And it came to pass in the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up toward Jerusalem to war against it, but could not prevail against it.
Verses 1-9. - THE PROPHECY GIVEN TO AHAZ AT THE TIME OF THE SYRO-ISRAELITISH WAR. The Syro-Israelitish war is touched on both in Kings and Chronicles. In Kings the alliance between Rezin and Pekah is distinctly declared, as also the fact that they conjointly besieged Jerusalem (2 Kings 16:5). From Chronicles we learn that, before the siege, Ahaz was twice defeated with great loss, once by the Syrians (2 Chronicles 28:5), and once by the Israelites (2 Chronicles 28:6). He was probably, therefore, reduced to great straits at the time when Isaiah received directions to seek an interview with him, and communicate to him a comforting message from Jehovah. Verse 1. - In the days of Ahaz. The reign of Ahaz covered, probably, the space between B.C. 743 and in B.C. 727. The march on Jerusalem appears to have fallen somewhat late in his reign (about B.C. 733). Rezin the King of Syria. Rezin is mentioned as King of Damascus by Tiglath-Pfieser II. in several of his inscriptions. In one, which seems to belong to B.C. 732 or 731, he states that he defeated Rezin and slew him. Pekah the son of Remaliah (see 2 Kings 15:25). Pekah had been an officer under Pekahiah, the son and successor of Menahem; but had revolted, put Pekahiah to death in his palace, and seized the crown. It is probable that he and Rezin were anxious to form a confederacy for the purpose of resisting the advance of the Assyrian power, and, distrusting Ahaz, desired to place on the throne of Judah a person on whom they could thoroughly depend (see ver. 6). It was not their design to conquer the Jewish kingdom, but only to change the sovereign. Toward Jerusalem; rather, to Jerusalem. The allies reached the city and commenced the siege (2 Kings 16:5). Could not prevail against it; literally, prevailed not in fighting against it.
And it was told the house of David, saying, Syria is confederate with Ephraim. And his heart was moved, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind.
Verse 2. - It was told the house of David. Before the actual siege began, news of the alliance reached Ahaz. It is said to have been" told the house of David," because the design was to supersede the family of David by another - apparently a Syrian - house (see note on ver. 6). Syria is confederate with Ephraim; literally, rests upon Ephraim. Under ordinary circumstances the kingdoms of Syria and Israel were hostile the one to the other (see 1 Kings 15:20; 1 Kings 20:1-3; 1 Kings 22:3-36; 2 Kings 5:2; 2 Kings 6:8-24; 2 Kings 8:29; 2 Kings 10:32; 2 Kings 13:3, 22, 25). But occasionally, under the pressure of a great danger, the relations were changed, and a temporary league was formed. The inscriptions of Shalmaneser II. show such a league to have existed in the time of Benhadad II. and Ahab ('Ancient Monarchies,' vol. it. pp. 103, 104). The invasion of Pul, and the threatening attitude of Tiglath-Pileser. It had now once more drown the two countries together. On the use of the word "Ephraim" to designate the kingdom of Israel, see Hosea, passim. His heart was moved; or, shook. If the two kings had each been able separately to inflict on him such loss (see the introductory paragraph), what must he not expect, now that both were about to attack him together? It is not clear whether Ahuz had as yet applied to Assyria for help or not.
Then said the LORD unto Isaiah, Go forth now to meet Ahaz, thou, and Shearjashub thy son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller's field;
Verse 3. - Thou, and Shear-Jashub thy son. The name Shear-Jashub, "a remnant shall return," may have been given to Isaiah's son by revelation, as Ewald thinks it was; or Isaiah may have given it to testify his faith both in the threats and in the promises of which he had been made the mouth-piece. The command to take him with him on the present occasion was probably given on account of his name, that the attention of Ahaz might be called to it. The conduit of the upper pool is mentioned also in 2 Kings 18:17. It was probably a subterranean duct which brought water into the city from the high ground outside the Damascus gate. Ahaz may have visited it in order to see that it was made available for his own use, but not for the enemy's (comp. 2 Chronicles 32:3, 4, 30; Isaiah 22:9, 11).
And say unto him, Take heed, and be quiet; fear not, neither be fainthearted for the two tails of these smoking firebrands, for the fierce anger of Rezin with Syria, and of the son of Remaliah.
Verse 4. - Take heed, and be quiet; or, see that thou keep quiet; i.e. "be not disturbed; do not resort to strange and extreme measures; in quietness and confidence should be your strength" (see Isaiah 30:15). The two tails of these smoking firebrands. Rezin and Pekah are called "two tails," or "two stumps of smoking firebrands," as persons who had been dangerous, but whose power of doing harm was on the polar of departing from them. They could not now kindle a flame; they could only "smoke." The son of Remaliah. Pekah seems to be called "Remaliah's son" in contempt (comp. vers. 5, 9), Remaliah having been a man of no distinction (2 Kings 15:25).
Because Syria, Ephraim, and the son of Remaliah, have taken evil counsel against thee, saying,
Let us go up against Judah, and vex it, and let us make a breach therein for us, and set a king in the midst of it, even the son of Tabeal:
Verse 6. - Make a breach therein. The word employed means properly "making a breach in a city wall" (2 Kings 25:4; 2 Chronicles 32:1; Jeremiah 39:2; Ezekiel 26:10), but is used also in a metaphorical sense for injuring and ruining a country (see especially 2 Chronicles 21:17). The son of Tabeal; or, Tubal. "Tab-ill" appears to be a Syrian name, founded upon the same pattern as Tab-rimmon (1 Kings 15:18), rite one meaning "God is good, "the other "Rimmon is good." We cannot, however, conclude from the name that the family of Tabeal was monotheistic (Kay), for El was one of the many Syrian gods as much as Rimmon (see Max Mailer, 'Science of Religion,' pp. 177, 178).
Thus saith the Lord GOD, It shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass.
Verse 7. - Thus saith the Lord God; literally, the Lord Jehovah, as in Isaiah 28:10; Isaiah 40:10; Isaiah 48:16, etc. It shall not stand; i.e. "the design shall not hold good, it shall not be accomplished." Rezin and Pekah have planned to set aside the issue of David, to which God had promised his throne (2 Samuel 7:11-16; Psalm 89:27-37), and to act up a new line of kings unconnected with David. They think to frustrate the everlasting counsel of God. Such an attempt was of necessity futile.
For the head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin; and within threescore and five years shall Ephraim be broken, that it be not a people.
Verse 8. - For the head of Syria is Damascus, etc. Syria and Ephraim have merely human heads - the one Rezin, the other (ver. 9) Pekah; but Judah, it is implied, has a Divine Head, even Jehovah. How, then, should mere mortals think to oppose their will and their designs to God's? Of course, their designs must come to naught. Within threescore and five years shall Ephraim be broken, etc. If this prophecy was delivered, as we have supposed, in B.C. 733 (see note on ver. 1), sixty-five years later would bring us to B.C. 669. This was the year in which Esar-haddon, having made his son, Asshur-bani-pal, King of Assyria, transferred his own residence to Babylon, and probably the year in which he sent from Babylonia and the adjacent countries a number of colonists who occupied Samaria, and entirely destroyed the nationality, which, fifty-three years earlier, had received a rude blow from Sargon (comp. Ezra 4:2, 9, 10, with 2 Kings 17:6-24 and 2 Chronicles 33:11). It is questioned whether, under the circumstances, the prophet can have comforted Ahaz with this distant prospect, and suggested that in the present chapter prophecies pronounced at widely distant periods have been mixed up (Cheyne); but there is no such appearance of dislocation in Isaiah 7, in its present form, as necessitates any such theory; and, while it may be granted that the comfort of the promise given in ver. 8 would be slight, it cannot be said that it would be nil; it may, therefore, have been (as it seems to us) without impropriety added to the main promise, which is that of ver. 7. The entire clause, from "and within" to "not a people," must be regarded as parenthetic.
And the head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is Remaliah's son. If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.
Verse 9. - If ye will not believe, etc. Translate, If ye will not hold this faith fast, surely ye will not stand fast. Full faith in the promise of ver. 7 would have enabled Ahaz to dispense with all plans of earthly policy, and to "stand fast in the Lord," without calling in the aid of any "arm of flesh." Distrust of the promise would lead him to take steps which would not tend to "establish" him, but would make his position more insecure (see 2 Kings 16:7-18; 2 Chronicles 28:16, 20).
Moreover the LORD spake again unto Ahaz, saying,
Verses 10-16. - THE SIGN OF IMMANUEL. The supposition that there was a considerable interval between ver. 9 and ver. 10 (Cheyne) is quite gratuitous. Nothing in the text marks any such interval. God had sent Ahaz one message by his prophet (vers. 4-9). It had apparently been received in silence, at any rate without acknowledgment. The faith had seemed to be lacking which should have embraced with gladness the promise given (see the last clause of ver. 9). God, however, will give the unhappy monarch another chance. And so he scuds him a second message, the offer of a sign which should make belief in the first message easier to him (ver. 11). Ahaz proudly rejects this offer (ver. 12). Then the sign of "Immanuel" is given - not to Ahaz individually, but to the whole "house of David," and through them to the entire Jewish people. "A virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, whose name shall be called Immanuel; and before this child shall have grown to the age of moral discernment, God's people will have been delivered, and their enemies made a desolation" (vers. 14-16). The exact bearing of the "sign" will be best discussed in the comment upon ver. 14. Verse 10. - The Lord spake again unto Ahaz. As before (vers. 3, 4) by the mouth of his prophet.
Ask thee a sign of the LORD thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above.
Verse 11. - Ask thee a sign. Asking for a sign is right or wrong, praiseworthy or blamable, according to the spirit in which the request is made. The Pharisees in our Lord's time "asked for a sign," but would not have believed any the more had they received the sign for which they asked. Gideon asked for a sign to strengthen his faith (Judges 6:37, 39), and received it, and in the strength of it went forth boldly against the Midianites. When God himself proposed to give a sign, and allowed his creature to choose what the sign should be, there could be no possible wrong-doing in a ready acceptance of the offer, which should have called forth gratitude and thanks. Ask it either in the depth, or in the height above; i.e. "Ask any sign thou wilt, either in hell or in heaven" - nothing shall be refused thee.
But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the LORD.
Verse 12. - I will not ask, neither will I tempt the Lord. Ahaz, who has no wish for a sign, because he has no wish to believe in any other salvation than flint which will follow from the realization of his own schemes, finds a plausible reason for declining to ask for one in those passages of the Law which forbade men to" tempt God" (Exodus 17:7; Deuteronomy 6:16). But it could not be "tempt-tug God" to comply with a Divine invitation; rather it was tempting him to refuse compliance.
And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also?
Verse 13. - O house of David (comp. ver. 2). It is not Ahaz alone, but the "house of David," which is on its trial. Men are conspiring to remove it (ver. 6). If it will not be saved in God's way, it will have to be removed by God himself. Is it a small thing for you to weary men? i.e. "Are you not content with wearying men; with disregarding all my warnings and so wearying me? Must you go further, and weary God" (or, "wear out his patience") "by rejecting his gracious offers?" My God. In ver. 11 Isaiah had called Jehovah "thy God;" but as Ahaz, by rejecting God's offer, had rejected God, he speaks of him now as "my God."
Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
Verse 14. - Therefore. To show that your perversity cannot change God's designs, which will be accomplished, whether you hear or whether you forbear. The Lord himself; i.e. "the Lord himself, of his own free will, unasked." Will give you a sign. "Signs" were of various kinds. They might be actual miracles performed to attest a Divine commission (Exodus 4:3-9); or judgments of God, significative of his power and justice (Exodus 10:2); or memorials of something in the past (Exodus 13:9, 16); or pledges of something still future. Signs of this last-mentioned kind might be miracles (Judges 6:36-40; 2 Kings 20:8-11), or prophetic announcements (Exodus 3:12; 1 Samuel 2:34; 2 Kings 19:29). These last would only have the effect of signs on those who witnessed their accomplishment. Behold. "A forewarning of a great event" (Cheyne). A virgin shall conceive. It is questioned whether the word translated "virgin," viz. 'almah, has necessarily that meaning; but it is admitted that the meaning is borne out by every other place in which the word occurs m the Old Testament (Genesis 24:43; Exodus 2:8; Psalm 68:25; Proverbs 30:19; Song of Solomon 1:3; Song of Solomon 6:8). The LXX., writing two centuries before the birth of Christ, translate by παρθένος. The rendering "virgin" has the support of the best modern Hebraists, as Lowth, Gesenins, Ewald, Delitzsch, Kay. It is observed with reason that unless 'almah is translated "virgin," there is no announcement made worthy of the grand prelude: "The Lord himself shall give you a sign - Behold!" The Hebrew, however, has not "a virgin," but "the virgin" (and so the Septuagint, ἡ παρθένος), which points to some special virgin, pro-eminent above all others. And shall call; better than the marginal rendering, thou shalt call. It was regarded as the privilege of a mother to determine her child's name (Genesis 4:25; Genesis 16:11; Genesis 29:32-35; Genesis 30:6-13, 18-21, 24; Genesis 35:18, etc.), although formally the father gave it (Genesis 16:15; 2 Samuel 12:24; Luke 1:62, 83). Immanuel. Translated for us by St. Matthew (Matthew 1:23) as "God with us" (μεθ ἡμῶν ὁ Θεός). (Comp. Isaiah 8:8, 10.)
Isaiah 7:15 Verse 15. - Butter and honey shall he eat. His fare shall be of the simplest kind (comp. ver. 22). That he may know; rather, till he shall know (Rosenmüller); i.e. till he come to years of discretion. (The rendering of the Revisers of 1885, "when he knoweth," is less satisfactory.)
- Note on the general purport of the Immanuel prophecy. Few prophecies have been the subject of so much controversy, or called forth such a variety of exegesis, as this prophecy of Immanuel. Rosenmüller gives a list of twenty-eight authors who have written dissertations upon it, and himself adds a twenty-ninth. Yet the subject is far from being exhausted. It is still asked:
(1) Were the mother and son persons belonging to the time of Isaiah himself, and if so, what persons? Or,
(2) Were they the Virgin Mary and her Son Jesus? Or,
(3) Had the prophecy a double fulfillment, first in certain persons who lived in Isaiah's time, and secondly in Jesus and his mother?
I. The first theory is that of the Jewish commentators. Originally, they suggested that the mother was Abi, the wife of Ahaz (2 Kings 18:2), and the son Hezekiah, who delivered Judah from the Assyrian power (see Justin, 'Dial. cum Tryphon.,' p. 262). But this was early disproved by showing that, according to the numbers of Kings (2 Kings 16:2; 2 Kings 18:2), Hezekiah was at least nine years old in the first year of Ahaz, before which this prophecy could not have been delivered (Isaiah 7:1). The second suggestion made identified the mother with Isaiah's wife, the "prophetess" of Isaiah 8:3, and made the son a child of his, called actually Immanuel, or else his son Maher-shalal-hash-baz (Isaiah 8:1) under a symbolical designation. But ha-'almah, "the virgin," would be a very strange title for Isaiah to have given his wife, and the rank assigned to Immanuel in Isaiah 8:8 would not suit any son of Isaiah's. It remains to regard the 'almah as "some young woman actually present," name, rank, and position unknown, and Immanuel as her son, also otherwise unknown (Cheyne). But the grand exordium, "The Lord himself shall give you a sign - Behold!" and the rank of Immanuel (Isaiah 8:8), are alike against this.
II. The purely Messianic theory is maintained by Rosenmüller and Dr. Kay, but without any consideration of its difficulties. The birth of Christ was an event more than seven hundred years distant. In what sense and to what persons could it be a "sign" of the coming deliverance of the land from Rezin and Pekah? And, upon the purely Messianic theory, what is the meaning of ver. 16? Syria and Samaria were, in fact, crushed within a few years of the delivery of the prophecy. Why is their desolation put off, apparently, till the coming of the Messiah, and even till he has reached a certain age? Mr. Cheyne meets these difficulties by the startling statement that Isaiah expected the advent of the Messiah to synchronize with the Assyrian invasion, and consequently thought that before Rezin and Pekah were crushed he would have reached the age of discernment. But he does not seem to see that in this case the sigma was altogether disappointing and illusory. Time is an essential element of a prophecy which turns upon the word "before" (ver. 16). If this faith of Isaiah's disciples was aroused and their hopes raised by the announcement that Immanuel was just about to be born (Mr. Cheyne translates, "A virgin is with child"), what would be the revulsion of feeling when no Immanuel appeared?
III. May not the true account of the matter be that suggested by Bishop Lowth - that the prophecy had a double bearing and a double fulfillment? "The obvious and literal meaning of the prophecy is this," he says: "that within the time that a young woman, now a virgin, should conceive and bring forth a child, and that child should arrive at such an age as to distinguish between good and evil, that is, within a few years, the enemies of Judah should be destroyed." But the prophecy was so worded, he adds, as to have a further meaning, which wan even "the original design and principal intention of the prophet," viz. the Messianic one. All the expressions of the prophecy do not suit both its intentions - some are selected with reference to the first, others with reference to the second fulfillment - but all suit one or the other, and some suit both. The first child may have received the name Immanuel (comp. Ittiel) from a faithful Jewish mother, who believed that God was with his people, whatever dangers threatened, and may have reached years of discretion about the time that Samaria was carried away captive. The second child is the true "Immanuel," "God with us," the king of Isaiah 8:8; it is his mother who is pointed at in the expression, "the virgin," and on his account is the grand preamble; through him the people of God, the true Israel, is delivered from its spiritual enemies, sin and Satan - two kings who continually threaten it.
Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.
For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings.
Verse 16. - The land, etc. Translate, The land shall be desolate, before whose two kings thou art afraid. The "land" must certainly be that of the two confederate kings, Rezin and Pekah, the Syro-Ephraim-itic land, or Syria and Samaria. "Desolate" may be used physically or politically. A land is "desolate" politically when it loses the last vestige of independence.
The LORD shall bring upon thee, and upon thy people, and upon thy father's house, days that have not come, from the day that Ephraim departed from Judah; even the king of Assyria.
Verses 17-25. - THE DANGER TO JUDAH FROM ASSYRIA. The perversity of Ahaz, already rebuked in ver. 13, is further punished by a threat, that upon him, and upon his people, and upon his father's house, shall come shortly a dire calamity. The very power whose aid he is himself bent on invoking shall be the scourge to chastise both king and people (vers. 17-20). The land shall be made bare as by a razor (ver. 20). Cultivation shall cease; its scant inhabitants will support themselves by keeping a few cows and sheep (ver. 21), and will nourish themselves on dairy produce, and the honey that the wild bees produce (ver. 22). Briers and thorns will come up everywhere; wild beasts will increase; cattle will browse on the hills that were once carefully cultivated to their summits (vers. 23-25). Verse 17. - The Lord shall bring upon thee, etc. The transition from promises to threatenings is abrupt, and calculated to impress any one who was to any extent impressible. But Ahaz seems not to have had "ears to hear." From the day that Ephraim departed from Judah; i.e. from the time of the revolt under Jeroboam (1 Kings 12:16-24) - an evil day, which rankled in the mind of all true Judaeans. Even the King of Assyria. The construction is awkward, since "the King of Assyria' cannot well stand in apposition with "days." Hence many take the words for a gloss that has been accidentally intruded into the text (Lowth, Gesenius, Hitzig, Knobel, Cheyne). Others, however, see in the grammatical anomaly a grace of composition.
And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall hiss for the fly that is in the uttermost part of the rivers of Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria.
Verse 18. - The Lord shall hiss (see Isaiah 5:26, and note ad loc.). For the fly that is in the uttermost part of the rivers of Egypt. The "fly of Egypt," like the "bee of Assyria," represents the military force of the nation, which God summons to take part in the coming affliction of Judaea. The prophetic glance may be extended over the entire period of Judah's decadence, and the "flies" summoned may include those which clustered about Neco at Megiddo, and carried off Jehoahaz from Jerusalem (2 Kings 23:29-34). There may be allusion also to Egyptian ravages in the reigns of Sargon, Sennacherib, and Esar-haddon. In any general review of the period we shall find it stated that, from the time of Sargon to that of Cyrus, Judaea was the battle-ground upon which the forces of Assyria (or Assyro-Babylonia) and Egypt contended for the empire of western Asia. The desolation of the land during this period was produced almost as much by the Egyptian "fly as by the Assyrian bee." The "rivers of Egypt" are the Nile, its branches, and perhaps the great canals by which its waters were distributed. The bee that is in the land of Assyria. The choice of the terms "bee" and "fly," to represent respectively the hosts of Assyria and Egypt, is not without significance. Egyptian armies were swarms, hastily levied, and very imperfectly disciplined. Assyrian were bodies of trained troops accustomed to war, and almost as well disciplined as the Romans.
And they shall come, and shall rest all of them in the desolate valleys, and in the holes of the rocks, and upon all thorns, and upon all bushes.
Verse 19. - And rest; or, settle. In the desolate valleys. Gesenius and Vance Smith translate "the precipitous valleys;" Mr. Cheyne, "the steeply walled valleys." But the cognate word used in Isaiah 5:6 can only mean "waste," which supports the rendering of the Authorized Version. The exact word used does not occur elsewhere. Upon all bushes; rather, upon all pastures.
In the same day shall the Lord shave with a rasor that is hired, namely, by them beyond the river, by the king of Assyria, the head, and the hair of the feet: and it shall also consume the beard.
Verse 20. - Shall the Lord shave with a razor that is hired; rather, with the hired razor; i.e. the razor that Ahaz will have hired (2 Kings 16:8). The metaphor well expresses the stripping of the land bare by plunder and exaction (comp. Ezekiel 5:1, 12, and 2 Chronicles 28:19-21). God would use Tiglath-Pileser as his instrument to distress Ahaz. By them beyond the river; or, in the parts beyond the river (comp. 1 Chronicles 19:16). "The river" is undoubtedly the Euphrates, and they who dwell beyond it the Assyrians. By the King of Assyria. Once more a gloss is suspected, as in ver. 17. The meaning would certainly be sufficiently plain without the clause. The head... the hair of the feet... the beard. These three represent all the hair on any part of the body. Judah is to be completely stripped.
And it shall come to pass in that day, that a man shall nourish a young cow, and two sheep;
Verse 21. - A man shall nourish a young cow, and two sheep; literally, two ewes. A stop having been put to cultivation, men shall return to the pastoral life, but shall not possess more than two or three head of cattle apiece, the Assyrians having swept off most of the beasts. Tiglath-Pileser, in his inscriptions, mentions his carrying off homed cattle and sheep to the amount of many thousands from the countries which he overran or conquered ('Records of the Past,' vol. 5. pp. 49, 52).
And it shall come to pass, for the abundance of milk that they shall give he shall eat butter: for butter and honey shall every one eat that is left in the land.
Verse 22. - For the abundance of milk that they shall give. The small number of the cattle will allow of each having abundant pasture. Hence they will give an abundance of milk. He shall eat butter; rather, curds - the solid food most readily obtained from milk (comp. above, ver. 15). Curdled milk and wild honey should form the simple diet of the remnant left in the land. It is, of course, possible to understand this in a spiritual sense, of simple doctrine and gospel honey out of the flinty rock of the Law; but there is no reason to think that the prophet intended his words in any but the most literal sense.
And it shall come to pass in that day, that every place shall be, where there were a thousand vines at a thousand silverlings, it shall even be for briers and thorns.
Verse 23. - A thousand vines at a thousand silverlings. By "silverlings" our translators mean "pieces of silver," probably shekels. "A thousand vines at a thousand shekels" may mean either a thousand vines worth that amount, or a thousand vines rented at that sum annually (comp. Song of Solomon 8:11). The latter would point to vineyards of unusual goodness, since the shekel is at least eighteen pence, and the present rent of a vineyard in Palestine is at the rate of a piastre for each vine, or 2½d. The general meaning would seem to be that not even the best vineyards would be cultivated, but would lie waste, and grow only "briers and thorns."
With arrows and with bows shall men come thither; because all the land shall become briers and thorns.
Verse 24. - With arrows and with bows. Only the hunter will go there, armed with his weapons of chase, to kill the wild animals that will haunt the thickets.
And on all hills that shall be digged with the mattock, there shall not come thither the fear of briers and thorns: but it shall be for the sending forth of oxen, and for the treading of lesser cattle.
Verse 25. - On all hills that shall be digged; rather, that shall have been digged in former times, whether for corn cultivation or for any other. There shall not come thither the fear of briers (so Ewald and Kay). But almost all other commentators translate, "Thou shalt not come thither for fear of briers," etc. The briers and thorns of the East tear the clothes and the flesh. It shall be; i.e. "each such place shall be." For the sending forth of oxen; rather, for the sending in of oxen. Men shall send their cattle into them, as alone able to penetrate the jungle without hurt. SUPPLEMENTARY NOTE.