Skip to main content

Full text of "Isaiah XXXIV. and XXXV"

See other formats


Early Journal Content on JSTOR, Free to Anyone in the World 

This article is one of nearly 500,000 scholarly works digitized and made freely available to everyone in 
the world by JSTOR. 

Known as the Early Journal Content, this set of works include research articles, news, letters, and other 
writings published in more than 200 of the oldest leading academic journals. The works date from the 
mid-seventeenth to the early twentieth centuries. 

We encourage people to read and share the Early Journal Content openly and to tell others that this 
resource exists. People may post this content online or redistribute in any way for non-commercial 

Read more about Early Journal Content at 
journal-content . 

JSTOR is a digital library of academic journals, books, and primary source objects. JSTOR helps people 
discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content through a powerful research and teaching 
platform, and preserves this content for future generations. JSTOR is part of ITHAKA, a not-for-profit 
organization that also includes Ithaka S+R and Portico. For more information about JSTOR, please 

ftcislt d|ttarterlj Jewm. 

OCTOBER, 1891. 


The Hebraists of the hypercritical school are fond of acting 
like a literary jury, whose duty it is to pronounce sentence 
upon any offence committed by the Press. They eagerly 
seize upon any unusual words of an author in the hope of 
discovering whether his work is original or plagiarised. 
From the mere appearance of single words, this class of 
critics is able to fix the age of a Biblical book, just as 
geologists determine the age of certain strata by the ap- 
pearance of stones or metals. They, however, frequently 
overlook the passages that are unmistakably connected 
with kindred sections elsewhere, and are of a different 
character to their immediate surroundings. This is what 
has happened to two chapters in the Book of Isaiah — xxxiv. 
and xxxv. The most recent expositors of this prophet, 
from Ewald to Dillmann (in his Commentary, 1890), take it 
for granted that these two chapters form a single whole, 
and they consequently conclude that both belong to the 
Exilic period, though not to the Second Isaiah. They try 
to fix their exact date, and discuss without reference to the 
Second Isaiah at what less or greater interval before the 
fall of Babylon they were composed. 

And yet the deutero-Isaianic character of chap. xxxv. 
is so obvious that it is only the erroneous notion of its 

* The lamented death of Prof. G-raetz has deprived this article of the 
advantage of the author's revision. 

2 The Jewish Quarterly Review. 

connection with the preceding chapter that has prevented 
this fact from being recognised. Not only is the last verse 
in chap. xxxv. word for word identical with II. Isaiah li. 
11 ; but, what is more significant, the entire diction, the 
elevated style, and the picture of an ideal age are all 
characteristic of deutero-Isaiah. That vein of irony which 
the Babylonian Isaiah is so fond of introducing among 
other trains of thought is also perceptible in chap. xxxv. 
Thus, for example, when summoning the four corners of 
the earth to give up the sons and daughters of God, he 
interweaves the phrase, " Bring forth the blind people that 
have eyes and the deaf that have ears" 1 (xliii. 8). In 
speaking of the revolutions that were to take place in the 
joyful days after the redemption from Babylon, he does 
not fail to observe ironically, " And I will bring the blind 
by a way that they know not" (xlii. 16). Now the same 
ironical manner is also noticeable in chap. xxxv. 4. In the 
midst of his assurance that God will bring help to the 
weak and feeble, the author adds : " Then the eyes of the 
blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be 
unstopped." If this is not a genuine verse of II. Isaiah, 
there is no such thing as critical recognition of authorship 
in literature. He who ignores this parallelism, and ascribes 
this phrase to another prophet, may indeed be well ac- 
quainted with grammar and lexicon, but is sadly wanting 
in literary taste and judgment. 

I will not lay stress upon single points in this passage 
which also remind one of II. Isaiah, not even upon the word 
yiW, which some commentators explain to mean the mirage, 
and which occurs only in chap, xxxv., and in xlix. 9 ; nor 
upon the phrase ab "nmaa, that clearly points to the deutero- 
Isaianic period, and here possesses a peculiar signification. 

1 The main passage to which this verse refers is of course xlii. 18, 19, 
where the reading in?2>D3, instead of the unintelligible D7CD3, is 
adopted by Cheyne, but not the further emendation of reading, instead of 
both times "lj^, once ttHO, although Jona Ibn Janach had already 
called attention to this lapsus calami. 

Isaiah xxxiv. and xxxv. 3 

Whilst, however, chap. xxxv. has an unmistakable 
deutero-Isaianic colouring, the preceding chapter shows no 
trace of it, but resembles rather Jeremiah chap. li. and 
lii., and the Exilic passage, Isaiah chap. xiii. and xiv. To 
unite these two accidentally juxtaposed chapters is an 
arbitrary act of exegetical violence. Chap, xxxiv. merely 
consists of an extravagant prophecy against Edom, and 
has no word of comfort for suffering Israel, which is the 
sole subject of chap. xxxv. It will afterwards be shown 
what period it really seems to indicate. For the present, 
let this be admitted, that chap. xxxv. is the genuine pro- 
duction of the Second Isaiah, spirit of his spirit. 

The question now arises whether this chapter cannot be 
included among deutero-Isaiah's prophecies with which it 
has a whole verse in common. Let us look at the context of 
this verse in both places, in chap. xxxv. and in chap. li. 
In the former it runs: "And the ransomed of the Lord 
shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting 
joy upon their heads ; they shall obtain joy and gladness, 
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away." It is a word of 
comfort, assuring the ransomed Jews that an ideal time is 
about to be begun for them which shall contrast with the 
dark sorrow that now fills their minds. The preceding 
verses also aim at arousing a confident hope in the near 
advent of happiness (verses 7 to 9). " And a highway shall 
be levelled for them in the wilderness — a holy way — upon 
which no ravenous beast shall go, but the redeemed shall 
walk there." 1 The Exodus from Babylon is predicted to 
take place under the most favourable auspices. 

Chap, li., where the same verse occurs, is written in a 
very different tone. Here we find, not words of consolation, 
but anxious forebodings which dominate men's minds in 

1 The words J131K" TJ "HB1 of verse 10 are joined to D^INJ 13^m of 
verse 9. This should be compared with li. 10, 11, where the parallel 
words D^IKJ Tl3]^> -|TT and the then following JUIK"' 'n "HD1 do not 
refer to the Babylonian Exodus of the future, but to the Egyptian Exodus 
as an historical reminiscence. 

A 2 

4 The Jewish Quarterly Review. 

spite of the glad tidings of salvation previously announced. 
This downcast attitude is portrayed in an imaginary 
prayer. May God reveal his wondrous power now as at 
the departure from Egypt. The beginning of this prayer 
runs : " Awake, awake, put on strength, arm of the Lord ; 
awake as in the ancient days." Then, still in prayer form, 
follow the words, " Thou didst divide the sea, and didst 
make the depths of the sea a way for the ransomed to pass 
over." The next verse, the counterpart of that in chap, 
xxxv., must also be read as prayer, " And may the redeemed 
of the Lord return, and may they return unto Zion with 
singing, and may sorrow and mourning flee away." With 
the same words with which, in the former passage, the 
certainty of the deliverance is prophesied, it is here prayed 
for. After this entreaty, which expresses the despondency 
of the righteous, the prophet continues (chap. li. 12-13) : " I, 
even I, am he that comforteth you ; who art thou that thou 

shouldst be afraid of a man that shall die and hast 

feared continually every day because of the fury of the 
oppressor." The prophet only introduced this prayer in 
order to represent as strongly as possible the needlessness 
of despondency. Manifold literary artifices were employed 
by him to awaken confidence in the hearts of the fearful. 
One and the same verse is thus used in different senses, 
once to convey a prophecy of an assured happy change, and 
then as the supplication of one who anxiously feels that 
such a prediction is, perhaps, after all, but a vain hope, 
seeing that the sad outlook of the present, " the fury of 
the oppressor," does not permit of such confidence in the 
future. If then, in chap, xxxv., the corresponding verse, 
with its context, is not merely borrowed from II. Isaiah, 
but used by him over again but in another sense, the 
chapter can be fittingly included among this prophet's 
orations. It belongs to chap. li. At the outset the 
prophet addresses those who are longing for the immi- 
nent salvation; let them remember Abraham and Sarah. 
Abraham was only one man, but God blessed and increased 

Isaiah xxxiv. and xxxv. 5 

his seed ; so will he also increase the small band of those 
who now seek the Lord : " He will comfort Zion and her 
ruins, will make her wilderness like Eden ; joy and gladness 
shall he found therein, thanksgiving and the voice of 
melody " (li. 3). This train of thought is continued by 
chap, xxxv., which is only a highly elaborated picture of 
the ideal future, so often delineated by II. Tsaiah : " The 
wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them ; 
and the desert (Araba) shall rejoice and blossom as the 
lily. The bank of the Jordan 1 shall also blossom and 
exult : the glory of the Lebanon, the excellency of Carmel 
and Sharon shall be given unto it." Then follows an 
exhortation to the feeble and timorous, with a description 
of the glorious metamorphoses of outward nature, the 
whole concluding with the verse under discussion, "And 
the ransomed of the Lord shall return." Thus, chap. xxxv. 
is altogether a part of chap, li., and its proper place is 
between verses 3 and 4. In the following verses, on the 
other hand, the prophet, with a bold transition, prays for 
the realisation of the advent which he had already pro- 
phesied as certain, " that the ransomed shall come unto 
Zion," etc. Chap. xxxv. has been taken out of chap, li., and 
misplaced. A small tablet upon which it was written, or a 
column of a scroll, strayed into the wrong place, just as an 
authentic piece from Jeremiah has erroneously become 
included in the Book of Isaiah (lvi. 9-12 ; lvii. 1-3). 

This accident brought it into proximity with chap, xxxiv. 

1 About the awkward phrase "DID QIB'E", the expositors and gram- 
marians need not have spent such pains to prove its agreement with 
grammatical rules, as it can easily be explained by the fact of the D of 
"OIO having been repeated, and the simple reading is rpXV "OID V&W\. 
The incorrect passage J3H1 Jl/'J f|N 73J11 can also be made to express 
a poetical idea by a simple emendation, the clue to which is given by 
the Greek translation. Thus, the LXX. renders the word \YX\ by rov 
'lopSdvov, suggesting the reading J"lTfl nil} instead of JJH1 nt>*3 
The sense, therefore, is that the banks of the Jordan, which form this 
prairie (Araba), will nourish at the time of these wondrous changes. No 
•word is superfluous in this verse. The repetition of ?J!tt man mfi 
is justified by the adjoining «)«, pTfl nilJ *|K 

6 The Jewish Quarterly Review. 

with which it has not the slightest resemblance 
in thought, but is rather diametrically opposed to it. 
Whilst II. Isaiah announces that all nations of the 
earth will acknowledge Israel's God, and wonder at his 
miracles, this fragment prophesies the annihilation of all 
nations. '' Their slain shall be cast out, and their stink 
shall come out of their carcases." II. Isaiah, the prophet 
of salvation, hopes for the conversion of the heathen, 
while the author of chap, xxxv., a prophet of destruction, 
predicts their ruin. Besides the contents, the diction of 
the two chapters is entirely different. In chap, xxxiv. 
the prophet, though speaking of a universal judgment 
upon all nations, is thinking principally of the sentence 
against Edom. Wherein lay the importance of this 
petty nation — which, compared to the mighty empires 
of Assyria, Babylon and Egypt, was so utterly insigni- 
ficant — that with its dissolution, the hour of salva- 
tion should begin ? The expositors who defend the 
coupling together of these two heterogeneous chapters 
explain that Edom in the eyes of the prophet serves 
as the representative of all peoples hostile to Israel, 
and cite its perennial and constant enmity in support 
of this theory. They quote the short passage (Isaiah 
chap, lxiii. 1-7), where Edom also stands in the fore- 
ground. But the supposed parallel is based upon a false 
vocalisation of the text ; chap, lxiii. 1, cannot mean, " Who 
is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from 
Bozrah ; " but the true rendering is, " Who is this that 
cometh with a red garment from the vintage : " x there is 
thus nothing' about Edom. On the other hand, chap, 
xxxiv. speaks solely of Edom, not as a type, but with 
reference to itself, just as in Obadiah. 

1 Instead of DV1XD N3 nt 'D we must certainly read O^IKD, and in 
the phrase m¥2D D'133 flOn, the word T\TS2 means "the vintage," 
and is another form for 1V3, the feminine of "1X3. The words that 
follow decidedly support this explanation, y\12) "|K>13^(S 0"IX yilO 
r\12 "p1"D. Although this emendation suggested by Lagarde is quite ob- 
vious, most expositors adhere to " Edom." 

Isaiah xxxiv. and xxxv. 7 

In truth, the rulers of the people of Judah had ample 
reasons for execrating Edom. From the time of their 
wandering in the desert till the destruction of Jerusalem, 
the Idumseans had pursued the Israelites with an im- 
placable enmity, although the latter regarded them as 

Already in the eighth century B.C. the prophet Amos 
mourned because Edom persecuted his brother Jacob with 
the sword, and still harboured a fierce hatred against him. 
At the downfall of Jerusalem this people lent a helping 
hand to the Chaldeans in their work of devastation, ex- 
claiming : " Destroy, destroy, even unto its foundation ! " 
They fought against the fleeing warriors in the breaches 
and crossways, and delivered them up to the foe. After 
the destruction of Jerusalem, Edom looked upon itself as 
the heir to desolate Judaea, and appropriated a portion of 
the land. It appears that even during the Babylonian 
exile the Idumasans kept possession of the ruins of 
Jerusalem. For these reasons, therefore, the author of 
chap, xxxiv. threatened Edom with a doom of annihilation 
much more severe than even Jeremiah and Ezekiel had 
proclaimed against it. His prophecy is of a later date than 
either Jer. 1., li., or Isaiah xiii., xiv., because he depicts 
the impending destruction of Edom in much fuller 
detail. His diction, on the other hand, has neither the 
symmetry of the latter passage nor the fulness of the 
former. The 16th verse also seems to allude to Jeremiah's 
prediction of the judgment of Babylon. The words are : 
" Seek ye out of the book of the Lord and read ; no one of 
these shall fail." What is the meaning of " the book of the 
Lord " ? This expression does not occur anywhere else in 
the Bible. We hear, indeed, of " the book of the Law of 
God," or " the book of the Covenant," but not of any " book 
of the Lord," in which is to^be found the threat of a coming 
judgment. Unless I am mistaken, the correct reading 
should be in s »~P "1DD instead of 'n "ISD, and the author 
probably intended to summon his contemporaries to con- 

8 The Jewish Quarterly Review. 

vince themselves with their own eyes that the sentence 
pronounced by Jeremiah against Edom or the nations had 
been literally fulfilled. The verbs in verses 16 and 17 are 
preterite, thus implying that the circumstances alluded to 
were susceptible of ocular confirmation. The passage is 
certainly not an exhortation to future readers, as if the 
author were expressing his assurance that in days to come 
people would be convinced of the fulfilment of his prophecy. 
According to this interpretation the contents of this passage 
would themselves be the " book of the Lord " referred to, a 
very improbable assumption. 

Let this be as it may, the fact remains that the two 
adjoining chapters, xxxiv. and xxxv., do not belong to one 
and the same prophet ; chap. xxxv. is a genuine portion of 
II. Isaiah, and the preceding chapter is the work of some one 
who lived at a later period. Chap. xxxv. has by accident 
been detached from chap. 1L, of which it forms a com- 
ponent part, and has been subjoined as an appendix to 
chap, xxxiv. 

H. Graetz.