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A Commentary, Critical, Practical, and Explanatory on the Old and New Testaments, by Robert Jamieson, A.R. Fausset and David Brown [1882] at

Isaiah Chapter 34

Isaiah 34:1

isa 34:1

JUDGMENT ON IDUMEA. (Isa. 34:1-17)

All creation is summoned to hear God's judgments (Eze 6:3; Deu 32:1; Psa 50:4; Mic 6:1-2), for they set forth His glory, which is the end of creation (Rev 15:3; Rev 4:11).

that come forth of it--answering to "all that is therein"; or Hebrew, "all whatever fills it," Margin.

Isaiah 34:2

isa 34:2

utterly destroyed--rather, "doomed them to an utter curse" [HORSLEY].

delivered--rather, "appointed."

Isaiah 34:3

isa 34:3

cast out--unburied (Isa 14:19).

melted--washed away as with a descending torrent.

Isaiah 34:4

isa 34:4

(Psa 102:26; Joe 2:31; Joe 3:15; Mat 24:29).

dissolved-- (Pe2 3:10-12). Violent convulsions of nature are in Scripture made the images of great changes in the human world (Isa 24:19-21), and shall literally accompany them at the winding up of the present dispensation.

scroll--Books were in those days sheets of parchment rolled together (Rev 6:14).

fall down--The stars shall fall when the heavens in which they are fixed pass away.

fig tree-- (Rev 6:13).

Isaiah 34:5

isa 34:5

sword-- (Jer 46:10). Or else, knife for sacrifice for God does not here appear as a warrior with His sword, but as one about to sacrifice victims doomed to slaughter [VITRINGA]. (Eze 39:17).

bathed--rather "intoxicated," namely, with anger (so Deu 32:42). "In heaven" implies the place where God's purpose of wrath is formed in antithesis to its "coming down" in the next clause.

Idumea--originally extending from the Dead Sea to the Red Sea; afterwards they obtained possession of the country east of Moab, of which Bozrah was capital. Petra or Selah, called Joktheel (Kg2 14:7), was capital of South Edom (see on Isa 16:1). David subjugated Edom (Sa2 8:13-14). Under Jehoram they regained independence (Ch2 21:8). Under Amaziah they were again subdued, and Selah taken (Kg2 14:7). When Judah was captive in Babylon, Edom, in every way, insulted over her fallen mistress, killed many of those Jews whom the Chaldeans had left, and hence was held guilty of fratricide by God (Esau, their ancestor, having been brother to Jacob): this was the cause of the denunciations of the prophets against Edom Isa 63:1, &c.; Jer 49:7; Eze 25:12-14; Eze 35:3-15; Joe 3:19; Amo 1:11-12; Oba 1:8, Oba 1:10, Oba 1:12-18; Mal 1:3-4). Nebuchadnezzar humbled Idumea accordingly (Jer 25:15-21).

of my curse--that is, doomed to it.

to judgment--that is, to execute it.

Isaiah 34:6

isa 34:6

filled--glutted. The image of a sacrifice is continued.

blood . . . fat--the parts especially devoted to God in a sacrifice (Sa2 1:22).

lambs . . . goats--sacrificial animals: the Idumeans, of all classes, doomed to slaughter, are meant (Zep 1:7).

Bozrah--called Bostra by the Romans, &c., assigned in Jer 48:24 to Moab, so that it seems to have been at one time in the dominion of Edom, and at another in that of Moab (Isa 63:1; Jer 49:13, Jer 49:20, Jer 49:22); it was strictly not in Edom, but the capital of Auranitis (the Houran). Edom seems to have extended its dominion so as to include it (compare Lam 4:21).

Isaiah 34:7

isa 34:7

unicorns--Hebrew, reem: conveying the idea of loftiness, power, and pre-eminence (see on Job 39:9), in the Bible. At one time the image in the term answers to a reality in nature; at another it symbolizes an abstraction. The rhinoceros was the original type. The Arab rim is two-horned: it was the oryx (the leucoryx, antelope, bold and pugnacious); but when accident or artifice deprived it of one horn, the notion of the unicorn arose. Here is meant the portion of the Edomites which was strong and warlike.

come down--rather, "fall down," slain [LOWTH].

with them--with the "lambs and goats," the less powerful Edomites (Isa 34:6).

bullocks . . . bulls--the young and old Edomites: all classes.


Isaiah 34:8

isa 34:8

recompenses for the controversy of Zion--that is, the year when God will retaliate on those who have contended with Zion. Her controversy is His. Edom had thought to extend its borders by laying hold of its neighbor's lands and has instigated Babylon to cruelty towards fallen Judah (Psa 137:7; Eze 36:5); therefore Edom shall suffer the same herself (Lam 4:21-22). The final winding up of the controversy between God and all enemies of Him and His people is also foreshadowed (Isa 61:2; Isa 63:4; Isa 66:14-16; Mal 4:1, Mal 4:3; Th2 1:7-9; Rev 11:18; Rev 18:20; Rev 19:2).

Isaiah 34:9

isa 34:9

Images from the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 19:24-28; so Deu 29:23; Jer 49:17-18).

Isaiah 34:10

isa 34:10

It--The burning pitch, &c. (Isa 34:9).

smoke . . . for ever-- (Rev 14:11; Rev 18:18; Rev 19:3).

generation to generation-- (Mal 1:4).

none . . . pass through--Edom's original offense was: they would not let Israel pass through their land in peace to Canaan: God recompenses them in kind, no traveller shall pass through Edom. VOLNEY, the infidel, was forced to confirm the truth of this prophecy: "From the reports of the Arabs, southeast of the Dead Sea, within three days' journey are upwards of thirty ruined towns, absolutely deserted."

Isaiah 34:11

isa 34:11

cormorant--The Hebrew is rendered, in Psa 102:6, "pelican," which is a seafowl, and cannot be meant here: some waterfowl (katta, according to BURCKHARDT) that tenants desert places is intended.

bittern--rather, "the hedgehog," or "porcupine" [GESENIUS] (Isa 14:23).

owl--from its being enumerated among water birds in Lev 11:17; Deu 14:16. MAURER thinks rather the heron or crane is meant; from a Hebrew root, "to blow," as it utters a sound like the blowing of a horn (Rev 18:2).


line . . . stones--metaphor from an architect with line and plummet-stone (see on Isa 18:2; Isa 28:17); God will render to it the exact measure of justice without mercy (Jam 2:13; Kg2 21:13; Lam 2:8; Amo 7:7-8).

emptiness--desolation. Edom is now a waste of "stones."

Isaiah 34:12

isa 34:12

Rather, "As to her nobles, there shall be none there who shall declare a kingdom," that is, a king [MAURER]; or else, "There shall be no one there whom they shall call to the kingdom" [ROSENMULLER] (Isa 3:6, &c.). Idumea was at first governed by dukes (Gen 36:15); out of them the king wan chosen when the constitution became a monarchy.

Isaiah 34:13

isa 34:13

dragons--(See on Isa 13:21; Isa 13:22).

court for owls--rather, "a dwelling for ostriches."

Isaiah 34:14

isa 34:14

wild beasts of the desert . . . island--rather, "wild cats . . . jackals" (Isa 13:21).

screech owl--rather, "the night specter"; in Jewish superstition a female, elegantly dressed, that carried off children by night. The text does not assert the existence of such objects of superstition, but describes the place as one which superstition would people with such beings.

Isaiah 34:15

isa 34:15

great owl--rather, "the arrow snake," so called from its darting on its prey [GESENIUS].

lay--namely, eggs.

gather under her shadow--rather, "cherishes" her young under, &c. (Jer 17:11).

Isaiah 34:16

isa 34:16

book of the Lord--the volume in which the various prophecies and other parts of Scripture began henceforward to be collected together (Isa 30:8; Dan 9:2).

Seek--(so Isa 8:16, Isa 8:20; Joh 5:39; Joh 7:52).

no one . . . fail--of these prophecies (Mat 5:18).

none shall want . . . mate--image from pairing of animals mentioned, Isa 34:15 ("mate"); no prediction shall want a fulfilment as its companion. Or rather, "none of these wild animals (just spoken of) shall be wanting: none shall be without its mate" to pair and breed with, in desolate Idumea.

my . . . his--Such changes of person are frequent in Hebrew poetry.

them--the wild beasts.

Isaiah 34:17

isa 34:17

cast . . . lot--As conquerors apportion lands by lot, so Jehovah has appointed and marked out ("divided") Edom for the wild beasts (Num 26:55-56; Jos 18:4-6).

See on Isa 34:1, introduction there.

Next: Isaiah Chapter 35