Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
O LORD, thou art my God; I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name; for thou hast done wonderful things; thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth.3. ISRAEL’S SONG OF PRAISE FOR DELIVERANCE
1 O LORD, thou art my God;
I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name;
For thou hast done wonderful things;
Thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth.
2 For thou hast made of a city an heap;
Of a defenced city a ruin;
A palace of strangers to be no city;
It shall never be built.
3 Therefore shall the strong people glorify thee,
The city of the terrible nations shall fear thee.
4 For thou hast been a 1strength to the poor,
A 2strength to the needy in his distress;
A refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat;
3When the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall.
5 Thou shalt bring down the noise of strangers,
As the heat in a dry place;
Even the heat with the shadow of a cloud:
The 4branch of the terrible ones shall be brought low.
TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL
Isa 25:1. אדוממך (comp. Ps. 30:2) forms an intended rhyme with שִׁמְךָ. The expression עשׂה פלא first occurs Ex. 15:11. Comp. פֶלֶא יוֹעֵץ 9:5. Here עצות follows פלא as there יוֹעץ. Is this accidental? אמן אמונה (אמן is ἄπ. λεγ.). The two words are dependent on עשׂית. God has shown truth which is faithfulness, i.e., faithful, certain. The two substantives of the same root (comp. 3:1; 16:6) which are placed togother, stand in the relation of apposition. Similar constructions occur Prov. 22:21; Jer. 10:10; Gen. 1:12; Jer. 20:1. In these cases the substantive standing in apposition serves the place of an adjective that is wanting, or intensifies the notion of the adjective.
Isa 25:2. The construction שׂמת מעיר לנל is a confusio duarum constructionum. For it must be either שַׂמְתָּ עִיר לְנַל (comp. Joel 1:7; Isa. 5:20; 14:23, et saepe) or שַׂמְתָּ נַּל מֵעִיר (comp. Hos. 13:2; Gen. 2:19). The construction here employed has arisen from the blending of these two modes of expression. Before חרֶֹב, Isa 25:5 b, we have to supply כְּ from the first part of the verse, or חרב is to be regarded as in apposition.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
1. The contemplation of the mighty acts of God naturally excites to praise and thanksgiving. We are here reminded of Rom. 11:33 sqq., where Paul cannot avoid praising in a hymn the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God. In like manner the Prophet here extols the LORD for having executed so gloriously His wonderful purpose embracing the most remote times, thus having proved Himself to be true, and at the same time having attested the Prophet as a faithful interpreter of the thoughts of God (Isa 25:1). The LORD has shown how He can make good what is most incredible. He announced the destruction of great cities, when they were in the height of their power and glory; and so it has happened (Isa 25:2). He has thereby constrained even His enemies to honor and fear Him (Isa 25:3). But to His poor oppressed church He has been a shield and refuge; and has subdued the raging of her enemies against her (Isa 25:5).
2. O LORD … truth.
Isa 25:1. The Prophet here sings a psalm as in chapter 12. The very commencement: O LORD, thou art my God recalls places of the Psalms as Ps. 31:15; 40:6; 86:12; 118:28; 143:10; 145:1; comp. Jer. 31:18, places which are related to the one before us partly as models, but mostly as copies. The עצות מרחק are in my judgment not merely the counsels conceived from afar, i.e., from eternity (22:11; 37:26), but also the counsels reaching to a remote incalculable distance. מרחק can grammatically bear this meaning (17:13; 20:3). And is it not a quite characteristic mark of the prophecy contained in chap. 24 to which this hymn particularly relates, that it reaches to the utmost, end of the present aeon of the world? Could this have remained unknown to the Prophet? Although, according to 1 Pet. 1:11, Isaiah, when reflecting on the time of the fulfilment, could not attain to exact knowledge, yet so much he must have been aware of, that his look was fixed on facts which follow the destruction of the globe of the earth in its present form (24:17 sqq.). The Prophet risked something when he gave expression to these strange unintelligible things which appeared such as an enthusiast would utter. But he could not do otherwise, and he did it unhesitatingly, confiding in the omniscience and veracity of the LORD. And this sure confidence, that he with his bold prophecy would not be put to shame, did not deceive him. He sees all the marvels which he predicted realized. Therefore he praises God’s truth, faithfulness.
3. For thou hast made—fear thee.
Isa 25:2 and 3. The Prophet now goes into details. The prophecy contains partly threatening, partly promise. The LORD has made both good. This is first affirmed of the threatening, and at the same time the salutary effect of its fulfilment is shown (Isa 25:3). כִּי in the beginning of Isa 25:2, and כִּי in the beginning of Isa 25:4 correspond to one another. Both serve to prove the truth of what was said in Isa 25:1: For thou hast done,etc. The general expression for thou hast made of a city a stone-heap, sets at defiance all attempts of modern criticism to explain the prophecy of some definite historical fact. Not only once, but as often as it was predicted, the LORD has converted into a stone-heap a city which at the time of the threatening was mighty and flourishing. City and defenced city are used collectively. After the all-including עִיר the Prophet makes mention of the prominent parts of the city, the fortifications and the high buildings (palaces). ארמון23:13; 32:14; 34:13. The palaces of the foreigners (comp. on 1:7) have become מֵעִיר, i.e., without city, and therefore no city. They stand desolated and solitary in the midst of the destroyed city, still capable of being recognized as palaces, but yet in the way of becoming what all around them is. For what else than a ruin can a palace become, which no city, no wall encompasses, which is exposed to every attack? The ruins of the palaces of Nineveh, Babylon, etc., attest this. מִן in מֵעִיר is therefore to be taken in that negative sense in which it can denote “without,” and also “not.” (Comp. 17:1; 7:8; 23:1). We have further to observe that the two מֵעִיר in Isa 25:2 correspond to one another; if out of the city (מֵעִיר), there has become a heap, then the ארכאן is also מֵעיר, i.e., the palace has no longer a city around it, and is also no more a city. This is very prominently set forth by the last clause it shall never be built (from Deut. 13:7, comp. Job 12:14). The conquered must own the might of the victor, do him homage and fear him. This homage and fear may be caused by sheer force, and so be merely outward. But it is possible that the conquered have been inwardly vanquished by their adversary, i.e., that they have perceived that there is error and injustice on their side, and on the side of their conqueror, truth and right. In this case the honor and fear which they render, will be not merely constrained and outward, but voluntary and sincere. The latter is to be supposed here. Isaiah has frequently predicted the conversion of the heathen 2:2 sqq.; 11:10; 19:18 sqq.; 23:15 sqq.; 24:13 sqq. Mark the imperfects (futures) in Isa 25:3. The Prophet sees what is expressed in Isa 25:2 as absolutely past; but the honoring and fearing spoken of in Isa 25:3, will continue to all eternity.
4. For thou hast been—brought low.
Isa 25:4 and 5. The leading thought of these two verses is that the Prophet perceives with gratitude and joy the manner in which the LORD has fulfilled His promises. כִּי in Isa 25:4 corresponds therefore to כִּי in Isa 25:2. That the LORD will be מָעוֹז (stronghold, 17:9, 10; 23:4, 14; 27:5; 30:3) to the דַּל (10:2; 11:4; 14:30; 26:6) and to the אֶבְיוֹן (14:30; 29:19; 32:7; 41:17) has been often enough declared by the Prophet (comp. the passages referred to). דל and אביון are, as DELITZSCH remarks, designations, well-known from the Psalms, of the “ecclesia pressa.” The second part of Isa 25:4 is almost wholly borrowed from 4:6. What is there promised is here seen by the Prophet as fulfilled (comp. 32:2). But this fulfilment has a positive and a negative side. The positive, i.e., the giving of safety is only possible on the ground of the negative, i.e., after the destruction of those who would deprive the poor of safety and bring them to ruin. כִּי (translate for) before רוּחַ is therefore not co-ordinate with כִּי in the beginning of Isa 25:2 and 4, but is subordinate to the latter. רוּחַ is here the blast, the storm, the furious snorting, raging of the violent ones (30:28; 33:11). זרם קיר is a wall-storm,i.e., a storm beating against a strong wall. See a parallel expression in 9:3: מַטֵּה שְׁכֶם, the staff striking the shoulder. Mark how the hindrances to safety previously mentioned are here represented under a three-fold gradation רוּחַ ,שָׁאוֹן and זְמִיר. We shall not err if we regard the first word as marking the beginning, the second the middle, and the third the end of the hostile action. For one part of the assaults made by the wicked on the servants and children of God is warded off at the very commencement, when it is yet only snorting. It rebounds without doing harm as rain from the stone wall. But another part reaches its full meridian height. It sends forth the arrows of its fury as the sun sends forth the arrows of its flame in the hot land, but the LORD bends them downwards. After a victory has been won, songs of triumph are sung (זמיר means triumphal song, not branch, comp. Cant. 2:12). The enemies of the people of God can in many cases have their victory and triumph. But even when it has gone so far, the LORD is still able to afford deliverance. He can bow to the dust the enemy already triumphant, and singing songs of praise. As the shadow (30:2, 3; 49:2; 51:16) of a cloud keeps off the rays of the sun, and so diminishes the heat, so will a humiliating termination be prepared for the enemies’ song of victory by the hand of the Most High, which He holds as a sheltering shadow over His people (49:2; 51:16; Job 8:9).
for the blast of the terrible ones was, etc.
And in this mountain shall the LORD of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined.4. ZION AS THE PLACE OF THE FEAST GIVEN TO ALL NATIONS IN OPPOSITION TO MOAB, WHICH PERISHES INGLORIOUSLY
6 And in this mountain
Shall the LORD of hosts make unto all people
A feast of fat things,
A feast of wines on the lees,
Of fat things full of marrow,
Of wines on the lees well refined.
7 And he will 5destroy in this mountain
The face of the covering 6cast over all people,
And the vail that is spread over all nations.
8 He will swallow up death 7in victory;
And the LORD God will wipe away tears from off all faces;
And the 8rebuke of his people shall he take away
From off all the earth;
For the LORD hath spoken it.
9 And it shall be said in that day,
Lo, this is our God;
We have waited for him, and he will save us:
This is the LORD; we have waited for him,
We will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.
10 For in this mountain shall the hand of the LORD rest,
And Moab shall be 910trodden down under him,
Even as straw is11 12trodden down for the dunghill.
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 13spoils of their hands.
12 And the fortress of the high fort of thy walls shall he bring down,
Lay low, and bring to the ground,
Even to the dust.
TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL
Isa 25:6. שְׁמָנִים מְמֻחָים are not fat pieces unmarrowed, but, on the contrary, fat pieces marrowy, yea provided with abundant marrow. If the stem מָחָה, from which ממחים comes, is to be regarded as not different from מָחָה to wipe away, and not as a denominative from מֹחַ marrow, we must assume as common fundamental signification “to rub, to spread over, to besmear.” But as then מְמֻחָה would be only what is covered over with fat, not what is in itself fat, the derivation from מֹחַ is in my opinion more probable. This Pual is found only here, and no other of the forms that occur has the signification “pinguem, medullosum esse.” Instead of מְמֻחִים we have מְמֻחָיִם, a verb לה֞ (מָחָה) being formed from מֹחַ and its third radical appearing after the manner of verbs לה֞ (comp. בְּעָיוּ ,אֵתָיוּ, 21:12). The object of employing this form is to increase the concord of sounds which is in Isa 25:6 so prominent.
Isa 25:7. In פני הלוט we have the genitive of identity, the covering being marked as that which forms the front view, as the foreside. The substantive לוֹט is found only here. The participle לוֹט is evidently chosen for the sake of assonance (comp. 24:3). It is formed after the analogy of קוֹם, 2 Kings 16:7. Comp. GESEN. Gr., § 72, note 1. מַסֵּכָה and נְסוּכהָ are not from נָסַךְ effundere, libare, but from another נָסַךְ whose radical meaning seems to be “to weave.” מַסֵּכָה is therefore properly a texture, a woven covering. The word is found besides 28:20.
Isa 25:10. הִדּוּשׁ is as a verbal form quite abnormal and unexampled. It appears to me to be a changing of the regular infinitive form הִדּוֹשׁ into a nominal form, and is allied to forms such as הִתּוּךְ, Ezek. 22:22, חִלּוּל, Lev. 19:24. הדּוּשׁ would then be conculcatio, detrusio.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
1. After the hymn by which the Prophet had given expression to his subjective emotions, he returns to his objective representation of the future. He resumes the discourse broken off at 24:23, whilst he further depicts what will happen on Mount Zion, and—in opposition to this—what will befall the wicked. What will take place on Mount Zion is of a twofold character, positive and negative. Positively, the LORD will prepare for all nations a feast consisting of the most precious articles of food and drink (Isa 25:6). Negatively, He will first remove the covering which was hitherto spread over all nations (Isa 25:7); Secondly, He will abolish death, wipe off all tears, and take away the reproach which His people had hitherto to endure on the whole earth (Isa 25:8). While believers rejoice in the salvation prepared for them by Jehovah their God, to whom they can now point as to one who is not merely to be believed in, but to be seen in His manifested presence (Isa 25:9), and whose hand bears and upholds all the glory of Mount Zion (Isa 25:10a), the Moabites, i.e., those who are represented by Moab, are cast like straw into the dung-hole on which they stand (Isa 25:10b). They will indeed work with the hands in order to rescue themselves, but their efforts will not save them from the most ignominious ruin, and their proud, high fortresses will be levelled to the ground, and crushed to dust (Isa 25:11, 12).
2. And in this mountain——refined.
Isa 25:6. “This mountain” points back to “Mount Zion,” 24:23. Not only Israel, all nations will be collected on the mountain. There the LORD will prepare a feast for them. That it is a spiritual feast, and that it is not simply for one occasion, but that it will be a permanent, everlasting entertainment, is implied in the nature of the thing. For there everything will be spiritual; and when according to Isa 25:8. death will be forever abolished, there must, that the antithesis may be maintained, reign forever life, and everything which is the condition of life. This feast meets us elsewhere, both in the Old and in the New Testament, under various forms. In Ex. 24:11 it is related that Moses and the elders of Israel, after they had seen God, ate and drank on the holy mountain, which transaction we are by all means justified in regarding as a typical one. Comp. Ps. 22:27, 30; Isa. 55:1; 65:11 sqq. In the New Testament this holy feast given by God appears sometimes as the Great Supper (Luke 14:16 sqq.), sometimes as the marriage of the king’s son (Matt. 22:1 sqq.; 25:1 sqq.), or the marriage of the Lamb (Rev. 19:7, 9, 17 sqq., in which latter place the counterpart of this feast is set forth). It is remarkable that this most glorious, most spiritual feast is represented in so homely a way by the Prophet. This is a clear example of that law of prophecy according to which the future is always represented from the materials furnished by the present. The richest, strongest, most nutritious thing which Isaiah knew to be served up at an earthly feast, is employed as an image to set forth the heavenly banquet. This richest thing was the fat. Therefore the fat of the animals offered in sacrifice (flos carnis) was the chief constituent of the bloody offerings, especially of the Shelamim [E. V., peace offerings] (Ex. 29:13–22; Lev. 3:3–5; 9–11; 14–16; 8:16; 9:19 sqq.). We can therefore say: What God Himself formerly required of men, as the noblest part of the victims offered to Him, He now Himself as host offers to His redeemed upon His holy mountain. But the expression “fat” or “marrow” is used also in reference to the land and its vegetable products, to designate the finest. Thus it is said, Gen. 45:18, “ye shall eat the fat of the land;” Numb. 18:12, “all the fat of oil and all the fat of new wine and corn;” Deut. 32:14, “the fat of kidneys of wheat.” That שֶמֶן can stand in this sense, we have already seen from other utterances of Isaiah, 5:1; 10:16; 17:4; 28:1–4. The most excellent drink accompanies the choicest food. That Isaiah designates this drink by שְׁמָרִים is owing to the endeavor to put as parallel to שֶׁמָנִים a word resembling it in sound. But the question arises, how can Isaiah call the most excellent wine שְׁמָרִים? This word seems primarily to denote a wine containing dregs, that is, turbid with dregs, therefore, a bad wine. But Isaiah manifestly understands by שְׁמָרִים wines which have lain a sufficient time on their lees. For the lees are not only the product of a process of purification, but also a reacting substance which contributes to heighten the strength, color and durability of the wine. A wine poured off from its lees too soon tastes too sweet and does not keep long. CATO, too, (De re rust. cap. 154) designates a wine that has lain long enough on its lees vinum faecatum. Comp. GESENIUS,Thes., p. 1444, and his commentary on this place. The expression שְׁמָרִים (only plural) comes therefore from שָׁמַר, and שֶׁמֶר is primarily conservatio, the letting lie, then conservatum, that which is let lie (comp. Jer. 48:11). The plural denotes the multiplicity of the ingredients contained in the sediment. שְׁמָרִים is moreover used here metonymically; for it plainly signifies not the lees alone, but also the wine united with the lees. But we can not, of course, drink the lees united with the wine. This wine poured off from the lees must be percolated (מזקק only here in Isaiah).
3. And he will destroy——spoken it.
Isa 25:7, 8. The covering here spoken of brings at once to mind the vail of Moses, Ex. 34:30 sqq. To the visible covering there corresponds an invisible one also, which lies on the heart. But when the LORD will take away the covering, He will first of all remove the covering of the heart, as Paul says, 2 Cor. 3:16, “περιαιρεῖται τὸ κὰλυμμα.” Then will the external covering also fall off, and men will be capable of seeing the glory of the LORD face to face (1 Cor. 13:12; 1 John 3:2). [All that the Prophet here says of a covering and vail must be understood metaphorically. A literal, external covering cast over the nations, distinct from a spiritual one, is not to be thought of. D. M.]. Isa 25:8. The second negative blessing is that the LORDswallows up death also. בִּלַּע occurs not unfrequently in Isaiah: 3:12; 9:15; 29:3; 49:19. It seems here and Isa 25:7 to denote more than that its object is removed, for then it could be placed somewhere else; but its object is to be conceived as existing no more. Paul tells us (1 Cor. 15:26, 54) that death shall in this sense be swallowed up. When there is no death, there are no more tears. For tears flow, either in the case of the living, over that which leads to death; or in the case of survivors, over those who have suffered death. The Apostle John quotes in Rev. 7:17; 21:4, our place to prove that he regards the things which he saw as a fulfilment, not only of his own prophecy, but also of that spoken by Isaiah. He thus makes his own prophecy an echo or reproduction of the prophetic word of the Old Testament. Where sin and death have disappeared, there can be no more reproach, but only glory. There is a new earth: it is a dwelling-place of God with man; it has, therefore, become the place of the divine glory. Where then could there be upon it any more a place for the reproach of those who belong to the people of God? For the Lord hath spoken it. Comp. on 1:2.
4. And it shall be said——rest
Isa 25:9, 10a. What follows is not a hymn, but a report of one. This is plain from the use of the impersonal אמר (45:24; 65:8). The hymn in Isa 25:1 sqq. came from the Prophet’s own mouth: this one is heard by him, and related with a brief statement of its leading thoughts. The redeemed now see the LORD in whom they have hitherto only believed (comp. Isa 25:7 and 1 John 3:2). That they see Him is clear from the expression הנֵּה זֶה (comp. 21:9). The heathen, who believed in false gods, experience the very opposite. They are confounded when they must mark the vanity of their idols; but they who believe in Jehovah will after faith be rewarded with seeing; for they can point with the finger to their God as one who is really existent and present before the eyes of all, and can say: Our God is no illusion as your false gods; we and all see Him as truly existing, as Him who was and is to come, יהוה (Ex. 3:14). Herein is their joy perfect (John 15:11). ויושׁיענו is not “and He saves us,” but “that He may save us” (comp. 8:11; Ew. § 347 a): That the joy for the experienced salvation is not transitory and delusive, but will be everlasting is confirmed by the sentence, For in this mountain shall the hand of the LORD rest,etc., Isa 25:10a. The hand of Jehovah will settle upon this mountain, it will rest upon it (7:2; 11:2). But what the hand of Jehovah holds, stands fast for ever.
5. And Moab——to the dust.
Isa 25:10 b –12. In opposition to the high, triumphant joy of believers, the Prophet now depicts the lot of unbelievers. He mentions Moab as the representative of the latter. He cannot mean thereby the whole nation of Moab. For all nations partake of the great feast on the holy mountain (Isa 25:6), from all nations the covering is taken off (Isa 25:7), from all faces the tears are wiped away (Isa 25:8). Moab consequently cannot be excluded. Even Jeremiah (48:47) leads us to expect the turning of the captivity of Moab in the latter days. It can therefore be only the Moab that hardens itself against the knowledge of God which will suffer the doom described in Isa 25:10 sqq. But if Moab, so far as it is hostile to God, has to bear this sentence, why not likewise the God-opposing elements from all other nations? Moab therefore stands for all. But why is Moab in particular named? The Moabites were remarkable for their unbounded arrogance. Jeremiah (48:11) specifies as the cause of this arrogance the fact that they had, from the time when they began to be a people, dwelt undisturbed in their own land. Further, we must assume that the Prophet, when he began the sentence (Isa 25:10b), had before his mind the image which he uses (Isa 25:10 and 11), and the whole series of thoughts attached to it. It is, moreover, probable that he chose the name Moab just for the sake of the image. According to Gen. 19:37 the father of the Moabites owed his birth to the incestuous intercourse of the eldest daughter of Lot with her father. An allusion to this fact has been always supposed to be contained in the name מוֹאָב. And this view is not destitute of philological support, comp. GES.Thes., p. 774, sub voceמואב. The K’ri מוֹ מַדְמֵנָה lets us more clearly perceive why Isaiah made mention of Moab as the representative of the heathen world, and should, therefore, perhaps be preferred. But, whether we read מֵי or מוֹ, it is manifest that the Prophet wishes to express the idea “water of the dung-hole,” and that, alluding to the etymology of Moab, he has named the unbelievers of Moab as representatives of the unbelievers of all nations. Moab is therefore cast down (28:27 sq.; 41:15) under him (i.e., under the place on which he stood, comp. Ex. 16:29; Josh. 5:8; 6:5; Job 40:12; Amos 2:13). Straw is cast into the filthy water of the dung-hole, in order that it may be saturated by it, and rendered fitter for manure. Our interpretation of מו מ׳ is confirmed by the fact that מדמנה obviously contains an intentional allusion to the Moabite city מַדְמֵן (Jer. 48:2). The person cast into the dung-hole seeks to save himself. We have therefore to suppose the hole to be of considerable extent. He spreads forth his hands as if to swim. But it is sorry swimming. The desperate struggle for life is thus depicted. The effort is unavailing. Moab must find an ignominious end in the impure element. The LORD presses Him down. Moab is elsewhere blamed for two evil qualities: 1) his pride, 2) his lying disposition (16:6; Jer. 48:29). A corresponding punishment is inflicted: the lies, the artifices symbolized by the skilful motions of the hands (ארבות from אָרַבnectere, especially insidias struere) are of no avail. The haughty Moab (comp. נאוה here and 16:6) must perish in the pool of filthy water. The LORD humbles the proud by making disgrace an element of their punishment. That עִם signifies “in spite of” is not sufficiently attested. It can well retain here its proper signification “with;” for, in fact, Jehovah presses down not only the proud, but also the cunning and artful. The humbling of pride is, however, the main thing. This is therefore once more asserted, Isa 25:13, without a figure in strong expressions. The phrase “the defence of the height of thy walls” for “the defence of thy high walls” is idiomatic Hebrew. Compensation for the adjective is sought in substantive forms (comp. 22:7; 30:30). Three verbs are used corresponding to the three substantives. If עד־עפר is not equivalent simply to לארץ, we must find in it the idea of being reduced to dust.
Heb. Swallow up.
be cast down.
Or, threshed in Madmenah.
cast down into the waters of the dunghole.