Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah; We have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks.5. THE JUDGMENT AS REALIZATION OF THE IDEA OF JUSTICE
1 IN that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah;
We have a strong city:
Salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks.
2 Open ye the gates,
That the righteous nation which keepeth the 1truth may enter in.
3 2Thou wilt keep him 3in perfect peace whose 4mind is stayed on thee;
Because he trusteth in thee.
4 Trust ye in the LORD for ever;
For in the LORD JEHOVAH is 5everlasting strength.
5 For he bringeth down them that dwell on high;
The lofty city, he layeth it low;
He layeth it low, even to the ground;
He bringeth it even to the dust.
6 The foot shall tread it down,
Even the feet of the poor, and the steps of the needy.
7 The way of the just is uprightness;
6Thou, most upright, dost weigh the path of the just.
8 Yea, in the way of thy judgments, O LORD, have we waited for thee;
The desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance of thee.
9 With my soul have I desired thee in the night;
Yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early;
For when thy judgments are in the earth,
The inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.
10 Let favor be shewed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness;
In the land of uprightness will he deal unjustly,
And will not behold the majesty of the LORD.
TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL
Isa 26:1. Hophal הוּשַׁר only here. According to the punctuation עז ought to be connected with לנו. But most interpreters take עִיר עז together after Prov. 18:19. I believe, however, that the Masoretes indicate the correct sense, and the one which corresponds to the context. We must not forget that the inhabitants of the “land” of Judah speak thus. עִיר stands consequently in opposition to ארץ. The redeemed of the LORD do not all dwell in the city. They dwell also in the country round about. But the city is their עֹז, their strong defence, and place of refuge. It is therefore as if they said: We dwell indeed in the country, but yet we are not without protection; for we have a city into which we can hasten and find shelter. Comp. Ps. 28:8; 84:6; Isa. 12:2; 45:24; 49:5; 2:9; 3:1; 62:8. Observe the structure of the second sentence of this verse. The sentence consists of three members, each member has two words; for even עז־לנו is rendered by Maqqeph one word. The first two words begin each with ע; the second two with ישׁ; the third two with ח.
Isa 26:4. That בְּ before יהָּ is not the so-called Beth essentiae was already perceived by DRECHSLER. בְּ serves here not as a mere periphrasis of the predicate (Ps. 68:5); but it marks the idea צוּר, which is by no means coincident with Jehovah (since it can be sought out of Jehovah), as one which believers find in Jehovah (comp. Ps. 31:3; 89:27; 94:22; 95:1 et saepe). ערי ער comp. 65:18. The plural עולָמִים besides here 45:17; 51:9.
Isa 26:6. רָמַס (comp. on 1:12; 28:3), עָנִי (comp. on 3:14 sq.), דַּל (comp. on 25:4) are all expressions characteristic of Isaiah.
Isa 26:8. אַף is an antithetic “yea.” Not only does the righteous man wish himself to do right, but he desires also to see the righteousness of God. The word belongs especially to poetry. It is remarkable that it is found in Isaiah in such specifically poetic sections in which בַּל also occurs. אֹרַח is acc. loci. נפשׁי and רוחי, Isa 26:9 a, are acc. instrum. שָׁחַר, Piel שִׁחַר, is a word current chiefly in the book of Job, in the Psalms and Proverbs. To משׁפטך a verb is to be supplied (say, יָבֹאוּ as KIMCHI and RASHI propose). The perfect לָֽמְדוּ does not appear to me to be used in its paradigmatic force to express a matter of experience that has frequently happened (DELITZSCH), for the Prophet complains of a want in this respect,—but the perfect is intended to mark this learning as a certain, infallible effect of the desired judgments.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
1. Here, too, the Prophet relates a hymn which he hears coming from the holy mountain, and out of the holy city. Its leading thought corresponds to the declaration 2 Peter 3:13 regarding the new earth in which righteousness dwells. This thought is here carried out in all directions. The redeemed, who sing the hymn, begin with telling that they dwell in a strong city well provided with walls (Isa 26:1). But the gates of the city shall be open only to a righteous people that keepeth truth (Isa 26:2), as the salvation also which this city affords, the peace which is through faith, rests on the foundation of the faithfulness of God, who will just as surely never disappoint faith (Isa 26:3 and 4) as He has humbled the proud, unbelieving worldly power, and bowed it under the feet of the once despised believers (Isa 26:5 and 6). The righteous people, who dwell in the city, walk in righteous ways (Isa 26:7). But they long exceedingly to see the righteousness of God reveal itself free and unrestricted in all directions. Therefore they wait for the LORD in the way of His judgments (Isa 26:8). Only when the earth is visited by these judgments, do men learn righteousness (Isa 26:9). The wicked man, when favored, does not learn righteousness: he pursues his sinful course even in the land of virtue, and never comes to know the majesty of God (Isa 26:10).
2. In that day——enter in.
Isa 26:1 and 2. By the expression in that day, what follows is marked as contemporaneous and homogeneous with 25:9–12. (Comp. “in that day,” Isa 26:9). There the redeemed praise the person of their God. They rejoice that they have this LORD for their God. Here they extol the righteousness of their God and of His kingdom. The expression land of Judah is plainly employed to form an antithesis to Moab, 25:10 sqq. For not Zion or Jerusalem, but only Judah can stand contrasted with Moab, whether this name denotes country or people, or, as is most probable (comp. Isa 26:12), denotes both. At the same time it is self-evident that they who dwell in the land of Judah, are the same as those who according to 24:23; 25:6, 7–10, are to be found on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, i.e., not merely the people of Judah in the ethnographical sense, but all those who according to 25:6 sqq., are called and entitled to partake of the great feast on Mount Zion, i.e., the entire ’Ισραὴλ πνευματικός. The hymn itself begins with a brief description of the city of God. ישׁועה ישׁית וגו׳. Very many interpreters understand that the Prophet here affirms that the city has no walls, but has instead of walls ישׁועה. Appeal is made to 60:18 and to Zech. 2:9 [E. V., 2:5]. Comp. Ps. 125:2. But it is said, Rev. 21:12, of the city of God, that it had “a wall great and high, and had twelve gates,” etc. There would therefore exist a contradiction between the Apocalypse and the places that have been quoted from the Old Testament. But this contradiction disappears when we understand Isa. 60:18 to mean: thou shalt give names to thy walls and gates, and designate thy walls by the name “Salvation,” and thy gates by the name “Praise,” (as e.g. the walls of Babylon had names: Imgur-Bel and Nivitti-bel. See Comment. on Jer. 51:58). The passage Zech. 2:8 sq. is no more to be taken literally than Ps. 125:2. But the Jerusalem, Rev. 21 and 22, is a quite definite locality, not merely ideal, but real, though spiritual, (pneumatisch-real). Therefore this latter Jerusalem has walls, while Jerusalem, as the spiritual mother that includes all nations (Gal. 4:26; Zech. 2:8 sq.), has no material, outward, visible walls. But in our place where the Prophet, as has been shown, distinguishes the land of Judah and the city belonging to it, we have first of all to think of that city spoken of in Rev. 21 and 22. This Jerusalem has a real wall. If this wall, according to 60:18, bears the name Salvation, this can be the case only because it actually affords safety, deliverance. And therefore I take ישׁועה, as placed first, in apposition to חמות וחל, or as the accusative predicate, although DELITZSCH rejects this construction. [The mode of construing this sentence proposed by our author I cannot assent to. He renders “God places walls and bulwark, for salvation or safety.” This rendering is not so well recommended as that given in the E. V., and the thought thus expressed is incomparably less grand and exalted. This bald, prosaic translation is sought out in order to avoid a contradiction with the Apocalypse which speaks of the New Jerusalem as girt with a wall. But the Apocalypse is pre-eminently a symbolical book; and by taking its imagery in the literal sense, it could be easily shown not only to contradict statements of the Old Testament, but to be self-contradictory. E. G. According to Rev. 21:2 there is no temple in the New Jerusalem; but Ezekiel describes at large a temple that will be in it, and according to Rev. 3:12 the believer will abide perpetually in the temple of the city of God. Is there then a contradiction here? No. But when in symbolical language it is said that there will be a temple in the New Jerusalem, the meaning is that what will answer to the idea of a temple will be found there. God’s servants will dwell in His presence and continually worship Him. Symbolically a temple can be spoken of. But a material temple will be wanting in the holy city. So it can be said to have a sun which will never go down; and again, no sun will be seen there. So, too, the most perfect protection can be symbolized under the figure of a wall great and high; but the essential meaning of this statement (not a contradiction of it), is given when it is declared “Salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwark.” The divine help is a better defence of the city than artificial fortifications. Verse 2 shows that the whole righteous nation will dwell within the strong city whose walls and bulwark are Salvation. The city is thus set forth as the abode of more than a portion of the inhabitants of the land of Judah. “The nations of them that are saved shall walk in the light of it,” Rev. 21:24. The church, too, can exult in a strong city which she has even now, Ps. 46:4, 5.—D. M.]. The words walls and bulwark are used together as here, Lam. 2:8, (comp. 2 Sam. 20:15). חל is the pomoerium, the outer circumvallation before the chief wall. Comp. Comment. on Lam. 2:8 and Jer. 51:58.
3. Open ye—everlasting strength.
Isa 26:2-4. These gates, according to 60:11 and Rev. 21:25 are never shut. In Isa. 60:11 it is said that they will always, night and day, stand open; but in Rev. 21 it is said they will not be shut by day. But the latter statement is identical with the former; for there will be no night there, as is expressly declared in the Revelation. I do not think that Isa 26:2 is to be regarded as spoken by angels’ voices, and that the city is to be supposed empty. It is not intended merely to express the first opening of the gates in order to admit inhabitants. The same persons who said “We have a city,” say also “Open the gates,” and they at the same time declare that they know what their city is intended to be according to the will of God. They know that there shall not enter into it anything that is common, neither whatsoever worketh abomination or a lie (Rev. 21:27; 22:14 sq.). This fundamental law of their city they here declare. The gates shall always stand open that a righteous nation that keepeth faith may go in. The words recall to mind Ps. 24:7, 9 as they are reproduced in Ps. 118:19, 20. גוי stands here not in an ethnographical, but in a rhetorical signification. It denotes a multitude of people, as e.g., Gen. 20:4; Isa. 49:7. An essential part of the צְדָקָה of this righteous people is that it keeps faith.אמנים is found only here in Isaiah. Not a superficial, vacillating righteousness, but a righteousness having a firm foundation is required. For as God is a sure stronghold, a צוּר עוֹלָמִים in which we can confide, so He requires also a people that trusts firmly in Him, and cleaves to Him with a fidelity that cannot be shaken. אמנים therefore, as the Latin fides, signifies both faith and fidelity. Comp. 1:26. The LORD, on His part, offers as a firm formation, peace, peace (57:19; 27:5). יֵצֶר is a formation, frame. When it denotes a thought that is framed, then יֵצֶר is almost always united with מחשׁבות or לֵב (Gen. 6:5; 8:21; 1 Chr. 28:9; 29:18). As יֵצֶר stands alone in our place, it signifies here what it means elsewhere when standing alone;—a thing framed of any kind (29:16; Ps. 103:14; Hab. 2:18). סָמוּךְ (Ps. 111:8; 112:8) is = established, firmly founded. As now in a city there are many artificial formations, things framed, both of a visible and invisible nature, as pillars, statues, buildings, contrivances, institutions, and such like, which serve partly for ornament, partly for use, so here peace is called a formation or thing framed which the LORD keeps on its firm foundation. The participle passive בָּדטוּחַ is found further only in Ps. 112:7, where it is used as synonymous with נָכוֹן. We may take it in our place also as = confiding, confidently established (conglutinatum, copulatum ac tanquam concretum, ac coagmentatum.FUERST). Peace is a structure that rests on a good foundation, because it is founded on the LORD. But the fact that peace objectively is founded on the LORD does not exclude the necessity for individuals subjectively to found themselves on the LORD,i.e., in faith to rely upon Him. On the contrary, he who does not subjectively yield Himself to the LORD in faith will not be partaker of the blessing of the objective salvation that has been constituted, established (John 3:14 sqq.). Hence (Isa 26:4) the emphatic exhortation: “trust in the LORD,“ etc. [I cannot accept the interpretation of Isa 26:3 given by Dr. NAEGELSBACH. The best modern interpreters are substantially in accord with the E. V. The most literal translation of the verse that can be given is: “The mind stayed or supported (on Thee) Thou wilt keep (in) peace, peace, because it trusteth in Thee.” Peace as an objective formation could not be said to trust in God, for it is not a living being possessed of will. This objection is fatal to the view wrought out so ingeniously and elaborately by our author.—D. M.] The abbreviation יָהּ standing alone is found in Isaiah besides here, 38:11. The combination forming a climax יה יהוה occurs in Isaiah besides here only 12:2. צוּר in the spiritual signification is found in Isaiah 8:14; 17:10; 30:29; 44:8; 51:1. [This hallowed designation of the LORD, “Rock of Ages,” is found as marginal rendering of what in the text of the E. V. is translated “everlasting strength.” The rendering of the margin is literal and accurate. The expression “Rock of Ages” is found in the Bible in this place only.”—D. M.]
4. For he bringeth——the needy.
Isa 26:5 and 6. A pledge that the LORD will be the everlasting refuge of His people is seen by the Prophet in this, that the LORD has already humbled, cast down the worldly power. He expresses this partly in words which he repeats from 25:12. Those who dwell on high (33:5, 16), the lofty city (comp. 11:11, 17; 12:4; 30:13), He has brought low [instead of the first verb being in the present tense, as in the E. V., it should be in the perfect]. The following imperfects (futures) express the permanent condition of humiliation in consequence of the overthrow. The Prophet depicts the endless duration of the humiliation by the repetition of the verb expressing it (Anadiplosis). The different forms of the pronominal suffix attached to the verb are an agreeable variation. The feet of those who had before been trodden in the dust by the violent foot of the worldly power now pass without danger over the city of the world which has been laid by God in the dust.
5. The way—majesty of the Lord.
Isa 26:7-10. In Isa 26:3–6 the Prophet, in connection with אמנים had discussed the idea of the reciprocal fides implied in the life of the redeemed in communion with their God and in the city of God. In the following verses he discusses the idea of צדיק, so that the words righteous nation that keepeth faith, Isa 26:2, appear as the theme on which the Prophet here enlarges. The people of God must before all be themselves righteous. They are such when their path is מֵישָׁרִים, which is here the subject, and means rectitudo, sinceritas. It forms the ground which serves the righteous as substratum of His walk, as the pathway of life. But the glory is due to God. For He it is who so levels (properly rolls, the Prophet had here in view Prov. 4:26; 5:6, 21) the path (מענל only here in Isaiah) of the righteous that it becomes יָשָׁר. The structure of the sentence forms a prolepsis similar to Isa 26:1. But in order that the idea of righteousness may attain its full realization in the world, it is necessary that the divine righteousness also should unfold itself freely and unconfined. The unrighteousness which reigns in the world must be judged, the holy nature of God must become manifest in its full splendor. And this manifestation of the holiness and righteousness of God forms an object of the most intense desire of the believers of the Old Testament. This desire finds expression in many Psalms, and the Prophet here again adopts quite the tone of the Psalms. We wait for thee in the way of thy judgments, means: We expect to see Thee march through the world as a righteous judge (comp. 40:14; Prov. 2:8; 17:23). This manifestation of justice is hoped for by the righteous, not for their own sake, but for the sake of the honor of God. Their desire, therefore, is to the name and remembrance (comp. Ex. 3:15 and Ps. 135:13) of the LORD,i.e., that the LORD may so manifest Himself that men may be put in a position to call Him by the right name, and to spread and propagate the right knowledge of Him. But even for the sake of the world, i.e. of unrighteous men themselves, the Prophet most fervently longs for the full manifestation of the divine righteousness, which he here conceives of not exactly as that which destroys the ungodly, but rather as that which punishes them for their own profit (Isa 26:9). After having hitherto used the plural, the Prophet passes over into the singular, I desire, I seek. This can be explained only on the supposition that he here gives expression to a wish in which he personally was intensely interested. Was he not himself the object and perpetual witness of human injustice? He whom the question: How can God tolerate such injustice? and the wish that an end may soon be put to it, does not suffer to rest even in the night, is the Prophet himself rather than those who, dwelling already in the glorified city of God, have behind them the chief stages of the judgment of the world (24; 25:10 sqq.). We cannot ascribe this longing to carnal vindictiveness. In what follows the Prophet gives reasons for his desire in such a way as to show clearly to what an extent he transfers the actual necessities of the present time to that ideal future which he depicts. We have here another example of the Prophet’s manner of representing the future with the materials which the present time supplies. The Prophet longs for the judgments of God, because he hopes that in proportion as the earth is visited by them, men will learn righteousness. We recognize here the teacher and preacher, who deeply laments that words produce but little impression, that facts which make themselves profoundly felt are necessary to bring men to the knowledge and practice of righteousness. In Isa 26:10 the Prophet declares that if judgments do not take place, if the wicked has favor shown him he does not learn righteousness (יֻחַן Hoph of חָנַן, only here in Isaiah; it occurs, Prov. 21:10. The conditional sentence is without the hypothetical particle, as is often the case). The wicked is not improved when favor is shown to him, but proceeds even when surrounded by the righteous (נְכֹחוֹת30:10; comp. 57:2; 59:14) to Acts perversely (עִוֵּל, Piel in the causative sense, besides only Ps. 71:4), and will never perceive the nature of God in all its glory and majesty (גֵאוּת a word characteristic of Isaiah’s writings, 9:17; 12:5; 28:3; it occurs besides only Ps. 17:10; 89:10; 93:1). We must indeed acquit the Prophet of a low carnal desire of revenge, but I am decidedly of opinion that the passage, nevertheless, breathes the legal spirit of the Old Testament (comp. Matth. 3:7; Luke 3:7), and is not born of the Spirit whose children we are to be. [A corrective to this last observation is furnished in the Exposition, which well sets forth the motives which inspired the Prophet to desire God’s judgments on the earth. Without them men will not learn righteousness. God’s goodness is despised or made the occasion of licentiousness, if there is no clear demonstration by terrible things in righteousness, that verily there is a God that judgeth in the earth. If John the Baptist’s words (Matth. 3:7 and Luke 3:7) are, like those of Isaiah, pronounced inconsistent with the Spirit of the New Testament, what shall be said of the words of our Saviour, Matt. 23:33, and elsewhere? The desire that evil-doers should be punished, and that there should be a manifestation of the retributive justice of God, is not at variance with the Spirit of the Gospel, or that love of our enemies which Christ enjoined and exemplified, comp. Rev. 6:10; 15:4; 19:1–2; 1 Cor. 16:22; 2 Thes. 1:6–10, etc.—D. M.].
As firm formation wilt thou preserve peace, peace, for upon thee it is confided.
Heb. peace, peace.
Or, thought, or, imagination.
Heb. the rock of ages.
Thou wilt level right the path of the just.
LORD, when thy hand is lifted up, they will not see: but they shall see, and be ashamed for their envy at the people; yea, the fire of thine enemies shall devour them.6. THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD AND THE CONCLUDING ACTS OF THE JUDGMENT OF THE WORLD
11 LORD, when thy hand is lifted up, they will not see;
But 7they shall see, and be ashamed for their envy 8at the people;
Yea, 9the fire of thine enemies shall devour them.
12 LORD, thou wilt ordain peace for us:
For thou also hast wrought all our works 10in us.
13 O LORD our God!
Other lords beside thee have had dominion over us:
But by thee only will we make mention of thy name.
14 They are dead, they shall not live;
They are 11deceased, they shall not rise:
Therefore hast thou visited and destroyed them,
And made all their memory to perish.
15 Thou hast increased the nation, O LORD,
Thou hast increased the nation; thou art glorified:
12Thou hadst removed it far unto all the ends of the earth.
16 LORD, in trouble have they visited thee;
They poured out a 13prayer when thy chastening was upon them.
17 Like as a woman with child, that draweth near the time of her delivery,
Is in pain, and crieth out in her pangs;
So have we been 14in thy sight, O LORD.
18 We have been with child, we have been in pain,
We have as it were brought forth wind;
We have not wrought any deliverance in the earth;
Neither have the inhabitants of the world fallen.
19 Thy dead men shall live: 15Together with my dead body shall they arise.
Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust:
For thy dew is as the dew of 16herbs,
And the earth shall cast out the dead.
20 Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers,
And shut thy doors about thee:
Hide thyself as it were for a little moment,
Until the indignation be overpast.
21 For, behold, the LORD cometh out of his place
To punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity:
The earth also shall disclose her 17blood,
And shall no more cover her slain.
TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL
Isa 26:12. It is not inconceivable that תִּשְׁפֹט stood here originally, and was changed through ignorance into תשׁפת. In that case שׁפּט would include ideally the transitive notion of awarding, allotting by judicial sentence; and on this ideal transitive notion שׁלום לנו would depend. We are struck by the rare word שׁפּת, while שׁפט is suggested by the context. [The correction of the text suggested is unnecessary.—D. M.].
Isa 26:13. לְבַד stands here adverbially as Eccles. 7:29. The normal form of expression would be בְּךָ לְבַדּךָ (Ps. 51:6; Prov. 5:17).
Isa 26:15. יסף is properly “to add.” But the word is not rarely employed in the sense of “to increase,” it being left to the reader to think either of that to which something is added, or of the addition which is made. Niphal נכבד is found besides here 3:5; 23:8, 9; 43:4; 49:5. Piel רִחַק 6:12; 29:13.
Isa 26:16. צָקוּן (on this form which is found besides only Deut. 8:3, 16, comp. OLSHAUSEN Gr., § 226, p. 449), is = effundunt (besides here Job 28:2; 29:6; 41:14; Ps. 41:9). Analogous is the Latin preces fundere (VIRG. Aen. 6, 55) and יִשׁפֹּךְ שִׂיחוֹ Ps. 102:1.—מוסרך למו corresponds to בַּצַּר in the first half of the verse, and is best taken as a circumstantial clause with a verb to be supplied (comp. EWALD, § 341 a, p. 823). לָמוֹ as לָאָרֶץ Isa 26:9. Comp. 53:8.—כְּמוֹ is here, as afterwards, Isa 26:18 a, conjunction (comp. 41:25; Gen. 19:15), and signifies not only in Isa 26:17, but also in Isa 26:18, if we examine thoroughly the construction, tanquam, like as (כַּֽאֲשֶר). In Isa 26:17 this is quite evident, for the construction is simple: As a woman with child is in pain, so were we far from Thee. [Or rather, so we were from Thy presence, i.e., our evil condition proceeded from Thee.—D. M.].
Isa 26:18. The particle of comparison has the signification “quasi, as if.”
Isa 26:20. Instead of דְּלָתֶיךָ the K’eri reads דְּלָתֶךָ, undoubtedly because a chamber has only one דֶּלֶת, and not דְּלָֽתְךָ) דלָתַיִם, moreover, is not derived from דֶלֶת, but from a form דָּלָה which does not elsewhere occur). But both the assonance with חדרֹיך and the anomalous nature of the form דְּלָֽתְךָ speak in favor of חֲבִי ּדְּלָתֶיךָ is a singular form. It can be derived only from חָבָה, which is not met with elsewhere: חָבָא is the form in use (in Isa. 42:22; 49:2). The appearance of the radical Yod is also strange (חֲבִי instead of חֲבֵה). If this חבי is to be regarded as a feminine form, this too would be singular; for all the parallel verbal and nominal forms are masculine. The expression כמעט־רגע is found only here and in Ezra 9:8. Comp. Isa. 54:7.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
1. A new wonderful scene of the great eschatological drama presents itself to the view of the Prophet: the resurrection of the dead! He introduces this revelation with three brief sentences addressed to Jehovah, each of them beginning with the name Jehovah. In the first sentence he expresses the thought that men do not perceive the hand of the LORD already lifted up for judgment. But they shall one day perceive it when God’s zeal will display itself. But then they will be confounded, and fire will consume the adversaries (Isa 26:11). On the other hand, the Prophet expresses the assurance that the judgment of God will promote the peace of the godly, as their works are wrought by God Himself (Isa 26:12). The Prophet in the third place introduces us into that sphere to which he means to direct especially our attention in what follows. For even this sphere stands in the closest relation to the manifestation of God indicated in Isa 26:11 and 12. He characterizes this region, first in general, as one whose inhabitants in a certain sense are not under the dominion of God, but are in the power of another lord. [Other lords, it should be said. And the verb is in the past tense.—D. M.]. An abnormal condition! The persons here meant cannot praise God; for this can be done only when a man is united to God, when he is in Him (Isa 26:13). It is at once apparent from Isa 26:14 that the Prophet means the dead. According to the prevailing opinion the dead cannot live again. God Himself has destroyed and blotted out forever their remembrance (Isa 26:14). This realm of death goes on increasing; its borders are ever further removed (Isa 26:15). Yet the longing for deliverance is by no means extinct even in the dead: they seek the LORD, and their whispered prayer ascends to God from their place of trial (Isa 26:16). Yea, the world of the dead even make exertions to restore themselves to life, which efforts can be compared with the pangs of a woman in travail (Isa 26:17). But the result is useless: only wind is brought forth (Isa 26:18). Yet their hope is not disappointed. But only the dead who are the LORD’S will rise to life. These are summoned to awake and rejoice. As a dew of luminous substances will it be, when the earth brings to the light the inhabitants of the world of shades (Isa 26:19). But the earth will restore not merely the bodies of the godly. She will bring to the light all the evil, especially all the blood-guiltiness which is buried in her bosom. This will be a terrible element of wrath and judgment. While this takes place, those who have risen from the dead are to conceal themselves. After a moment the wrath will be past, and then salvation and peace will reign forever (Isa 26:20, 21). [It is a strange and unique imagination of Dr. NAEGELSBACH, that the Prophet gives us in Isa 26:13, the language of the dwellers in Sheol; as it is most manifest that the speakers in Isa 26:12, continue in what follows their speech addressed to Jehovah. See how verse 13 begins like the two preceding verses with the name Jehovah. There is nothing to indicate the assumed change of speakers, or to make us suppose that the occupants of an inframundane region, an infernal limbus, suddenly and without a pause, take up the address to the Almighty, abruptly dropped by the ecclesia militans. The perfect tense, too, in Isa 26:13, may not be arbitrarily treated as the present, to accommodate the language to the author’s theory. This earth, and not Sheol, is unquestionably the theatre of what is described in Isa 26:15–18. The prayer spoken of in Isa 26:16 comes not from the shades of the departed, but from the inhabitants of this world when God’s judgments are in the earth (comp. Isa 26:9). It is a purely gratuitous assumption, involving, too, an anti-scriptural error, that a place of trial under the earth is the scene of the vain endeavors so graphically depicted in Isa 26:18 and 19. I append Dr. J. A. ALEXANDER’S brief analysis of Isa 26:12–21. “The Church abjures the service of all other sovereigns, and vows perpetual devotion to Him by whom it has been delivered and restored (Isa 26:12–15). Her utter incapacity to save herself is then contrasted with God’s power to restore His people to new life, with a joyful anticipation of which the song concludes (Isa 26:16–19). The additional sentences contain a beautiful and tender intimation of the trials which must be endured before these glorious events take place, with a solemn assurance that Jehovah is about to visit both His people and their enemies with chastisements (Isa 26:20, 21).”—D. M.].
2. LORD——thy name.
Isa 26:11-13. The Prophet perceives the approach of great things, but men perceive nothing of them. He complains of this to the LORD.Thy hand is lifted up, says he, and they see it not. [The adverb “when” is unnecessarily supplied in the E. V. It is better to render literally “Thy hand is lifted up; they will not see” or “(but) they do not see it.”—D. M.]. The uplifted hand is ready, and able to smite. The expression יָד רָמָה is found in the Pentateuch in more senses than one. May it not signify here the menacing high hand? According to Scripture great signs on earth and in heaven will precede the coming of the LORD (Matt. 24:3, 8, 29), but the wicked will not give heed to these signs (Matt. 24:37–39). They will not be willing to see the hand of God in them. But they will be forced to their confusion (ויבשׁו is a parenthetical clause marking a circumstance) to recognize the hand of God in the signs from the correspondence between them and the decisive facts following on them, when they shall have perceived the zeal, i.e., the strict, judging, and avenging righteousness of God (comp. 9:6; 11:13; 38:32; 63:15) attesting itself on the people (comp. in regard to the construction, Ps. 69:10). [The expression קנאת עם made dependent in the E. V. on יּבשׁו, and understood of the envy of the heathen toward the people of God, is rightly made dependent by our author on יחזו, and is also rightly understood of the zeal of the LORD of hosts (9:6: 37:32), but this zeal of the LORD is not directed against a people who are none of His, as DR. NAEGELSBACH thinks, but is the zeal of the LORDfor His own people.—D. M.]. The fire of this zeal will consume those men who could see, but would not see; will devour thy adversaries (צריך, prefixed apposition to the suffix in תאכלם). From the wicked, who to their dismay are surprised by the judgment of God, the Prophet turns to the pious who wait for the day of judgment as the day of their redemption (Luke 21:28). These express the confident assurance that the LORD will assign, prepare them peace on that great day. שָׁפַת, ponere, statuere, is found in Isaiah only here, comp. 2 Kings 4:38; Ezek. 24:3; Ps. 22:16. The righteous justly expect from the judgment the peace of God. For how could the righteous Judge award them aught else, seeing that He Himself has wrought their works? Instead of the second לָנו we should perhaps rather expect בָּנוּ; but the Prophet, who delights in significant accords in sound, chose undoubtedly to make a second לנו correspond to the first, in order to indicate thereby that the fruit of the judgment must correspond to the fruit of the life. The third sentence begins with יהוה אלהינו. The address is thus more forcible, and forms an antithesis to the subject and predicate of the sentence. Is it not a contradiction which cannot be maintained, when it must be said: Thou art indeed our God, but others rule over us? [But the perfect tense should not be treated as a present.—D. M.]. To understand אדנים of the worldly powers alone, which is the common view, seems to me quite too restricted, and not to correspond to the context. I translate בְּךָ “in thee” [“By thee,” i.e., by thy power or help, is the common rendering.—D. M.]. The aim of Isa 26:13 is that of a general introduction into the region which is afterwards to be particularly spoken of. [“As to the lords who are mentioned in the first clause, there are two opinions. One is, that they are the Chaldees or Babylonians, under whom the Jews had been in bondage. This is now the current explanation. The other is, that they are the false gods or idols whom the Jews had served before the exile. Against the former and in favor of the latter supposition it may be suggested, first, that the Babylonian bondage did not hinder the Jews from mentioning Jehovah’s name or praising Him; secondly, that the whole verse looks like a confession of their own fault and a promise of amendment, rather than a reminiscence of their sufferings; and thirdly, that there seems to be an obvious comparison between the worship of Jehovah as our, with some other worship and some other deity.….. An additional argument in favor of the reference of the verse to spiritual rulers, is its exact correspondence with the singular fact in Jewish history, that since the Babylonish exile they have never even been suspected of idolatry.” ALEXANDER.—D. M.].
3. They are dead——ends of the earth.
Isa 26:14-15. The Prophet proceeds now directly to the thought which he intends afterwards, Isa 26:19, to bring to light: the resurrection of the dead. But that the light of this wonderful divine revelation may shine more conspicuously he presents, as a foil to it, the opinion which had not been hitherto disputed, and which was supposed to be indisputable, viz., that the dead do not come to life again. [But what indication is given that the Prophet in the 14th verse means to relate an opinion said to prevail universally in regard to the impossibility of a resurrection of the dead? Why not rather understand this verse as a declaration that the other lords just spoken of should not merely cease to exist, but even to be remembered? The language used is applicable to the deities of an effete mythology once worshipped by Israel, as well as to the Babylonian and previous oppressors of Israel. In regard to the opinion which “hitherto has passed and even now passes in the whole world as incontrovertible truth, that there is no redemption from the bands of death,” does not Hosea, an earlier Prophet than Isaiah, announce that death and Sheol should be deprived of their prey? Hos. 13:14. Isaiah himself, too, does not here for the first time make mention of the vanquishing of death. See 25:8; comp. Job. 19:25–27.—D. M.]. For this very reason (לָכֵן=with reference to this, in so far. Comp. on Jer. 5:2; Isa. 27:9) hast thou visited and destroyed them and made their memory to perish. Most interpreters understand verse 15 of the fall and resuscitation of the people of Israel. [And rightly do they so understand it. Few readers will assent to DR. NAEGELSBACH’S singular opinion that the land that is enlarged is the region of the dead. In the E. V. the last clause of verse 15 is rendered “thou hadst removed it far unto all the ends of the earth.” But the words “it” and “unto” are not in the original text, and the pluperfect is not warranted. Omitting these additions and discarding the pluperfect, we have the rendering, “thou hast removed the ends of the land,” i.e., extended the boundaries of the country. Thus we are told that extension of territory had been granted along with increase of population.—D. M.].
3. LORD in trouble——world fallen.
Isa 26:16-18. But even in the realm of the dead the longing for life and the hope of regaining it are not extinguished. Even the dead in their distress seek the Lord, the fountain of all hope. [“Visit is here used in the unusual but natural sense of seeking God in supplication.”—ALEXANDER]. The prayer of the dead in a low whisper (לחש) ascends from their place of trial to the LORD. [If we take our theology from the book of Isaiah, there is no “place of trial” for the godly after this life. The righteous man when he dies enters into peace, 57:2. I need hardly state here that a purgatory, according to Roman Catholic doctrine, is not intended for unbelievers.—D. M.]. Verse 17 obviously supposes that a deliverance from Sheol is possible, and that the hope of this deliverance is not extinct in its occupants. This hope produces rather, according to the view of the Prophet, in the dwellers of Hades, a struggle and endeavor after liberation from prison which can be compared with the pains of child-bearing. But this impulse of hope remains unsatisfied so long as it is a merely natural one. I take מִפָּנֶיךָ not in the causal but in the local signification=far from (comp. 14:19; 22:3; Judg. 9:21). Far from Jehovah, without vital union with Him, a dead man cannot raise himself to new life. [I prefer taking מִפָּנֶיךָ in the causal signification. The text runs—“So have we been” (הָיִנוּ), not “we are.”—D. M.]. All convulsive efforts of the dead which aim at a new life are ineffectual. They are like bringing forth wind, the issue of an apparent pregnancy in consequence of the disease called empneumatosis (GESENIUS, DELIZSCH). The מֵתִים must learn by experience that without Jehovah they cannot bless (comp. on יְשוּעָה Isa 26:1) the land of their habitation, i.e., here, the earth (comp. afterwards תֵבֵל), because, however convulsive their pangs may be, through them no inhabitants of the world (Ps. 33:8; Isa. 18:3; 26:9; Nah. 1:5; Lam. 4:12) will drop,i.e., no births to a new life will take place. נפל is used here and Isa 26:19 of the partus. Comp. the Greek πίπτειν, the Latin cadere, the German werfen (GES.Thes. p. 897). [This meaning of נפל is in my opinion more than doubtful. But what are we to think of the Shades in Hades striving to give birth to themselves, fruitlessly laboring to get back into the world, and this, not so much for the purpose of releasing themselves from their gloomy abode, as with a view to bless the world with new inhabitants, and to work deliverance or safety for it? Generous Shades! So self-forgetful amid their sufferings in Hades! The judicious reader may be left to make his own comments on this strange notion.—D. M.].
5. Thy dead—the dead.
Isa 26:19. [“This verse is in the strongest contrast with the one before it. To the ineffectual efforts of the people to save themselves, he now opposes their actual deliverance by God.”—ALEXANDER.]. The suffix of the first person in נבלתי corresponds to the suffix of the second person in נבלה .מתיך (Isa 26:25) is never used in the plural. It is a collective word (comp. Lev. 11:8, 11 sqq.; Jer. 7:33; 16:4 et saepe). We have to refer the suffix of the first person to the Prophet who here speaks in the name of the church. It is he who after the disconsolate words of the Shades [?] speaks as the interpreter of Jehovah here (and afterwards Isa 26:20, 21) words of consolation, and in the spirit of prophecy utters the triumphant call to awake, which will one day be pronounced by a mightier voice that it may be fulfilled. שכני עפר only here, comp. 18:3. The words כי טר וגו׳ graphically depict the thought expressed in what goes before. On the morning of the resurrection a wonderful dew will cover the earth. It is no more the earthly dew, it is a heavenly, a divine dew (therefore טַלֶּךָ). If even now the earthly dew, when the rays of the sun mirror themselves in it, sparkles like pearls, how resplendent will be the drops of that heavenly dew, every one of which will be a glorified luminous body, a body of the resurrection! The plural אורת is found only here; for אֹרוֹת2 Kings 4:39 is a quite different word [?]. אוֹריִם also occurs only once; Ps. 136:7. The singular אוֹרָה is found Ps. 139:12; Est. 8:16. That the signification “lights” suits the connection cannot be doubted. For the new resurrection life is a life in the light (John 1:4; 8:12), and the δόξα of which our body, as σύμμορφον with the body of Christ, will partake (Phil. 3:21) is in its nature light (Matt. 17:2). But whence come these forms of light which as heavenly dew-drops will on the morning of the resurrection shine on the surface of the earth? They have arisen, i. e., they come out of the earth in which they hitherto as רפאיּם, as gloomy shades have dwelt. At the almighty word of the LORD the earth was forced to give up (cast out, Isa 26:18) these רפאים that had been hitherto regarded as a spoil that could not be snatched from it (Isa 26:14).
6. Come my people——her slain.
Isa 26:20, 21. If we receive the simple natural impression made by the Prophet’s representation, we must say that we are transported by these two verses into the time after the resurrection. [?] For what people can be addressed except that which according to Isa 26:19 has been awakened to new life? And why must this people after it had in Hades pined so long in suspense and anxiety, [?] conceal itself again after it had hardly come forth to the light? And why is it set forth as a characteristic mark of the time during which the people shall remain hidden, that in that time the earth shall disclose all the shed blood it had absorbed, and all corpses of the slain which it had concealed and kept? Is that not a clear reference to the time of the last judgment which brings everything to light and finishes everything? These are questions the answer to which was not known by the Prophet himself. It is the Apocalypse of the New Testament that first solves for us this riddle. It distinguishes a first and a second resurrection. And it makes the setting loose of Satan with the last assault on the city of God follow the first resurrection, after which there ensues the second general resurrection with the great universal judgment (Rev. xx.). [According to this exposition they who partake of the first resurrection were gloomy shades in misery till the earth cast them forth; and after having been raised from the dead they must hide themselves. But the dead in Christ were never shades in misery, and when they are raised, they shall be at once caught up to meet the LORD in the air and to be ever with Him. 1 Thess. 4:16, 17. The ingenuity displayed by our author in illustrating this passage of Isaiah from the Apocalypse is very striking.—D. M.]. What those chambers are into which the people should go (חֶדֶרּ only here in Isaiah) the Prophet does not explain. But when according to Rev. 20:9 the παρεμβολὴ τῶν ἁγίων and the πόλις ἠγαπημένη is surrounded by enemies, I cannot doubt that the saints are enjoined during the short tribulation of the city to withdraw, and give themselves to solitary prayer in quiet expectation. At the same time this does not, I think, exclude the application of the counsel here given by the Prophet to all cases related to that final and highest storm of indignation as typical and preparatory events. Isa 26:21זַעַםa storm, storm of wrath, is a word which occurs not rarely in Isaiah; 10:5, 25; 13:5; 30:27. The storm is comparatively short, but in its intensity surpasses all others. For it comprehends according to Rev. 20:9–15 nothing less than the overthrow of Satan, and the general judgment. Verse 21 answers to this exactly. If Jehovah rises from His place in order to visit the guilt of the inhabitants of the earth (ישׁב הא׳ collectively) on them, and if the earth then discloses all hidden blood-guiltiness, this plainly enough indicates that that storm of wrath involves a work of judgment. The words “for, behold, the LORD cometh out of his place,” are taken literally from Micah 1:3 comp. Matt. 25:31; Rev. 20:11. As counterpart to the blessed fruits, which the earth according to Isa 26:19 will bring forth, and at the same time as proof of the all-comprehensive character of the judgment, the slain and the blood that has been shed are specified as what the earth will on that day cause to come to light. The earth opened its mouth to receive the blood of Abel who was the first person slain (Gen. 4:11). And since that time it has taken in all the blood that has been shed, and all the dead bodies of the slain; and preserves them faithfully for the day of judgment, when they shall come forth as incontrovertible witnesses against the guilty. In the book of the Revelation, too, it is expressly declared that the sea, and death, and Hades will disclose all their dead (Rev. 20:13).
they shall see to their shame thy zeal for the people.
Or, toward thy people.
fire shall devour them, thy enemies.
Or, for us.
thou hast removed far all the borders of the land.
Heb. secret speech.
far from thy sight.
my dead body shall arise.