Matthew Poole's Commentary
And it came to pass in the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up toward Jerusalem to war against it, but could not prevail against it.Ahaz, afraid of Rezin and Pekah, is comforted by Isaiah Isaiah 7:1-9; refusing to choose a sign, Christ is promised for one, Isaiah 7:10-16: his judgment should come by Assyria, Isaiah 7:17-25.
In the days of Ahaz, a most wicked king; yet no prophecies are more comfortable than those which were delivered in his time; God so ordering it, partly for the encouragement of the faithful that lived under his tyrannical and impious reign; and partly to manifest the riches and freeness of his grace, in conferring such favours upon a most worthless generation.
To war against it; which they attempted before in Jotham’s reign, 2 Kings 15:37, but now more seriously undertook, though without success, as is noted here, and 2 Kings 16:5.
And it was told the house of David, saying, Syria is confederate with Ephraim. And his heart was moved, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind.The house of David; Ahaz, and his royal relations and courtiers. He calls them the house of David, to intimate that the following comfortable message was sent to Ahaz, not for his own sake, but only for the sake of his worthy progenitor, David, to whom God had promised an everlasting kingdom.
Ephraim; the kingdom of the ten tribes, commonly called Ephraim, as Isaiah 28:1 Hosea 12:1, because that was far the most numerous and potent of’ all of them.
Was moved with excessive fear, arising partly from the conscience of their own guilt, whereby they had put themselves out of God’s protection; and partly from the consideration of the great strength and power of his enemies, who having prevailed against him severally, 2 Chronicles 28:5,8, and having now united their threes, he, having no faith in God, nor confidence to desire or expect his help, concluded his case desperate and deplorable.
Then said the LORD unto Isaiah, Go forth now to meet Ahaz, thou, and Shearjashub thy son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller's field;Go forth now to meet Ahaz, though he do not seek nor send to thee, as he ought. This is an eminent instance of preventing mercy.
Shear-jashub; whose very name carried in it a sign and pledge of the promised deliverance.
At the end of the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller’s field; whither he probably went to take care about the waters, which thence were brought into the city, either to secure them to himself, or to keep them from the enemy, as Hezekiah afterward did, 2 Chronicles 32:3,4.
And say unto him, Take heed, and be quiet; fear not, neither be fainthearted for the two tails of these smoking firebrands, for the fierce anger of Rezin with Syria, and of the son of Remaliah.Take heed, and be quiet; see that thou be quiet, abandon thy fears, and settle thy mind by the belief of that joyful message and promise which I am now to deliver thee from the Lord.
Smoking fire-brands; they are not whole firebrands burning in the fire, but small pieces or ends of them, taken out of the fire, in which there is more smoke than fire, and the fire will be speedily extinguished. They have more of show and terror than of strength.
The son of Remaliah; Pekah king of Israel, Isaiah 7:1, whom here, and in the next verse, he calls only
the son of Remaliah, to intimate that he was unworthy of the name of king, as having got that title and power by usurpation, and the murder of his master and king Pekahiah, 2 Kings 15:25.
Because Syria, Ephraim, and the son of Remaliah, have taken evil counsel against thee, saying,No text from Poole on this verse.
Let us go up against Judah, and vex it, and let us make a breach therein for us, and set a king in the midst of it, even the son of Tabeal:Let us make a breach therein; either,
1. Break and divide that country into two parts, one for time, and another for me; or rather,
2. Break their power and kingdom, and subdue it to ourselves: for,
1. The same word and phrase is so used 2 Chronicles 32:1, where there was no such division intended.
2. Because the next clause intimates that the kingdom of Judah was still to be united under another king, who should pay tribute to them severally, as they should agree.
The son of Tabeal; some considerable captain, in whose fidelity both of them had good confidence; but whether he was an Israelite or Syrian is uncertain, and not material.
Thus saith the Lord GOD, It shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass.Their evil counsel, as it is called, Isaiah 7:5.
For the head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin; and within threescore and five years shall Ephraim be broken, that it be not a people.Is Damascus; or rather, shall be Damascus; for the verb is not expressed in the Hebrew text, and therefore may be either way supplied. The sense is, Damascus shall still continue to be the capital and chief city of the kingdom of Syria; and therefore Jerusalem shall not be taken, nor become a part of Rezin’s dominion; but he shall be kept within his own bounds, and be king of Damascus only, and not, as he hopes, of Jerusalem.
Within threescore and five years; to be computed either,
1. From the prophecy of Amos, who prophesied in the days of Uzziah, two years before the earthquake, Amos 1:1, which the Jews affirm to have happened about the time of his usurpation of the priest’s office, and being smitten with leprosy, 2 Chronicles 26:16, &c., which though it be not proved, yet it may be admitted, because it cannot be disproved. And it is more than probable that that action and accident was divers years before his death, during which time Jotham acted as his viceroy, 2 Chronicles 26:21. And the prophecy of Amos being express and full concerning the destruction of the people and commonwealth of Israel, being also fresh in the memory of many now living, the prophet Isaiah might well have respect to it. So the sense is as if he had said, There shall be but sixty-five years between the delivery and the execution of that prophecy. And so the number of years may be thus made up. Fix the beginning of them ten years before Uzziah’s death, add the sixteen years of Jotham’s reign, and then the sixteen years of Ahaz’s reign, and then six of Hezekiah’s reign, in which Israel was carried captive, 2 Kings 18:10, these make up forty-eight years; and for the seventeen years which yet remain of the sixty-five, they may be taken out of the rest of Hezekiah’s reign. For although the transportation of that people began in the sixth year of Hezekiah, yet it might be continued or repeated divers years after, and completed seventeen years after, Jeremiah 52:28-30. Or rather,
2. These years may be computed from the time of this prophecy of Isaiah. And whereas it may objected against this opinion, that the judgment here threatened was executed in the sixth year of Hezekiah, as was before noted, and therefore within eighteen or nineteen years of this prophecy, which was delivered in the third or fourth year of Ahaz; two things may be answered,
1. That the Israelites were not transported in the sixth year of Hezekiah; for although Samaria be said to be taken in the sixth year of Hezekiah, 2 Kings 18:10, and the transportation of the Israelites be mentioned immediately after it, Isaiah 7:11, yet it doth not thence follow that it was done immediately, and at that one time; because this is not unusual in Scripture, in historical relations to mention those things together which were done at a considerable distance of time one from another, as it is recorded, Acts 7:15,16, Jacob died, he and our fathers, and were carried over into Sychem, and laid in the sepulchre of Abraham, &c., although it was above two hundred years ere all which is said in those few words was done. And other instances of like nature might easily be produced.
2. That this work of transportation was not done at once, but successively, and by degrees. Thus it certainly was in the transportation of Judah, which was begun in Nebuchadnezzar’s seventh year, continued in his eighteenth year, and perfected in his three and twentieth year, Jeremiah 52:28-30. And thus it might be, and probably was, in this transportation. It might be begun presently after the taking of Samaria, and afterwards continued, until at last the whole body of the people was removed; and as soon as that was done, and not before, the king of Assyria brought into their place those new colonies mentioned 2 Kings 17:24. Which that it was not done at the time of the taking of Samaria, but many years after it, seems to me evident, because those colonies were not brought thither by Shalmanezer, who took Samaria, 2 Kings 18:10, no, nor by Sennacherib, his next successor; but by Esar-haddon, as is affirmed, Ezra 4:2, who was the son and successor of Sennacherib, 2 Kings 19:37, and reigned above fifty years; for he seems to have begun his reign about the fourteenth year of Hezekiah’s reign, by comparing 2 Kings 18:13, and 2 Kings 19:35-37; and so he reigned with Hezekiah about fifteen years, and with Manasseh above forty years, as the learned Sir John Marsham affirms in his Chronicus Canon, &c, p. 496. And this work of transporting the remainders of the Israelites, and bringing the new colonies, might not be done till towards the end of his reign; which delay might be occasioned by his wars, or other great affairs. And lest this should seem to be only my own private conjecture, if the reader consult Sir John Marsham’s fourth and last chronological table, inserted after p. 589 of his work, he will find that learned chronologer to be of the same mind, and to make above fifty years’ distance between the taking of Samaria, and the translation of the new colonies into those parts. And thus these sixty-five years might well be accomplished in his time. And so this place agrees with other scriptures, and the difficulties objected against other interpretations seem to be avoided.
And the head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is Remaliah's son. If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.Is Samaria; or rather, shall be Samaria; and the sense is the same as in the foregoing verse, Samaria shall continue to be the chief city of the kingdom of Israel, and Pekah shall not conquer Jerusalem, as he hoped and designed to do.
Ye shall not be established; if you do not believe this and the other promises of God, but, in distrust of God, shall seek to the Assyrians for succour, to which I perceive you are inclined, instead of that deliverance and settlement which you expect, you shall be distressed and consumed thereby; the accomplishment of which threatening is recorded 2 Chronicles 28:20. And by this threatening he implies, that if they did rely upon God’s word and help, they should be established. Only he delivereth it in the form of a threatening, rather than of promise, partly because he foresaw that they would choose the worse part, and bring the judgment threatened upon themselves; and partly because this was most necessary for them, to affright them out of their present security and infidelity.
Moreover the LORD spake again unto Ahaz, saying,No text from Poole on this verse.
Ask thee a sign of the LORD thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above.Ask thee a sign of the Lord; I perceive thou dost not believe God’s word and message now delivered by me; yet God is so patient and merciful to thee, that he gives thee liberty to demand of him any signal or miraculous work, whereby thou mayst be assured of the truth and certainty of this promise.
Thy God; both by right of dominion, and by virtue’ of his gracious covenant made with all Israel, of whom thou art a member and king; and by thy own profession, for he still worshipped God together with his idols; and by the continuance of his care and kindness to thee and to thy people, notwithstanding all your wickedness; whereof this promise and offer is a clear demonstration.
Ask it either in the depth, or in the height above; demand some prodigy to be wrought, either in earth or in heaven, at thy pleasure.
But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the LORD.I will not ask: this refusal proceeded not from the strength of his faith, but from his contempt of God, and total distrust and disregard of his word, and inward resolution to take another course; as is manifest both from the following words, and from the history of Ahaz, 2 Chronicles 18.
Neither will I tempt the Lord; either,
1. By asking a sign, as if he questioned the truth of his word: so this was deep hypocrisy. Or,
2. By neglecting any means necessary for my preservation, which were indeed a tempting of God. And therefore I shall not sit still and rely upon God till I be destroyed, which will be the effect of thy counsel; but I shall do as becometh a wise king, seek for succour from potent allies, such as the Assyrian is. So this is flat rebellion against God.
And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also?House of David; of which see above, Isaiah 7:2. He reproveth them all, because they were the king’s counsellors, and promoted the design of sending for the Assyrian succours.
Is it a small thing for you? is not that wickedness more than enough? must you add more to it?
To weary men; to vex God’s prophets and people, and the generality of your subjects, with your oppressions and horrid impieties.
Will ye weary my God also, by your cursed ingratitude, and unbelief, and disobedience to his commands? He saith, my God, i.e. the God whose servant and prophet or messenger I am, to intimate that this heinous offence was not committed against a weak and foolish man, such as they might think the prophet to be, but against God himself, who sent the message. Compare Exodus 16:8.
Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.Therefore; because you despise me, and the sign which I now offer to you, God of his own free grace will send you a more honourable messenger, and give you a nobler sign, to try whether that will cure you of your infidelity. Or, nevertheless, as this particle seems to be understood, Isaiah 30:18 Jeremiah 16:14 30:16. Although you deserve no sign nor favour, yet, for the comfort of those few believers which are among you, and to leave you without excuse, I shall mind you or another and a greater sign, which God hath promised, and will in his due time perform; which also is a pledge of the certain accomplishment of all God’s promises. Or, surely, as this particle is sometimes used, as Genesis 4:15 Jeremiah 2:33 5:2 Zechariah 11:7.
A sign, to wit, of your deliverance.
Quest. How was this birth of a virgin, which was not to come till many ages after, a sign of their deliverance from the present danger?
1. Because this was a clear demonstration of God’s infinite power, and goodness, and faithfulness, and consequently of the certain truth of all God’s promises from time to time, which can never fill so long as those attributes of God stand; and men’s faith is either strong or weak, as they believe them or doubt of them; of which see Psalm 77:8 78:19,20 Ro 4:20,21. And so this was a proper remedy for Ahaz’s disease, which was a secret suspicion that God either could not or would not deliver them.
2. Because that promise, I say not only the actual giving, which was long after, but even the promise, of the Messiah, which had been made long since, and oft renewed, and was universally believed by all the people, was the foundation of all God’s mercies and promises unto them, 2 Corinthians 1:20, and a pledge of the accomplishment of them.
3. Because this promised birth did suppose and require the preservation of that city, and nation, and tribe, in and of which the Messiah was to be born; and therefore there was no cause to fear that utter ruin which their enemies now threatened to bring upon them.
4. This is one, but not the only sign here given, as we shall see at Isaiah 7:16.
Behold; you who will not believe that God alone is able to deliver you from the united force of Syria and Israel, take notice, for your full satisfaction, that God is not only able to do this work, but to do far greater and harder things, which he hath promised, and therefore both can and will accomplish.
A virgin; strictly and properly so called. The Jews, that they may obscure this plain text, and weaken this proof of the truth of Christian religion, pretend that this Hebrew word signifies a young woman, and not a virgin. But this corrupt translation is easily confuted,
1. Because this word constantly signifies a virgin in all other places of Scripture where it is used, which are Genesis 24:43, compared with Isaiah 7:16 Exodus 2:8 Psalm 68:25 Song of Solomon 1:3 6:8; to which may be added Proverbs 30:19, The way of a man with a maid, or a virgin: for though it be supposed that he did design and desire to corrupt her, and afterwards did so; yet she may well be called a virgin, partly because he found her a virgin, and partly because she seemed and pretended to others to be such, which made her more careful to use all possible arts to preserve her reputation, and so made the discovery of her impure conversation with the man more difficult, whereas the filthy practices of common harlots are easily and vulgarly known.
2. From the scope of this place, which is to confirm their faith by a strange and prodigious sign, which surely could not be not a young woman should conceive a child, but that a virgin should conceive, &c.
Bear a Son; or rather, bring forth, as it is rendered, Matthew 1:23, and as this Hebrew word is used, Genesis 16:11 17:19 Judges 13:5.
And shall call; the virgin, last mentioned, shall call; which is added as a further evidence of her virginity, and that this Son had no human father, because the right of naming the child (which, being a sign of dominion, is primarily in the husband, and in the wife only by his consent or permission, as is evident from Genesis 5:29 35:18 Luke 1:60,63, and many other places of Scripture) is wholly appropriated to her.
Immanuel; which signifies, God with us; God dwelling among us, in our nature, John 1:14, God and man meeting in one person, and being a Mediator between God and men. For the design of these words is not so much to relate the name by which Christ should commonly be called, as to describe his nature and office; as we read that his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, &c., Isaiah 9:6, and that this is said to be his (the Messiah’s) name whereby he shall be called, The Lord our Righteousness, Jeremiah 23:6, although he be never called by these names in any other place of the Old or New Testament; but the meaning of these places is, He shall be wonderful, and our Counsellor, &c., and our Righteousness; for to be called is oft put for to be, as Isaiah 1:26 4:3, &c.
Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.Butter and honey; the common food of children in that Country, where they were in great abundance, and of the best sort.
He; the virgin’s Son last mentioned, who, though he be God blessed for ever, yet shall become man, and, to show the truth of his humanity, shall not only be conceived and brought forth, but also shall be nourished and brought up, by the same means and steps as other children; which is justly mentioned here as a stupendous and miraculous work of God.
That he may know; that by this food he may grow up, and so may know, &c. Or, until he know, as it is rendered by divers learned men, and, among others, by the Chaldee interpreter, who best knew the use of this particle among the Hebrews.
To refuse the evil, and choose the good; to discern between things morally good and evil; which children are capable of doing, in some measure, when they are five or six years old. Compare Deu 1:39, where young children are described by this character, that they had no knowledge between good and evil.
For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings.For; or, yea; for so this particle is used by way of amplification or addition, Isaiah 32:13 Jeremiah 14:5,18. So the sense is, Not only this land of thine shall be preserved until the virgin’s Son be born, but thine enemy’s land shall be sorely scourged, and these two kings destroyed, within a very little time.
The child, Heb. this child; not the virgin’s Son, but the prophet’s child, Shear-jashub, whom in all probability the prophet, to prevent mistakes, pointed at, and who was brought hither by God’s special command, Isaiah 7:3, and that for this very use; for otherwise his presence was wholly insignificant.
The land; the lands, to wit, of Syria and Israel, as is evident from the next words. It is an enallage of the singular for the plural.
That thou abhorrest, for its cruel designs and practices against time. Or, which vexeth or molesteth thee, as this word is used, Exodus 1:12 Numbers 22:3, &c.
Shall be forsaken of both her kings; so far shall Pekah and Rezin be from conquering thy land, that they shall lose their own lands, and their lives too; which they did within two years after this time, being both slain by the king of Assyria, 2 Kings 15:29,30 16:9.
The LORD shall bring upon thee, and upon thy people, and upon thy father's house, days that have not come, from the day that Ephraim departed from Judah; even the king of Assyria.The Lord shall bring; but although God will deliver you at this time for his own name’s sake, yet he will remember and requite all your present and following wickedness, and hath a dreadful judgment in store for you.
Upon thee; for part of this Assyrian storm fell in Ahaz’s reign, 2 Chronicles 28:20.
Upon thy father’s house; upon thy sons and successors, the kings of Judah; the accomplishment whereof is recorded in their history.
Days, to wit, evil days, by a synecdoche; or calamities; for days are oft put for the events which happen in them, and especially for judgments or tribulations, as Job 18:20 Psalm 137:7 Isaiah 9:4 Obadiah 1:12.
The day that Ephraim departed from Judah; when ten tribes revolted from thy father’s house, and set up another opposite kingdom.
Even the king of Assyria; who may well be called their plague or calamity, as he is called the rod of God’s anger, Isaiah 10:5. Or, with (as this Hebrew particle oft signifies) the king, &c.; or, by the king, &c. And king is here put for kings, as Daniel 2:37 8:21.
And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall hiss for the fly that is in the uttermost part of the rivers of Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria.In that day; known to God, and appointed by him for the execution of these judgments.
Shall hiss: See Poole "Isaiah 5:26".
The fly; the flies. So he calls these enemies, to imply either their great numbers, or their speedy march, or their unavoidable assault.
In the uttermost part; in, or near, or towards their extremity or end, where they go out into the sea.
Of the rivers; of the river Nilus, which may be called rivers, either for its greatness, for which cause the title of rivers is given also to Euphrates, Psalm 137:1, and to Tigris, Nahum 2:6; or because, towards the end of it, it is divided into seven famous streams, by which it emptieth itself into the midland sea, Isaiah 11:15. He seems plainly to design and describe the Egyptians, who were always dangerous neighbours to Judah, and did probably animate and assist the Philistines, and Edomites, and others against them, and at last made a formal invasion and conquest of their land, 2 Kings 23:33, &c. Besides, when the Chaldeans had in good measure subdued the Egyptians, it is very probable that great numbers of the Egyptian soldiers did list themselves in the Chaldean army, and with them invade the land of Judah.
The bee; the bees, the Assyrian army, who are compared to bees, as for their numerous forces and orderly march, so for their fierce attempts and mischievous effects.
In the land of Assyria; in the empire of Assyria, or Babylon; for these two were united into one empire, and therefore in Scripture are promiscuously called sometimes by one title, and sometimes by the other.
And they shall come, and shall rest all of them in the desolate valleys, and in the holes of the rocks, and upon all thorns, and upon all bushes.They; the flies, and especially the bees.
Shall rest all of them; they shall have an easy victory; few or none of them shall be slain in the attempt.
The desolate valleys; either,
1. Such as were and had long been desolate. So it signifies the vast numbers of their enemies, which filled all places, both such as were well inhabited, and such as were in a great measure desolate. Or,
2. Such as they found very fruitful, but made them desolate.
The rocks; to which possibly the Israelites fled for refuge.
Bushes; which he mentions, partly because flies and bees use frequently to rest there, and partly to intimate that no place should escape the fury of this enemy.
In the same day shall the Lord shave with a rasor that is hired, namely, by them beyond the river, by the king of Assyria, the head, and the hair of the feet: and it shall also consume the beard.Shave with a razor, i.e. utterly spoil and destroy, as shaving takes away all the hair, and leaves not any thing of it visible, as there is when the hair is only cut or polled. Hired; either,
1. By Ahaz, who did hire them, 2 Kings 16:7,8. And so the prophet notes the just judgment of God, in scourging them with a rod of their own making; and by this threatening he endeavours to prevent that wicked design which then was on foot, of hiring Assyrian succours. Or,
2. By God, who did stir them up, and send them upon his errand against Judah, as he threatens, Isaiah 10:6, and paid them liberally for that service, as he did Nebuchadnezzar, of which see Jeremiah 25:9 27:6,7 Da 2:37,38.
The river Euphrates, called the river, by way of eminency, Psalm 72:8 Jeremiah 2:18, beyond which Assyria lay.
By the king of Assyria; by the successive kings of the Assyrian empire, Sennacherib, 2 Kings 18:13, &c., Esarhaddon, 2 Chronicles 33:11, and especially by Nebuchadnezzar, who having subdued the Assyrian monarchy, from thenceforth was king of Assyria as well as of Chaldea. And the prophet rather mentions Assyria than Chaldea or Babylon, partly because the Assyrian began and continued to execute this judgment, although the Babylonian completed it; and partly to inform them that they laid the foundation of their own ruin, by opening the door to the Assyrian, who afterwards entered at his pleasure, and left it open for Nebuchadnezzar.
The hair of the feet; of the lower or secret parts, which come under that name, Ezekiel 16:7,25, and elsewhere, as it hath been noted again and again; and which the Jewish writers affirm to have been shaved in the purification of lepers and Levites, Leviticus 14:8,9 Num 8:7.
The beard, which they highly esteemed, as a great ornament. By these metaphorical expressions he signifies the total destruction of their state, from head to foot, from the highest to the lowest.
And it shall come to pass in that day, that a man shall nourish a young cow, and two sheep;This and the following verse contain either,
1. A mitigation of the foregoing calamity, or some comfort for the remainders of the people, after the public devastation; or rather,
2. A further declaration of the threatened desolation; which best agrees not only with the foregoing, but also with the following verses. So the sense of this verse is this, They who formerly used to keep great herds of cattle, and many flocks of sheep, shall esteem it a great happiness if they can keep but one cow and two sheep, to keep themselves from extremity of famine.
And it shall come to pass, for the abundance of milk that they shall give he shall eat butter: for butter and honey shall every one eat that is left in the land.For the abundance of milk that they shall give; because they shall have excellent and large pastures, by reason of the great scarcity of cattle; whereas formerly their lands were ofttimes overstocked with cattle.
Butter and honey may be here mentioned, either,
1. As mean and vulgar food, being very common in those parts; which are opposed to that flesh and corn, and other excellent fruits of the earth, wherewith their land formerly abounded. Or,
2. As very good and pleasant food, which the poorer sort had formerly used to sell, to procure more necessary and cheaper food for themselves; but now the land should be so destitute of people, that there were none to whom they could sell them, and those few who did survive might freely eat all sorts of provisions.
And it shall come to pass in that day, that every place shall be, where there were a thousand vines at a thousand silverlings, it shall even be for briers and thorns.A thousand vines at a thousand silverings; or, pieces of silver, as the same word is commonly rendered. Whereby we may understand either,
1. So many pounds; a pound for each vineyard, to wit, for the annual rent. Or,
2. So many shekels, which word is most commonly understood, when no particular kind of coin is expressed, as 2 Samuel 18:11,12 Mt 26:15; and then the meaning is, not that the thousand vineyards were let for a thousand shekels, a vineyard for a shekel, which is a contemptible price; but that each of the thousand vineyards might have been sold or let for a thousand shekels, which was the yearly rent of some excellent vineyards, as may be gathered from Song of Solomon 8:11; except we understand this not of so many vineyards, as other interpreters do, but of so many single vines, as the word properly and generally signifies, planted together in one large vineyard, which may be here meant by the place of the river, and then each vine may be valued at a shekel. But this place may possibly be otherwise rendered, and that exactly according to the Hebrew text, every place where there are a thousand vines, shall be for a thousand pieces of silver, i.e. it shall be valued or offered, either to be let, or rather to be sold, at that price; which was a very low price, and therefore fitly signifies the greatness of the desolation.
It shall even be for briers and thorns, because it shall be utterly neglected, and therefore overspread with them. Or, yea,
it shall be for briers and thorns. No man will either buy or hire it upon any terms.
With arrows and with bows shall men come thither; because all the land shall become briers and thorns.With arrows and with bows; either to hunt, or to defend themselves from wild beasts, which commonly abide in such desolate and overgrown grounds.
And on all hills that shall be digged with the mattock, there shall not come thither the fear of briers and thorns: but it shall be for the sending forth of oxen, and for the treading of lesser cattle.That shall be digged; or, that were digged, to wit, formerly; that used to be digged and dressed for the planting of vines, or other choice fruit trees.
There shall not come thither the fear of briers and thorns: the words thus rendered sound like a promise, but that doth no way agree with the scope of the place. And they may be, and are by some, understood not of briers and thorns growing in those grounds, which would hinder the feeding of cattle there, but of such wherewith they were fenced, and by which the cattle were affrighted or hindered from breaking into them, which cause of their fear being now removed by the general devastation, they might now enter there, and feed at pleasure, as the next words imply. Or they may be rendered thus, as they are by a late learned interpreter,
that there might not come thither, & c., which is mentioned as the reason why they were digged and dressed, that they might be freed from briers and thorns. And so there is only a defect of the Hebrew particle asher, which is frequent, and that not only as it signifies which, but as it is taken finally for that, as Isaiah 5:11 10:2, and elsewhere.
It shall be; or, even (as this particle is oft rendered) there shall be, to wit, a place; which word is understood, 2 Samuel 7:1 1 Kings 18:12. Or the words may be thus rendered, and all hills that shall be digged—and thorns, even they or each of them shall be; the singular being taken collectively, as is very usual.
For the sending forth of oxen, and for the treading of lesser cattle; all sorts of cattle may fairly enter, and feed there, the fences being broken down, and the owners generally slain, or carried into captivity.