Isaiah 4

 

The existing division between Isaiah 3 and 4 is scarcely satisfactory. Verse 1 of

Isaiah 4. belongs to the minatory (conveying a threat) portion of the section

beginning with ch. 2:1 and terminating with v. 6 of this chapter and so stands

connected in subject with Isaiah 3., which is wholly minatory; whereas the

remainder of this chapter (vs. 2-6) is consolatory, consisting of a series of

promises.  Verse 1 is also formally connected with ch. 3. by the vau conjunctive,

while the absence of any such link at the opening of v. 2 indicates the commencement

of a new paragraph at that point.

 

1 “And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will

eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy

name, to take away our reproach.”  Seven women shall take hold of one man. 

This verse has been well called a "companion picture to ch. 3:6-7.” As there, in

the evil time of God's judgment, the despairing men are represented as "taking hold"

of a respectable man to make him their judge, so now the despairing women

"take hold" of such a man and request him to allow them all to be regarded as

his wives. There has been such a destruction - men are become so scarce –

that no otherwise can women escape the shame and reproach of being unwedded

and childless. (Where does the membership of the National Organization of

Women and those sympathetic to its credo fit in a situation such as this?  CY – 2020)

Our own bread will we eat. They do not ask him to support them; they are able

and willing to support themselves. To take away; rather, take thou away - the

imperative mood, not the infinitive. Our reproach. Children were regarded

as such a blessing in the ancient times that to be childless was a misfortune

and a subject of reproach. (What has transpired since then to cause the

abortion of over sixty million [6o,000,000] children in the United States

alone over the last half century?  CY – 2020)  Hagar "despised" the barren Sarai

(Genesis 16:4). Her "adversary provoked Hannah sore, because the Lord had

shut up her womb" (1 Samuel 1:6). Compare the lament of Antigone, who views

it as a disgrace that she descends to the tomb unwed (Soph., 'Antig.,' 11. 813-816).

Among the Jews childlessness was a special reproach, because it took away all

possibility of the woman being in the line of THE MESSIAH’S DESCENT

(compare ch. 54:1-6).

 

(vs. 2-6)  As the present prophecy (chps. 2-4.), though in the main one of threatening

and denunciation, opened with a picture that was encouraging and comforting

(ch. 2:2-4), so now it terminates with a similar picture.  The evangelical prophet,

like the great apostle of the Gentiles, is unwilling that any one should be "swallowed

up with overmuch sorrow." (II Corinthians 2:7)  He will not separate the mercies

of God from His judgments. 

 

2 “In that day shall the branch of the LORD be beautiful and glorious,

and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are

escaped of Israel.”  In that day shall the branch of the Lord, etc. Some see

in this passage merely a promise that in the Messianic times the produce of the soil

would become more abundant than ever before, its harvests richer, and its fruitage

more luxuriant. But in the light of later prophecy it is scarcely possible to shut

up the meaning within such narrow limits. The "Branch" of Isaiah can hardly

be isolated altogether in a sound exegesis from the "Branch" of Jeremiah

(Jeremiah 23:533:15 – (Notice the promises: “....a righteous Branch, and a

King...shall execute judgment and justice in the earth”;  “...and He shall execute

judgment and righteousness in the land.”  This is a pertinent message to us

today in light of people taking the law into their own hands.  We are always

cautioned against vengeance and we will have to stand in judgment for our

actions here -  Imagine the embarrassment on that Day when we give

account – Recently in Portland, a man was executed for his political and

religious stance – compare man’s executions with God’s execution of

justice in the earth!  CY – 2020) and of Zechariah (Zechariah 3:86:12). Now, the

"Branch" of Zechariah is stated to be "a man" (ibid 6:12: note that the word used

for "Branch" is the same as Isaiah's, viz. tsemakh), and the "Branch "of Jeremiah is a

King  (Jeremiah 33:15). Moreover, Isaiah uses a nearly equivalent term (netser) in an

admittedly Messianic sense. Although, therefore, there is some obscurity in the

phrase, "Branch of Jehovah," it would seem to be best to understand Isaiah as

here intimating, what he elsewhere openly declares (ch. 11:1-5) - viz. the coming

of the Messiah in the latter days as the ornament and glory of his people. 

Be beautiful and glorious; rather, for beauty and glory; or, for ornament

and glory; i.e. for the ornament and glorification of IsraelAnd the fruit of the earth.

It is argued with reason that the two clauses of this verse are parallel, not antithetical,

and that as we understand the one, so must we understand the other. If, then, the

"Branch" is the Messiah, so is "the fruit of the earth" which may well be, since

He was "the grain of wheat" which "fell into the ground and, died, and so brought

forth much fruit" (John 12:24). Excellent and comely; rather, for majesty and

beauty (compare Exodus 28:2, 40). Unto the escaped of Israel; i.e. "to those

who shall have survived the great calamity, and become citizens of the

restored Jerusalem." Dr. Kay well remarks that "the prophecy was adequately

fulfilled only in those who 'saved themselves' from the generation which rejected

Christ. That remnant was the germ of the Catholic Church, made such by

being incorporated into the true Vine" ('Speaker's Commentary,' note at loc.).

 

3 “And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth

in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the

living in Jerusalem:  He that is left... he that remaineth. Equivalent to the "escaped" 

of the preceding verse. Shall be called holy. Strikingly fulfilled in the fact that

the early Christians were known as ἅγιοιhagioiholy or κλητοὶ ἅγιοιklaetoi

hagioi - those called to be holy, in the first age (Acts 9:13, 32, 4126:10

Romans 1:7I Corinthians 1:2II Corinthians 1:1Ephesians 1:1Philippians 1:1, etc.).

Perhaps, however, more is meant than this. The early Christians not only were

called, but were "holy." Even Gibbon places the innocent lives of the early

Christians among the causes of the conversion of the Roman empire. 

Every one that is written among the living. A register of the "living,"

or "heirs of life," is here assumed, as in Exodus 32:32Psalm 69:28

Daniel 12:1Revelation 13:821:27, etc. It is a "book," however, out of

which names may be "blotted" (ibid. ch. 3:5).

 

4 “When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion,

and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the

spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning.” When the Lord shall

have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion (see ch. 3:16-24).

Sin must not be merely repented of and pardoned; it must be put away.

There could be no Jerusalem, in which all should be "called holy," until the

moral defilement of the daughters of Zion was swept away. Purged the

blood of Jerusalem from the midst (compare ch. 1:1559:3). It is possible,

however, that the murder of infants in sacrifice to Moloch may be in the

prophet's mind. Ahaz "burnt his children in the fire after the abominations

of the heathen" (II Chronicles 28:3). Manasseh did the same (ibid. 33:6):

and the practice was probably widespread among the people long before

Isaiah's time (see Psalm 106:38Isaiah 57:5). By the spirit of burning;

or, by a blast of burning; i.e. a fiery blast which shall destroy everything

(compare Isaiah 1:31).

 

5 “And the LORD will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion,

and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a

flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defense.”

Upon every dwelling-place ("over the whole habitation," Revised Version).

Mr. Cheyne translates "upon the whole site," and takes the "site" to be

especially the temple. Makon seems certainly never to be used for

anything but "God's dwelling-place" (Exodus 15:171 Kings 8:13,39, etc.; 

II Chronicles 6:2, 30, etc.; Ezra 2:68Psalm 33:14 89:14 97:2104:5

here ch.18:4Daniel 8:11). Perhaps, however, every dwelling-place of God, 

i.e. every Christian Church, is intended. On these, and on all Christian

assemblies, there will rest a new presence of God - one which He

will have "created;" recalling that of the pillar of fire and of cloud which

rested in the wilderness on the Jewish tabernacle (Exodus 33:940:34-38, etc.). 

A cloud and smoke by day. The "pillar of the cloud" is never said in the

Pentateuch to have been one of “smoke;" but Sinai "smoked" when God

descended on it (Exodus 19:18 20:18), and the psalmist speaks of a "smoke"

as issuing out of God's nostrils (Psalm 18:8). In the poetry of Isaiah,"

smoke, no less than "cloud," symbolizes God's presence (see ch. 6:4). 

Upon all the glory shall be a defense; rather, as in the margin, a covering.

Over all the glory of Zion, its purged temple and its purified assemblies,

THE PRESENCE OF GOD SHALL REST like a canopy, protecting it.

 

6 “And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat,

and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain.”

And there shall be, etc.; rather, and it (i.e. "the canopy") shall be a tabernacle

or bowera shelter from the sun's heat by dayand from storm and rain

both by day and night. The metaphors need no explanation.

 

 

 

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