Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke, , at sacred-texts.com
The Jews reproved for their reliance on Egypt, Isa 30:1-7. Threatened for their obstinate adherence to this alliance, Isa 30:8-17. Images the most elegant and lofty, by which the intense gloriousness of Messiah's reign at the period when all Israel shall be added to the Church is beautifully set forth, Isa 30:18-26. Dreadful fall of Sennacherib's army, an event most manifestly typical of the terrible and sudden overthrow of Antichrist; as, unless this typical reference be admitted, no possible connection can be imagined between the stupendous events which took place in Hezekiah's reign, and the very remote and inconceivably more glorious displays of Divine vengeance and mercy in the days of the Messiah, Isa 30:27-33.
And that cover with a covering "Who ratify covenants" - Hebrews "Who pour out a libation." Sacrifice and libation were ceremonies constantly used, in ancient times by most nations in the ratifying of covenants: a libation therefore is used for a covenant, as in Greek the word σπονδη, for the same reason, stands for both. This seems to be the most easy explication of the Hebrew phrase, and it has the authority of the Septuagint, εποιησατε συνθηκας.
Hanes - Six MSS. of Kennicott's, and perhaps six others, with four of De Rossi's, read חנם chinnam, in vain, for הנס Hanes; and so also the Septuagint, who read likewise יגעו yageu, labored, for יגיעו yaggiu, arrived at.
Were - ashamed - Eight MSS. (one ancient) of Kennicott's, and ten of De Rossi's, read הביש hobish, without א aleph. So the Chaldee and Vulgate.
But a shame "But proved even a shame" - Four MSS. (three ancient) after כי ki, add אם im, unless, which seems wanted to complete the phrase in its usual form.
The burden - משא massa seems here to be taken in its proper sense; the load, not the oracle. The same subject is continued; and there seems to be no place here for a new title to a distinct prophecy.
Does not burden of the beasts of the South in this place relate to the presents sent by Hoshea king of Israel to the South - to Egypt, which lay south of Judea, to engage the Egyptians to succor him against the king of Assyria?
Into the land of trouble and anguish "Through a land of distress and difficulty" - The same deserts are here spoken of which the Israelites passed through when they came out of Egypt, which Moses describes, Deu 8:15, as "that great and terrible wilderness wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought; where there was no water. "And which was designed to be a kind of barrier between them and Egypt, of which the Lord had said, "Ye shall henceforth return no more that way," Deu 17:16.
Shall not profit them - A MS. adds in the margin the word למו lamo, them, which seems to have been lost out of the text: it is authorized by the Septuagint and Vulgate.
Their strength is to sit still "Rahab the Inactive" - The two last words, הם שבת hem shabeth, joined into one, make the participle pihel המשבת hammeshabbeth. I find the learned Professor Doederlein, in his version of Isaiah, and note on this place, has given the same conjecture; which he speaks of as having been formerly published by him. A concurrence of different persons in the same conjecture adds to it a greater degree of probability.
For ever and ever "For a testimony for ever" - לעד leed. So the Syriac, Chaldee, Vulgate, and Septuagint, in MSS. Pachom. and 1. D. 2: εις μαρτυριον, which two words have been lost out of the other copies of the Septuagint.
In oppression "In obliquity" - בעקש beakesh, transposing the two last letters of בעשק beoshek, in oppression, which seems not to belong to this place: a very probable conjecture of Houbigant.
Swelling out to a high wall "A swelling in a high wall" - It has been observed before, that the buildings of Asia generally consist of little better than what we call mud walls. "All the houses at Ispahan, "says Thevenot, Vol. II., p. 159, "are built of bricks made of clay and straw, and dried in the sun; and covered with a plaster made of a fine white stone. In other places in Persia the houses are built with nothing else but such bricks, made with tempered clay and chopped straw, well mingled together, and dried in the sun, and then used: but the least rain dissolves them. "Sir John Chardin's MS. remark on this place of Isaiah is very apposite: Murs en Asie etant faits de terre se fendent ainsi par milieu et de haut en bas. "The walls in Asia being made of earth often cleave from top to bottom." This shouts clearly how obvious and expressive the image is. The psalmist has in the same manner made use of it, to express sudden and utter destruction: -
"Ye shall be slain all of you;
Ye shall be like an inclining wall, like a shattered fence."
He shall not spare "And spareth it not" - Five MSS. add the conjunction ו vau to the negative; ולא velo.
At the rebuke of five shall ye flee "At the rebuke of five, ten thousand of you shall flee" - In the second line of this verse a word is manifestly omitted, which should answer to one thousand in the first: the Septuagint supply πολλοι, רבים rabbim. But the true word is רבבה rebabah, as I am persuaded any one will be convinced, who will compare the following passages with this place: -
"How should one chase a thousand;
And two put ten thousand (רבבה) to flight?"
"And five of you shall chase a hundred;
And a hundred of you shall chase (רבבה) ten thousand."
And therefore will he be exalted "Even for this shall he expect in silence" - For ירום yarum, he shall be exalted, which belongs not to this place, Houbigant reads ידום yadum, he shall be silent: and so it seems to be in a MS. Another MS. instead of it reads ישוב yashub, he shall return. The mistakes occasioned by the similitude of the letters ד daleth and ר resh are very frequent, as the reader may have already observed.
For the people shall dwell in Zion "When a holy people shall dwell in Sion" - Λαος ἁγιος, Septuagint; עם קדוש am kadosh. The word קדוש dro kadosh, lost out of the text, but happily supplied by the Septuagint, clears up the sense, otherwise extremely obscure. When the rest of the cities of the land were taken by the king of Assyria, Zion was preserved, and all that were in it.
Thou shalt weep no more "Thou shalt implore him with weeping" - The negative particle לא lo is not acknowledged by the Septuagint. It may perhaps have been written by mistake for לו lo, to him, of which there are many examples.
Though the Lord "Though Jehovah" - For אדני Adonai, sixteen MSS. and three editions have יהוה Yehovah, many of De Rossi's have the same reading; all my own have יהוה Yehovah.
When ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left "Turn not aside, to the right or to the left" - The Syriac Chaldee, and Vulgate, translate as if, instead of כי־וכי ki-vechi, they read לא־ולא lo-velo.
Ye shall defile "Ye shall treat as defiled" - The very prohibition of Moses, Deu 7:25, only thrown out of the prose into the poetical form: "The graven images of their gods ye shall burn with fire: thou shalt not desire the silver or the gold that is on them; nor take it unto thee, lest thou be snared therein; for it is an abomination to Jehovah thy God."
When the towers fall "When the mighty fall" - מגדלים migdalim, μεγαλους, Sym.; μεγαλυνομενους, Aquila; רברבין rabrebin, Chard.; all signifying mighty sizes.
Shall be sevenfold - The text adds כאור שבעת הימים keor shibath haiyamayim, "as the light of seven days, "a manifest gloss, taken in from the margin; it is not in most of the copies of the Septuagint. It interrupts the rhythmical construction, and obscures the sense by a false, or at least an unnecessary, interpretation.
By moon, sun, light, are to be understood the abundance of spiritual and temporal felicity with which God should bless them in the days of the Messiah, which should be sevenfold, i.e. vastly exceed all that they had ever before possessed.
And the burden thereof is heavy "And the flame raged violently" - משאה massaah; this word seems to be rightly rendered in our translation, the flame, Jdg 20:38, Jdg 20:40, etc.; a sign of fire, Jer 6:1; called properly משאת masseeth, an elevation, from its tending upwards.
To sift the nations with a sieve of vanity "To toss the nations with the van of perdition" - The word להנפה lahanaphah is in its form very irregular. Kimchi says it is for להניף lehaniph. Houbigant supposes it to be a mistake, and shows the cause of it; the joining it to the ה he, which should begin the following word. The true reading is להניף הגוים lehaniph haggoyim, "to sift the nations."
The Vulgate seems to be the only one of the ancient interpreters who has explained rightly the sense; but he has dropped the image: ad perdendas gentes in nihilum, "to reduce the nations to nothing. "Kimchi's explanation is to the following effect:" נפה naphah is a van with which they winnow corn; and its use is to cleanse the corn from the chaff and straw: but the van with which God will winnow the nations will be the van of emptiness or perdition; for nothing useful shall remain behind, but all shall come to nothing, and perish. In like manner, a bridle is designed to guide the horse in the right way; but the bridle which God will put in the jaws of the people shall not direct them aright, but shall make them err, and lead them into destruction." This latter image the prophet has applied to the same subject afterwards, Isa 37:29 : -
"I will put my bridle in thy jaws, And turn thee back by the way in which thou camest."
And as for the former it is to be observed, that the van of the ancients was a large instrument, somewhat like a shovel, with a long handle, with which they tossed the corn mixed with the chaff and chopped straw into the air, that the wind might separate them. See Hammond on Mat 3:12.
There shall be a bridle in the jaws - A metaphor taken from a headstrong, unruly horse: the bridle checks, restrains, and directs him.
What the true God does in restraining sinners has been also attributed to the false gods of the heathen. Thus Aeschylus, prom. Vinct. 691: -
αλλ' επηναγκαζε νιν
Διος χαλινος προς βιαν πρασσειν ταδε.
"But the bridle of Jupiter violently constrained him to do these things."
The Lord shall cause his glorious voice to be heard - Kimchi understands this of the great destruction of the Assyrian host by the angel of the Lord. Instead of בזעף אץ bezaaph ats, "with swift anger, "five of Dr. Kennicott's MSS. and one of my own, read בזעם אף bezaam aph, "with detestation indignant." For אץ ats, "swift, "which is the common reading, forty-two of Kennicott's, forty-three of De Rossi's, and two of my own, have אץ ats, "wrath or fury." The former reading, אץ ats, is not found in any Bible previously to that of Van der Hooght, in 1705; and there it seems to be a typographical mistake.
Which smote with a rod "He that was ready to smite with his staff" - "Post אשור ashshur, forte excidit אשר asher." - Secker. After אשור ashshur, probably אשר asher, "which, "has been omitted.
The grounded staff "The rod of his correction" - For מוסדה musadah, the grounded staff, of which no one yet has been able to make any tolerable sense, Le Clerc conjectured מוסרה musarah, of correction; (see Pro 22:15); and so it is in two MSS., (one of them ancient), and seems to be so in the Bodleian MS. The Syriac has דשוע בדה deshuebedah, Virgo domans, vet subjectionis, "the taming rod, or rod of subjection."
With tabrets and harps - With every demonstration of joy and thanksgiving for the destruction of the enemy in so wonderful a manner: with hymns of praise, accompanied with musical instruments. See Isa 30:29.
With it "Against them" - For בה bah. against her, fifty-two MSS. and five editions read בם bam, against them.
For Tophet is ordained - Tophet is a valley very near to Jerusalem, to the southeast, called also the valley of Hinnom or Gehenna; where the Canaanites, and afterwards the Israelites, sacrificed their children, by making them pass through the fire, that is, by burning them in the fire, to Molech, as some suppose. It is therefore used for a place of punishment by fire; and by our blessed Savior in the Gospel for hell-fire, as the Jews themselves had applied it. See Chald. on Isa 33:14, where מוקדי עלם mokedey olam is rendered "the Gehenna of everlasting fire." Here the place where the Assyrian army was destroyed is called Tophet by a metonymy; for the Assyrian army was destroyed probably at a greater distance from Jerusalem, and quite on the opposite side of it: for Nob is mentioned as the last station, from which the king of Assyria should threaten Jerusalem, Isa 10:32, where the prophet seems to have given a very exact chorographical description of his march in order to attack the city; which however he never reached. - L.