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The Peaceful Kingdom


A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse,

and a branch shall grow out of his roots.


The spirit of the L ord shall rest on him,

the spirit of wisdom and understanding,

the spirit of counsel and might,

the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the L ord.


His delight shall be in the fear of the L ord.


He shall not judge by what his eyes see,

or decide by what his ears hear;


but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,

and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;

he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,

and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.


Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist,

and faithfulness the belt around his loins.



The wolf shall live with the lamb,

the leopard shall lie down with the kid,

the calf and the lion and the fatling together,

and a little child shall lead them.


The cow and the bear shall graze,

their young shall lie down together;

and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.


The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,

and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.


They will not hurt or destroy

on all my holy mountain;

for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the L ord

as the waters cover the sea.


Return of the Remnant of Israel and Judah

10 On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious.

11 On that day the Lord will extend his hand yet a second time to recover the remnant that is left of his people, from Assyria, from Egypt, from Pathros, from Ethiopia, from Elam, from Shinar, from Hamath, and from the coastlands of the sea.


He will raise a signal for the nations,

and will assemble the outcasts of Israel,

and gather the dispersed of Judah

from the four corners of the earth.


The jealousy of Ephraim shall depart,

the hostility of Judah shall be cut off;

Ephraim shall not be jealous of Judah,

and Judah shall not be hostile towards Ephraim.


But they shall swoop down on the backs of the Philistines in the west,

together they shall plunder the people of the east.

They shall put forth their hand against Edom and Moab,

and the Ammonites shall obey them.


And the L ord will utterly destroy

the tongue of the sea of Egypt;

and will wave his hand over the River

with his scorching wind;

and will split it into seven channels,

and make a way to cross on foot;


so there shall be a highway from Assyria

for the remnant that is left of his people,

as there was for Israel

when they came up from the land of Egypt.


9. They shall not hurt. He now declares plainly, that men themselves, having laid aside the depravity which naturally dwells in them, will be inclined, of their own accord, to do what is right. He speaks of believers who have been truly regenerated to a new life, (Romans 6:4;) for though in the Church many hypocrites full of wickedness were mixed with the elect of God, yet they are like the Ishmaelites, whom God will cast out at the proper time. We ought also to observe, as we are taught in Psalm 15:1, 24:3, that those only who follow righteousness have a settled residence in the temple of God, that they may dwell there for ever. It is, therefore, a distinguishing mark of the genuine members of the Church, that they are free from all desire of doing injury to others. Hence, also, we infer, that it is a remarkable gift of the Spirit of Christ, that men abstain from being evil-doers; for by nature, ambition, pride, cruelty, and avarice, always prompt them freely and voluntarily to commit acts of injustice.

For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord. With good reason does the Prophet add, that this invaluable blessing flows from the knowledge of God; for it abases all flesh, and teaches men to commit themselves to his trust and guardianship, and brings them into a state of brotherly harmony, when they learn that they have the same Father. (Malachi 2:10.) Although many, who have not yet been renewed by the Spirit of Christ, profess to have humanity, yet it is certain that self-love (φιλαυτίαν) reigns in them; for in all it is natural and so deeply-rooted, that they seek their own advantage and not that of others, think that they are born for themselves and not for others, and would wish to make the whole world subject to them, if they could, as Plato has judiciously observed. Hence arise fraud, perjury, theft, robbery, and innumerable crimes of this sort; and therefore there is no other remedy for subduing this lawless desire than the knowledge of God. We see how the Prophet again makes the government of Christ to rest on faith and the doctrine of the gospel, as indeed he does not gather us to himself (Ephesians 1:10) in another way than by enlightening our minds to reveal the heavenly life, which is nothing else, as he himself declares, than

to know the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent. (John 17:3.)

As with waters that cover the sea. There is an implied comparison between the abundance of knowledge and that slender taste which God gave to the ancient people under the law. The Jews having been kept in the rudiments of childhood, (Galatians 3:23,4:3,) the perfect light of wisdom hath fully shone on us by the gospel, as was also foretold by Jeremiah:

They shall not every one teach his neighbor, and a man his brother, to know God; for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. (Jeremiah 31:34.)

If this fullness of knowledge take possession of our minds, it will free us from all malice.

This passage also instructs us what is the character of the Church under Popery, where the light of doctrine is choked and almost extinguished, and the highest religion is made to consist in the benumbing influence of brutish stupidity. If we do not immediately possess full knowledge, we must advance from day to day, and make continual progress, (2 Peter 3:18,) and in such a manner that fruit may spring from that root. Hence it is evident how little progress the greater part have made in the school of Christ, seeing that fraud and robbery and acts of violence abound everywhere.

10. And it shall be in that day the root of Jesse. He again returns to the person of Christ, and repeats the same comparison which he had introduced at the beginning of the chapter, that of a root or a branch springing from a decayed trunk, of which no trace appeared; and he foretells that the Gentiles, who formerly abhorred the Jews, will henceforth bow before their King with lowly homage. This might be thought to be altogether incredible, and unquestionably the promise was ridiculed for many centuries, because such a gathering together was to be expected rather when the kingdom remained and flourished than when it had been cut down. But it was necessary that it should be cut down, so that it might afterwards sprout again, and that the glory and power of God might shine in it more brighter than in its flourishing condition. Who would have seen with the eyes of men that the branch would rise to such a height as to be seen by all nations, and to direct the eyes of all men towards it?

Which shall stand for an ensign of the peoples. He compares it to a banner stretched aloft; and we know that this was fulfilled by the preaching of the gospel, and indeed was more illustrious than if Christ had soared above the clouds. To the same purpose is what he says,

As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up. (John 3:14; Numbers 21:9.)

Shall be sought by the Gentiles. Christ is said to be sought, when men flee to him for the purpose of asking salvation, as to seek God means, in every part of Scripture, to cast all our hopes upon him. Accordingly, the Greek translators have rendered it ἐλπιοῦσι, they shall hope, looking rather at the meaning than at the word.

And his rest shall be glory. These words are commonly explained as referring to the burial of Christ, and that by a figure of speech in which a part is taken for the whole; for afterwards they apply it also to his death; and indeed the burial of Christ was nothing else than an appendage to his death. They think that the meaning is this, “The death of Christ, which was disgraceful in the eyes of the world, will be glorious and splendid.” But when I take a closer view of the whole, by rest the Prophet means in this passage the Church; as it is also said,

This is my everlasting rest; here will I dwell.
(Psalm 132:14.)

He bestows an honorable appellation on the assembly of the godly, because he chooses to have a continual habitation among them. Accordingly, the Church having been at that time exposed to reproaches and disgrace, he promises that it will be again raised to a more prosperous condition, and will recover its ancient glory. Here, therefore, we have a remarkable proof that God is pleased to dwell continually in his Church, though this may not always be seen by men.

11. And it shall be in that day, the Lord will again set his hand. The prediction about the future glory of the Church having been incredible, he explains the method of restoring it, namely, that God will display the power of his hand, as if for performing a memorable and uncommon exploit. Now, to confirm the hope of the elect people, he recalls to their minds the remembrance of a past deliverance, that they may not doubt that God is as able to deliver them now as their fathers found him to be in Egypt. (Exodus 12:51.) Such is the import of the word שנית, (shenith,) that is, the second time, or again; as if he had said, “Now also will God be the deliverer of his Church.”

To possess the remnant of his people. He confirms what he has said by another argument; for though it appeared as if God had disregarded his people, yet he will not allow himself to be deprived of his inheritance. We may sum it up by saying, that God will take care of the salvation of his Church, so as not to be robbed of his right. He expressly calls them a remnant, because this deliverance belonged only to a small seed. (Isaiah 1:9,10:22.) In short, he repeats what he formerly said, “Though God disperse and scatter his Church, yet it is impossible that he can ever cast it away altogether; for it is as dear to him as our inheritance is to any of us.”

Which shall be left from Assyria and from Egypt. He speaks not only of the Assyrians, who had led the people captive, but also of other nations among whom the Jews were scattered; for though the greater part of the people was carried to Babylon, some fled into Egypt, some into Ethiopia, and some into other countries. They were afraid lest they should endure the same bondage as had been endured by others. Some think that by Pathros is meant Parthia, which is highly probable; others think that it is Arabia the Rocky. Under the name Elam he includes the Medes, Zocdians, Bactrians, and other eastern nations. Shinar belongs to Chaldea. By Hamath they mean Cilicia, and the other countries which lie towards Mount Taurus. By the word islands the Jews mean all countries that lie beyond the sea; for to them Greece, and Italy, and Spain, were islands, because they were separated from them by the sea. 187187     “Not islands merely, but all distant regions are comprised in the meaning of this word איי, (iye.)” — Rosenmuller

We see that the Prophet speaks here not only of the deliverance which took place under Zerubbabel, (Ezra 2:2,) but that he looks beyond this; for at that time the Israelites were not brought back from Egypt, Ethiopia, and other countries. These words, therefore, cannot be understood to relate to the deliverance from Babylon, but must be viewed as referring to the kingdom of Christ, under whom this deliverance was obtained through the preaching of the gospel. Besides, it is proper to observe that this work belongs to God, and not to men; for he says, The Lord shall stretch out his arm; thus ascribing to his heavenly power this work, which could not have been accomplished by human ability.

It ought also to be observed, that from God’s past benefits we ought always to entertain good hopes for the future; so that whenever we call to remembrance the deliverances from Babylon and from Egypt, (Ezra 2:2; Exodus 12:51,) we may be convinced that God is equally able, and will equally assist us at the present day, that he may restore the Church to her ancient glory. What he did once and again, he is able to do a third time, and a fourth, and many times. When the Prophet calls those whom he rescues a remnant, let us learn that we ought not to desire a vast multitude, and let us be satisfied, though we be few, and let us not be terrified by the smallness of our numbers; for, provided that the righteousness of God abound, we have true and abundant ground of confidence.

12. And he will lift up an ensign to the nations. This verse contains nothing more than the explanation of the former verse. The language is metaphorical, and admits of two meanings; either that, by giving an ensign, he will terrify adversaries, so that they will not dare to prevent his people from returning, or that he will give an ensign to the wretched exiles not to hesitate to make preparations for their return. But even at the present day this doctrine is highly useful among us; for as an ensign is lifted up in the army, that the soldiers may assemble, and that every one may follow and may keep his proper place, so a banner is here held out to us, that we may assemble to it, namely, the gospel, which the Lord has lifted up among the Gentiles, by which Christ is preached to us. 188188     “Set up his standard on an eminence, the signal for the soldiery to assemble round their commander. Caesar terms it vexillum proponere, quod erat insigne, cum ad arma concurri oporteret. B. Gall. See Ammian, Hist., 27:10.” — Rosenmuller.

And will gather together the dispersions of Judah. Hence we ought to conclude, that we cannot be gathered by the Lord unless we assemble to this ensign, and be joined to him by faith; for there is no other way in which he acknowledges us to be his sheep, than when, after having been scattered, we are gathered together, and meet in the same assembly under this ensign; as he says,

My sheep hear my voice and follow me. (John 10:27.)

The word gather is repeated. He will gather together the outcasts of Israel, and will gather together the dispersions of Judah. He shows how efficacious God’s calling will be; for as soon as he shall give the slightest indication that such is his pleasure, he will restore the people. Dispersion is a collective noun, for it means the Jews scattered in all directions; and he appears to allude, as he often does elsewhere, to similar passages in the writings of Moses, in which the Lord promises that he will gather the people, though they were scattered to the farthest parts of the world, and to the four winds of heaven. (Deuteronomy 30:3, 4.) Now, this was done under the direction of Christ. Under the same leader we ought at the present day to expect the restoration of a wretched and scattered Church; for there is no hope of gathering the remnant but by the elect looking to this ensign. We ought frequently, therefore, to call to remembrance those promises, that by relying on them we may more and more strengthen our hearts.

13. And the envy of Ephraim shall depart. Here he promises that the Church will be in such a state of peace, that neither will the Israelites and the Jews contend in civil broils, nor will they suffer any annoyance from their enemies, and that they will not be liable to hatred or envy, as they formerly were. Not that there will be no wicked men, but the Lord will at length cut off and destroy them. But we ought chiefly to observe what he adds about allaying domestic quarrels, that henceforth the children of Abraham may not harass each other, but unite in the same religion, and in the pure worship of God; for it was a disgraceful and shocking spectacle that their mutual strife and hostilities had been so long maintained.

With good reason does he point out the source of quarrels, namely, envy, in consequence of which the descendants of Abraham have torn each other, while the tribes of Judah and Ephraim strive with each other for renown. This horrible torch has always kindled wars in the world, while every man is unwilling to yield. In short, the Lord here promises outward and inward peace, which is a very great and most desirable blessing.

It will be objected that this was never accomplished, and that the very opposite of this took place; for as soon as the gospel began, it was followed by various wars, commotions, and dreadful persecutions, and nearly the whole world was disturbed and shaken. And inwardly what peace did the Church enjoy? Among Christians themselves, Satan, by his tares, (Matthew 13:25,) has raised up dreadful disturbances, so that no enemies were more ferocious and destructive than those which were brought up in the bosom of the Church.

I reply, the Prophet here includes the whole of Christ’s kingdom, and not merely a single age or century. In this world we taste but the beginning of Christ’s kingdom; and while the Church is harassed by enemies both within and without, still the Lord defends and preserves her, and conquers all her enemies. Besides, this prediction properly belongs to the true and lawful children of Abraham, whom the Lord has purified by the cross and by banishment, and has constrained to lay aside ambition and envy; as those who have been tamed in the school of Christ cease to be desirous of renown. Thus the promise which Isaiah makes in this passage has already been in part fulfilled, and is fulfilled every day. But we must proceed in these exercises, and must fight earnestly within and without, till we obtain that everlasting peace which it will be our happiness to enjoy in the kingdom of God.

14. And they shall fly on the shoulders of the Philistines. He means that there is also another way in which the Lord will assist his people; which is, that he will conquer their enemies, and subdue them under his dominion. Having spoken of the safety of the Church, he now declares that she will be victorious over her enemies. He mentions those nations with which the Jews incessantly carried on wars; for on the one hand the Philistines, and on the other the Ammonites and Moabites, to whom they were bound by the tie of relationship and kindred, were continually molesting and attacking them. On one side also were the Edomites, who were not restrained by blood-relationship from being most determined enemies; for they were descended from Esau, (Genesis 25:25, 26, 36:1,8, 9,) the brother of Jacob; and the remembrance of this ought to have dissuaded them from enmity and hatred. The Lord, therefore, promises that the Church, though she is not absolutely without enemies, will gain advantage over them by suffering, and in the end be victorious.

Edom and Moab shall be the stretching out of the hands. 189189     They shall lay their hand upon Edom and Moab. (Heb. Edom and Moab shall be the laying on of their hand.) — Eng. Ver. The stretching out of the hands means the dominion which the Church obtained over her enemies; for by the word hand is usually meant power; and the Hebrews use the phrase, to stretch out the hand, instead of “to place this or that under subjection.” Thus it is said,

I will set his hand in the sea, and his right hand in the rivers.
(Psalm 89:25.)

The stretching out of the hand, therefore, is full power to rule; and, on the other hand, he adds the obedience which the enemies will yield to her: and the children of Ammon shall be their obedience 190190     And the children of Ammon shall obey them. (Heb. the children of Ammon their obedience.) — Eng. Ver.

The Jews, who dream of an earthly kingdom of Christ, interpret all this in a carnal sense, and apply it to I know not what external power; but they ought rather to judge of it according to the nature of Christ’s kingdom. Partly, no doubt, the accomplishment of this prediction was seen, when the Jews returned from captivity, and God brought them into moderate prosperity, contrary to the wish, and in spite of the opposition, of all the neighboring nations; but believers were led to expect a more splendid victory, which they at length obtained through the preaching of the gospel. Although we must continually fight under the cross, yet we vanquish our enemies, when we are rescued from the tyranny of the devil and of wicked men, and are restored to liberty by Christ, that the flesh may be subdued, and our lusts laid low, and that thus we may live to him, and in patience may possess our souls, (Luke 21:19,) calmly and patiently enduring everything that happens. And thus we even heap coals on the head (Romans 12:20) of enemies, to whose attacks and reproaches we appear to be subject.

15. And the Lord will utterly destroy. In this verse he means nothing else than that the Lord, by his amazing power, will open for his people a way, which formerly appeared to be shut up. He speaks figuratively. What he calls a tongue is “a bay of the sea;” for when the sea penetrates into the land, and occupies a part of it, there is a resemblance to a person putting out his tongue. He therefore means the Egyptian sea and Egypt itself, as he afterwards more fully explains. But he chiefly mentions the sea and the rivers, because they protect the countries and shut up every entrance.

And will stretch out the hand over the river in the strength of his wind. He undoubtedly means the Nile, which waters the whole of Egypt, and divides it into many parts, and might thus interrupt the march of the people when returning to their native country. I have no doubt that רוח (ruach) here denotes wind, though he adds the Lord’s; for all the winds are the Lord’s, because he regulates and guides according to his pleasure; and more especially this phrase is employed when it is miraculously agitated by a violent whirlwind. He alludes to the former deliverance of his people, by which he brought them out of Egypt; for when the Lord was pleased to open up a way for them, he dried up the sea by the force and violence of the winds. (Exodus 14:21.)

True, the Lord did not need the assistance of the winds, for he might have done it by an immediate exertion of his power. But when he makes use of outward means, let us learn, first, that all creatures are ready to yield obedience to him; for though they have a natural course, yet they are in his power, so that he can direct their force and violence in whatever way he pleases. For instance, when a wind arises, its beginning proceeds from a natural cause, and each of the winds has its properties. The south wind is moist, and the north wind is cold, and completely similar are the effects which proceed from them; for the south wind moistens bodies, and the north wind dries them. By extraordinary miracles the Lord shows that he possesses an authority far above these natural causes, so that they are governed, not by nature, (that is, by that succession of events or chain of causes which irreligious men imagine to exist,) but by God alone.

Secondly, he shows that he changes the nature and order of events whenever he pleases, that he may be acknowledged to be their only Lord; because such a change exhibits more clearly his authority and dominion. On this account Isaiah called it not simply the wind, but the wind of the Lord, that we may perceive that it is not directed or moved by chance, but by the power of the Lord.

And shall smite it in the seven streams. Some render it torrents, and explain it thus: “he will divide the Nile into seven parts.” Though this exposition has been universally adopted, yet I do not approve of it; and I think that it has arisen from forgetfulness, rather than from ignorance, on the part of its authors, who are learned men notwithstanding, and deeply skilled in the perusal of the ancient writers. It is well known from history that the Nile had seven mouths. There are others which are little mentioned, because they had no names, and are therefore called false mouths. Whatever, then, is the number of the mouths or branches, it appears to form that number of streams or rivers; and these might have been so many hinderances to retard their journey. The Prophet expressly mentions them, because the river was highly celebrated.

And shall make them be shod with shoes. 191191     And make men go over dry-shod. (Heb. in shoes.) — Eng. Ver. The river being deep, he says that he will dry it up, so that it will not be necessary to pull off their shoes in crossing it, though this would have been necessary if only a small portion of water had remained.

By these metaphors, therefore, the Prophet means nothing else than that nothing will stand in God’s way, when it shall be his pleasure to rescue his people from captivity. He glances at the history of a former deliverance, that they may learn that it will be the same with that which they formerly enjoyed. On this account he wished to place it, as it were, before their eyes; for the means of this deliverance was not seen. If this promise had been stated in plain terms, it might not have produced so deep an impression on their minds as by holding out this remarkable example.

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