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The Eternal Covenant of Peace


Sing, O barren one who did not bear;

burst into song and shout,

you who have not been in labor!

For the children of the desolate woman will be more

than the children of her that is married, says the L ord.


Enlarge the site of your tent,

and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out;

do not hold back; lengthen your cords

and strengthen your stakes.


For you will spread out to the right and to the left,

and your descendants will possess the nations

and will settle the desolate towns.



Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed;

do not be discouraged, for you will not suffer disgrace;

for you will forget the shame of your youth,

and the disgrace of your widowhood you will remember no more.


For your Maker is your husband,

the L ord of hosts is his name;

the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer,

the God of the whole earth he is called.


For the L ord has called you

like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit,

like the wife of a man’s youth when she is cast off,

says your God.


For a brief moment I abandoned you,

but with great compassion I will gather you.


In overflowing wrath for a moment

I hid my face from you,

but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,

says the L ord, your Redeemer.



This is like the days of Noah to me:

Just as I swore that the waters of Noah

would never again go over the earth,

so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you

and will not rebuke you.


For the mountains may depart

and the hills be removed,

but my steadfast love shall not depart from you,

and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,

says the L ord, who has compassion on you.



O afflicted one, storm-tossed, and not comforted,

I am about to set your stones in antimony,

and lay your foundations with sapphires.


I will make your pinnacles of rubies,

your gates of jewels,

and all your wall of precious stones.


All your children shall be taught by the L ord,

and great shall be the prosperity of your children.


In righteousness you shall be established;

you shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear;

and from terror, for it shall not come near you.


If anyone stirs up strife,

it is not from me;

whoever stirs up strife with you

shall fall because of you.


See it is I who have created the smith

who blows the fire of coals,

and produces a weapon fit for its purpose;

I have also created the ravager to destroy.


No weapon that is fashioned against you shall prosper,

and you shall confute every tongue that rises against you in judgment.

This is the heritage of the servants of the L ord

and their vindication from me, says the L ord.


6. For as a woman forsaken. He meets a doubt which might arise in the minds of believers amidst so distressing a calamity. It seemed as if the Lord had rejected them, so that they had nothing to look for but destruction. The Prophet therefore reminds them that they ought not to despair, because they have been thus forsaken; for God, according to his mercy, is ready to be reconciled, and is even willing to raise them from the dead. 6565     “Et mesmes vent redresser celuy qui est au sepulcher.” “And even wishes to revive him who is in the grave.”

And a wife of youth. He employs this expression in order that, by this metaphor, he may more fully confirm their hearts in that hope; for the hearts of young husbands are more easily reconciled than the hearts of older husbands, being attracted, and, as it were, driven forward by youthful age and tender love. In like manner, he shows that God will be easily reconciled. “True, thou wast divorced; but the divorce shall not be of long duration. The Lord will show himself ready to be reconciled, and will even, of his own accord, be the first to invite thee to reconciliation.” 6666     “He compares the Hebrew nation to ‘a wife of youth;’ that is, to a wife whom he married in youth, (Proverbs 5:18; Malachi 2:14) towards whom he retained his former love. Compare Isaiah 62:4.” ­ Rosenmuller.
“A wife of youth, not merely a young wife, but one married early.” ­ Alexander.

7. For a little moment I forsook thee. The Prophet explains more fully the former statement, and shows what will be the nature of this divorce, namely, that she shall be speedily restored to her former condition. He magnifies the mercy of God, and extenuates the sorrow by which the hearts of believers might be oppressed. It was not enough for believers to expect some revival, if they were not convinced that God’s wrath would be of short duration. We quickly lose courage and faint, if the Lord be not nigh, and if he do not quickly stretch out his hand to us. For this reason Isaiah, after having spoken of restoring the Church, adds that this divorce shall last but “for a moment,” but that his mercy shall be everlasting

When he says that he forsook his people, it is a sort of admission of the fact. 6767     “C’est comme s’il accordoit qu’il fust ainsi.” “It is as if he admitted that this was actually the case.” We are adopted by God in such a manner that we cannot be rejected by him on account of the treachery of men; for he is faithful, so that he will not cast off or abandon his people. What the Prophet says in this passage must therefore refer to our feelings and to outward appearance, because we seem to be rejected by God when we do not perceive his presence and protection. And it is necessary that we should thus feel God’s wrath, even as a wife divorced by her husband deplores her condition, that we may know that we are justly chastised. But we must also perceive his mercy; and because it is infinite and eternal, we shall find that all afflictions in comparison of it are light and momentary. Whenever, therefore, we are pressed by adversity, we ought to betake ourselves to this consolation. At the same time it ought to be observed, that what was said was actually true as to the whole body of the people, who had been divorced on account of their wickedness; and although God did not receive all of them indiscriminately into favor with him, but only the elect remnant, yet there is nothing absurd or improper in addressing his discourse as if it had been to the same persons. 6868     ”En ce qu’il addresse sa parole a tous.” “In addressing his discourse to all.”

8. In a moment of wrath. He again repeats and enforces this statement, in order to impress it more deeply on the hearts of believers, that they may not be at all discouraged by adversity, and with good reason; for, amidst that frightful darkness, it was not easy for the captives to behold God’s smiling face. And although the literal sense in which the “wrath” is here said to last but for “a moment” 6969     In explaining the words בשצף קצף (beshetzeph ketzeph,) commentators differ, being uncertain as to the meaning of the word; שצף, (shetzeph.) Most commentators, on no other grounds, as Kimchi himself acknowledges, than the context of this passage, think that it denotes ‘something little,’ which some, concurring with the Chaldee interpreter, refer to ‘a little time;‘ but as this is afterwards expressed by the word רגע, (regang,) others refer it to ‘a small measure,’ agreeing with the Septuagint, which translate it ἐν Θυμῷ μικρῷ, ‘for a short time,’ compared with Zechariah 1:15. But A. Schultens, in his Animadversiones Philologicae on this passage, has justly remarked that there are good grounds for hesitation as to this received interpretation, because in none of the cognate languages can any trace of this meaning of the word; שצף (shetzeph) be found, nor even from the context is it very evident. By comparison with an Arabic root, he makes it signify ‘In vehemence of wrath I hid,’ etc. ‘In great wrath’ is the sense justly expressed by the Syriac version.” ­ Rosenmuller be, that God in due time brought back the captives to their native country, yet we draw from it a general doctrine, that the afflictions of the Church are always momentary, when we raise our eyes to its eternal happiness. We ought to remember what Paul has taught us, (2 Corinthians 4:17) that all the afflictions of believers are light and easy to be endured, and are justly considered to be momentary, while they look at the “eternal weight of glory;” for if we do not attend to this comparison, every day will seem to us like a year. There would be no propriety in comparing the seventy years of the captivity of the Jews to “a moment,” if it were not contrasted with the uninterrupted progress of the grace of God.

9. For the waters of Noah, or, As the days of Noah. There are two readings of this passage; for if we read it כי מי (ki me), כי (ki) must be translated for; and if we read it כימי, (kime,) כ (caph) must be translated As, and ימי (yeme) must be translated Days. 7070     מי, (me,) “waters of,” is the construct form of מים, (maim,) “waters;” and ימי, (yeme,) “days of,” is the construct form of ימים, (yamim,) “days.” ­ Ed.
On peut lire ceci en deux sortes, assavoir comme nous l’avons traduit, Car ceci m’est comme les eaux de Noe, ou, Ceci m’est comme les jours de Noe.” “This may be read in two ways, namely, as we have translated it, This is to me as the waters of Noah, or, This is to me as the days of Noah.”
As to the general meaning, it makes little difference; and therefore we ought chiefly to consider what the Prophet meant, for commentators do not appear to me to have caught his meaning. They explain it generally, that the Lord promised to: Noah by an oath, that there would never be a deluge, and that this oath would perpetually remain in force. (Genesis 9:10) But for this, the good man might have trembled, and, at the approach of rain, might have dreaded a similar calamity, if the Lord had not sworn that this should never again happen. In like manner, when afflictions are at hand, we might dread that we should be ruined, if the Lord did not promise that the Church would be safe.

But I think that this ought to be limited to the period of the Babylonish captivity. He compares that captivity to a deluge, which destroyed the face of the earth; for it appeared as if the Church was utterly ruined. The people had almost entirely passed over to another nation, and had no kingdom and no civil government of their own; they underwent very hard bondage, and thought that their name was wholly extinguished. And at that time was actually fulfilled what the Prophet formerly declared,

“If the Lord had not left to us a seed, we should have been like Sodom and Gomorrah.” (Isaiah 1:9)

Justly, therefore, does he compare that calamity to “the waters of Noah,” that is, to the deluge; and on this account I rather agree with those who read כי מי (ki me) that is, “For the waters;” for I consider that reading to rest on better evidence than the other, and it is generally adopted by Jewish writers.

This is to me. I think that we ought carefully to inquire into the meaning of these words, which are slightly passed over by commentators. He means that this calamity will resemble the deluge; so that, as he was satisfied with a single deluge, and would never again send another, so he is satisfied with this one destruction, so to speak, of the Church, and will never again permit the face of it to be destroyed. Such is therefore the manner in which I think that we ought to explain this passage and apply the metaphor, that the desolation of Judea will be to God like the deluge which happened in “the days of Noah;“ for as he swore at that time that he would never afterwards inflict such punishment on the crimes which stripped the earth of its inhabitants, so he will not again destroy the Church, as he did in the Babylonish captivity. And indeed, whatever might be any confused state of affairs that afterwards followed, still the Church retained some name, and preserved some form, until, at the manifestation of Christ in the flesh, the seed of the Gospel was everywhere scattered, that it might bring sons to God out of all nations. In a word, the Lord promises that henceforth he will restrain his wrath, and will not punish his people with so great severity.

It will be objected, that since that time the Church sustained very grievous calamities; from which it might be concluded, either that this oath failed of its accomplishment, or that this is not the Prophet’s meaning. I reply, the Church did not sustain so grievous a calamity as to have its face altogether destroyed, which happened when the people were carried away into Babylon. For although Antiochus and other tyrants brought upon it dreadful calamities, although afterwards there also happened those apostasies which Paul foretold, (2 Thessalonians 2:3; 1 Timothy 4:1,) and everything was defiled by innumerable superstitions, so that the Christian name was nearly buried; yet still there remained some form of a Church, however disfigured, and the building was not in so ruinous a condition that there did not exist some remnants of Christianity above the deluge, so that this oath was in full force.

That I will not be wroth with thee. This must not be taken in an absolute, but in a comparative sense. He contrasts this clause with the preceding; for he promises that he will never chastise his people so severely as not to mitigate the severity of the punishment. Although therefore tyrants indulge in wanton and unbridled rage, and Satan employ his utmost efforts in attacking the Church, and the Lord give him a loose rein, in order to punish our ingratitude, yet he will never suffer the Church to be ruined.

10. For the mountains shall indeed be moved. He confirms the former statement, and declares that sooner shall the whole world be turned upside down, than his mercy shall fail. It would be idle to put the question here, how “the mountains shall be moved, or the hills shall shake;” for the comparison is drawn from those things which appear to be strongest and most deeply rooted, in order to show that the foundation of the Church is far more durable. “Mountains” are very strong, and earthquakes do not so frequently take place in them as in plains; and therefore the Lord declares that, although that vast and huge mass of “mountains be moved,” or the heavens fall, yet his covenant shall endure, and his mercy towards the Church shall not fail. In this sense it is said in the Psalm, “The Lord shall reign, the world shall be established.” (Psalm 93:1) In another passage it is even said,

“Though the heavens pass away, the Church of God shall remain unshaken.”
(Psalm 102:26, 28)

My mercy. In the word “mercy,” it ought to be remarked what is the nature of the foundation of the covenant; for we can have no friendship with God: unless he have mercy upon us, and receive us by free grace. 7171     “S’il ne nous recoit gratuitement, en pardonnant nos offenses;” “Unless he receive us through free grace, by pardoning our offenses.”

The covenant of my peace. He calls it “the covenant of peace,” because the Lord offers to us all that belongs to perfect happiness; as the Hebrew writers also, under the word “peace,” include all posterity. Since therefore this covenant contains solid and perfect happiness, it follows that all who are excluded from it are miserable.

Saith Jehovah, who hath compassion on thee. By saying that it is he “who hath compassion” on her, he again confirms what was formerly said, that he will be reconciled in no other way, and for no other reason, than because he is compassionate and ready to pardon.

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