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INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK OF ISAIAH.

parts, not only of man, but also of inferior creatures, are ascribed to God himself; it being otherwise impossible for us to form any conceptions of his pure essence and incommunicable attributes. But though the prophets, partly from necessity and partly from choice, are thus profuse in the use of metaphors, they do not appear, like other writers, to have the liberty of using them as fancy directed. The same set of images, however diversified in the manner of applying them, is always used, both in allegory and metaphor, to denote the same subjects, to which they are in a manner appropriated. This peculiar characteristic of the Hebrew poetry might perhaps be owing to some rules taught in the prophetic schools, which did not allow the same latitude in this respect as other poetry. Whatever it may be owing to, the uniform manner in which the prophets apply these images tends greatly to illustrate the prophetic style; and therefore it will be proper now to consider the sources from which those images are most frequently derived, and the subjects and ideas which they severally denote. These sources may be classed under four heads; natural, artificial, religious, and historical.

“I. The first and most copious, as well as the most pleasing source of images in the prophetic writings, as in all other poetry, is nature ; and the principal images drawn from nature, together with their application, are the following :

“ The sun, moon, and stars, the highest objects in the natural world, figuratively represent kings, queens, and princes or rulers ; the highest in the world politic. The moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed ;' Isa. xxiv. 23. "I will cover the heavens, and make the stars thereof dark : I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give her light;' Ezek. xxxii. 7.

Light and darkness are used figuratively for joy and sorrow, prosperity and adversity. •We wait for light, but behold obscurity ; for brightness, but we walk in darkness ;' chap. lix. 9. An uncommon degree of light denotes an uncommon degree of joy and prosperity, and vice versa. • The light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold ;' chap. xxx. 26. The same metaphors are likewise used to denote knowledge and ignorance. If they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them ;' chap. viii. 20. • The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light;' chap. ix. 2.

Dew, moderate rains, gentle streams, and running waters denote the blessings of the Gospel. Thy dew is as the dew of herbs ;' chap. xxvi. 19. · He shall come unto us as the rain ;' Hosea vi. 3. I will water it every moment;' chap. xxvii. 3. "I will

pour

water on him that is thirsty;' chap. xliv. 3.

Immoderate rains on the other hand, hail, floods, deep waters, torrents, and inundations, denote judgments and destruction. I will rain upon him an overflowing rain, and great hailstones,' Ezek. xxxviii. 22. Waters rise up out of the north, and shall overflow the land,' Jer. xlvii. 2.

Fire also, and the east wind, parching and hurtful, frequently denote the same. They shall cast thy choice cedars into the fire,' Jer. xxii. 7. He stayeth his rough wind in the day of the east wind, Isa. xxvii. 8. “Wind in general is often taken in the same sense.

• The wind shall cat up all thy pastures,' Jer. xxii. 22. Sometimes it is put for any thing empty or fallacious, as well as hurtful. The prophets shall become wind, Jer. v. 13. They have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind,' Hos. viii. 7.

Lebanon and Carmel; the one remarkable for its height and stately cedars, was the image of majesty, strength, or any thing very great or noble. “He shall cut down the thickets of the forest with iron, and Lebanon shall fall by a mighty one,' Isa. X. 34.

The Assyrian was a cedar in Lebanon,' Ezek. xxxi. 3. The other mountain (Carmel) being fruitful, and abounding in vines and olives, denoted beauty and fertility. • The glory of Lebanon shall be given it, the excellency of Carmel,' Isa. xxxv. 2.

The vine alone is a frequent image of the Jewish Church. · I had planted thee a noble vine,' Jer. ii. 21.

Rams and bullocks of Bashan, lions, eagles, sea-monsters, or any animals of prey, are

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INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK OF ISAIAH.

figures frequently used for cruel and oppressive tyrants and conquerors.

• Hear this word, ye kine of Bashan, which oppress the poor,' Amos iv. 1. • The lion is come up from his thicket,' Jer. iv. 7. A great eagle came unto Lebanon, and took the highest branch of the cedar,' Ezek. xvii. 3. • Thou art as a whale in the seas,' Ezek. xxxii. 2. « The unicorns shall come down, and their land shall be soaked with blood,' Isa. xxxiv. 7.

“ II. The ordinary occupations and customs of life, with the few arts practised at the time, were another source from which the prophets derived many of their figures, particularly,

“ From husbandry in all its parts, and from its implements. Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy : break up your fallow ground,' Hos. X. 12. • Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe,' Joel jii. 13. · I am pressed under you, as a wain under a load of sheaves, Amos ii. 13. Threshing was performed in various ways, (mentioned Isa. xxviii. 24, &c.,) which furnish a variety of images denoting punishment. "Arise and thresh, o daughter of Zion; for I will make thine horn iron, and thy hoofs brass,' &c., Micah iv. 13. The operation was performed on rising grounds, where the chaff was driven away by the wind, while the grain remained ; a fit emblem of the fate of the wicked, and of the salvation of the just. · Behold, I will make thee a new threshing-instrument having teeth; thou shalt thresh the mountains, and beat them small, and thou shalt make the hills as chaff. Thou shalt fan them, and the wind shall carry them away, and the whirlwind shall scatter them,' Isa. xli. 15, 16.

“ The vintage and winepress also furnished many images, obvious enough in their application. • The press is full, the fats overflow, for their wickedness is great,' Joel iii. 13. I have trod the winepress alone. I will tread down the people in mine anger,' Isa. Ixiii. 3, &c. As the vintage was gathered with shouting and rejoicing, the ceasing of the vintageshouting is frequently one of the figures that denote misery and desolation. None shall tread with shouting; their shouting shall be no shouting,' Jer. xlviii. 33.

“ From the occupation of tending cattle we have many images. Wo unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture, Jer. xxiii. 1. The people are the flock ; teachers and rulers the pastors. “Israel is a scattered sheep, the lions have driven him away.' · As a shepherd taketh out of the mouth of the lion two legs, or a piece of an ear,' &c., Amos iii. 12. Some of the images derived from husbandry, tending cattle, &c., may perhaps appear mean to us ; though not to the Jews, whose manner of life was simple and plain, and whose greatest men (such as Moses, David, Gideon, &c.) were often husbandmen and shepherds. Accordingly, the Messiah himself is frequently described under the character of a shepherd. [See Fleury's Manners of the Israelites.]

“ It was customary in deep mournings to shave the head and beard, to retire to the housetops, which in those countries were flat, and furnished with little chambers adapted to the purposes of devotion or of sequestered grief; also to sing dirges at furerals, and to accompany them with a mournful sort of music; and from these and the like circumstances images are frequently borrowed by the prophets to denote the greatest danger, and the deepest distress. · Mine heart shall sound for Moab like pipes. • Every head shall be bald, and every beard clipt-there shall be lamentation on all the house-tops of Moab,' Jer. xlviii. 36–38; Isa. xv. 2, 3.

“ The mode of burying in the Jewish sepulchres, or "sides of the pit,' and their Hades, or state of the dead, supplied many images of the same kind. See observations on Isa. xiv., and Ezek. xxvi. 20.

“ According to the barbarous custom of those times, conquerors drove their captives before them almost naked, and exposed to the intolerable heat of the sun, and the inclemencies of the weather. They afterwards employed them frequently in grinding at the handmill, (watermills not being then invented ;) hence nakedness, and grinding at the mill, and sitting on the ground (the posture in which they wrought) express captivity. “Descend and sit in the dust, () virgin daugliter of Babylon ; take the millstones—thy nakedness shall be uncovered,' Isa. xlvii. 1-3.

INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK OF ISAIAH.

“ The marriage relation supplied metaphors to express the relation or covenant between God and his people. On the other hand adultery, infidelity to the marriage bed, &c., denoted any breach of covenant with God, particularly the love and worship of idols. •Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord, for I am married unto you,' Jer. iii. 14. • There were two women, the daughters of one mother, and they committed whoredoms—with their idols have they committed adultery,' &c., Ezek. xxiii. 2–37.

“ The debility and stupefaction caused by intoxicating liquors suggested very apt images to express the terrible effects of the Divine judgments on those who are the unhappy objects of them. • Thou shalt be filled with drunkenness, with the cup of thy sister Samaria,' Ezek. xxiii. 33.

“ From the method of refining metals in the furnace images are often borrowed to denote the judgments inflicted by God on his people, with a view to cleanse them from their sins, as metal from its dross. • Israel is dross in the midst of the furnace,' Ezek. xxii. 18. He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver,' Mal. ii. 3.

“ Among the other few arts from which the Hebrew poets derive some of their images, are those of the fuller and potter, Mal. iii. 2, &c.; Jer. xviii. 1, &c.; of which the application is obvious. No less so is that of images derived from fishing, fowling, and the implements belonging to them; the hook, net, pit, snare, &c., which generally denote captivity or destruction. "I will send for many fishers, and they shall fish them; and for many hunters, and they shall hunt them; for their iniquity is not bid from mine eyes,' Jer. xvi. 16, 17. • I will put hooks to thy jaws,' Ezek. xxix. 4. Fear, and the pit, and the snare, are upon thee, O inhabitant of the earth,' Isa. xxiv. 17.

“ A few images are derived from building, as when the Messiah is denoted by a foundation and corner-stone, Isa. xxviii. 16. The next verse describes the rectitude of judgment by metaphors borrowed from the line and plummet ; and by building with precious stones is denoted a very high degree of prosperity, whether applied to church or state, Isa. liv. 11, 12.

“ III. Religion, and things connected with it, furnished many images to the sacred poets.

“ From the temple and its pompous service, from the tabernacle, shechinah, mercy-seat, &c., are derived a variety of images, chiefly serving to denote the glory of the Christian Church, the excellency of its worship, God's favour towards it, and his constant presence with it; the prophets speaking to the Jews in terms accommodated to their own ideas. And the Lord will create upon every dwelling-place of Mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night; for upon all the glory shall be a covering,' Isa. iv. 5. • Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean,' Ezek. xxxvi. 25.

“ The ceremonial law, and especially its distinctions between things clean and unclean, furnished a number of images, all obvious in their application. · Wash

ye,

make put away the evil of your doings,' Isa. i. 16. • Their way was before me as the uncleanness of a removed woman,' Ezek. xxxvi. 17.

“ The killing of sacrifices and feasting upon them, serve as metaphors for slaughter. The Lord hath a sacrifice in Bozrah,' Isa. xxxiv. 6; Ezek. xxxix. 17.

“ The pontifical robes, which were very splendid, suggested several images expressive of the glory of both the Jewish and Christian Church. I clothed thee with broidered work, &c., Ezek. xvi. 10. He clothed me with the garments of salvation,' Isa. lxi. 10.

The prophets wore a rough upper garment; false prophets wore the like, in imitation of true ones; and to this there are frequent allusions. Neither shall they wear a rough garment to deceive,' Zech. xiii. 4.

“ From the pots, and other vessels and utensils of the temple, are likewise borrowed a few metaphors obvious enough without explanation : Every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holiness,' Zech. xiv. 21.

“ The prophets have likewise many images that allude to the idolatrous rites of the neighbouring nations, to their groves and high places, Isa. xxvii. 9, and to the worship paid

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INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK OF ISAIAH.

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to their idols, Baal, Molech, Chemosh, Gad, Meni, Ashtaroth, Tammuz, &c., Ezek. viii. 10–14.

“IV. Many of the metaphors and images used by the prophets are likewise borrowed from history, especially sacred.

“ From the fall of angels : How art thou fallen from heaven, 0 Lucifer, son of the morning; Isa. xiv. 12. - Thou art the anointed cherub,—thou wast upon the holy mountain of God ; Ezek. xxviii. 14. And from the fall of man : “Thou hast been in Eden, the garden of God ;' ver. 13.

“From chaos : I beheld the earth, and, lo! it was without form, and void ; and the heavens, and they had no light;' Jer. iv. 23. · He shall stretch over it the line of devastation, and the plummet of emptiness ;' Isa. xxxiv. 11.

“ From the deluge : • The windows from on high are open, and the foundations of the earth do shake;' Isa. xxiv. 18.

“From the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah : And the streams thereof shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into brimstone, and the land thereof shall become burning pitch ;' Isa. xxxiv. 9. Also from the destruction of the Hivites and Amorites, &c., Isa. xvii. 9.

“The exodus and deliverance from Egypt, is frequently used to shadow forth other great deliverances : Thus saith the Lord, who maketh a way in the sea, and a path in the mighty waters,' &c.; Isa. xi. 15, 16; xliii. 16-19; li. 9, 10, &c.

“ From the descent on Sinai : Behold, the Lord cometh forth out of his place, and will come down and tread on the high places of the earth; and the mountains shall be molten under him ;' Micah i. 3, 4.

“ From the resurrection, the end of the world, and the last judgment, are derived many images, of which the application is natural and obvious : “Thy dead men shall live, with my dead body shall they arise,—awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust,' &c.; Isa. xxvi. 19.

And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll; and all their host shall fall down as a leaf falleth from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig-tree;' Isa. xxxiv. 4.

“ The foregoing account of the images which most frequently occur in the writings of the prophets may be of considerable use in studying their style; but as a thorough knowledge of this must be allowed to be of the highest importance, a few general remarks are farther added, although some part of them may appear to be superseded by what has been already observed,

“1. Although the prophets use words so frequently in a figurative or metaphorical meaning; yet we ought not, without necessity, to depart from the primitive and original sense of language; and such a necessity there is, when the plain and original sense is less proper, less suitable to the subject and context, or contrary to other scriptures.

“ 2. By images borrowed from the world natural the prophets frequently understand something analogous in the world politic. Thus, the sun, moon, stars, and heavenly bodies denote kings, queens, rulers, and persons in great power ; their increase of spelndour denotes increase of prosperity ; their darkening, setting, or falling denotes a reverse of fortune, or the entire ceasing of that power or kingdom to which they refer. Great earthquakes, and the shaking of heaven and earth, denote the commotion and overthrow of kingdoms ; and the beginning or end of the world, their rise or ruin.

“3. The cedars of Lebanon, oaks of Bashan, fir-trees, and other stately trees of the forest, denote kings, princes, potentates, and persons of the highest rank; briers and thorns, the common people, or those of the meanest order.

4, High mountains and lofty hills, in like manner, denote kingdoms, republics, states, and cities; towers and fortresses signify defenders and protectors; ships of Tarshish, merchants or commercial people ; and the daughter of any capital or mother city, the lesser cities or suburbs around it. Cities never conquered are farther styled virgins.

INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK OF ISAIAH. “5. The prophets likewise describe kings and kingdoms by their ensigns; as Cyrus and the Romans by an eagle, the king of Macedon by a goat, and the king of Persia by a ram ; these being the figures on their respective standards, or in the ornaments of their architecture.

“6. The prophets in like manner borrow some of their images from ancient hieroglyphics, which they take in their usual acceptation : thus, a star was the emblem of a god or hero; a horn, the emblem of great power or strength; and a rod, the emblem of royalty ; and they signify the same in the prophets.

7. The same prophecies have frequently a double meaning; and refer to different events, the one near, the other remote ; the one temporal, the other spiritual, or perhaps eternal. The prophets having thus several events in their eye, their expressions may be partly applicable to one, and partly to another; and it is not always easy to mark the transitions. Thus, the prophecies relating to the first and second restoration of the Jews, and first and second coming of our Lord, are often interwoven together ; like our Saviour's own prediction (Matt. xxiv.) concerning the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the world. What has not been fulfilled in the first, we must apply to the second; and what has been already fulfilled may often be considered as typical of what still remains to be accomplished.

“8. Almost all the prophecies of the Old Testament, whatever view they may have to nearer events, are ultimately to be referred to the New, where only we are to look for their full completion. Thus Babylon, under the Old Testament, was a type of mystical Babylon under the New; and the king of Syria, (Antiochus Epiphanes,) a type of Antichrist; the temporal enemies of the Jews, types and figures of the spiritual enemies of Christians. We must not, however, expect to find always a mystical meaning in prophecy; and when the pear and most obvious meaning is plain, and gives a good sense, we need not depart from it, nor be over-curious to look beyond it.

“9. In prophecies, as in parables, we are chiefly to consider the scope and design, without attempting too minute an explication of all the poetical images and figures which the sacred writers use to adorn their style.

“10. Prophecies of a general nature are applicable by accommodation to individuals ; most of the things that are spoken of the Church in general being no less applicable to its individual members.

“11. Prophecies of a particular nature, on the other hand, admit, and often require, to be extended. Thus, Edom, Moab, or any of the enemies of God's people, is often put for the whole; what is said of one being generally applicable to the rest.

“12. In like manner, what is said to or of any of God's people, on any particular occasion, is of general application and use; all that stand in the same relation to God having an interest in the same promises.

“13. A cup of intoxicating liquor is frequently used to denote the indignation of God; and the effects of such a cup, the effects of his displeasure.

“ 14. As the covenant of God with his people is represented under the figure of marriage ; so their breach of that covenant, especially their idolatry, is represented by whoredom, adultery, and infidelity to the marriage bed; on which the prophets sometimes enlarge, 10 excite detestation of the crime. The epithet strange does likewise, almost always, relate to something connected with idolatry.

“ 15. Persons or nations are frequently said in Scripture to be related to those whom they resemble in their life and conduct. In the same manner, men are denoted by animals whose qualities they resemble. A definite number, such as three, four, seven, ten, &c., is sometimes used by the prophets for an indefinite, and commonly denotes a great many.

“ 16. In the reckoning of time, a day is used by the prophets to denote a year; and things still future, to denote their certainty, are spoken of as already past.

“17. When the prophets speak of the last or latter days, they always mean the days of

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