Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at sacred-texts.com
This is the fate of the imperial power of the world. When the axe is laid to it, it falls without hope. But in Israel spring is returning. "And there cometh forth a twig out of the stump of Jesse, and a shoot from its roots bringeth forth fruit." The world-power resembles the cedar-forest of Lebanon; the house of David, on the other hand, because of its apostasy, is like the stump of a felled tree (geza‛, truncus, from gâza‛, truncare), like a root without stem, branches, or crown. The world-kingdom, at the height of its power, presents the most striking contrast to Israel and the house of David in the uttermost depth announced in Isa 6:1-13 fin., mutilated and reduced to the lowliness of its Bethlehemitish origin. But whereas the Lebanon of the imperial power is thrown down, to remain prostrate; the house of David renews its youth. And whilst the former has no sooner reached the summit of its glory, than it is suddenly cast down; the latter, having been reduced to the utmost danger of destruction, is suddenly exalted. What Pliny says of certain trees, "inarescunt rursusque adolescunt, senescunt quidem, sed e radicibus repullulant," is fulfilled in the tree of Davidic royalty, that has its roots in Jesse (for the figure itself, see F. V. Lasaulx, Philosophie der Geschichte, pp. 117-119). Out of the stumps of Jesse, i.e., out of the remnant of the chosen royal family which has sunk down to the insignificance of the house from which it sprang, there comes forth a twig (choter), which promises to supply the place of the trunk and crown; and down below, in the roots covered with earth, and only rising a little above it, there shows itself a nētzer, i.e., a fresh green shoot (from nâtzēr, to shine or blossom). In the historical account of the fulfilment, even the ring of the words of the prophecy is noticed: the nētzer, at first so humble and insignificant, was a poor despised Nazarene (Mat 2:23). But the expression yiphreh shows at once that it will not stop at this lowliness of origin. The shoot will bring forth fruit (pârâh, different in meaning, and possibly
(Note: We say possibly, for the Indo-Germanic root bhar, to bear (Sanscr. bharâmi = φέρω, fero, cf., ferax, fertilis), which Gesenius takes as determining the radical meaning of pârach, cannot be traced with any certainty in the Semitic. Nevertheless peri and perach bear the same relation to one another, in the ordinary usage of the language, as fruit and blossom: the former is so called, as that which has broken through (cf., pĕtĕr); the latter, as that which has broken up, or budded.)
also in root, from pârach, to blossom and bud). In the humble beginning there lies a power which will carry it up to a great height by a steady and certain process (Eze 17:22-23). The twig which is shooting up on the ground will become a tree, and this tree will have a crown laden with fruit. Consequently the state of humiliation will be followed by one of exaltation and perfection.
Jehovah acknowledges Him, and consecrates and equips Him for His great work with the seven spirits."And the Spirit of Jehovah descends upon Him, spirit of wisdom and understanding, spirit of counsel and might, spirit of knowledge and fear of Jehovah." "The Spirit of Jehovah" (ruach Yehovah) is the Divine Spirit, as the communicative vehicle of the whole creative fulness of divine powers. Then follow the six spirits, comprehended by the ruach Yehovah in three pairs, of which the first relates to the intellectual life, the second to the practical life, and the third to the direct relation to God. For chocmâh (wisdom) is the power of discerning the nature of things through the appearance, and bı̄nâh (understanding) the power of discerning the differences of things in their appearance; the former is σοφία, the latter διάκρισις or σύνεσις. "Counsel" (etzâh) is the gift of forming right conclusions, and "might" (gebūrâh) the ability to carry them out with energy. "The knowledge of Jehovah" (da‛ath Yehovah) is knowledge founded upon the fellowship of love; and "the fear of Jehovah" (yir'ath Yehovâh), fear absorbed in reverence. There are seven spirits, which are enumerated in order from the highest downwards; since the spirit of the fear of Jehovah is the basis of the whole (Pro 1:7; Job 28:28; Psa 111:10), and the Spirit of Jehovah is the heart of all. It corresponds to the shaft of the seven-lighted candlestick, and the three pair of arms that proceeded from it. In these seven forms the Holy Spirit descended upon the second David for a permanent possession, as is affirmed in the perf. consec. ונהה (with the tone upon the ultimate, on account of the following guttural, to prevent its being pronounced unintelligibly;
(Note: This moving forward of the tone to the last syllable is also found before Ayin in Gen 26:10, and very commonly with kūmâh, and verbs of a similar kind; also before Elohim and Jehovah, to be read Adonai, and before the half-guttural resh, Psa 43:1; Psa 119:154, but nowhere on any other ground than the orthophonic rather than euphonic one mentioned above; compare also וסרה in Isa 11:13, with וסרוּ (with ה following) in Exo 8:7.)
nuach like καταβαίνειν καὶ μένειν, Joh 1:32-33). The seven torches before the throne of God (Rev 4:5, cf., Isa 1:4) burn and give light in His soul. The seven spirits are His seven eyes (Rev 5:6).
And His regal conduct is regulated by this His thoroughly spiritual nature."And fear of Jehovah is fragrance to Him; and He judges not according to outward sight, neither does He pass sentence according to outward hearing." We must not render it: His smelling is the smelling of the fear of God, i.e., the penetration of it with a keen judicial insight (as Hengstenberg and Umbreit understand it); for hērı̄ach with the preposition Beth has not merely the signification to smell (as when followed by an accusative, Job 39:25), but to smell with satisfaction (like בּ ראה, to see with satisfaction), Exo 30:38; Lev 26:31; Amo 5:21. The fear of God is that which He smells with satisfaction; it is rēach nı̄choach to Him. Meier's objection, that fear of God is not a thing that can be smelt, and therefore that hērı̄ach must signify to breathe, is a trivial one. Just as the outward man has five senses for the material world, the inner man has also a sensorium for the spiritual world, which discerns different things in different ways. Thus the second David scents the fear of God, and only the fear of God, as a pleasant fragrance; for the fear of God is a sacrifice of adoration continually ascending to God. His favour or displeasure does not depend upon brilliant or repulsive external qualities; He does not judge according to outward appearances, but according to the relation of the heart to His God.
This is the standard according to which He will judge when saving, and judge when punishing. "And judges the poor with righteousness, and passes sentence with equity for the humble in the land; and smites the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He slays the wicked. And righteousness is the girdle of His loins, and faithfulness the girdle of His hips." The main feature in Isa 11:4 is to be seen in the objective ideas. He will do justice to the dallim, the weak and helpless, by adopting an incorruptibly righteous course towards their oppressors, and decide with straightforwardness for the humble or meek of the land: ‛ânâv, like ‛ânı̄, from ‛ânâh, to bend, the latter denoting a person bowed down by misfortune, the former a person inwardly bowed down, i.e., from all self-conceit (hōcı̄ach l', as in Job 16:21). The poor and humble, or meek, are the peculiar objects of His royal care; just as it was really to them that the first beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount applied. But "the earth" and "the wicked" (the latter is not to be understood collectively, but, as in several passages in the Old Testament, viz., Psa 68:22; Psa 110:6; Hab 3:13-14, as pointing forward prophetically to an eschatological person, in whom hostility towards Jehovah and His Anointed culminates most satanically) will experience the full force of His penal righteousness. The very word of His mouth is a rod which shatters in pieces (Psa 2:9; Rev 1:16); and the breath of His lips is sufficient to destroy, without standing in need of any further means (Th2 2:8). As the girdle upon the hips (mothnaim, lxx την̀ ὀσφύν), and in front upon the loins (chălâzaim, lxx τὰς πλευράς), fastens the clothes together, so all the qualities and active powers of His person have for their band tzedâkâh, which follows the inviolable norm of the divine will, and hâ'emūnâh, which holds immovably to the course divinely appointed, according to promise (Isa 25:1). Special prominence is given by the article to 'emūnâh; He is the faithful and true witness (Rev 1:5; Rev 3:14). Consequently with Him there commences a new epoch, in which the Son of David and His righteousness acquire a world-subduing force, and find their home in a humanity that has sprung, like Himself, out of deep humiliation.
The fruit of righteousness is peace, which now reigns in humanity under the rule of the Prince of Peace, and even in the animal world, with nothing whatever to disturb it. "And the wolf dwells with the lamb, and the leopard lies down with the kid; and calf and lion and stalled ox together: a little boy drives them. And cow and bear go to the pasture; their young ones lie down together: and the lion eats shopped straw like the ox. And the suckling plays by the hole of the adder, and the weaned child stretches its hand to the pupil of the basilisk-viper. They will not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the land is filled with knowledge of Jehovah, like the waters covering the sea." The fathers, and such commentators as Luther, Calvin, and Vitringa, have taken all these figures from the animal world as symbolical. Modern rationalists, on the other hand, understand them literally, but regard the whole as a beautiful dream and wish. It is a prophecy, however, the realization of which is to be expected on this side of the boundary between time and eternity, and, as Paul has shown in Rom 8, is an integral link in the predestined course of the history of salvation (Hengstenberg, Umbreit, Hofmann, Drechsler). There now reign among irrational creatures, from the greatest to the least, - even among such as are invisible, - fierce conflicts and bloodthirstiness of the most savage kind. But when the Son of David enters upon the full possession of His royal inheritance, the peace of paradise will be renewed, and all that is true in the popular legends of the golden age be realized and confirmed. This is what the prophet depicts in such lovely colours. The wolf and lamb, those two hereditary foes, will be perfectly reconciled then. The leopard will let the teazing kid lie down beside it. The lion, between the calf and stalled ox, neither seizes upon its weaker neighbour, nor longs for the fatter one. Cow and bear graze together, whilst their young ones lie side beside in the pasture. The lion no longer thirsts for blood, but contents itself, like the ox, with chopped straw. The suckling pursues its sport (pilpel of שׁעע, mulcere) by the adder's hole, and the child just weaned stretches out its hand boldly and fearlessly to me'ūrath tziph‛ōni. It is evident from Jer 8:17 that tziph‛ōni is the name of a species of snake. According to Aquila and the Vulgate, it is basiliskos, serpens regulus, possibly from tzaph, to pipe or hiss (Ges., Frst); for Isidorus, in his Origg. xii. 4, says, Sibilus idem est qui et regulus; sibilo enim occidit, antequam mordeat vel exurat. For the hapax leg. hâdâh, the meaning dirigere, tendere, is established by the Arabic; but there is all the more uncertainty about the meaning of the hap. leg. מאורה. According to the parallel חר, it seems to signify the hollow (Syr., Vulg., lxx, κοίτη): whether from אּוּר = עוּר, from which comes מערה; or from אור, the light-hole (like מאור, which occurs in the Mishna, Ohaloth xiii. 1) or opening where a cavern opens to the light of day. It is probable, however, that me'ūrâh refers to something that exerts an attractive influence upon the child, either the "blending of colours" (Saad. renders tziph‛oni, errakas', the motley snake), or better still, the "pupil of the eye" (Targum), taking the word as a feminine of mâ'ōr, the light of the eye (b. Erubin 55b - the power of vision). The look of a snake, more especially of the basilisk (not merely the basilisk-lizard, but also the basilisk-viper), was supposed to have a paralyzing and bewitching influence; but now the snake will lose this pernicious power (Isa 65:25), and the basilisk become so tame and harmless, as to let children handle its sparkling eyes as if they were jewels. All this, as we should say with Luthardt and Hofmann (Schriftbeweis, ii. 2, 567), is only colouring which the hand of the prophet employs, for the purpose of painting the peace of that glorified state which surpasses all possibility of description; and it is unquestionably necessary to take the thought of the promise in a spiritual sense, without adhering literally to the medium employed in expressing it. But, on the other hand, we must guard against treating the description itself as merely a drapery thrown around the actual object; whereas it is rather the refraction of the object in the mind of the prophet himself, and therefore a manifestation of the true nature of that which he actually saw.
But are the animals to be taken as the subject in Isa 11:9 also? The subject that most naturally suggests itself is undoubtedly the animals, of which a few that are alarming and destructive to men have been mentioned just before. And the fact that they really are thought of as the subject, is confirmed by Isa 65:25, where Isa 11:6-9 is repeated in a compendious form. The idea that ירעוּ requires men as the subject, is refuted by the common רעה חיּה (compare the parallel promise in Eze 34:25, which rests upon Hos 2:20). That the term yashchithu can be applied to animals, is evident from Jer 2:30, and may be assumed as a matter of course. But if the animals are the subject, har kodshi (my holy mountain) is not Zion-Moriah, upon which wild beasts never made their home in historical times; but, as the generalizing col (all) clearly shows, the whole of the holy mountain-land of Israel: har kodshi has just this meaning in Isa 57:13 (cf., Psa 78:54; Exo 15:17). The fact that peace prevails in the animal world, and also peace between man and beast, is then attributed to the universal prevalence of the knowledge of God, in consequence of which that destructive hostility between the animal world and man, by which estrangement and apostasy from God were so often punished (Kg2 17:25; Eze 14:15, etc.: see also Isa 7:24), have entirely come to an end. The meaning of "the earth" is also determined by that of "all my holy mountain." The land of Israel, the dominion of the Son of David in the more restricted sense, will be from this time forward the paradisaical centre, as it were, of the whole earth - a prelude of its future state of perfect and universal glorification (Isa 6:3, "all the earth"). It has now become full of "the knowledge of Jehovah," i.e., of that experimental knowledge which consists in the fellowship of love (דעה, like לדה, is a secondary form of דעת, the more common infinitive or verbal noun from ידע: Ges. 133, 1), like the waters which cover the sea, i.e., bottom of the sea (compare Hab 2:14, where lâda‛ath is a virtual accusative, full of that which is to be known). "Cover:" cissâh l' (like sâcac l', Psa 91:4), signifies to afford a covering to another; the Lamed is frequently introduced with a participle (in Arabic regularly) as a sign of the object (Ewald, 292, e), and the omission of the article in the case of mecassim is a natural consequence of the inverted order of the words.
The prophet has now described, in Isa 11:1-5, the righteous conduct of the Son of David, and in Isa 11:6-9 the peace which prevails under His government, and extends even to the animal world, and which is consequent upon the living knowledge of God that has now become universal, that is to say, of the spiritual transformation of the people subject to His sway, - an allusion full of enigmas, but one which is more clearly expounded in the following verse, both in its direct contents and also in all that it presupposes. "And it will come to pass in that day: the root-sprout of Jesse, which stands as a banner of the peoples, for it will nations ask, and its place of rest is glory." The first question which is disposed of here, has reference to the apparent restriction thus far of all the blessings of this peaceful rule to Israel and the land of Israel. This restriction, as we now learn, is not for its own sake, but is simply the means of an unlimited extension of this fulness of blessing. The proud tree of the Davidic sovereignty is hewn down, and nothing is left except the root. The new David is shoresh Yishai (the root-sprout of Jesse), and therefore in a certain sense the root itself, because the latter would long ago have perished if it had not borne within itself from the very commencement Him who was now about to issue from it. But when He who had been concealed in the root of Jesse as its sap and strength should have become the rejuvenated root of Jesse itself (cf., Rev 22:16), He would be exalted from this lowly beginning l'nēs ‛ammin, into a banner summoning the nations to assemble, and uniting them around itself. Thus visible to all the world, He would attract the attention of the heathen to Himself, and they would turn to Him with zeal, and His menuchâh, i.e., the place where He had settled down to live and reign (for the word in this local sense, compare Num 10:33 and Psa 132:8, Psa 132:14), would be glory, i.e., the dwelling-place and palace of a king whose light shines over all, who has all beneath His rule, and who gathers all nations around Himself. The Vulgate renders it "et sepulcrum ejus gloriosum" (a leading passage for encouraging pilgrimages), but the passion is here entirely swallowed up by the splendour of the figure of royalty; and menuchah is no more the place of rest in the grave than nēs is the cross, although undoubtedly the cross has become the banner in the actual fulfilment, which divides the parousia of Christ into a first and second coming.
A second question also concerns Israel. The nation out of which and for which this king will primarily arise, will before that time be scattered far away from its native land, in accordance with the revelation in Isa 6:1-13. How, then, will it be possible for Him to reign in the midst of it? "And it will come to pass in that day, the Lord will stretch out His hand again a second time to redeem the remnant of His people that shall be left, out of Asshur, and out of Egypt, and out of Pathros, and out of Ethiopia, and out of 'Elam, and out of Shinar, and out of Hamath, and out of the islands of the sea. And he raises a banner for the nations, and fetches home the outcasts of Israel; and the dispersed of Judah will He assemble from the four borders of the earth." Asshur and Egypt stand here in front, and side by side, as the two great powers of the time of Isaiah (cf., Isa 7:18-20). As appendices to Egypt, we have (1.) Pathros, hierogl. to-rēs, and with the article petorēs, the southland, i.e., Upper Egypt, so that Mizraim in the stricter sense is Lower Egypt (see, on the other hand, Jer 44:15); and (2.) Cush, the land which lies still farther south than Upper Egypt on both sides of the Arabian Gulf; and as appendices to Asshur, (1.) 'Elam, i.e., Elymais, in southern Media, to the east of the Tigris; and (2.) Shinar, the plain to the south of the junction of the Euphrates and Tigris. Then follow the Syrian Hamath at the northern foot of the Lebanon; and lastly, "the islands of the sea," i.e., the islands and coast-land of the Mediterranean, together with the whole of the insular continent of Europe. There was no such diaspora of Israel at the time when the prophet uttered this prediction, nor indeed even after the dissolution of the northern kingdom; so that the specification is not historical, but prophetic. The redemption which the prophet here foretells is a second, to be followed by no third; consequently the banishment out of which Israel is redeemed is the ultimate form of that which is threatened in Isa 6:12 (cf., Deu 30:1.). It is the second redemption, the counterpart of the Egyptian. He will then stretch out His hand again (yōsiph, supply lishloach); and as He once delivered Israel out of Egypt, so will He now redeem it - purchase it back (kânâh, opp. mâcar) out of all the countries named. The min attached to the names of the countries is to be construed with liknōth. Observe how, in the prophet's view, the conversion of the heathen becomes the means of the redemption of Israel. The course which the history of salvation has taken since the first coming of Christ, and which is will continue to take to the end, as described by Paul in the Epistle to the Romans, is distinctly indicated by the prophet. At the word of Jehovah the heathen will set His people free, and even escort them (Isa 49:22; Isa 62:10); and thus He will gather again ('âsaph, with reference to the one gathering point; kibbētz, with reference to the dispersion of those who are to be gathered together) from the utmost ends of the four quarters of the globe, "the outcasts of the kingdom of Israel, and the dispersed of the kingdom of Judah" (nidchē Yisrâe ūnephutzōth Yehūdâh: nidchē = niddechē, with the dagesh dropped before the following guttural),
(Note: The same occurs in ויסעוּ, וישׂאוּ, ויקנאוּ, מלאוּ, שׁלחוּ, תּקחוּ. In every case the dagesh has fallen out because of the following guttural (Luzzatto, Gramm. 180).)
both men and women.
But this calls to mind the present rent in the unity of the nation; and the third question very naturally arises, whether this rent will continue. The answer to this is given in Isa 11:13 : "And the jealousy of Ephraim is removed, and the adversaries of Judah are cut off; Ephraim will not show jealousy towards Judah, and Judah will not oppose Ephraim." As the suffix and genitive after tzōrēr are objective in every other instance (e.g., Amo 5:12), tzorerē Yehudâh must mean, not those members of Judah who are hostile to Ephraim, as Ewald, Knobel, and others suppose, but those members of Ephraim who are hostile to Judah, as Umbreit and Schegg expound it. In Isa 11:13 the prophet has chiefly in his mind the old feeling of enmity cherished by the northern tribes, more especially those of Joseph, towards the tribe of Judah, which issued eventually in the division of the kingdom. It is only in Isa 11:13 that he predicts the termination of the hostility of Judah towards Ephraim. The people, when thus brought home again, would form one fraternally united nation, whilst all who broke the peace of this unity would be exposed to the immediate judgment of God (yiccârēthu, will be cut off).
A fourth question has reference to the relation between this Israel of the future and the surrounding nations, such as the warlike Philistines, the predatory nomad tribes of the East, the unbrotherly Edomites, the boasting Moabites, and the cruel Ammonites. Will they not disturb and weaken the new Israel, as they did the old? "And they fly upon the shoulder of the Philistines seawards; unitedly they plunder the sons of the East: they seize upon Edom and Moab, and the sons of Ammon are subject to them." Câthēph (shoulder) was the peculiar name of the coast-land of Philistia which sloped off towards the sea (Jos 15:11); but here it is used with an implied allusion to this, to signify the shoulder of the Philistian nation (becâthēph = becĕthĕph; for the cause see at Isa 5:2), upon which Israel plunges down like an eagle from the height of its mountain-land. The "object of the stretching out of their hand" is equivalent to the object of their grasp. And whenever any one of the surrounding nations mentioned should attack Israel, the whole people would make common cause, and act together. How does this warlike prospect square, however, with the previous promise of paradisaical peace, and the end of all warfare which this promise presupposes (cf., Isa 2:4)? This is a contradiction, the solution of which is to be found in the fact that we have only figures here, and figures drawn from the existing relations and warlike engagements of the nation, in which the prophet pictures that supremacy of the future united Israel over surrounding nations, which is to be maintained by spiritual weapons.
He dwells still longer upon the miracles in which the antitypical redemption will resemble the typical one. "And Jehovah pronounces the ban upon the sea-tongue of Egypt, and swings His hand over the Euphrates in the glow of His breath, and smites it into seven brooks, and makes it so that men go through in shoes. And there will be a road for the remnant of His people that shall be left, out of Asshur, as it was for Israel in the day of its departure out of the land of Egypt." The two countries of the diaspora mentioned first are Asshur and Egypt. And Jehovah makes a way by His miraculous power for those who are returning out of both and across both. The sea-tongue of Egypt, which runs between Egypt and Arabia, i.e., the Red Sea (sinus Heroopolitanus, according to another figure), He smites with the ban (hecherim, corresponding in meaning to the pouring out of the vial of wrath in Rev 16:12 -a stronger term than gâ‛ar, e.g., Psa 106:9); and the consequence of this is, that it affords a dry passage to those who are coming back (though without there being any necessity to read hecherı̄b, or to follow Meier and Knobel, who combine hecherı̄m with chârūm, Lev 21:18, in the precarious sense of splitting). And in order that the dividing of Jordan may have its antitype also, Jehovah swings His hand over the Euphrates, to smite, breathing upon it at the same time with burning breath, so that it is split up into seven shallow brooks, through which men can walk in sandals. בּעים stands, according to the law of sound, for בּעים; and the ἁπ λεγ עים (with a fixed kametz), from עום = חום, חמם, to glow, signifies a glowing heat - a meaning which is also so thoroughly supported by the two Arabic verbs med. Ye ‛lm and glm (inf. ‛aim, gaim, internal heat, burning thirst, also violent anger), that there is no need whatever for the conjecture of Luzzatto and Gesenius, בעתסם. The early translators (e.g., lxx πνεύματι βιαίῳ, Syr. beuchdono, with a display of might) merely give conjectural renderings of the word, which had become obsolete before their time; Saadia, however, renders it with etymological correctness suchūn, from sachana, to be hot, or set on fire. Thus, by changing the Euphrates in the (parching) heat of His breath into seven shallow wadys, Jehovah makes a free course for His people who come out of Asshur, etc. This was the idea which presented itself to the prophet in just this shape, though it by no means followed that it must necessarily embody itself in history in this particular form.