Isaiah 11

 

 

                        A Renewed Prophecy of the Messiah and His Kingdom

                                                             (vs. 1-9)

 

This chapter is closely connected with the preceding. With the final

destruction of Assyria, which, being cut down, sends out no shoot

(Isaiah 10:33, 34), is contrasted the recuperative energy of Israel,

which, though equally leveled with the ground (Isaiah 9:18, 19), shall

spring afresh into life, and “renew its youth.” The recovery is

connected —or rather identified with the coming of Messiah, whose

character is beautifully portrayed (vs. 2-5).  An elaborate description

of Messiah’s kingdom follows (vs. 6-10) — an expansion of the briefer

one in Isaiah 2:3-4.

 

1 “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch

a Branch shall grow out of his roots.”  There shall come forth a rod out of the

stem of Jesse. The blasted and ruined "stem" or stock of Jesse, cut down, and for

ages hidden from sight, shall suddenly put forth a sprout - a young green sapling,

tender vet vigorous, weak seemingly, yet full of life (compare Job 14:7-9,

"There is hope of a tree, if it he cut down, that it will sprout again, and that

the tender branch thereof will not crease. Though the root thereof wax old in the

earth, and the stock thereof die in the ground; yet through the scent of water it will

 bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant"). "The stem of Jesse" must mean the

house of David, for there is but one Jesse (Ishai) in Scripture - David's father. 

A Branch shall grow out of his roots. That which is at first a sapling gains strength

and grows into a "branch" (see ch. 4:2, where the word used, though different, is

synonymous).

 

2 “And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, the spirit of wisdom and

understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of

the fear of the LORD;”  The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him (compare 

Matthew 3:16Luke 2:524:1,14,18John 3:34). The human nature of our

Lord required, and received abundantly, the sanctifying and enlightening

influences of the Holy Spirit. These influences were not in Him transient or

occasional, as in too many men, who more or less "resist the Spirit," but

permanent and enduring. They "rested upon" Him; from first to last never

quitted, and never will quit, Him. The spirit of wisdom and understanding. 

The influences of the Holy Spirit are manifold, affecting the entire complex nature

of man (see I Corinthians 12:8-11). Here, three pairs of graces are set forth as

specially manifested in the Messiah through the power of the Spirit:


(1) "Wisdom and understanding," or intellectual and moral apprehension

(εὐσυνεσίαeusunesia - godliness) the ability to perceive moral and abstract truth;


(2) "counsel and might," or the power at once to scheme and originate,

and also to carry out thought into act;


(3) "The knowledge and the fear of the Lord," or acquaintance with the true will

of God, combined with the determination to carry out that will to the full

(John 4:34Luke 22:42Hebrews 10:7). It is needless to say that all these

qualities existed in the greatest perfection in our blessed Lord.

 

CHRIST’S POSSESSION OF UNDERSTANDING. By “understanding”

seems to he meant moral intelligence — the power of appreciating the

moral character, and judging aright the moral conduct of others. Our Lord

possessed this quality in the most eminent degree, never misjudging the

character or conduct of any one. His unerring insight gave Him an absolute

fitness to be the final Judge of men, but was far beyond what is needed by

any earthly ruler or king.

 

CHRIST’S POSSESSION OF THE SPIRIT OF COUNSEL. Here, no

doubt, is a quality of which a temporal ruler has need; but it was not as a

temporal ruler, or for the most part in temporal matters, that our Lord’s

counsel was given. The maxims of His lips were not maxims of worldly

policy, but such as these: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His

righteousness;” “Take no thought for the morrow;” “Sell all that thou hast,

and give to the poor,” and the like. He counseled men for their spiritual

rather than for their worldly good, with a view to a spiritual and not a

temporal kingdom.

 

CHRIST’S POSSESSION OF MIGHT. “Might,” or ability to execute

His designs, is, again, a quality of high value to an earthly ruler; and had

our Lord used His might for earthly ends, He might easily have been all,

and more than all, that the Jews expected. But He ever restrained Himself

from any exhibition of physical strength, or power of organization, or even

of persuasive eloquence, exhibiting His might only for spiritual ends, in

miracles of mercy, whereby He sought to win men’s souls to Himself, or

once and again in miracles of power, shown forth as evidences of His

mission.

 

3 “And shall make Him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD:

and He shall not judge after the sight of His eyes, neither reprove after

the hearing of His ears:”  And shall make Him of quick understanding.

This rendering of the original, though defended by Dr. Kay, is quite without

support from any other passage where the same word is used. Modern writers

almost all translate, either "the breath of His nostrils shall be in the fear of the Lord"

(Herder, Ewald, Meier, Cheyne), or "a sweet savor shall He find in the fear of

the Lord" (Gesenius, Delitzsch, Rosenmüller, Knobel). He shall not judge after

the sight of His eyes. "God seeth the heart." Our Lord "knew men's thoughts"

(Matthew 9:4, etc.), and therefore did not need to "judge according to the

appearance" (John 7:24). Thus His judgments WERE ALWAYS RIGHTEOUS!

 

4 “But with righteousness shall He judge the poor, and reprove with equity

for the meek of the earth: and He shall smite the earth with the rod of His

mouth, and with the breath of His lips shall He slay the wicked.”

With righteousness shall He judge the poor (compare ch.32:1, "A king shall

reign in righteousness"). It would be characteristic of the Messiah's rule that

the poor should be cared for, that oppression should cease, and judgment be no

more perverted in favor of the rich. There is an intended contrast between the

Messiah's rule in this respect, and that of the princes of Judah (ch. 1:23 3:15

10:1-2). Christian countries still, for the most part, follow their Lord's example in

this particular, if in no other, having judges that are incorruptible, and tribunals

that are free from any leaning against the poor. (Of course there are exceptions

in the United States but that has been in the last three-quarters of a century,

else how can  one explain the murder of children through abortion, and preference

given to criminals over law abiding citizens?  CY – 2020)  Reprove; or, plead 

(as in Job 16:21). The meek of the earth; rather, the humble, or afflicted. Low

condition, not meekness of spirit, is what the word used expresses. (If individuals

of the day would only have patience and wait on God, there would have been more

righteous outcomes rather than men trying to take the law into their own hands.

“Vengeance is mine;  I will repay,  saith the Lord.”  (Romans 12:19 – CY – 2020)

He shall smite the earth. A slight alteration of the text produces the meaning, 

He shall smite the terrible one (compare ch. 29:20), which improves the parallelism

of the clauses. But there is no need of any alteration, parallelism in Isaiah being

often incomplete. The Messiah at His coming will "smite the earth" generally

(see Malachi 4:6, and compare Matthew 10:34, "I came not to send peace on the

earth, but a sword"), and will also especially chastise "the wicked." The rod

of His mouth... the breath of His lips. "The Word of God is quick, and powerful,

and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder

of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the

thoughts and intents of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12). The sayings of Christ pierce

the conscience and penetrate the soul as no other words that ever came from

a human mouth. In the last day words from His mouth will consign to

everlasting life or to everlasting destruction.

 

5 “And righteousness shall be the girdle of His loins, and faithfulness the

girdle of His reins.”  Righteousness shall be the girdle of His loins, etc.; 

i.e. "righteousness shall be ever with Him, ever ready for active use, ever

(as it were) bracing Him for action." Assuredly, He was "righteous in all

His ways, and holy in all His works" (Psalm 145:17). Faithfulness 

(compare Ephesians 6:14, "Having your loins girt about with truth").

 

vs. 6-9 - Messiah's kingdom, when fully realized, shall be one

of perfect peace. "They shall neither hurt nor destroy in all His holy mountain."

Primarily, no doubt, the passage is figurative, and points to harmony among men,

who, in Messiah's kingdom, shall no longer prey one upon another (see especially

v. 9). But, from the highest spiritual standpoint, the figure itself becomes a reality,

and it is seen that, if in the "new heavens and new earth" there is an animal

creation, it will be fitting that there harmony should equally prevail among

the inferior creation. Human sin may not have introduced rapine and violence

among the beasts - at least, geologists tell us that animals preyed one upon another

long before the earth was the habitation of man - but still man's influence may

prevail to eradicate the beasts' natural impulses and educate them to something

higher. Already domestication produces an accord and harmony that is in a

certain sense against nature. May not this be carried further in the course

of ages, and Isaiah's picture have a literal fulfillment? Jerome's scorn of the

notion as a poetic dream has about it something harsh and untender. Will not

God realize all, and more than all, of love and happiness that poets' dreams   

can reach to? 

 

6 “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with

the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little

child shall lead them.”  The wolf... the leopard... the young lion... the bear are

the only ferocious animals of Palestine, where the tiger, the crocodile, the

alligator, and the jaguar are unknown. That the Palestinian bear was

carnivorous, and a danger to man, appears by Lamentations 3:10Daniel 7:5

Amos 5:19A little child shall lead them. Man's superiority over the brute

creation shall continue, and even be augmented. The most powerful beasts

shall submit to the control of a child.

 

7 “And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together:

and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.”  The lion shall eat straw (compare

ch65:25). There is nothing impossible in this. Cats are fond of some kinds of

vegetable food.

 

8 “And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned

child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den.” The sucking child shall play

on the hole of the asp; rather, by the hole - near it. The "asp" is probably

the Coluber Naje of Egypt, whose bite is very deadly. The cockatrice den.

The "cockatrice" is another deadly serpent, perhaps the Daboia xanthina 

(Tristram, 'Natural Hist. of the Bible').

 

Image result for Coluber Naje  Coluber Naje  (bing.com. image)

 

Image result for Daboia xanthina  Daboia xanthiana (bing.com. image)

 

 

9 “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth

shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.”

My holy mountain. As the Jewish Church is always bound up with the

"holy hill of Zion," so the Messianic one receives the designation of

"the mountain of the Lord" (ch. 2:330:29Micah 4:2), or "the holy mountain"

(Zechariah 8:3). What was physically true of the type is transferred to the antitype,

which is "a city set upon a hill" in a certain sense. The earth shall be full of

the knowledge of the Lord (compare Habakkuk 2:14Joel 2:28Matthew 28:19).

A fruitful knowledge, guiding and influencing conduct, seems to be intended

(see below, ch. 54:13, "All thy children shall be taught of the Lord, and

great shall be the peace of thy children"). As the waters cover the sea; 

i.e. "as the ocean covers and fills the bed prepared for it."

 

 

 

     THE JEWS AND GENTILES SHALL BE GATHERED TOGETHER

                           INTO MESSIAH'S KINGDOM (vs. 10-13)

 

It is characteristic of "the evangelical prophet" that he dwells earnestly an

frequently on the calling of the Gentiles (see  ch. 2:2; 19:22-2525:627:13, etc.).

The prophecies to Abraham had repeatedly declared that "in him," or "in his seed,"

"all the families of the earth should be blessed" (Genesis 12:318:1822:18 26:4);

and some of the psalmists had echoed the glad sound and spoken of God as

worshipped generally by "the nations" (Psalm 117:1148:11). But the

idea had taken little hold upon the chosen people generally; and was

practically new to them when Isaiah was inspired to preach it afresh.

To render it the more palatable, he unites with it the promise of a great gathering

of the dispersed Israelites from all quarters to the banner of Messiah, when it is

set up. 

 

10 “And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an

ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and His rest shall be glorious.”

There shall he a root of Jesse. The "root" of this place is the same as the "rod"

and "branch" of v. 1. The "rod" springs up out of a "root," and is inseparably

connected with it. Which shall stand for an ensign of the people; rather, 

of the peoples. The "rod" shall lift itself up, and become an ensign, seen from

afar, and attracting to itself the attention of "the peoples" or "nations" generally.

The Acts and Epistles show how speedily this prophecy was fulfilled. Greeks,

Romans, Galatians, Cappadoeians, Babylonians (I Peter 5:13), saw the ensign,

and sought to it. His rest shall be glorious; rather, His resting-placei.e. 

His Church, with which He abides forever (Matthew 28:20). The Shechinah

of His presence makes the Church "glorious" (literally, "a glory") throughout

all ages; but the glory will not fully appear till the time of the "new heavens

and new earth" (ch. 65:17; Revelation chapters 21 and 22.), when He will

dwell visibly with it.

 

 

 

            God’s Mercy in Bringing the Gentiles into His Kingdom.

 

In the old world, when “all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth,”

God sent forth a fierce destruction, and swept away the entire human race,

excepting eight persons. After the Flood he promised, of His own free

grace, that He would never so destroy mankind again (Genesis 9:11-15).

But it was open to Him to have sent upon the world some other equally

severe visitation, and to have once more rid the earth of “a seed of

evildoers.” The general corruption of the Gentile world, when Christ

came, was excessive. It is scarcely possible that the corruption of the

antediluvians can have been greater. As a modern historian sums up his

account of heathendom at the coming of Christ, “Corruption had attained

its full tide at the commencement of the second century. Vices gnawed at

the marrow of nations, and, above all, of the Romans: their national

existence was more than menaced; the moral sickness had become a

physical one in its effects — a subtle poison penetrating into the vitals of

the state; and, as before in the sanguinary civil wars, so now the lords of

the world seemed minded to destroy themselves by their vices. Men were

denuded of all that was really good, and, surrounded on all sides by the

thick clouds of a blinded conscience, they caught with wild eagerness at the

grossest sensual enjoyments, in the wild tumult of which they plunged to

intoxication (Dollinger, ‘Jew and Gentile,’ vol. 2. pp. 284, 285, Eng.

Trans.). Or take St. Paul’s account of the condition of the heathen when he

began his preaching: “As men did not like to retain God in their

knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things

which are not convenient; being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication,

wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, deceit,

debate, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud,

boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without

understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, implacable,

unmerciful: who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit

such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in

them that do them” (Romans 1:28-32). Yet, instead of destroying this

polluted race, God had compassion on them, and went out of his way to

seek them.

 

HE LIFTED UP CHRIST TO THEM AS AN ENSIGN FROM AFAR.

 

11 “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set His hand again

the second time to recover the remnant of His people, which shall be left,

from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from

Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.”

The Lord shall set His hand again the second time to recover, etc. The first

recovery was from the servitude in Egypt. Isaiah now foresees that there will be

a dispersion of the Israelites through several distant lands, instead of a mere

transference of them from one land to another, as in Jacob's time (Genesis 46:1-29).

God, who brought them out of Egypt, will likewise some day "set his hand" to

recover them from the various countries through which they will have been

dispersed, and restore them to their own land once more. The first fulfillment

of the prophecy was undoubtedly, the return from the Babylonian captivity.

A secondary fulfillment may have been the gathering of so many Jews from all

quarters into the Christian Church (Acts 2:9-41). It is possible that there may

be ultimately a further fulfillment in a final gathering together of Israel into their

own land. From Assyria. Assyria is placed first because already the bulk of the

Israelites, as distinct from the Jews, had been carried into Assyria by

Tiglath-Pileser (II Kings 15:29) and Sargon (ibid. ch. 17:6 18:11), and were

captives there at the time when Isaiah wrote. The transportation of Israelites to

the other places mentioned was subsequent to his day. Egypt... Pathros. There

was a great migration of Jews into Egypt in the time of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 43:7

 44:1), and a steady influx for some generations under the early Ptolemies. There

was also a second large migration in the time of Onias. The Jewish element in

Alexandria for some centuries both before and after Christ was very considerable.

Pathros was probably a portion of Upper Egypt, perhaps the Phaturite nome,

which was the district about Thebes. It is mentioned as the residence of certain

Jews in the time of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 44:1, 15). From Cush. "Cush" here may

be either the African or the Asiatic. It is slightly in favor of the African that we

hear in the Acts of an Ethiopian eunuch who was a Jew in the service of Candace,

Queen of the African Ethiopia (Acts 8:27). And it is against the Asiatic that

it was so remote. It adjoined, however, upon ElamFrom Elam, and from Shinar.

"Elam" was the fertile tract of alluvial land to the east of the Tigris, between

that stream and the mountains, parallel with Babylonia. Its capital was Susa,

and in Isaiah's time it was an important country, frequently at war with

Assyria. Shinar was an ancient name of Babylonia (Genesis 10:10 11:1-9).

The word is used also by Daniel (Daniel 1:2) and Zechariah (Zechariah 5:11).

Some regard it as meaning "the land of the two rivers." From Hamath. 

(On this town, see note to ch. 10:9.) From the islands of the sea; i.e. the islands

and coasts of the Mediterranean. During the Maccabee period, there was a

gradual spread of Jews over the Western world. Alliances were made with

Rome and Sparta (I Maccabees 8:1; 12:2-21; 14:20-23, etc.), and Jews

became familiar with both Greece and Italy. St. Paul finds numerous Jews at

Rome, and in almost every city of Greece.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        12 And He shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts

of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the

earth.”  He shall set up an ensign for the nations (compare v. 10). Christ is the Ensign.

God sets it up to draw the nations to His standard. The outcasts of Israel... the

dispersed of Judah. "Outcasts" is masculine, "the dispersed" feminine. The meaning

is, "He shall gather together the outcasts and dispersed of both Israel and Judah,

both male and female."

 

13 “The envy also of Ephraim shall depart, and the adversaries of Judah shall

be cut off: Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim.”

The envy also of Ephraim shall depart. In the kingdom of the Prince of Peace

there shall no longer be quarrels or jealousies among the members. Old feuds

shall be put aside; the northern and southern tribes shall agree together, and

there shall be peace and harmony throughout the entire Church. Adversaries

of Judah. If any such remain among the Ephraimites, Divine vengeance shall

"cut them off," that there be no open disturbance of the harmony.

 

 

 

     THE UNITED CHURCH SHALL TRIUMPH OVER ITS ENEMIES.

      PHYSICAL OBSTACLES TO ITS UNION GOD WILL REMOVE

                                                  (vs. 14-16)

 

Israel's most persistent enemies had been the border-nations of the Philistines,

the Edomites, the Arabs, Moab and Ammon. These are now taken as types of

the enemies of the Church, and victory over them is promised (v. 14). A further

promise is made that physical difficulties shall not prevent the return of the Jewish

exiles from distant countries (vs. 15-16). 

 

14 “But they shall fly upon the shoulders of the Philistines toward the west;

they shall spoil them of the east together: they shall lay their hand upon

Edom and Moab; and the children of Ammon shall obey them.”

They shall fly upon the shoulders of the Philistines. It is not to be supposed

that actual war is intended. The subjects of the Prince of Peace will not

draw the sword. But the Church will for many centuries be confronted

by enemies, and must contend with them with legitimate weapons. It is

this warfare of which Isaiah now speaks. The united Church will be strong

enough to assail her enemies on all sides, and will "swoop" upon the border

country of the Philistines like a bird of prey. They shall spoil them of the east;

orthe Bent Kedem (children of the east). The phrase is commonly used in an ethnic

sense of the nomadic Arabs inhabiting the deserts east of Jordan, beyond the

Ammonite and Moabite country, from whose raids Palestine frequently suffered

(see Jeremiah 49:28-29Ezekiel 25:4, 10).

 

15 “And the LORD shall utterly destroy the tongue of the Egyptian sea;

and with His mighty wind shall He shake His hand over the river,

and shall smite it in the seven streams, and make men go over dryshod.”

The Lord shall utterly destroy; rather, shall lay under a curse (Aquila

ἀναθεματίσειanthematisei). The tongue of the Egyptian sea. Either the

Gulf of Suez or that of Akabah. God shall do away with those obstacles

which keep the nations apart and prevent ready intercourse.

Both gulfs are thought to have extended anciently considerably further

inland than they do at present. With His mighty wind; rather, with the

might of His breath (in fortitudine spiritus sui, Vulgate). Shall He

shake His hand. A gesture of menace (compare ch.10:32). Over the river.

"The river" (han-nahar) is, as usually, the Euphrates, the great river of

Western AsiaAnd smite it in the seven streams; rather, and smite it into

seven streamsi.e. divide its waters among seven channels, so that it

may be readily forded, and cease to be a barrier. Dry-shod; literally, 

in their shoes; i.e. without taking them off.

 

16 And there shall be an highway for the remnant of His people,

which shall be left, from Assyria; like as it was to Israel in the day

that he came up out of the land of Egypt.”  There shall be an highway.

This is the object in view - the free and unhindered passage of his people

from the various regions where they are scattered (v. 11) to their resting-place

in Palestine.

 

 

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