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From some such sort of poisonous fruits, of the grape kind, Moses has taken those strong and highly poetical images, with which he has set forth the future corruption and extreme degeneracy of the Israelites, in an allegory which has a near relation, both in its subject and imagery, to this of Isaiah:- . “ Their vine is from the vine of Sodom, And from the fields of Gomorrah : Their grapes are grapes of gall; Their clusters are bitter : Their wine is the poison of dragons,
And the cruel venom of aspics.” Deut. xxxii. 32, 33. “I am inclined to believe, (says Hasselquist), that the Prophet here (Isa. v. 2. and 4.) means the hoary nightshade, solanum incanum ; because it is common in Egypt, Palestine, and the East; and the Arabian name agrees well with it. The Arabs call it aneb el dib, i. e. wolf-grapes. The Prophet could not have found a plant more opposite to the vine than this; for it grows much in the vineyards, and is very pernicious to them; wherefore they root it out: it likewise resembles a vine by its shrubby stalk:” Travels, P. 289. See also Michaelis, Questions aux Voyageurs Danois, No. 64.
3. —inhabitants] w, in the plural number; three MSS, (two ancient); and so likewise LXX and Vulg.
6. —the thorn shall spring up in it.] A MS has ; the true reading seems to be 790 13: which is confirmed by LXX, Syr. Vulg.
7. And he looked for judgment-] The paronomasia, or play on the words, in this place, is very remarkable : mispat, mispach ; zedakah, zeakah. There are many examples of it in the other Prophets; but Isaiah seems peculiarly fond of it: see chap. xiii. 6. xxiv. 17. xxvii. 7. xxxiii. 1. lvii. 6. lxi. 3. Ixv. 11, 12. The Rabbins esteem it a great beauty: their term for it is 9105 110, “ elegance of language.”
Ibid.-tyranny] nous, from now, servum fecit, Arab. Houbigant: now, is serva, a handmaid, or female slave. 179D2, eighteen MSS.
8. You who lay field-] Read 720p, in the second person, to answer to the verb following ; so Vulg.
9. To mine ear-] The sentence in the Hebrew text seems to be imperfect in this place; as likewise in chap. xxii. 14. where the very same sense seems to be required
as here. See the note there ; and compare 1 Sam. ix. 15. In this place LXX supply the word nxovodn, and Syr. JONUX, auditus est JEHOVAH in auribus meis: i.e. 07522, as in chap. xxii. 14.
9, 10. —many houses—] This has reference to what was said in the preceding verse: “ In vain are ye so intent upon joining house to house, and field to field: your houses shall be left uninhabited, and your fields shall become desolate and barren; so that a vineyard of ten acres shall produce but one bath (not eight gallons) of wine, and the husbandman shall reap but a tenth part of the seed which he has sown.”
11. —to follow strong drink] Theodoret and Chrysostom on this place, both Syrians, and unexceptionable witnesses in what belongs to their own country, inform us, that 730, (oizega in the Greek of both Testaments, rendered by us by the general term strong drink), meant properly palm-wine, or date-wine, which was and is still much in use in the eastern countries. Judea was famous for the abundance and excellence of its palm-trees ; "and consequently had plenty of this wine. “Fiunt (vina) et è pomis:primumque è palmis, quo Parthi et Indi utuntur, et Oriens totus : maturarum modio in aquæ congiis tribus macerato expressoque;" Plin. xiv. 19. “Ab his cariote (palmæ] maxime celebrantur; et cibo quidem, sed et succo, uberrimæ. Ex quibus præcipua vina Orienti; iniqua capiti, unde pomo nomen :" Id. xiii. 9. Kagos signifies stupefaction : and in Hebrew likewise, the wine has its name from its remarkable inebriating quality. · 11, 12. Wo unto them who rise early-] There is a likeness between this and the followiug passage of the Prophet Amos, who probably wrote before Isaiah: if the latter is the copyer, he seems hardly to have equalled the elegance of the original “ Ye that put far away the evil day,
And affect the seat of violence;
· 13, 14. And their nobles] These verses have likewise a reference to the two preceding. They that indulged in feasting and drinking, shall perish with hunger and thirst; and Hades shall indulge his appetite as much as they had done, and devour them all. The image is strong, and expressive in the highest degree. Habakkuk uses the same image with great force : the ambitious and avaricious conqueror. “ Enlargeth his appetite like Hades ;
And he is like death, and will never be satisfied.” Hab. ii. 5. But, in Isaiah, Hades is introduced, to much greater advantage, in person; and placed before our eyes in the form of a ravenous monster, opening wide his immeasurable jaws, and swallowing them all together.
17. —without restraint-] 0737), secundum ductum eorum: i. e, suo ipsorum ductu ; as their own will shall lead them.
Ibid. And the kids—] Heb. 0173, strangers. The LXX read, more agreeably to the design of the Prophet, o'y), ages, the lambs : O'72, the kids, Dr DURELL; nearer to the present reading : and so Archbishop Secker. The meaning is, their luxurious habitations shall be so entirely destroyed, as to become a pasture for flocks.
18. —as a long cable] The LXX, Aquila, Sym. and Theod. for and read "San), WS ogorvw, or oyomiois: and the LXX, instead of xw, read some other word signifying long ; de og omviq pangw: and so likewise the Syriac, X '98. Houbigant conjectures, that the word which the LXX had in their copies was you, which is used, Lev. xxi. 18. xxii. 23. for something in an animal body superfluous, lengthened beyond its natural measure. And he explains it of sin added to sin, and one sin drawing on another, till the whole comes to an enormous length and magnitude; compared to the work of a rope-inaker, still increasing and lengthening his rope, with the continued addition of new materials. “ Eos propheta similes facit homini restiario, qui funem torquet, cannabe addita et contorta, eadem iterans, donec funer in longum duxerit, neque eum liceat protrahi longius.” “ An evil inclination (says Kimchi on the place, from the ancient Rabbins) is at the beginning like a fine hair-string, but at the finishing like a thick cart-rope.” By a long progression in iniquity, and a continued accumulation of sin, men arrive at length to the highest degree of wickedness'; bidding open defiance to God, and scoffing at his threatened judgments, as it is finely expressed in the next verse. The Chaldee paraphrast explains it in the same manner, of wickedness increasing from small beginnings, till it arrives to a great magnitude.
23. —the righteous] pity, singular, LXX, Vulg. and two editions.
24. —the tongue of fire] “ The flame, because it is in the shape of a tongue; and so it is called metaphorically :" Sal. b. Melec. The metaphor is so exceedingly obvious, as well as beautiful, that one may wonder that it has not been more frequently used. Virgil very elegantly intimates, rather than expresses, the image : Æn. ii. 682. “ Ecce levis summo de vertice visus Iuli
Fundere lumen apex; tractuque innoxia molli
Lambere flamma comas, et circum tempora pasci." And more boldly of Ætna darting out flames from its top: Æn. iii. 574.
" Attollitque globos flammarum, et sidera lambit." The disparted tongues, as it were of fire, (Acts ii. 3.), which appeared at the descent of the Holy Spirit on the apostles, give the same idea; that is, of flames shooting diversely into pyramidal forms, or points, like tongues. It may be further observed, that the Prophet in this place has given the metaphor its full force, in applying it to the action of fire in eating up and devouring whatever comes in its way, like a ravenous animal, whose tongue is principally employed in taking in his food or prey; which image Moses has strongly exhibited in a most expressive comparison :" And Moab said to the elders of Midian, Now shall this collection of people lick up all that are round about us, as the ox licketh up the grass of the field;" Num. xxii. 4. See also 1 Kings xviii. 38.
25.And the mountains trembled—] Probably referring to the great earthquakes in the days of Uzziah king of Judah, in, or not long before, the time of the Prophet himself : recorded as a remarkable era in the title of the Prophecies of Amos, chap. i. 1. and by Zechariah, chap. xiv. 5.
26. —he will hist—] “ The metaphor is taken from the practice of those that keep bees; who draw them out of their hives into the fields, and lead them back again, ougiolucion, by a hiss or a whistle;” Cyril, on the place: and to the same purpose Theodoret, ibid. In chap. vii. 18. the metaphor is more apparent, by being carried further; where the hostile armies are expressed by the fly and the bee:
“Jehovah shall hist the fly,
That is in the utmost parts of Egypt; . And the bee, that is in the land of Assyria.” On which place see Deut. i. 44. Psal. cxviii. 12.; and God calls the locusts his great army, Joel ii. 25. Exod. xxiii. 28. See Huet. Quæst. Alnet. ii. 12.
Ibid. —with speed—] This refers to the 19th verse. As the scoffers had challenged God to make speed and to hasten his work of vengeance; so now God assures them, that with speed and swiftly it shall come. . .
27. Nor shall the girdle-] The eastern people, wearing long and loose garments, were unfit for action or business of any kind, without girding their clothes about them: when their business was finished, they took off their girdles. A girdle therefore denotes strength and activity; and to unloose the girdle, is to deprive of strength, to render unfit for action. God promises to unloose the loins of kings before Cyrus, chap. xlv. I. The girdle is so essential a part of a soldier's accoutrement, being the last that he puts on to make himself ready for action, that to be girded, (wwwvodo, with the Greeks, means to be completely armed, and ready for battle:
Ατρειδης δ' εξοησεν, ιδε ζωννυσθαι ανωγεν
Il. xi. 5. To de svòuvos ta onha enumour oi Tahanol (wwodai. Pausan. Bæot. It is used in the same manner by the Hebrews:-“ Let not him that girdeth himself, boast as he that unlooseth his girdle,” i Kings xx. 11.; that is, “ triumph not, before the war is finished.”
28. The hoofs of their horses shall be counted as adamant.] The shoeing of horses with iron plates nailed to the hoof is quite a modern practice, and unknown to the ancients; as appears from the silence of the Greek and Roman writers, especially those that treat of horse-medicine; who could not have passed over a matter so obvious, and of such importance, that now the whole science takes its name from it, being called by us Farriery. The horse-shoes of leather and of iron, which are mentioned; the silver and the gold shoes with which Nero and Poppea shod their mules, used occasionally to preserve the hoofs of delicate cattle, or for vanity,