And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse,
&c.] By which is meant, not Hezekiah, as R. Moses F15 the priest, and others, since he was now born, and must be at least ten or twelve years of age; but the Messiah, as both the text and context show, and as is owned by many Jewish writers F16, ancient and modern: and he is called a "rod", either because of his unpromising appearance, arising "out of the stem of Jesse"; from him, in the line of David, when that family was like a tree cut down, and its stump only left in the ground, which was the case when Jesus was born of it: Jesse's family was at first but a mean and obscure one; it became very illustrious in David's time, and in some following reigns; from the Babylonish captivity, till the time of Christ, it was very low; and at the birth of Christ was low indeed, his supposed father being a carpenter, and his real mother Mary a poor virgin, dwelling at Nazareth; and it seemed very unlikely, under these circumstances, that he should be the King Messiah, and be so great as was foretold he should; and have that power, authority, and wisdom he had; and do such mighty works as he did; and especially be the author of eternal salvation; and bring forth such fruits, and be the cause of such blessings of grace, as he was: or else because of his kingly power and majesty, the rod or branch being put for a sceptre, and so a symbol of that; to which the Targum agrees, paraphrasing the words thus,
``and a King shall come forth from the sons of Jesse:''and the sense is, that though Jesse's or David's family should be brought so very low as to be as the stem or stump of a tree, without a body, branches, leaves, and fruit; yet from thence should arise a mighty King, even the King Messiah, who is spoken of by so many august names and titles, ( Isaiah 9:6 ) and this is observed for the comfort of the people of Israel, when distressed by the Assyrians, as in the preceding chapter ( Isaiah 10:1-34 ) ; when those high ones, comparable to the loftiest cedars in Lebanon, and to the tallest trees in the forest, should be hewn down, a rod should come out of Jesse's stem, which should rise higher, and spread more than ever they did: and a branch shall grow out of his roots;
the roots of Jesse, out of his family, compared to the stump of a tree; meaning either his ancestors, as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, Boaz, and Obed; or his posterity, as David, Joseph, and Mary; and so the Targum,
``and the Messiah shall be anointed (or exalted) from his children's children.''The branch is a well known name of the Messiah; (See Gill on Isaiah 4:2) the word Netzer, here used, is the name of the city of Nazareth F17; which perhaps was so called, from the trees, plants, and grass, which grew here; and so our Lord's dwelling here fulfilled a prophecy, that he should be called a Nazarene; or an inhabitant of Netzer, ( Matthew 2:23 ) . The Jews F18 speak of one Ben Netzer, who they say was a robber, took cities, and reigned over them, and became the head of robbers; and make F19 him to be the little horn in ( Daniel 7:8 ) and wickedly and maliciously say F20 he was Jesus; and yet, under all this wickedness, they tacitly own that Jesus of Nazareth is the Netzer this prophecy speaks of; the design of which is to show the meanness of Christ's descent as man, and that he should be as a root out of a dry ground, ( Isaiah 53:2 ) or rather as a rod and branch out of a dry root.
F15 Apud Aben Ezra in loc.
F16 Bereshit Rabba, sect. 85. fol. 75. 1. Midrash Tillim in Psal. lxxii. 1. Apud Yalkut Simeoni, par. 2. fol. 112. 2. Abarbinel, Mashmia Jeshua, fol. 8. 4. Aben Ezra, Jarchi, & Kimchi, in loc. Nachman. Disputat. cum Fratre Paulo, p. 53.
F17 David de Pomis Lexic. p. 141.
F18 T. Bab. Cetubot, fol. 51. 2. & Gloss. in ib.
F19 Bereshit Rabba, sect. 76. fol. 67. 2.
F20 Abarbinel in Dan. vii. 8. fol. 44. 1.