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struction. “ The regions of the dead are laid open, and Hades is represented as rousing up the shades of the departed monarchs. They rise from their thrones to meet the king of Babylon at his coming; and insult him on his being reduced to the same low estate of impotence and dissolution with themselves. The image of the state of the dead, or the Infernum poeticum of the Hebrews, is taken from their custom of burying those at least of the higher rank, in large sepulchral vaults hewn in the rock. Of this kind of sepulchres there are remains at Jerusalem now extant; and some that are said to be the sepulchres of the kings of Judah. You are to form to yourself the idea of an immense subterraneous vault, a vast gloomy cavern, all round the sides of which there are cells to receive the dead bodies. Here the deceased monarchs lie in a distinguished sort of state, suitable to their former -- rank, each on his own couch, with his arms beside him,
his sword at his head, and the bodies of his chiefs and companions round about him. These illustrious shades rise at once from their couches, as from their thrones; and advance to the entrance of the cavern to meet the king of Babylon, and to receive him with insults on his fall.
“ I believe it may with truth be affirmed, that there is no poem of its kind extant in any language, in which the subject is so well laid out, and so happily conducted, with such a richness of invention, with such a variety of images, persons, and distinct actions, with such rapidity and ease of transition, in so small a compass, as in this ode of Isaiah. For beauty of disposition, strength of colouring, greatness of sentiment, brevity, perspicuity, and force of expression, it stands among all the monuments of antiquity unrivalled*.
See Bp. Lowth's elegant and classical elucidation of this ode, in the notes to this translatian of Isaiah.
The dispersion of the Jews-The irruption of Antichrist at the
time of their restoration–The character of some maritime nation destined to restore the converted Jews—The occupation of mount Zion by Antichrist-His invasion of Egypt-The state of Egypt at this period—The religious connection of Assyria, Israel, and Egypt.
Isaiah xvii. 1. The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap. 2. The cities of Aroer are forsaken: they shall be for flocks which shall lie down, and none shall make them afraid. 3. The fortress also shall cease from Ephraim, and the kingdom from Damascus and the remnant of Syria : they shall be as the glory of the children of Israel, saith the Lord of hosts. 4. For in that day it shall come to pass, that the glory of Jacob shall be made thin, and the fatness of his flesh shall wax lean. 5. And it shall be, as when the harvest man gathereth the corn, and his arm reapeth the ears; and it shall be as he that gathereth ears in the valley of Rephaim. 6. Yet gleaning grapes shall be left in it, as the shaking of an olivetree, two or three berries in the top of the uppermost bough, four or five in the outmost branches of its fruitfulness, saith the Lord God of Israel. 7. At that day shall each man look to his Maker, and his eyes shall have respect to the Holy One of Israel. 8. And he shall not look unto the altars, the work of his hands; and what his fingers made he shall not regard, even the groves, and the images. 9.
9. In that day, the cities of his strength shall be as the leaving of a ploughed field* and a branch, which they have left before the face of the children of Israel : and there shall be desolation. 10. Because thou
* The leaving of a ploughed field.] I entirely agree with Mr. Parkhurst in this translation of the passage. The words contain a manifest allusion to the Mosaic laws relative to the not gleaning of their ploughed fields, vineyards, and olive-yards, but leaving somewhat of the fruits for the poor of the land (Compare Levit. ix. 9, 10. Deut. xxiv. 19-21. in the Hebrew). The idea here designed to be conveyed, is the same as that in Ver. 6. an idea of desolation so extreme, as to leave in the land nothing more than the bare gleanings of the people. See Parkhurst's Heb. Lex. Vox vin.
hast forgotten the God of thy salvation, and the rock of thy strength thou hast not remembered ; therefore thou shalt plant desirable plants, and a twig as a stranger shalt thou sow it. 11. In the day thou shalt vehemently labour to make thy plant grow; even in the early morning shalt thou cause thy seed to flourish : nevertheless the heap of the harvest-man shall be in a day of grief and heavy trouble.
12. Ho! multitude of many people, as the tumultuous noise of the sea they roar tumultuously : and the vehement noise of the nations, as the noise of mighty waters they vociferate! 13. The nations shall roar indeed as the roaring of many waters : yet he shall rebuke them, and they shall flee far off ; and they shall be chased as the chaff of the mountains before the wind, and as a rolling thing before the whirlwind. 14. In the time of the evening, and behold destruction! before morning, and they are not. This is the portion of them that trouble us, and the lot of them that spoil us.
xviii. 1. Ho! land spreading wide the shadow of thy wings*, which art beyond the rivers of Cush. 2. Accustomed to send messengerst by sea, even in bulrush vesselsț, upon the surface of the waters! Go, swift messen
Shadow of thy wings.] “ The shadow of wings is a very usual image in prophetic language for the protection afforded by the stronger to the weak. God's protection of his servants is described by their being safe under the shadow of his wings. And, in this passage, the broad shadowing wings may be intended to characterize some great people, who should be famous for the protection they should give to those whom they received into their alliance; and I cannot but think this the most simple and natural exposition of the expression” (Bp. Horsley's Letter on Isaiah xviii.). It is not impossible however, and certainly not incongruous with the figurative language of prophecy, that, since the messengers described in this prediction are plainly a maritime na. tion, the shadowy wings here spoken of may mean the sails of their ships. In. deed the learned prelate, to whom I am so much, or rather so wholly, indebted for all the succeeding remarks on this chapter, seems himself to allow, that something like this may be insinuated in the imagery of the first verse.
† Accustomed to send messengers.] “ The form of the expression in the original signifies, not a single act of sending once, but the habit of sending pera petually. The word Dipus may be taken for persons employed between nation and nation, for the purposes either of negociation or commerce.” Letter on Isaiah xviii.
# Bulrush vessels.] “This is a figurative expression ; descriptive of skill in navigation, and of the safety and expedition with which the inhabitants of the land called to are supposed to perform distant voyages. Navigable vessels are certainly meant. If the country spoken to be distant from Egypt, vessels of bulrush are only used as an apt image, on account of their levity, for quick-sailing vessels of any material." "Letter on Isaiah svili.
gers, unto a nation dragged away and plucked, unto a people wonderful from their beginning hitherto, a nation expecting, expecting, and trampled under foot, whose land rivers have spoiled. 3. All the inhabitants of the world, and dwellers upon earth, shall see the lifting up, as it were, of a banner upon the mountains, and shall hear the sound ing, as it were, of a trumpet. 4. For thus saith the Lord unto me: I will sit still (but I will keep my eye upon my prepared habitation), as the parching heat just before lightning, as the dewy cloud in the heat of harvest. 5. For afore the harvest, when the bud is coming to perfection, and the blossom is become a juicy berry, he will cut off the useless shoots with pruning hooks, and the bill shall take away the luxuriant branches. 6. They shall be left together to the bird of prey of the mountains, and to the beasts of the earth. And upon it shall the bird of prey summer, and all the beasts of the earth upon it shall winter. 7. At that season a present shall be led to the Lord of hosts, a people dragged away and plucked, even of a people wonderful from their beginning hitherto ; a nation expecting, expecting, and trampled under foot, whose land rivers have spoiled, unto the place of the name of the Lord of hosts, mount Sion.
xix. 1. The burden of Egypt. Behold, the Lord rideth upon a swift cloud, and cometh unto Egypt: and the idols of Egypt are moved at his presence, and the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of it. 2. And I will cover in tents * the Egyptians against the Egyptians : and they shall fight, every one against his brother, and every one against his neighbour; city against city, and kingdom against kingdom. 3. And the spirit of Egypt shall fail in the midst thereof; and I will destroy the counsel thereof: and they shall seek to the idols, and to the chariners, and to them that have familiar spirits, and to the wizards. 4. And the Egyptians will I give
* I will cover in tents.] So I have ventured to render ingosd, attributing to the primitive the sense of one of its derivatives. The context shews, that it cannot mean I will protect. The Vulgate reads concurrere faciam ; the LΧΧ, επεγερθήσονται Αιγυπτιοι επ’ Αιγυπτιας ; the Chaldee Paraphrast, concurTere faciam ; the Syriac, concitato ; and the Arabic, irruent Ægyptii in Ægyptios. All these convey the very same idea of the Ægyptians being in a state of civil war with the Egyptians.
over into the hand of cruel lords; and a fierce king shall rule over them, saith the Lord, the Lord of hosts. 5. And the waters shall fail from the sea, even the river shall be wasted and dried up. 6. And the rivers shall be removed away ; and the streams of defence shall be emptied and dried up: the reeds and flags shall wither. 7. The plants by the streams, by the mouth of the streams, and every thing sown by the streams, shall wither, be driven away, and be no more. 8. The fishers also shall mourn; even all they, that cast the hook into the streams, shall lament; and they, that spread nets upon the waters, shall languish. 9. Moreover they that work in yellow flax, and they that weave nets *, shall be confounded. 10. And their toils t shall be broken, even all they that earn wagest at the fish-pools. 11. Surely the princes of Zoan are fools, the counsel of the wise counsellors of Pharaoh is become brutish : how say ye unto Pharaoh, I am the son of the wise, the son of ancient kings! 12. Where are thy wise men ? and let them tell thee now, and let them know what the Lord of hosts hath counselled against Egypt. 13. The princes of Zoan are become fools, the princes of Noph are deceived, and the corner stones of its tribes have seduced Egypt. 14. The Lord hath mingled a perverse spirit in the midst thereof: and they have caused Egypt to stagger in all its works, as a drunken man staggereth in his vomit. 15. Neither shall there be any work for Egypt, which the head or tail, branch or rush,
16. In that day shall Egypt be like unto women: and it shall be afraid and fear, because of the shaking of the hand of the Lord of hosts, which he shaketh over it. 17. And the land of Judah shall be a terror unto Egypt: every one, that maketh mention thereof, shall be afraid in himself; because of the counsel of the Lord
* Theythat work in yellow flax, and they that weave nets.] Bp. Lowth translates this passage, They that work the fine flax shall be confounded, and they that weave net-work. But the context seems to shew, that not fine flax fit for the purposes of weaving ornamental net-work is here intended, but coarse flax for the making of fishing-nets.
Their toils.] So I render ninnu. See Parkhurst's Heb. Lex. Vox wn. # Earn wages.] So I render 700 vey.
§ The wise counsellors of Pharaoh.] - Isaiah describes the future state of Egypt in terms, strictly applicable only to his own times ; as, in verses 19, 20, 21, he represents the worship of future times, according to the rites and. ceremonies of his own.