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  • ADAM CLARKE'S BIBLE COMMENTARY -
    ISAIAH 42

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    CHAPTER XLII

    The prophet sets forth the meekness of Messiah's character, and the extent and blessings of his kingdom, particularly among the Gentiles, 1-9. In consequence of this he calls on the whole creation to join him in one song of praise to God, 10-12. After which he seems again to glance at the deliverance from the captivity; although the words may full as well apply to the deliverance vouchsafed to the Church; to the overthrow of her must powerful enemies; and to the prevalency of true religion over idolatry and error, 13-17. The prophet then reproves the Jews for their blindness and infidelity in rejecting the Messiah, and gives intimations of these judgments which their guilt would draw on them, 18-25. The prophet, having opened his subject with the preparation for the return from captivity at Babylon, and intimated that a much greater deliverance was covered under the veil of that event, proceeded to vindicate the power of God, as Creator and disposer of all things; and his infinite knowledge, from his prediction of future events, and in particular of that deliverance. He went still farther, and pointed out the instrument by which he should effect the redemption of his people the Jews from slavery; namely, a great conqueror, whom he would call forth from the north and the east to execute his orders. In this chapter he proceeds to the greater deliverance; and at once brings forth into full view, without throwing any veil of allegory over the subject, the Messiah. "Behold my servant, Messiah, "says the Chaldee. St. Matthew has applied it directly to Christ; nor can it with any justice or propriety be applied to any other person or character whatever.
    - L

    NOTES ON CHAP. XLII

    Verse 1. "Behold my servant, whom I uphold" - wb mta ethmach bo, on whom I lean. Alluding to the custom of kings leaning on the arm of their most beloved and faithful servant. All, both Jews and Christians, agree, that the seven first verses of this chapter belong to Christ. Now, as they are evidently a continuation of the prophecy in the preceding chapter, that prophecy cannot belong to Cyrus, but to Christ.

    "He shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles "He shall publish judgment to the nations"" - Four MSS. two ancient, add the conjunction fpmw vemishpat. See Matt. xii. 18.

    The word fpm mishpat, judgment, like hqdx tsedakah, righteousness, is taken in a great latitude of signification. It means rule, form, order, model, plan; rule of right, or of religion; an ordinance, institution; judicial process, cause, trial, sentence, condemnation, acquittal, deliverance, mercy, &c. It certainly means in this place the law to be published by Messiah, the institution of the Gospel.

    Verse 4. "He shall not fail nor be discouraged "His force shall not be abated nor broken"" - Rabbi Meir ita citat locum istum, ut post wry yaruts, addat wjwk cocho, robur ejus, quod hodie Ilon comparet in textu Hebraeo, sed addendum videtur, ut sensus fiat planior. "Rabbi Meir cites this passage so as to add after wry yarats wjwk cocho, his force, which word is not found in the present Hebrew text, but seems necessary to be added to make the sense more distinct. " Capell. Crit. Sac. p. 382. For which reason I had added it in the translation, before I observed this remark of Capellus.
    - L.

    Verse 6. "A covenant of the people "A covenant to the people"" - For [ am, two MSS. of Dr. Kennicott's, and of my own, read lw[ olam, the covenant of the age to come, or the everlasting covenant; which seems to give a clearer and better sense. But I think the word tyrb berith, here, should not be translated covenant, but covenant sacrifice, which meaning it often has; and undoubtedly in this place. This gives a still stronger and clearer sense.

    Verse 7. "To open the blind eyes" - In this verse the prophet seems to set forth the spiritual redemption, under images borrowed from the temporal deliverance.

    "Out of the prison house "And from the dungeon."" - The Septuagint, Syriac, and four MSS., one ancient, add the conjunction w vau, tybmw umibbeith, and from the house.

    Verse 8. "I am the Lord" - hwhy yna ani Yehovah. This is the famous tetragrammaton, or name of four letters, which we write Jehovah Yehovah, Yehveh, Yeveh, Jhuh, Javah, &c. The letters are Y H U H. The Jews never pronounce it, and the true pronunciation is utterly unknown.

    "That is my name" - A name peculiar to myself.

    Verse 10. "Ye that go down to the sea" - This seems not to belong to this place; it does not well consist with what follows, "and the fullness thereof. " They that go down upon the sea means navigators, sailors, traders, such as do business in great waters; an idea much too confined for the prophet, who means the sea in general, as it is used by the Hebrews, for the distant nations, the islands, the dwellers on the sea-coasts all over the world. I suspect that some transcriber had the 23d verse of Psa. cvii.

    running in his head, twynab yh ydrwy yoredey haiyam booniyoth, and wrote in this place yh ydrwy yoredey haiyam instead of yh [ry yiram haiyam, or [yry yari, or ry yaran; "let the sea roar, or shout, or exult. " But as this is so different in appearance from the present reading, I do not take the liberty of introducing it into the translation. Conjeceram legendum wdygy yegidu, ut ver. 12; sed non favent Versiones. "I would propose to read wdygy yegidu, as in ver. 12; but this is not supported by the Versions ." -Secker.

    Verse 11. "Let the wilderness" - The most uncultivated countries, and the most rude and uncivilized people, shall confess and celebrate with thanksgiving the blessing of the knowledge of God graciously imparted to them. By the desert is meant Arabia Deserta; by the rocky country, Arabia Petraea; by the mountains, probably those celebrated ones, Paran, Horeb, Sinai, in the same country; to which also belonged Kedar, a clan of Arabians, dwelling for the most part in tents; but there were others of them who inhabited or frequented cities and villages, as may be collected from this place of the prophet. Pietro della Valle, speaking of the people of Arabia Deserta, says: "There is a sort of Arabs of that country called Maedi, who with their herds, of buffaloes for the most part, sometimes live in the deserts, and sometimes in cities; from whence they have their name, which signifies wandering, going from place to place. They have no professed houses; nor are they properly Bedaui, or Beduui, that is, Deserticoli, who are the most noble among them, and never abide within walls, but always go wandering through the open country with their black tents; nor are they properly called Hhadesi, as they call those who dwell in cities, and lands with fixed houses. These by the latter are esteemed ignoble and base; but both are considered as of low condition. " Viaggi, Parte iii. lett. ii.

    "The villages that Kedar doth inhabit" - The Arabs, according to the Targum.

    "The inhabitants of the rock" - They who dwell on fortified places. The Vulgate has habitatores Petraeae, "the inhabitants of Arabia Petraea. " Those who make the rock Jesus Christ, the inhabitants of the rock, true believers in him; the singing, rejoicing for the salvation they have received; abuse and disgrace the passage and the pulpit. I have heard a clergyman, a magistrate, a justice of the quorum, spend an hour in showing from these words, 1. That they meant Jesus Christ, and none other. 2. That he might be fully compared to a rock, as the foundation on which his Church was built, and on which all true believers rested for their salvation. 3. A rock, because of his strength and might in destroying his enemies, and supporting his friends. 4. A refreshing rock, like that in the wilderness; and that rock was Christ. 5. A perspective rock, from which true believers could discover their heavenly inheritanee: "When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I, "&c. Now all this is true in itself; but false in respect to the words on which it was professedly built, for they have no such meaning.

    Verse 14. "I have been still "Shall I keep silence for ever"" - After lw[m meolam, in the copy which the Septuagint had before them, followed the word lw[lh , heleolam, esiwphsa ap aiwnov mh kai aei siwphsomai according to MSS. Pachom. and l. D. ii. and Edit.

    Complut., which word, lw[lh haleolam, has been omitted in the text by an easy mistake of a transcriber, because of the similitude of the word preceding. Shall I always keep silences like that of Juvenal: Semper ego auditor tantum? Shall I always be a hearer only?

    Verse 15. "I wilt make the rivers islands "I will make the rivers dry deserts"" - Instead of yya iyim, islands, read yyx tsiim; a very proW able conjecture of Houbigant.

    Verse 16. "In paths" - The Septuagint, Syriac, Vulgate, and nine MSS., (two ancient,) read twbytnbw ubenotiboth.

    "Will I do unto them" - ty[ asitem. This word, so written as it is in the text, means "thou wilt do, "in the second person. The Masoretes have indeed pointed it for the first person; but the y yod in the last syllable is absolutely necessary to distinguish the first person; and so it is written in forty MSS., yty[ asithim.

    Jarchi, Kimchi, Sal. ben Melec, &c., agree that the past time is here put for the future, yty[ asithi for h[a ; and indeed the context necessarily requires that interpretation. Farther it is to be observed that yty[ asithim is put for hl yty[ asithi lahem, "I have done them, "for "I have done for them; " as ynty[ asitheni is for yl yty[ asiti li, "I have made myself, "for "I have made for myself, "Ezek. xxix. 2; and in the celebrated passage of Jephthah's vow, Judg. xi. 31, hlw[ whytyl[hw veheelitihu olah for hlw[ wl ytyl[h heelithi lo olah, "I will offer him a burnt-offering, "for "I will offer unto him (that is, unto JEHOVAH) a burnt-offering; " by an ellipsis of the preposition of which Buxtorf gives many other examples, Thes. Grammat. lib. ii. 17. See also note on chap. lxv. 5. A late happy application of this grammatical remark to that much disputed passage has perfectly cleared up a difficulty which for two thousand years had puzzled all the translators and expositors, had given occasion to dissertations without number, and caused endless disputes among the learned on the question, whether Jephthah sacrificed his daughter or not; in which both parties have been equally ignorant of the meaning of the place, of the state of the fact, and of the very terms of the vow; which now at last has been cleared up beyond all doubt by my learned friend Dr. Randolph, Margaret Professor of Divinity in the University of Oxford, in his Sermon on Jephthah's Vow, Oxford, 1766.
    - L.

    Verse 19. "As my messenger that I sent "As he to whom I have sent my messengers"" - jla yklmk kemalachey eshlach, ut ad quem nuncios meos misi. The Vulgate and Chaldee are almost the only interpreters who render it rightly, in consistence with the rest of the sentence, and in perfect agreement with the Hebrew idiom; according to which the ellipsis is to be thus supplied: jla ykalm ralk kelaasher malachey eshlach; "As he to whom I have sent my messengers." As he that is perfect "As he who is perfectly instructed"] See note on chap. xliv. 2.

    "And blind as the Lord's servant "And deaf, as the servant of JEHOVAH"" - For rw[w veivver, and blind, we must read rjw vecheresh, and deaf: kwfov, Symmachus, and so a MS. The mistake is palpable, and the correction self-evident, and admissible though there had been no authority for it.

    Verse 20. "Seeing many things "Thou hast seen indeed"" - The text has tybr tyar raith rabith, which the Masoretes in the marginal Keri have corrected to twbr twar reoth rabboth; as indeed one hundred and seven MSS., and five editions, now have it in the text. This was probably the reading of most of the MSS. of their time; which, though they approved of it, out of some superstition they would not admit into their standard text.

    But these wretched critics, though they perceived there was some fault, yet did not know where the fault lay, nor consequently how to amend it; and yet it was open enough to a judicious eye: twbr rabboth, sic veteres; et tamen forte legendum, twar reoth, vide cap. vi. 9." -Secker. That is, twar tyar raith, reoth, seeing, thou shalt see. I believe no one will doubt of admitting this as the true reading.

    "But he heareth not "Yet thou wilt not hear"" - For [my yishma, read [mt tishma, in the second person; so all the ancient Versions and forty MSS. of Kennicott's, (four of them ancient,) and seventeen of De Rossi's, and perhaps five more. Two others have w[mt tishmeu, second person plural.

    Verse 21. "He win magnify the law "He hath exalted his own praise"" - For hrwt torah, the law, the Septuagint read hdwt todah, praise.

    Verse 22. "They are all of them snared in holes "All their chosen youths are taken in the toils"" - For jph hapheach read wjpwh huphachu, in the plural number, hophal; as wabjh hochbau, which answers to it in the following member of the sentence. Le Clerc, Houbigant. jph huppach, Secker.

    Verse 24. "We have sinned "They have sinned"" - For wnafj chatanu, "we have sinned, "first person; the Septuagint and Chaldee read wafj chateu, "they have sinned, "in the third person.

    Verse 25. "The fury of his anger "The heat of his wrath"" - For hmj chammah, the Bodl. MS. has tmj chammath, in regimine, more regularly.

    "It hath set him on fire round about" - So thoroughly hardened are the Jewish people, that they are represented as being in a house on fire, and even scorched with the flames, without perceiving their danger, or feeling that they are hurt! What a picture of mental induration! and this is their state to the present day. But by whom shall Jacob arise? for in this sense he is small indeed. Many efforts have been made to Christianize them, but without effect; and is this to be wondered at, while we tell them how great they are, how learned, how wise, how much we owe to them, that they are still the peculiar people of God, &c., &c.? If all this be true, what can they gain by beeoming Christians? Whereas a more stupid, proud, hardened, ignorant people can scarcely be found in the civilized world, and they are most grossly ignorant of their own Scriptures.

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