New American Standard Bible
The grass withers, the flower fades, When the breath of the LORD blows upon it; Surely the people are grass.
King James Bible
The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass.
Darby Bible Translation
The grass withereth, the flower fadeth, for the breath of Jehovah bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass.
World English Bible
The grass withers, the flower fades, because Yahweh's breath blows on it. Surely the people are like grass.
Young's Literal Translation
Withered hath grass, faded the flower, For the Spirit of Jehovah blew upon it, Surely the people is grass;
Isaiah 40:7 Parallel
CommentaryBarnes' Notes on the Bible
The grass withereth - Soon withers. Its beauty is soon gone.
The flower fadeth - Soon fades; or fades when the wind of Yahweh passes over it. So is also with man. He loses his vigor, and dies at once when Yahweh takes away his strength and beauty.
Because the spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it - This should be rendered, undoubtedly, 'When the wind of Yahweh bloweth upon it.' The word 'spirit' here does not suit the connection, and does not express the idea of the prophet. The word רוח rûach means, properly, "breath" - a breathing, or blowing; and is often used indeed to denote spirit, soul, life. But it often means a breath of wind; a breeze; air in motion Job 41:8; Jeremiah 2:24; Jeremiah 14:6. It is applied to the cool breeze which springs up in the evening (Genesis 3:8; compare Sol 2:17; Sol 4:6). It sometimes means a strong and violent wind Genesis 8:1; Isaiah 7:2; Isaiah 41:16; and also a tempest, or hurricane Job 1:19; Job 30:15; Isaiah 27:8. The 'wind of Yahweh' means that which Yahweh sends, or causes; and the expression here refers, doubtless, to the hot or poisonous east winds which blow in Oriental countries, and which wither and dry up everything before them (compare Jonah 4:8).
Surely the people is grass - Lowth reads this, 'this people;' referring to the Jewish nation. So the Syriac. Perhaps it refers to the people of Babylon (so Rosenmuller), and means that mighty people would fade away like grass. But the more probable interpretation is that which regards it as referring to all people, and of course including the Jews and the Babylonians. The sense, according to this view, is, 'all nations shall fade away. All human power shall cease. But the promise of Yahweh shall survive. It shall be unchanging amidst all revolutions; it shall survive all the fluctuations which shall take place among people. It may, therefore, be trusted with unwavering reliance.' To produce that reliance was the object of the proclamation. On this passage, descriptive of the state of man, the reader will at once be reminded of the beautiful language of Shakespeare:
This is the state of man! Today he puts forth
The tender leaves of hope: to-morrow blossoms,
And bears his blushing honors thick upon him;
The third day comes a frost, a killing frost,
And when he thinks, good easy man, full surely
His greatness is a-ripening, nips his root,
And then he falls -
- Never to hope again.
Hen. VIII, Act. ii. Sc. 2.
In the following passage from Tasso, the same image is adopted:
LibraryUnfailing Stabs and Fainting Men
'...For that He is strong in power; not one faileth.... He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might He increaseth strength.'-- ISAIAH xl. 26 and 29. These two verses set forth two widely different operations of the divine power as exercised in two sadly different fields, the starry heavens and this weary world. They are interlocked, as it were, by the recurrence in the latter of the emphatic words of the former. The one verse says, 'He is strong in power'; the other, 'He giveth …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
The Secret of Immortal Youth
Prayer and Devotion
The God of all Comfort
and the rich man is to glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away.
For the sun rises with a scorching wind and withers the grass; and its flower falls off and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed; so too the rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away.
"By the breath of God they perish, And by the blast of His anger they come to an end.
"Like a flower he comes forth and withers. He also flees like a shadow and does not remain.
"His breath kindles coals, And a flame goes forth from his mouth.
You have swept them away like a flood, they fall asleep; In the morning they are like grass which sprouts anew.
In the morning it flourishes and sprouts anew; Toward evening it fades and withers away.
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