The peaceful character of Christ's kingdom and subjects. (1-9) The conversion of the Gentiles and Jews. (10-16)
Verses 1-9 The Messiah is called a Rod, and a Branch. The words signify a small, tender product; a shoot, such as is easily broken off. He comes forth out of the stem of Jesse; when the royal family was cut down and almost levelled with the ground, it would sprout again. The house of David was brought very low at the time of Christ's birth. The Messiah thus gave early notice that his kingdom was not of this world. But the Holy Spirit, in all his gifts and graces, shall rest and abide upon him; he shall have the fulness of the Godhead dwelling in him, ( Colossians 1:19 , Colossians 2:9 ) . Many consider that seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are here mentioned. And the doctrine of the influences of the Holy Spirit is here clearly taught. The Messiah would be just and righteous in all his government. His threatening shall be executed by the working of his Spirit according to his word. There shall be great peace and quiet under his government. The gospel changes the nature, and makes those who trampled on the meek of the earth, meek like them, and kind to them. But it shall be more fully shown in the latter days. Also Christ, the great Shepherd, shall take care of his flock, that the nature of troubles, and of death itself, shall be so changed, that they shall not do any real hurt. God's people shall be delivered, not only from evil, but from the fear of it. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? The better we know the God of love, the more shall we be changed into the same likeness, and the better disposed to all who have any likeness to him. This knowledge shall extend as the sea, so far shall it spread. And this blessed power there have been witnesses in every age of Christianity, though its most glorious time, here foretold, is not yet arrived. Meanwhile let us aim that our example and endeavours may help to promote the honour of Christ and his kingdom of peace.
Verses 10-16 When the gospel should be publicly preached, the Gentiles would seek Christ Jesus as their Lord and Saviour, and find rest of soul. When God's time is come for the deliverance of his people, mountains of opposition shall become plains before him. God can soon turn gloomy days into glorious ones. And while we expect the Lord to gather his ancient people, and bring them home to his church, also to bring in the fulness of the Gentiles, when all will be united in holy love, let us tread the highway of holiness he has made for his redeemed. Let us wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life, looking to him to prepare our way through death, that river which separates this world from the eternal world.
Isaiah 11:1-16 .
From the local and temporary national deliverance the prophet passes by the law of suggestion in an easy transition to the end of all prophecy--the everlasting deliverance under Messiah's reign, not merely His first coming, but chiefly His second coming. The language and illustrations are still drawn from the temporary national subject, with which he began, but the glories described pertain to Messiah's reign. Hezekiah cannot, as some think, be the subject; for he was already come, whereas the "stem of Jesse" was yet future ("shall come") (compare Micah 4:11 , &c. Micah 5:1 Micah 5:2 , Jeremiah 23:5 Jeremiah 23:6 , Jeremiah 33:15 Jeremiah 33:16 , Romans 15:12 ).
1. rod--When the proud "boughs" of "Lebanon" ( Isaiah 10:33 Isaiah 10:34 , the Assyrians) are lopped, and the vast "forests cut down" amidst all this rage, a seemingly humble rod shall come out of Jesse (Messiah), who shall retrieve the injuries done by the Assyrian "rod" to Israel ( Isaiah 10:5 Isaiah 10:6 Isaiah 10:18 Isaiah 10:19 ).
stem--literally, "the stump" of a tree cut close by the roots: happily expressing the depressed state of the royal house of David, owing to the hostile storm ( Isaiah 10:18 Isaiah 10:19 ), when Messiah should arise from it, to raise it to more than its pristine glory. Luke 2:7 proves this ( Isaiah 53:2 ; compare Job 14:7 Job 14:8 ;
Branch--Scion. He is nevertheless also the "root" ( Isaiah 11:10 , Revelation 5:5 , 22:16 . "Root and offspring" combines both, Zechariah 3:8 , 6:12 ).
2. Spirit of the Lord--JEHOVAH. The Spirit by which the prophets spake: for Messiah was to be a Prophet ( Isaiah 61:1 Deuteronomy 18:15 Deuteronomy 18:18 ). Seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are specified, to imply that the perfection of them was to be in Him. Compare "the seven Spirits" ( Revelation 1:4 ), that is, the Holy Ghost in His perfect fulness: seven being the sacred number. The prophets had only a portion out of the "fulness" in the Son of God ( John 1:16 , 3:34 Colossians 1:19 ).
rest--permanently; not merely come upon Him ( Numbers 11:25 Numbers 11:26 ).
wisdom--( 1 Corinthians 1:30 , Ephesians 1:17 , Colossians 2:3 ).
understanding--coupled with "wisdom," being its fruit. Discernment and discrimination ( Matthew 22:18 , John 2:25 ).
counsel . . . might--the faculty of forming counsels, and that of executing them ( Isaiah 28:29 ). Counsellor ( Isaiah 9:6 ).
knowledge--of the deep things of God ( Matthew 11:27 ). The knowledge of Him gives us true knowledge ( Ephesians 1:17 ).
fear of the Lord--reverential, obedient fear. The first step towards true "knowledge" ( Job 28:28 , Psalms 111:10 ).
3. make him of quick understanding--literally, "quick-scented in the fear of Jehovah"; endowed with a singular sagacity in discerning the genuine principle of religious fear of God, when it lies dormant in the yet unawakened sinner ( Matthew 12:20 Acts 10:1-48 , 16:14 ) [HORSLEY]. But MAURER, "He shall delight in the fear of God." The Hebrew means "to delight in the odors" of anything ( Exodus 30:38 Amos 5:21 ); "smell," that is, "delight in."
after . . . sight--according to mere external appearances ( John 7:24 , 8:15 , 2:1 , 1 Samuel 16:7 ). Herein Messiah is represented a just Judge and Ruler ( Deuteronomy 1:16 Deuteronomy 1:17 ).
reprove--"decide," as the parallelism shows.
after . . . ears--by mere plausible hearsays, but by the true merits of each case ( John 6:64 , Revelation 2:23 ).
4. judge--see that impartial justice is done them. "Judge" may mean here "rule," as in Psalms 67:4 .
reprove--or, "argue"; "decide." But LOWTH, "work conviction in."
earth--Compare with Matthew 5:5 , and Revelation 11:15 .
earth--its ungodly inhabitants, answering to "the wicked" in the parallel, and in antithesis to the "poor" and "meek," namely, in spirit, the humble pious ( Matthew 5:3 ). It is at the same time implied that "the earth" will be extraordinarily wicked when He shall come to judge and reign. His reign shall therefore be ushered in with judgments on the apostates ( Psalms 2:9-12 Luke 18:8 Revelation 2:27 ).
rod of . . . mouth--condemning sentences which proceed from His mouth against the wicked ( Revelation 1:16 , 2:16 , Revelation 19:15 Revelation 19:21 ).
breath of . . . lips--his judicial decisions ( Isaiah 30:28 , Job 15:30 , Revelation 19:20 , 20:9-12 ). He as the Word of God ( Revelation 19:13-15 ) comes to strike that blow which shall decide His claim to the kingdom, previously usurped by Satan, and "the beast" to whom Satan delegates his power. It will be a day of judgment to the Gentile dispensation, as the first coming was to the Jews. Compare a type of the "rod" ( Numbers 17:2-10 ).
5. righteousness . . . girdle--( Revelation 1:13 , 19:11 ). The antitypical High Priest ( Exodus 28:4 ). The girdle secures firmly the rest of the garments ( 1 Peter 1:13 ). So "truth" gives firm consistency to the whole character ( Ephesians 5:14 ). In Isaiah 59:17 , "righteousness" is His breastplate.
6. wolf . . . lamb--Each animal is coupled with that one which is its natural prey. A fit state of things under the "Prince of Peace" ( Isaiah 65:25 , Ezekiel 34:25 , Hosea 2:18 ). These may be figures for men of corresponding animal-like characters ( Ezekiel 22:27 , 38:13 , Jeremiah 5:6 , 13:23 , Matthew 7:15 , Luke 10:3 ). Still a literal change in the relations of animals to man and each other, restoring the state in Eden, is a more likely interpretation. Compare Genesis 2:19 Genesis 2:20 , with Psalms 8:6-8 , which describes the restoration to man, in the person of "the Son of man," of the lost dominion over the animal kingdom of which he had been designed to be the merciful vicegerent under God, for the good of his animal subjects ( Romans 8:19-22 ).
7. feed--namely, "together"; taken from the second clause.
straw--no longer flesh and blood.
8. play--literally, "delight" himself in sport.
cockatrice--a fabulous serpent supposed to be hatched from the egg of a cock. The Hebrew means a kind of adder, more venomous than the asp; BOCHART supposes the basilisk to be meant, which was thought to poison even with its breath.
9. my holy mountain--Zion, that is, Jerusalem. The seat of government and of Messiah's throne is put for the whole earth ( Jeremiah 3:17 ).
sea--As the waters find their way into every cavern of its depths, so Christianity shall pervade every recess of the earth ( Habakkuk 2:14 ). As Isaiah 11:1-5 describe the personal qualities of Messiah, and Isaiah 11:6-9 the regenerating effects of His com ing on creation, so Isaiah 11:10-16 the results of it in the restoration of His people, the Jews, and the conversion through them of the Gentiles.
10. root--rather, "shoot from the root" (compare Note, Isaiah 53:2 , Revelation 5:5 , 22:16 ).
stand--permanently and prominently, as a banner lifted up to be the rallying point of an army or people ( Isaiah 5:26 , John 12:32 ).
the people--peoples, answering to "the Gentiles" in the parallel member.
to it . . . seek--diligently ( Job 8:5 ). They shall give in their allegiance to the Divine King ( Isaiah 2:2 , 60:5 , Zechariah 2:11 ). HORSLEY translates, "Of Him shall the Gentiles inquire"; namely, in a religious sense, resort as to an oracle for consultation in difficulties" ( Zechariah 14:16 ). Compare Romans 15:12 , which quotes this passage, "In Him shall the Gentiles trust."
rest--resting-place ( Isaiah 60:13 , Psalms 132:8 Psalms 132:14 , Ezekiel 43:7 ). The sanctuary in the temple of Jerusalem was "the resting-place of the ark and of Jehovah." So the glorious Church which is to be is described under the image of an oracle to which all nations shall resort, and which shall be filled with the visible glory of God.
11. set . . . hand--take in hand the work. Therefore the coming restoration of the Jews is to be distinct from that after the Babylonish captivity, and yet to resemble it. The first restoration was literal, therefore so shall the second be; the latter, however, it is implied here, shall be much more universal than the former ( Isaiah 43:5-7 , Isaiah 49:12 Isaiah 49:17 Isaiah 49:18 , Ezekiel 37:21 , Hosea 3:5 , Amos 9:14 Amos 9:15 , Micah 4:6 Micah 4:7 Zephaniah 3:19 Zephaniah 3:20 , Zechariah 10:10 , Jeremiah 23:8 ). As to the "remnant" destined by God to survive the judgments on the nation, compare Jeremiah 46:28 .
Pathros--one of the three divisions of Egypt, Upper Egypt.
Cush--either Ethiopia, south of Egypt, now Abyssinia, or the southern parts of Arabia, along the Red Sea.
Elam--Persia, especially the southern part of it now called Susiana.
Shinar--Babylonian Mesopotamia, the plain between the Euphrates and the Tigris: in it Babel was begun ( Genesis 10:10 ). In the Assyrian inscriptions RAWLINSON distinguishes three periods: (1) The Chaldean; from 2300 B.C. to 1500, in which falls Chedorlaomer ( Genesis 14:1-17 ), called in the cuneiform characters Kudur of Hur, or Ur of the Chaldees, and described as the conqueror of Syria. The seat of the first Chaldean empire was in the south, towards the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates. (2) The Assyrian, down to 625 B.C. (3) The Babylonian, from 625 to 538 B.C., when Babylon was taken by the Persian Cyrus.
islands of . . . sea--the far western regions beyond the sea.
12. In the first restoration Judah alone was restored, with perhaps some few of Israel (the ten tribes): in the future restoration both are expressly specified ( Ezekiel 37:16-19 Jeremiah 3:18 ). To Israel are ascribed the "outcasts" (masculine); to Judah the "dispersed" (feminine), as the former have been longer and more utterly castaways (though not finally) than the latter ( John 7:52 ). The masculine and feminine conjoined express the universality of the restoration.
from the four corners of the earth--Hebrew, "wings of the earth."
13. envy . . . of Ephraim . . . Judah--which began as early as the time ( Judges 8:1 , 12:1 , &c.). Joshua had sprung from, and resided among the Ephraimites ( Numbers 13:9 , Joshua 19:50 ); the sanctuary was with them for a time ( Joshua 18:1 ). The jealousy increased subsequently ( 2 Samuel 2:8 , &c. 2 Samuel 19:41 , 20:2 , 3:10 ); and even before David's time ( 1 Samuel 11:8 , 15:4 ), they had appropriated to themselves the national name Israel. It ended in disruption ( 1 Kings 11:26 , &c. 1 Kings 12:1-33 ; compare 2 Kings 14:9 Psalms 78:56-71 ).
adversaries of Judah--rather, "the adversaries from Judah"; those of Judah hostile to the Ephraimites [MAURER]. The parallelism "the envy of Ephraim," namely, against Judah, requires this, as also what follows; namely, "Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim" ( Ezekiel 37:15 Ezekiel 37:17 Ezekiel 37:19 ).
14. With united forces they shall subdue their foes ( Amos 9:12 ).
fly--as a bird of prey ( Habakkuk 1:8 ).
upon the shoulders--This expresses an attack made unexpectedly on one from behind. The image is the more apt, as the Hebrew for "shoulders" in Numbers 34:11 is used also of a maritime coast ("side of the sea": Hebrew, "shoulder of the sea," Margin). They shall make a sudden victorious descent upon their borders southwest of Judea.
them of the east--Hebrew, "children of the East," the Arabs, who, always hostile, are not to be reduced under regular government, but are only to be despoiled ( Jeremiah 49:28 Jeremiah 49:29 ).
lay . . . hand upon--take possession of ( Daniel 11:42 ).
Edom--south of Judah, from the Dead Sea to the Red Sea; "Moab"--east of Jordan and the Dead Sea.
Ammon--east of Judea, north of Moab, between the Arnon and Jabbok.
15. There shall be a second exodus, destined to eclipse even the former one from Egypt in its wonders. So the prophecies elsewhere ( Psalms 68:22 , Exodus 14:22 , Zechariah 10:11 ). The same deliverance furnishes the imagery by which the return from Babylon is described ( Isaiah 48:20 Isaiah 48:21 ).
destroy--literally, "devote," or "doom," that is, dry up; for what God dooms, perishes ( Psalms 106:9 Nahum 1:4 ).
tongue--the Bubastic branch of the Nile [VITRINGA]; but as the Nile was not the obstruction to the exodus, it is rather the west tongue or Heroöpolite fork of the Red Sea.
with . . . mighty wind--such as the "strong east wind" ( Exodus 14:21 ), by which God made a way for Israel through the Red Sea. The Hebrew for "mighty" means terrible. MAURER translates, "With the terror of His anger"; that is, His terrible anger.
in the seven streams--rather, "shall smite it (divide it by smiting) into seven (many) streams, so as to be easily crossed" [LOWTH]. So Cyrus divided the river Gyndes, which retarded his march against Babylon, into three hundred sixty streams, so that even a woman could cross it [HERODOTUS, 1.189]. "The river" is the Euphrates, the obstruction to Israel's return "from Assyria" ( Isaiah 11:16 ), a type of all future impediments to the restoration of the Jews.
dry shod--Hebrew, "in shoes." Even in sandals they should be able to pass over the once mighty river without being wet ( Revelation 16:12 ).
16. highway--a highway clear of obstructions ( Isaiah 19:23 , 35:8 ).
like as . . . Israel . . . Egypt--( Isaiah 51:10 Isaiah 51:11 , Isaiah 63:12 Isaiah 63:13 ).