Isaiah 29:2
Yet I will distress Ariel, and there shall be heaviness and sorrow: and it shall be unto me as Ariel.
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(2) And it shall be unto me as Ariel.—Better, But she (the city) shall be unto me as Ariel. That name would not falsify itself. In the midst of all her “heaviness and sorrow,” Jerusalem should still be as “the lion of God,” or, taking the other meaning, as the “altar-hearth” of God. (Comp. Ezekiel 43:15.)

Isaiah 29:2. Yet will I distress Ariel — Notwithstanding all your sacrifices, by bringing and strengthening her enemies against her. And there shall be heaviness and sorrow — Instead of your present joy and festivity. And it shall be to me as Ariel — That is, either, 1st, I will treat her like a strong and fierce lion, which the people, among whom it is, endeavour by nets and pits, and divers other ways, to take and destroy. Or, 2d, I will make Ariel the city like Ariel the altar, filling it with sacrifices, even of men, whom I will slay in my anger; which act of God is called his sacrifice, Ezekiel 39:17-19. Agreeably to this latter interpretation, Bishop Lowth renders the clause, It shall be unto me as the hearth of the great altar: that is, as he explains it, “all on flame; as it was when taken by the Chaldeans; or covered with carcasses and blood, as when taken by the Romans: an intimation of which more distant events, though not immediate subjects of the prophecy, may perhaps be given in this obscure passage.”

29:1-8 Ariel may signify the altar of burnt-offerings. Let Jerusalem know that outward religious services will not make men free from judgements. Hypocrites never can please God, nor make their peace with him. God had often and long, by a host of angels, encamped round about Jerusalem for protection and deliverance; but now he fought against it. Proud looks and proud language shall be brought down by humbling providences. The destruction of Jerusalem's enemies is foretold. The army of Sennacherib went as a dream; and thus the multitudes, that through successive ages fight against God's altar and worship, shall fall. Speedily will sinners awake from their soothing dreams in the pains of hell.Yet I will distress Ariel - The reference here is doubtless to the siege which God says Isaiah 29:3 he would bring upon the guilty and formal city.

And there shall be heaviness and sorrow - This was true of the city in the siege of Sennacherib, to which this probably refers. Though the city was delivered in a sudden and remarkable manner (see the note at Isaiah 29:7-8), yet it was also true that it was reduced to great distress (see Isaiah 36; 37)

And it shall be unto me as Ariel - This phrase shows that in Isaiah 29:1 Jerusalem is called 'Ariel,' because it contained the great altar, and was the place of sacrifice. The word "Ariel" here is to be understood in the sense "of the hearth of the great altar;" and the meaning is, 'I will indeed make Jerusalem like the great altar; I will make it the burning place of wrath where my enemies shall be consumed as if they were on the altar of burnt sacrifice.' Thus in Isaiah 30:9, it is said of Yahweh that his 'fire is in Zion, and his furnace in Jerusalem.' This is a strong expression, denoting the calamity that was approaching; and though the main reference in this whole passage is to the distress that would come upon them in the invasion of Sennacherib, yet there is no impropriety in supposing that there was presented to the mind of the prophet in vision the image of the total ruin that would come yet upon the city by the Chaldeans - when the temple, the palaces, and the dwellings of the magnificent city of David would be in flames, and like a vast blazing altar consuming that which was laid upon it.

2. Yet—rather, "Then."

heaviness … sorrow—rather, preserving the Hebrew paronomasia, "groaning" and "moaning."

as Ariel—either, "the city shall be as a lion of God," that is, it shall emerge from its dangers unvanquished; or "it shall be as the altar of burnt offering," consuming with fire the besiegers (Isa 29:6; Isa 30:30; 31:9; Le 10:2); or best, as Isa 29:3 continues the threat, and the promise of deliverance does not come till Isa 29:4, "it shall be like a hearth of burning," that is, a scene of devastation by fire [G. V. Smith]. The prophecy, probably, contemplates ultimately, besides the affliction and deliverance in Sennacherib's time, the destruction of Jerusalem by Rome, the dispersion of the Jews, their restoration, the destruction of the enemies that besiege the city (Zec 14:2), and the final glory of Israel (Isa 29:17-24).

Yet, notwithstanding all your sacrifices,

I will distress Ariel, by bringing and strengthening her enemies against her.

It shall be unto me as Ariel: the sense is either,

1. I will treat her like a strong and fierce lion, which, the people among whom it is endeavour by nets, or pits, and all other ways, to take and to destroy; or,

2. I will make Ariel the city like Ariel the altar, filling it with sacrifices, even with men, whom I will slay in my anger; which act of God’s is called his sacrifice, Ezekiel 39:17,19.

Yet I will distress Ariel,.... Or "straiten" it, by causing it to be besieged; and this he would do, notwithstanding their yearly sacrifices, and their observance of their solemn feasts, and other ceremonies of the law, in which they placed their confidence, and neglected weightier matters:

and there shall be heaviness and sorrow; on account of the siege; by reason of the devastations of the enemy without, made on all the cities and towns in Judea round about; and because of the famine and bloodshed in the city:

and it shall be unto me as Ariel; the whole city shall be as the altar; as that was covered with the blood and carcasses of slain beasts, so this with the blood and carcasses of men; and so the Targum,

"and I will distress the city where the altar is, and it shall be desolate and empty; and it shall be surrounded before me with the blood of the slain, as the altar is surrounded with the blood of the holy sacrifices on a solemn feast day all around;''

so Jarchi and Kimchi.

Yet I will distress Ariel, and there shall be heaviness and sorrow: and it shall be to me {c} as Ariel.

(c) Your city will be full of blood as an altar on which they sacrifice.

2. there shall be heaviness and sorrow] Better: “mourning and lamentation” (R.V.), but still better (as reproducing the assonance of the original): moaning and bemoaning (Cheyne). The expression recurs in Lamentations 2:5.

it shall be unto me as Ariel] she shall be to me like a (true) altar-hearth (Kaph veritatis). If Ariel meant “Lion of God” this clause would necessarily have to be understood in a favourable sense; on the view here followed it may be either a promise or a threat; the context decides for the latter. The meaning is that Jerusalem will be either a place where the flames of war rage fiercely, or a place reeking with the blood of countless human victims. We may suppose that Isaiah addressed these words to the worshippers in the Temple, and that the great altar with its bleeding victims stood out before his mind as an emblem of Jerusalem’s fate, and suggested the name “Ariel.”

2–5. The humiliation and distress of Ariel, at the hands of the Assyrians.

Verse 2. - Yet will I distress Ariel; rather, and then will I distress Ariel. The sense runs on from the preceding verse. There shall be heaviness and sorrow. Mr. Cheyne's "moaning and bemoaning" represents the Hebrew play upon words better. The natural consequence of the siege would be a constant cry of woe. And it shall be unto me as Ariel. It would be better to translate, "Yet she shall be unto me as Ariel." The meaning is that, though distressed and straitened, Jerusalem shall still through all be able by God's help to answer to her name of "Ariel" - to behave as a lien when attacked by the hunters. Isaiah 29:2The prophecy here passes from the fall of Samaria, the crown of flowers (Isaiah 28:1-4), to its formal parallel. Jerusalem takes its place by the side of Samaria, the crown of flowers, and under the emblem of a hearth of God. 'Arı̄'ēl might, indeed, mean a lion of God. It occurs in this sense as the name of certain Moabitish heroes (2 Samuel 23:20; 1 Chronicles 11:22), and Isaiah himself used the shorter form אראל for the heroes of Judah (Isaiah 33:7). But as אריאל (God's heart, interchanged with הראל htiw degna, God's height) is the name given in Ezekiel 43:15-16, to the altar of burnt-offering in the new temple, and as Isaiah could not say anything more characteristic of Jerusalem, than that Jehovah had a fire and hearth there (Isaiah 31:9); and, moreover, as Jerusalem the city and community within the city would have been compared to a lioness rather than a lion, we take אריאל in the sense of ara Dei (from ארה, to burn). The prophet commences in his own peculiar way with a grand summary introduction, which passes in a few gigantic strides over the whole course from threatening to promise. Isaiah 29:1 "Woe to Ariel, to Ariel, the castle where David pitched his tent! Add year to year, let the feasts revolve: then I distress Ariel, and there is groaning and moaning; and so she proves herself to me as Ariel." By the fact that David fixed his headquarters in Jerusalem, and then brought the sacred ark thither, Jerusalem became a hearth of God. Within a single year, after only one more round of feasts (to be interpreted according to Isaiah 32:10, and probably spoken at the passover), Jehovah would make Jerusalem a besieged city, full of sighs (vahătsı̄qōthı̄, perf. cons., with the tone upon the ultimate); but "she becomes to me like an Arı̄el," i.e., being qualified through me, she will prove herself a hearth of God, by consuming the foes like a furnace, or by their meeting with their destruction at Jerusalem, like wood piled up on the altar and then consumed in flame. The prophecy has thus passed over the whole ground in a few majestic words. It now starts from the very beginning again, and first of all expands the hoi. Isaiah 29:3, Isaiah 29:4 "And I encamp in a circle round about thee, and surround thee with watch-posts, and erect tortoises against thee. And when brought down thou wilt speak from out of the ground, and thy speaking will sound low out of the dust; and thy voice cometh up like that of a demon from the ground, and thy speaking will whisper out of the dust." It would have to go so far with Ariel first of all, that it would be besieged by a hostile force, and would lie upon the ground in the greatest extremity, and then would whisper with a ghostlike softness, like a dying man, or like a spirit without flesh and bones. Kaddūr signifies sphaera, orbis, as in Isaiah 22:18 and in the Talmud (from kâdar equals kâthar; cf., kudur in the name Nabu-kudur-ussur, Nebo protect the crown, κίδαριν), and is used here poetically for סביב. Jerome renders it quasi sphaeram (from dūr, orbis). מצּב (from נצב, יצב) might signify "firmly planted" (Luzzatto, immobilmente; compare shūth, Isaiah 2:7); but according to the parallel it signifies a military post, like מצּב, נציב. Metsurōth (from mâtsōr, Deuteronomy 20:20) are instruments of siege, the nature of which can only be determined conjecturally. On 'ōbh, see Isaiah 8:19;

(Note: The 'akkuubh mentioned there is equivalent to anbûb, Arab. a knot on a reed stalk, then that part of such a reed which comes between two knots, then the reed stalk itself; root נב, to rise up, swell, or become convex without and concave within (Fl.). It is possible that it would be better to trace 'ōbh back to this radical and primary meaning of what is hollow (and therefore has a dull sound), whether used in the sense of a leather-bag, or applied to a spirit of incantation, and the possessor of such a spirit.)

there is no necessity to take it as standing for ba‛al 'ōbh.

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