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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Isaiah 4



Verses 1-6

Isaiah 4:1. Seven women—let us be called by thy name. After a hundred and twenty thousand of Ahaz’s army had been slaughtered in one day, men were scarce. Critics generally refer this to the Babylonian captivity; but the custom is now common in India. Women of years and decency will send a present to a great man, and ask to be called by his name, and be his wives at a distance; and though they never see him, yet they are accounted as married.

Isaiah 4:2. Branch. Christ is here compared to a fruitful branch, which should be as a shadow from the sun. So he is called in several other places. Isaiah 11:1. Jeremiah 23:5. Zechariah 3:8; Zechariah 6:12. Cambyses, father of Cyrus, dreamed that a branch grew from the bosom of Mandana, his daughter-in-law, which overshadowed all Asia. Our antiquaries are agreed that the misletoe, a plant which grows on the oak, but mostly on the appletree, was a healing plant for all diseases. The druids cut it off at the time of sacrifice, and thus gave a symbol to the world, that the Messiah should be cut off for the healing of the nations. In the Gothic gospels our Saviour is often called Hæland, or the Healer.

Isaiah 4:3. He that remaineth in Jerusalem shall be called holy. Such is the current language of prophecy, to comfort the people after their return from Babylon. These are the overflowing and cheering promises of God to his faithful people. He will purify them as silver, Malachi 3:2-3 : he will be round about Zion as a wall of fire. Zechariah 2:5.

Isaiah 4:5. On every dwellingplace of mount Zion. One text best explains another. The Lord loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellingplaces of Jacob. Psalms 87:2. These dwellings were the synagogues; there the Lord would meet with his people, and there his angels would assemble. In the christian sanctuary he will for ever dwell, and will overshadow his people with a cloud.

Isaiah 4:6. A covert from the storm, such as shepherds have for retreats. The church has always been a sure refuge in the time of trouble, where the sinner finds righteousness, and eternal life.


In the preseding portrait we have seen Jerusalem reduced to the lowest state of distress. Where now shall the faithful look, but to the Messiah of JEHOVAH, as the Chaldee paraphrase reads. But here we have to refute those Socinians, or infidel commentators, who kiss the Lord Christ by magnifying his personal virtues, but in heart seem wishful to blot out his name from under heaven. They contend that this Branch is Ezra, or Nehemiah, because the prophecy speaks of the return of the Jews from Babylon. These were but faint and transient shadows; and why should they be called the branch of the Lord, contrary to the Chaldee? And why should Isaiah hope in man, rather than in the Lord, and magnify man as God on earth? The Branch is assuredly the Christ of God, as the scriptures attest; and the fruit of the earth seems more likely to be the accession of gentile nations to the church of God. Isaiah 11:1. Jeremiah 23:5; Jeremiah 33:15. Zechariah 3:8; Zechariah 6:12. And what a beautiful and glorious Branch is the Lord. He flourishes with eternal verdure and bloom. He is the tree of life in the paradise of God, and nourishes his people with the health of eternal life.

In the days when the Messiah shall flourish, they of spiritual Israel, of whom Israel carnal was a figure, shall on escaping the bondage of sin, have their names enrolled in the book of life. This, in the language of the new testament, everywhere implies, the being born of God, and quickened to a life of faith and holiness.

In that age Zion shall be washed by regeneration from the filth of all her sins; and the spirit of judgment and of burning, or God’s visitations on the church and the nations, shall redeem and purge the earth of blood, which implies the cessation of all war and wickedness, as foretold in the second chapter.

In the days of the Messiah we are farther informed, that the Lord would create upon every dwellingplace of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies a cloud, &c. This shows that the glory of the Hebrew sanctuary should be transferred to the christian church for ever. Thus the glory dwelt in Christ’s humanity, John 1:14; and rested on the church from the day of pentecost. Hence the tabernacles of God are with men, even with the gentiles; and he will dwell with them for ever. How glorious then is every christian assembly, for the shekinah is assuredly there. How glorious is the soul of every saint; for the Father, Son, and Spirit have promised there to abide. Now, when he says, I create on mount Zion, &c. it means that the glory of the church shall be altogether supernatural; it shall be a glory upon her from the Lord. And as there was a covering in the ancient tabernacle to defend it from the weather; so the glory of the christian Zion shall be defended from sin by a most sacred code of discipline, and from the world by an invisible arm. Clouds of angels shall attend the worship of the church, and shall be to her a covering by day, and a pillar of fire by night. The gates of hell shall never prevail against her, unless it be for a moment, for the exercise of her faith.

The church so honoured with the divine presence, shall be a shadow for the saints, a refuge for sinners, and a covert in the day of trouble. See Isaiah 28:16; Isaiah 32:2.


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Bibliography Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Isaiah 4:4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. 1835.

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