Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
1. The inscription.
The word—the revelation.
And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD'S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.
2. Same as Mic 4:1. As Micah prophesied in Jotham's reign, and Isaiah in Uzziah's, Micah rests on Isaiah, whom he confirms: not vice versa. Hengstenberg on slight grounds makes Mic 4:1 the original.
last days—that is, Messiah's: especially the days yet to come, to which all prophecy hastens, when "the house of the God of Jacob," namely, at Jerusalem, shall be the center to which the converted nations shall flock together (Mt 13:32; Lu 2:31, 32; Ac 1:6, 7); where "the kingdom" of Israel is regarded as certain and the time alone uncertain (Ps 68:15, 16; 72:8, 11).
mountain of the Lord's house … in the top, &c.—the temple on Mount Moriah: type of the Gospel, beginning at Jerusalem, and, like an object set on the highest hill, made so conspicuous that all nations are attracted to it.
flow—as a broad stream (Isa 66:12).
And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
3. If the curse foretold against Israel has been literally fulfilled, so shall the promised blessing be literal. We Gentiles must not, while giving them the curse, deny them their peculiar blessing by spiritualizing it. The Holy Ghost shall be poured out for a general conversion then (Jer 50:5; Zec 8:21, 23; Joe 2:28).
from Jerusalem—(Lu 24:47) an earnest of the future relations of Jerusalem to Christendom (Ro 11:12, 15).
And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
4. judge—as a sovereign umpire, settling all controversies (compare Isa 11:4). Lowth translates "work," "conviction."
plowshares—in the East resembling a short sword (Isa 9:6, 7; Zec 9:10).
O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the LORD.
5. The connection is: As Israel's high destiny is to be a blessing to all nations (Ge 12:3), let Israel's children walk worthy of it (Eph 5:8).
Therefore thou hast forsaken thy people the house of Jacob, because they be replenished from the east, and are soothsayers like the Philistines, and they please themselves in the children of strangers.
6. Therefore—rather, "For": reasons why there is the more need of the exhortation in Isa 2:5.
thou—transition to Jehovah: such rapid transitions are natural, when the mind is full of a subject.
replenished—rather, filled, namely, with the superstitions of the East, Syria, and Chaldea.
soothsayers—forbidden (De 18:10-14).
Philistines—southwest of Palestine: antithesis to "the east."
please themselves—rather, join hands with, that is, enter into alliances, matrimonial and national: forbidden (Ex 23:32; Ne 13:23, &c.).
Their land also is full of silver and gold, neither is there any end of their treasures; their land is also full of horses, neither is there any end of their chariots:
7. gold—forbidden to be heaped together (De 17:17). Solomon disobeyed (1Ki 10:21, 27).
horses … chariots—forbidden (De 17:16). But Solomon disobeyed (1Ki 20:26). Horses could be used effectively for war in the plains of Egypt; not so in the hilly Judea. God designed there should be as wide as possible a distinction between Israel and the Egyptians. He would have His people wholly dependent on Him, rather than on the ordinary means of warfare (Ps 20:7). Also horses were connected with idolatry (2Ki 23:11); hence His objection: so the transition to "idols" (Isa 2:8) is natural.
Their land also is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made:
8. (Ho 8:4). Not so much public idolatry, which was not sanctioned in Uzziah's and Jotham's reign, but (see 2Ki 15:4, 35) as private.
And the mean man boweth down, and the great man humbleth himself: therefore forgive them not.
9. mean—in rank: not morally base: opposed to "the great man." The former is in Hebrew, Adam, the latter, ish.
boweth—namely, to idols. All ranks were idolaters.
forgive … not—a threat expressed by an imperative. Isaiah so identifies himself with God's will, that he prays for that which he knows God purposes. So Re 18:6.
Enter into the rock, and hide thee in the dust, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty.
10. Poetical form of expressing that, such were their sins, they would be obliged by God's judgments to seek a hiding-place from His wrath (Re 6:15, 16).
dust—equivalent to "caves of the earth," or dust (Isa 2:19).
for fear, &c.—literally, "from the face of the terror of the Lord."
The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day.
11. lofty looks—literally, "eyes of pride" (Ps 18:27).
humbled—by calamities. God will so vindicate His honor "in that day" of judgments, that none else "shall be exalted" (Zec 14:9).
For the day of the LORD of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low:
12. Man has had many days: "the day of the Lord" shall come at last, beginning with judgment, a never-ending day in which God shall be "all in all" (1Co 15:28; 2Pe 3:10).
every—not merely person, as English Version explains it, but every thing on which the nation prided itself.
And upon all the cedars of Lebanon, that are high and lifted up, and upon all the oaks of Bashan,
13. cedars … oaks—image for haughty nobles and princes (Am 2:9; Zec 11:1, 2; compare Re 19:18-21).
Bashan—east of Jordan, north of the river Jabbok, famous for fine oaks, pasture, and cattle. Perhaps in "oaks" there is reference to their idolatry (Isa 1:29).
And upon all the high mountains, and upon all the hills that are lifted up,
14. high … hills—referring to the "high places" on which sacrifices were unlawfully offered, even in Uzziah's (equivalent to Azariah) reign (2Ki 15:4). Also, places of strength, fastnesses in which they trusted, rather than in God; so
And upon every high tower, and upon every fenced wall,
15. tower … wall—Towers were often made on the walls of cities.
And upon all the ships of Tarshish, and upon all pleasant pictures.
16. Tarshish—Tartessus in southwest Spain, at the mouth of the Guadalquivir, near Gibraltar. It includes the adjoining region: a Ph�nician colony; hence its connection with Palestine and the Bible (2Ch 9:21). The name was also used in a wide sense for the farthest west, as our West Indies (Isa 66:19; Ps 48:7; 72:10). "Ships of Tarshish" became a phrase for richly laden and far-voyaging vessels. The judgment shall be on all that minister to man's luxury (compare Re 18:17-19).
pictures—ordered to be destroyed (Nu 33:52). Still to be seen on the walls of Nineveh's palaces. It is remarkable that whereas all other ancient civilized nations, Egypt, Assyria, Greece, Rome, have left monuments in the fine arts, Judea, while rising immeasurably above them in the possession of "the living oracles," has left none of the former. The fine arts, as in modern Rome, were so often associated with polytheism, that God required His people in this, as in other respects, to be separate from the nations (De 4:15-18). But Vulgate translation is perhaps better, "All that is beautiful to the sight"; not only paintings, but all luxurious ornaments. One comprehensive word for all that goes before (compare Re 18:12, 14, 16).
And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low: and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day.
17. Repeated from Isa 2:11, for emphatic confirmation.
And the idols he shall utterly abolish.
18. idols—literally, "vain things," "nothings" (1Co 8:4). Fulfilled to the letter. Before the Babylonian captivity the Jews were most prone to idolatry; in no instance, ever since. For the future fulfilment, see Zec 13:2; Re 13:15; 19:20.
And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth.
19. The fulfilment answers exactly to the threat (Isa 2:10).
caves—abounding in Judea, a hilly country; hiding-places in times of alarm (1Sa 13:6).
shake … earth—and the heavens also (Heb 12:26). Figure for severe and universal judgments.
In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats;
20. moles—Others translate "mice." The sense is, under ground, in darkness.
bats—unclean birds (Le 11:19), living amidst tenantless ruins (Re 11:13).
To go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth.
Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?
22. The high ones (Isa 2:11, 13) on whom the people trust, shall be "brought low" (Isa 3:2); therefore "cease from" depending on them, instead of on the Lord (Ps 146:3-5).