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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Isaiah 29

 

 

Introduction

Isaiah 28-31.—In the main these chapters belong to the period before Sennacherib's invasion in 701 (pp. 59, 71f.). Special prominence is given to the project of an alliance with Egypt, which was strenuously opposed by Isaiah but carried through in spite of him, though the attempt was made to keep it from his knowledge, a signal proof that his opposition was feared by its promoters. Several recent critics have regarded much in these chapters as post-exilic, in some cases on cogent, in others on more flimsy grounds. The transitions from gloom to radiance, from predictions of doom to glowing descriptions of the happy future, are in some cases very abrupt; the phraseology is sometimes non-Isaianic, and the ideas have more affinity with those in the post-exilic period than in the age of Isaiah. We must be on our guard, however, against pressing the argument from theological ideas too far, in view of the scantiness of the earlier prophetic literature now extant, and, remembering that Isaiah held the doctrine of the happy future as well as the doctrine of a terrible judgment, we should not too readily condemn the optimistic sections, especially when they are happy endings, as necessarily later insertions.


Verses 1-8

Isaiah 29. The Doom of Ariel.—Possibly Isaiah 29:7 f., with most of Isaiah 29:5, is an insertion to turn a prophecy of judgment into one of mercy. Isaiah 29:1-6 is then a prophecy of ruin to Jerusalem, "visited" meaning "visited in judgment (Isaiah 24:18)." Isaiah 29:16-24 also seems to be late. Woe is pronounced in Isaiah 29:15 on the promoters of the Egyptian alliance, who sought to conceal their plans from God, and we should expect the prophecy to continue with a prediction of punishment and frustration of their plans, yet in Isaiah 29:17 the prediction of the happy future begins.

Isaiah 29:1-8. Within a year Ariel, i.e. Jerusalem, will be distressed and be an altar-hearth indeed, flowing with the blood of human victims. Yahweh will lay siege to her. She will be crushed into the dust, so that her moans will sound as feeble as those made by a necromancer (Isaiah 8:19) when he imitates the voices of the dead and seems to make them arise from the ground. Very suddenly the scene changes, and all the foes of Israel are like finely-powdered dust or chaff before the wind, driven in utter rout. Yahweh will intervene in tempest and earthquake, and the enemy is all at once an unsubstantial dream, a nightmare from which Zion will soon awake. Like a dream too will be the foes' experience; from their dream that they will soon slake their thirst for Jerusalem they will awake to the unwelcome reality.

Isaiah 29:1. Ariel: of the two margins the latter is to be preferred, but we might render "altar hearth" (cf. Isaiah 31:9).—add . . . round: add a year to the current year, so in a year's time, when the feasts have run their course once more.

Isaiah 29:6. visited: i.e. in mercy.


Verses 9-12

Isaiah 29:9-12. The people are stupefied, for Yahweh has drenched their senses with a trance-slumber (Genesis 2:21*). He has shut their eyes and muffled their heads. All alike fail to understand the prophetic vision; to the educated it is a sealed book which they cannot read, the illiterate cannot read it, though no seal is upon it.

Isaiah 29:9. Substitute margins.

Isaiah 29:10. Omit "the prophets, the seers," glosses which miss the meaning.

Isaiah 29:13 f. On account of the formalism and hypocrisy of Judah's religion, Yahweh will achieve a marvellous work which will bring all their foresight to nought.

Isaiah 29:13. Substitute AV "draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me."—taught them: they have learnt their religion by rote (mg.), but have no intelligent interest in it.

Isaiah 29:15-24. Woe to those who seek to conceal their plans of Egyptian alliance from Yahweh by hiding them from His prophet. What perversity! (cf. mg.). They reverse the true order; the creature passive in the Creator's hand dares to act on the fancy that it is independent of Him, as if He too was of no understanding (Isaiah 10:15). Soon the land will become so fruitful that the forest will be as fertile as garden land, and what is now garden land will be thought no more of than forest land. Those now deaf and blind (Isaiah 29:9 f.), unable to understand the prophet's vision (Isaiah 29:11 f.), will both hear and see. The humble and poor will rejoice, for the foreign oppressor, and the irreligious, tyrannical Jew, and those who are on the alert to catch men tripping, will all be brought to nought. Jacob shall no longer be abashed. The sight of Yahweh's work shall lead him to hallow Israel's God, and those who have no insight and intelligence will then have right understanding.

Isaiah 29:22. who redeemed Abraham: perhaps an insertion.—concerning: read, "the god of."

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Isaiah 29:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/isaiah-29.html. 1919.

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