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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Isaiah 27




Isaiah 24-27. The World is Judged, Israel is Delivered.—This section of the book is certainly not by Isaiah. It has points of contact with his prophecies, but with the work of later prophets as well. Its style is more artificial, and there are several characteristics which distinguish it from Isaiah's writing. Driver enumerates the following: many plays on words and alliterations, a tendency to rhyme, a frequent combination of nearly synonymous clauses often without connecting conjunctions, repetition of words, many unusual expressions. But in addition to these features of style, it should be observed that the ideas are far in advance of those of Isaiah's time, and go even beyond those of the Second Isaiah. The tone is apocalyptic, and so are its imagery and the forms of representation. Cheyne mentions the following points in this connexion: the physical convulsion of the world, the going up of all nations to the Divine feast at Jerusalem, the committal of the host of the height and the kings of the earth to prison, the mysterious designations of the world-empires, the trumpet blown to recall the Jewish exiles. The expectation of the resurrection of individual Israelites and the promise that death will be abolished, also stamp it as late. It is certainly post-exilic. It seems most likely that it should be placed in the late Persian period at the earliest, and for much of it the tremendous convulsion, caused in the East by Alexander the Great's overthrow of Persia, seems to supply the worthiest occasion. The doctrine of individual resurrection is less developed than in Daniel, and there is no necessity to bring it down to a Maccabean date. Probably, as Duhm was the first to point out, the section is not a unity. His analysis has been largely accepted: (a) the oracle itself consisting of Isaiah 24, Isaiah 25:6-8; Isaiah 26:20; Isaiah 27:1; Isaiah 27:12 f.; (b) Isaiah 25:1-5; (c) Isaiah 25:9-11; (d) Isaiah 25:12, Isaiah 26:1-19; (e) Isaiah 27:2-5. He was uncertain whether Isaiah 27:6-11 belonged to the main oracle or not. Probably it is a separate fragment.

Verses 2-6

Isaiah 27:2-6. Yahweh's Cherished Vineyard.—Here another song is inserted. The text and meaning are alike most uncertain, but apparently the general thought is that Israel is Yahweh's pleasant vineyard (mg.), tended and protected by Him with the most assiduous care. He is not angry with it, but with its enemies, whom He is longing to destroy, but whom He is willing to spare if they will surrender their hostility. Israel will become a vine that will fill the world with fruit. On this interpretation the song forms a striking contrast to Isaiah's song of the ungrateful vineyard (Isaiah 5:1-7). There Israel is threatened with judgment, here Israel's foes.

Isaiah 27:3. lest any hurt it: read "lest its leafage be missing."

Isaiah 27:4. Fury: i.e. against Israel.—briers and thorns: Israel's enemies.

Isaiah 27:6. At the end of the song the identity of the vineyard is disclosed, as in Isaiah 5:7.

Verses 7-11

Isaiah 27:7-11. Israel's Gentle Chastisement and the Terms on which it may be Pardoned.—This is an insertion out of connexion with the context, and it does not itself hang well together. The writer asks, Has Yahweh punished Israel as severely as He has punished Israel's oppressors? No, for Israel's oppressors have been slain, while Israel has been simply driven forth into exile. Israel's guilt may be removed on condition that false worship is given up. The city is deserted, the calf pastures on its site, and there the women collect their firewood, for its people are without knowledge of God, and He will have no mercy upon them.

Isaiah 27:8. in measure: the meaning is quite uncertain (mg.), the explanations offered quite improbable.—east wind: the sirocco, stifling and violent. It is vividly described in the opening chapters of E. F. Benson's The Image in the Sand.

Isaiah 27:9. by this: on these terms.—fruit: this should mean result, but we rather expect the cause to be mentioned, the surrender of idolatry being the reason for pardon rather than its consequence.—altar: i.e. heathen altars, the stones of which are to be shattered.—the Asherim and the sun-images: Isaiah 17:8.

Isaiah 27:10. The identity of the city is uncertain. Apparently it is not Jerusalem but Samaria, or some heathen city.

Verse 12

Isaiah 27:12 f. End of the Apocalypse.—These verses link on to Isaiah 27:1. The general subject is the restoration of Israel from the Dispersion. The interpretation of Isaiah 27:12 is most uncertain. Perhaps the sense is that from the Euphrates to the Wady el-Arish Yahweh will gather His people, beating out the good grain (that is, the Jews) from the straw (that is, the heathen). The trumpet will sound, and those lost (mg.) in Assyria and outcasts in Egypt will assemble for the worship of Yahweh at Jerusalem.

Isaiah 27:12. beat off: like olive berries from the tree (Isaiah 17:6, Isaiah 24:13), but perhaps more probably "beat out," i.e. like grain from the ear.—flood: the word also means "ear of corn."

Isaiah 27:13. Assyria: Isaiah 11:11*, Numbers 24:23 f.*


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Isaiah 27:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". 1919.

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