pride together with the spoils of their hands.
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(11) As he that swimmeth spreadeth forth his hands to swim.—The structure of the sentence leaves it uncertain whether the comparison applies (1) to Jehovah spreading forth His hands with the swimmer’s strength to repress the pride of Moab, or (2) to the outstretched hands upon the Cross, or (3) to Moab vainly struggling in the deep waters of calamity. Each view has the support of commentators. The last seems beyond question most in harmony with the context. Ineffective struggles for preservation naturally suggest the parallel, “like some strong swimmer in his agony” (Psalm 69:1-2; Psalm 69:14). In the second clause there is, of course, no reason for doubt. It is Jehovah who “brings down the pride” of the guilty nation.

Isaiah 25:11-12. And he — Either, 1st, Moab, who, being plunged into a sea of troubles, shall endeavour to swim out of it, but to no purpose; or, 2d, The Lord, (who is designed by this pronoun he, both in the latter clause of this verse, and in the following verse,) whose power they shall be no more able to resist than the waters can resist a man that swims, who, with great facility, divides them hither and thither. The former sense is adopted by Bishop Lowth, who says, “I cannot conceive that the stretching out the hands of a swimmer can be any illustration of the action of God stretching out his hands over Moab to destroy it.” The latter, however, is preferred by, most interpreters, as connecting best with the following clause. And they consider the comparison as implying, that God should extend his powerful hands on every side, to the utmost limits of Moab, to bring down his enemies, as a swimmer stretches out his hands to beat down with them the opposing waters.

25:9-12 With joy and praise will those entertain the glad tidings of the Redeemer, who looked for him; and with a triumphant song will glorified saints enter into the joy of their Lord. And it is not in vain to wait for him; for the mercy comes at last, with abundant recompence for the delay. The hands once stretched out upon the cross, to make way for our salvation, will at length be stretched forth to destroy all impenitent sinners. Moab is here put for all adversaries of God's people; they shall all be trodden down or threshed. God shall bring down the pride of the enemies by one humbling judgment after another. This destruction of Moab is typical of Christ's victory, and the pulling down of Satan's strong holds. Therefore, beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord; for your labour is not in vain in the Lord.And he shall spread forth his hands - The sense is, that Yahweh would stretch out his hands everywhere, prostrating his enemies, and the enemies of his people. Lowth, however, applies this to Moab, and supposes that it is designed to represent the action of one who is in danger of sinking, and who, in swimming, stretches out his hands to sustain himself. In order to this, he supposes that there should be a slight alteration of a single letter in the Hebrew. His main reason for suggesting this change is, that he cannot conceive how the act of the stretch out of the hands of a swimmer can be any illustration of the action of God in extending his hands ever Moab to destroy it. It must be admitted that the figure is one that is very unusual. Indeed it does not anywhere else occur. But it is the obvious meaning of the Hebrew text; it is so understood in the Vulgate, the Chaldee, the Syriac, and the figure is one that is net unintelligible. It is that of a swimmer who extends his hands and arms as far as possible, and who by force removes all that is in his way in passing through the water. So Yahweh would extend his hands over all Moab. He would not confine the desolation to any one place, but it would be complete and entire. He would subject all to himself, as easily as a swimmer makes his way through the waters.

With the spoils of their hands - The word rendered here 'spoils' ( ארבות 'ârebôth), Lowth renders, 'The sudden gripe.' The Chaldee renders it substantially in the same manner, 'With the laying on of his hands,' that is, with all his might. Kimchi also understands it of the gripe of the hands or the arms. The Septuagint renders it, 'Upon whatsoever he lays his hands,' that is, God shall humble the pride of Moab in respect to everything on which he shall lay his hands. The word properly and usually signifies snares, ambushes, craft; and then, by a natural metonymy, the plunder or spoils which he had obtained by snares and ambushes - which seems to be the sense here. It would all perish with Moab, and the land would thus be completely subdued.

11. he—Jehovah shall spread His hands to strike the foe on this side and on that, with as little effort as a swimmer spreads forth his arms to cleave a passage through the water [Calvin]. (Zec 5:3). Lowth takes "he" as Moab, who, in danger of sinking, shall strain every nerve to save himself; but Jehovah (and "he") shall cause him to sink ("bring down the pride" of Moab, Isa 16:6).

with the spoils of … hands—literally, "the craftily acquired spoils" of his (Moab's) hands [Barnes]. Moab's pride, as well as the sudden gripe of his hands (namely, whereby he tries to save himself from drowning) [Lowth]. "Together with the joints of his hands," that is, though Moab struggle against Jehovah hand and foot [Maurer].

He; either,

1. Moab, who being plunged into a sea of troubles, shall endeavour to swim out of it, but to no purpose; or rather,

2. The Lord, who is designed by this very pronoun he, both in the latter clause of this verse, and in the following verse; whose power they shall be no more able to resist, than the waters can resist a man that swims, who with great facility divides them hither and thither.

Shall spread forth his hands in the midst of them; or, stretch forth his hands to the utmost, to smite and destroy them.

As he that swimmeth spreadeth forth his hands, which he doth to the uttermost.

With the spoils of their hands; with all that wealth which they have gained by rapine, and spoiling of God’s people, and others. But the words are otherwise rendered by others, with or by (as this Hebrew particle is used, Esther 9:25) the arms of his hands; which he may mention, because the strength of a man, and of his hands, consisteth in his arms; whence also the arm in Scripture is oft put for strength: or, by the motion or stroke of his hands, as all the ancient translators do in effect render it. And this seems to agree best with the metaphor here borrowed from one that swimmeth, which is performed in that manner.

And he shall spread forth his hands in the midst of them,.... In the midst of Moab, in the midst of the enemies of the church of God; and so it denotes the utter destruction of them; for the spreading forth of the hands is to be understood of the Lord, that should do so:

as he that swimmeth spreadeth forth his hands to swim; signifying, that as he should exert the power of his might, in the midst of them, he should strike on both sides, as a swimmer does; and as easily and utterly destroy them as the swimmer parts the waters, and has the command of them; though some interpret this of Moab stretching out his hands as the swimmer, either in a way of submission and supplication, or as catching, as men drowning do, at anything, to save them. But the former sense agrees best with what follows:

and he shall bring down their pride; that is, God shall bring down the pride of Moab, which was notorious in them, and hateful to God, and was the cause of their ruin, Isaiah 16:6 with this compare the pride of the Romish antichrist, which God will humble, Revelation 17:7,

together with the spoils of their hands; which their hands are full of; and which they have spoiled or robbed others of; or, "with the wiles of their hands" (o), as some, which they had by craft and insidious methods taken from others; these shall be taken from them, and they be stripped of them; or the words may, be rendered, "with the elbows", or "armholes of his hands" (p); as the swimmer with his arms keeps the water under him, and himself above it, so the Lord with the strength of his arm would bring down and destroy those enemies of his.

(o) "insidiis, vel cum insidiis manuum suarum", Montanus, Piscator. (p) "Cum cubitis, vel axillis manuum suarum", Pagninus, Tigurine version; and Ben Melech, who mentions both senses.

And he shall spread forth his hands in the midst of them, as he that swimmeth spreadeth forth his hands to swim: and he shall bring down their pride together with the spoils of their hands.
11. The figure of Moab trying to swim in the dung-pit is sufficiently graphic, if somewhat repulsive.

in the midst of them] should be (as in R.V.) in the midst thereof, i.e. of the dung-pit, although there is an enallage generis.

and he (Jehovah) shall bring down his pride] See on ch. Isaiah 16:6.

together with the spoils of their hands] Perhaps: in spite of the wiles of his hands. The expression is strange.

Verse 11. - He shall spread forth his hands... as he that swimmeth. Moab will endeavor to save himself from sinking in the water of the dung-pit; but in vain. God will bring down his pride, or abase his haughtiness, together with all the plots and snares that he contrives. A continued plotting of the enemies of God against his Church seems to be assumed, even after the Church is established in the spiritual Zion under the direct protection and rule of Jehovah. Isaiah 25:11In the land of promise there is rejoicing, but on the other side of the Jordan there is fear of ruin. Two contrasted pictures are placed here side by side. The Jordan is the same as the "great gulf" in the parable of the rich man. Upon Zion Jehovah descends in mercy, but upon the highlands of Moab in His wrath. "For the hand of Jehovah will sink down upon this mountain, and Moab is trodden down there where it is, as straw is trodden down in the water of the dung-pit. And he spreadeth out his hands in the pool therein, as the swimmer spreadeth them out to swim; but Jehovah forceth down the pride of Moab in spite of the artifices of his hands. Yea, thy steep, towering walls He bows down, forces under, and casts earthwards into dust." Jehovah brings down His hand upon Zion (nūach, as in Isaiah 7:2; Isaiah 11:1), not only to shelter, but also to avenge. Israel, that has been despised, He now makes glorious, and for contemptuous Moab He prepares a shameful end. In the place where it now is תּחתּיו, as in 2 Samuel 7:10; Habakkuk 3:16, "in its own place," its own land) it is threshed down, stamped or trodden down, as straw is trodden down into a dung-pit to turn it into manure: hiddūsh, the inf. constr., with the vowel sound u, possibly to distinguish it from the inf. absol. hiddosh (Ewald, 240, b). Instead of בּמו (as in Isaiah 43:2), the chethib has בּמי (cf., Job 9:30); and this is probably the more correct reading, since madmēnâh, by itself, means the dunghill, and not the tank of dung water. At the same time, it is quite possible that b'mo is intended as a play upon the name Moab, just as the word madmēnâh may possibly have been chosen with a play upon the Moabitish Madmēn (Jeremiah 48:2). In Isaiah 25:11 Jehovah would be the subject, if b'kirbo (in the midst of it) referred back to Moab; but although the figure of Jehovah pressing down the pride of Moab, by spreading out His hands within it like a swimmer, might produce the impression of boldness and dignity in a different connection, yet here, where Moab has just been described as forced down into the manure-pit, the comparison of Jehovah to a swimmer would be a very offensive one. The swimmer is Moab itself, as Gesenius, Hitzig, Knobel, and in fact the majority of commentators suppose. "In the midst of it:" b'kirbo points back in a neuter sense to the place into which Moab had been violently plunged, and which was so little adapted for swimming. A man cannot swim in a manure pond; but Moab attempts it, though without success, for Jehovah presses down the pride of Moab in spite of its artifices עם, as in Nehemiah 5:18; ארבּות, written with dagesh (according to the majority of MSS, from ארבּה, like the Arabic urbe, irbe, cleverness, wit, sharpness), i.e., the skilful and cunning movement of its hands. Saad. gives it correctly, as muchâtale, wiles and stratagems; Hitzig also renders it "machinations," i.e., twistings and turnings, which Moab makes with its arms, for the purpose of keeping itself up in the water. What Isaiah 25:11 affirms in figure, Isaiah 25:12 illustrates without any figure. If the reading were מבצרך חומות משׂגּב, the reference would be to Kir-Moab (Isaiah 15:1; Isaiah 16:7). But as the text stands, we are evidently to understand by it the strong and lofty walls of the cities of Moab in general.
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