Verse 20. "As a wild bull in a net: they are full, &c. "Like the oryx taken in the toils; drenched to the full"" - "Perhaps µyalm hrmkm michmerah meleim. " SECKER. The demonstrative h he, prefixed to µyalm meleim, full, seems improper in this place.
Verse 21. "Drunken, but not with wine" - AEschylus has the same expression:- aoinoiv emmaneiv qumwmasi Eumen. 863.
Intoxicated with passion, not with wine.
Schultens thinks that this circumlocution, as he calls it, gradum adfert incomparabiliter majorem; and that it means, not simply without wine, but much more than with wine. Gram. Hebrews p. 182. See his note on Job xxx. 38.
The bold image of the cup of God's wrath, often employed by the sacred writers, (see note on chap. i. 22,) is nowhere handled with greater force and sublimity than in this passage of Isaiah, ver. 17-23. Jerusalem is represented in person as staggering under the effects of it, destitute of that assistance which she might expect from her children; not one of them being able to support or to lead her. They, abject and amazed, lie at the head of every street, overwhelmed with the greatness of their distress; like the oryx entangled in a net, in vain struggling to rend it, and extricate himself.
This is poetry of the first order, sublimity of the highest character.
Plato had an idea something like this: "Suppose, "says he, "God had given to men a medicating potion inducing fear, so that the more any one should drink of it, so much the more miserable he should find himself at every draught, and become fearful of every thing both present and future; and at last, though the most courageous of men, should be totally possessed by fear: and afterwards, having slept off the effects of it, should become himself again. " De Leg. i., near the end. He pursues at large this hypothesis, applying it to his own purpose, which has no relation to the present subject. Homer places two vessels at the disposal of Jupiter, one of good, the other of evil. He gives to some a potion mixed of both; to others from the evil vessel only: these are completely miserable. Iliad xxiv. 527-533.
doioi gar te piqoi katakeiatai en diov oudei dwrwn, oia didwsi, kakwn, eterov de eawn, Ĉw men kammixav dwh zeuv terpikeraunov, allote men te kakw oge kuretai, allote dĈ esqlw Ĉw de ke twn lugrwn, lwbhton eqhke.
kai e kakh boubrwstiv epi cqona dian elaunei foita dĈ oute qeoisi qeoisi tetimenov, outi brotoisin.
"Two urns by Jove's high throne have ever stood, The source of evil one, and one of good; From thence the cup of mortal man he fills, Blessings to these, to those distributes ills; To most he mingles both: the wretch decreed To taste the bad unmixed, is cursed indeed: Pursued by wrongs, by meagre famine driven, He wanders outcast both of earth and heaven." Pope
Verse 23. "Them that afflict thee "Them who oppress thee"" - The Septuagint, Chaldee, Syriac, and Vulgate appear to have read ûynwm monayich, as in chap. xl. 26." -SECKER.
"Which have said to thy soul, Bow down "Who say to thee, Bow down thy body"" - A very strong and most expressive description of the insolent pride of eastern conquerors; which, though it may seem greatly exaggerated, yet hardly exceeds the strict truth. An example has already been given of it in the note to chap. xlix. 23. I will here add one or two more.
"Joshua called for all the men of Israel; and said unto the captains of the men of war that went with him, Come near, put your feet upon the necks of these kings, "Josh. x. 24. "Adonibezek said, Threescore and ten kings, having their thumbs and their great toes cut off, gathered their meat under my table: As I have done, so hath God requited me, "Judg. i. 7.
The Emperor Valerianus, being through treachery taken prisoner by Sapor king of Persia, was treated by him as the basest and most abject slave: for the Persian monarch commanded the unhappy Roman to bow himself down, and offer him his back, on which he set his foot, in order to mount his chariot or horse whenever he had occasion. - LACTANTIUS, De Mort. Persec. cap. v. AUREL. VICTOR. Epitome, cap. xxxii. - L.