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ISAIAH X V.-XXXIV.
to the destruction of the cities is added the desolation of the
land—“In the way of Horonaim they shall raise up a cry of destruction" (xv. 5). By the failure of the vegetation, the waters of Nimrim (Beth-nimrah, Numb. xxxii. 3, 36)
are made desolate, for the hay (hhātzīr)—the grass fully grown and ready for cutting—is withered away; the grass
(deshé)—common pasture plants—faileth, there is no green thing (yērek)—a term including the other two. It occurs in Gen. i. 30, ix. 3, as the “green herb” which was given for meat. In Exod. x. 15, it indicates the leaves of the trees. The destruction caused by the locusts was such, that "there remained not any green thing in the trees.” The yērek was “the grass" of the field, which the ox licked up (Numb. xxii. 4). In Psalm xxxvii. 2, it is said of evil doers and workers of iniquity, that “they shall soon be cut down like the grass (yễrek), and wither as the green herb (deshé).” See under Jer. xii. 4; 2 Sam. xxiii. 4.
The difficulty of giving a clear translation of verse 7, is felt by all interpreters. Its obscurity has been increased by the variety of renderings proposed for the last clause—“That which they have laid up, shall they carry away to the brook of the willows.” In the margin of the English bible," valley of the Arabians” is given as the equivalent of “brook of the willows,” from the resemblance between the Hebrew term translated "willow" and the name Arabia. A like circumstance has led to another rendering, namely, “the stream of the ravens” (Nahal Orebim) or “Ravensbrook.” Bochart believes that Babylon is referred to, whose plains abound in willows. But everything favours the common translation—"brook of the willows." The meaning of the passage is, that the Moabites, thus broken down and spoiled, would hasten to carry all they could save of their substance, out of their own country, to the region farther south. They would take it into Edom. The brook of the willows (Nahal Haarabim) has been identified by Robinson. It communicates with the Dead Sea at its south-east corner, where it is named Wady el Kúrâhy. Farther from the sea it is known as Wady el Ashy, the Wady el Ahsa of Burckhardt, Irby, and
Mangles, &c., but not to be confounded with the Wady el Asal, which enters the same sea much farther to the north.
“Willow," Heb, ērev, see under xliv. 4.
Chapter xix." The burden of Egypt.” The prophet announces to the Jews the coming destruction of that great political power in which they were too ready to trust, under images borrowed from well-known features of Egyptian social life and scenery. As usual, the description is highly figurative. There may, however, have been a specific and literal fulfilment of some of the threatenings. The waters of the Nile may have failed, the rich meadows of its banks may have withered, and its fishermen may have cast their nets in vain into its streams. But nothing more is demanded here than the recognition of the truth, that judgment was to come on Egypt, which might be compared to all these results, had they actually taken place. The Nile might at the season overflow its banks, its borders might flourish in green beauty, and abundance of fish be found in its waters, and yet Egypt might be smitten, given over into the hand of a cruel lord,” and “like unto women, afraid because of the shaking of the hand of the Lord of hosts."
In verse 1, the manifestation of the power of the true God is set boldly before us, by its influence on the idols of the land. God was to appear, and the idols were to be moved at his presence, and the heart of Egypt was to melt in the midst of it. The figure of a "swift cloud”
Paper Reed (Cyperus papyrus). is used to indicate the source and the mode in which the judgment shall
Like the cloud, it was to be directly from heaven; and it was to be speedy, like the cloud flying swiftly before the wind. The judgments assume spiritual bearings, and fall first on all the superstitious agencies which kept the people from the acknowledgment of the true God (ver. 3). Then we have the physical features of the land used to give point and prominence to its political and social condition. This was to be as if the waters of the sea were no more to lave its shores as if its river was to be wasted, and its brooks dried up-as if its vegetation was to be withered, and its fishermen made to mourn, because the waters yielded them no more fish. See for “brooks" under Genesis xli. 1. In verses 6, 7, three forms of vegetation are specially named—reeds, flags, and paper reeds.
“Reeds,” Heb. kāneh, answering to our word cane (Arundo donax), one of the grasses (Graminacec). The earliest use of this word by Scripture writers, was to express “the stalk” on which the ears of corn grow (Gen. xli. 5, 22). Throughout Exodus it is translated “ branches,” and is specially used in the description of the “candlestick of pure gold, of beaten work.” In 1 Kings xiv. 15, it is first rendered " reed” —which see. The term “flags" (sūph) has been explained under Exod. xi. 3. See also under Jonah ii. 5.
“The paper reeds,” Heb. haroth, are no doubt species of the plants named “bulrushes” in Exodus ii., though referred to under a different word. The gome, we have seen, may be held to mean generically cyperus; the word used here is specific—the paper plant or papyrus (Cyperus papyrus) and the prophecy is literally fulfilled concerning it. The papyrus has perished from the brooks of the Nile. It is very rarely, if ever, found there. It is “ withered, driven away, and no more.' The term employed by the prophet is borrowed from the naked-looking appearance of the full-grown papyrus, which, though sometimes rising to the height of twelve or fourteen feet, is nearly destitute of lower leaves.
Chapter xxviii.-Wine-smitten Ephraim, and Samaria her crown of pride, had sunk into one of the lowest forms of vice. How wide-spread the sin had become, is evident from verse 7:-“They have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment.” The loathsome effects, as described here, give greater relief to the picture of social degradation : "For all tables are full of vomit and filthiness, so that there is no place clean” (ver. 8). It cannot be doubted that actual drunkenness is referred to by the prophet. Of course moral and intellectual consequences are implied. But to understand the words only in a spiritual sense, is to mis their meaning. I have brought together all the scriptual references to the shēchār, or strong drink, mentioned in verse 7, under Numbers vi. 3. What were the substances which yielded this beverage? This question