In the last days "In the latter days" - "Wherever the latter times are mentioned in Scripture, the days of the Messiah are always meant," says Kimchi on this place: and, in regard to this place, nothing can be more clear and certain. And the mountain of the Lord's house, says the same author, is Mount Moriah, on which the temple was built. The prophet Micah, Micah 4:1-4, has repeated this prophecy of the establishment of the kingdom of Christ, and of its progress to universality and perfection, in the same words, with little and hardly any material variation: for as he did not begin to prophesy till Jotham's time, and this seems to be one of the first of Isaiah's prophecies, I suppose Micah to have taken it from hence. The variations, as I said, are of no great importance.
Isaiah 2:2. הוא hu, after ונשא venissa, a word of some emphasis, may be supplied from Micah, if dropped in Isaiah. An ancient MS. has it here in the margin. It has in like manner been lost in Isaiah 53:4; (note), and in Psalm 22:29, where it is supplied by the Syriac, and Septuagint. Instead of הגוים כל col haggoyim, all the nations, Micah has only עמים ammim, peoples; where the Syriac has עמים כל col ammim, all peoples, as probably it ought to be.
Isaiah 2:4. Micah adds רחק עד ad rachok, afar off, which the Syriac also reads in this parallel place of Isaiah. It is also to be observed that Micah has improved the passage by adding a verse, or sentence, ( Micah 4:4;) for imagery and expression worthy even of the elegance of Isaiah: -
"And they shall sit every man under his vine,
And under his fig tree, and none shall affright them:
For the mouth of Jehovah, God of hosts, hath spoken it."
The description of well established peace, by the image of "beating their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks," is very poetical. The Roman poets have employed the same image, Martial, 14:34. "Falx ex ense."
"Pax me certa ducis placidos curvavit in usus:
Agricolae nunc sum; militis ante fui."
"Sweet peace has transformed me. I was once the property of the soldier, and am now the property of the husbandman."
The prophet Joel, Joel 3:10, hath reversed it, and applied it to war prevailing over peace: -
"Beat your ploughshares into swords,
And your pruning-hooks into spears."
And so likewise the Roman poets: -
- Non ullus aratro
Dignus honos: squalent abductis arva colonis,
Et curvae rigidum falces conflantur in ensem.
Virg., Georg. 1:506.
"Agriculture has now no honor: the husbandmen being taken away to the wars, the fields are overgrown with weeds, and the crooked sickles are straightened into swords."
Bella diu tenuere viros: erat aptior ensis
Vomere: cedebat taurus arator equo
Sarcula cessabant; versique in pila ligones;
Factaque de rastri pondere cassis erat.
Ovid, Fast. 1:697.
"War has lasted long, and the sword is preferred to the plough. The bull has given place to the war-horse; the weeding-hooks to pikes; and the harrow-pins have been manufactured into helmets."
The prophet Ezekiel, Ezekiel 17:22-24, has presignified the same great event with equal clearness, though in a more abstruse form, in an allegory; from an image, suggested by the former part of the prophecy, happily introduced, and well pursued: -
"Thus saith the Lord Jehovah:
I myself will take from the shoot of the lofty cedar,
Even a tender scion from the top of his scions will I pluck off:
And I myself will plant it on a mountain high and eminent.
On the lofty mountain of Israel will I plant it;
And it shall exalt its branch, and bring forth fruit,
And it shall become a majestic cedar:
And under it shall dwell all fowl of every wing;
In the shadow of its branches shall they dwell:
And all the trees of the field shall know,
That I Jehovah have brought low the high tree;
Have exalted the low tree;
Have dried up the green tree;
And have made the dry tree to flourish:
I Jehovah have spoken it, and will do it."
The word ונתתי venathatti, in this passage, Ezekiel 17:22, as the sentence now stands, appears incapable of being reduced to any proper construction or sense. None of the ancient versions acknowledge it, except Theodotion, and the Vulgate; and all but the latter vary very much from the present reading of this clause. Houbigant's correction of the passage, by reading instead of ונתתי venathatti, ויונקת veyoneketh, and a tender scion which is not very unlike it, perhaps better ויונק veyonek, with which the adjective רך rach will agree without alteration - is ingenious and probable; and I have adopted it in the above translation. - L.
In the last days - הימים באחרית be'achărı̂yth hāyâmı̂ym In the “after” days; in the “futurity” of days; that is, in the time to come. This is an expression that often occurs in the Old Testament. It does not of itself refer to any “particular” period, and especially not, as our translation would seem to indicate, to the end of the world. The expression properly denotes “only future time” in general. But the prophets were accustomed to concentrate all their hopes on the coming of the Messiah. They saw his advent as giving character, and sublimity, and happiness to all coming times. Hence, the expression came to denote, by way of eminence, the times of the Messiah, and is frequently used in the New Testament, as well as the Old, to designate those times; see Acts 2:17; compare Joel 2:28; Hebrews 1:2; 1 Peter 1:5, 1 Peter 1:20; 1 John 2:18; Genesis 49:1; Micah 4:1; Deuteronomy 4:30; Jeremiah 48:47; Daniel 11:28.
The expressions which follow are figurative, and cannot well be interpreted as relating to any other events than the times of the Messiah. They refer to that future period, then remote, which would constitute the “last” dispensation of things in this world - the “last” time - the period, however long it might be, in which the affairs of the world would be closed. The patriarchal times had passed away; the dispensation under the Mosaic economy would pass away; the times of the Messiah would be the “last” times, or the last dispensation, under which the affairs of the world would be consummated. Thus the phrase is evidently used in the New Testament, as denoting the “last” time, though without implying that that time would be short. It might be longer than “all” the previous periods put together, but it would be the “last” economy, and under that economy, or “in” that time, the world would be destroyed, Christ would come to judgment, the dead would be raised, and the affairs of the world would be wound up. The apostles, by the use of this phrase, never intimate that the time would be short, or that the day of judgment was near, but only that “in” that time the great events of the world‘s history would be consummated and closed; compare 2 Thessalonians 2:1-5. This prophecy occurs in Micah Micah 4:1-5 with scarcely any variation. It is not known whether Isaiah made use of Micah, or Micah of Isaiah, or both of an older and well-known prophecy. Hengstenberg (“Chris.” i., pp. 289,290) supposes that Isaiah copied from Micah, and suggests the following reasons:
1. The prediction of Isaiah is disconnected with what goes before, and yet begins with the copulative ו (v ), “and.” In Micah, on the contrary, it is connected with what precedes and follows.
2. In the discourses of the prophets, the promise usually follows the threatening. This order is observed by Micah; in Isaiah, on the contrary, the promise contained in the passage precedes the threatening, and another promise follows. Many of the older theologians supposed that the passages were communicated alike by the Holy Spirit to both writers. But there is no improbability in supposing that Isaiah may have availed himself of language used by Micah in describing the same event.
The mountain of the Lord‘s house - The temple was built on mount Moriah, which was hence called the mountain of the Lord‘s house. The temple, or the mountain on which it was reared, would be the object which would express the public worship of the true God. And hence, to say that that should be elevated higher than all other hills, or mountains, means, that the worship of the true God would become an object so conspicuous as to be seen by all nations; and so conspicuous that all nations would forsake other objects and places of worship, being attracted by the glory of the worship of the true God.
Shall be established - Shall be fixed, rendered permanent.
In the top of the mountains - To be in the top of the mountains, would be to be “conspicuous,” or seen from afar. In other words, the true religion would be made known to all people.
Shall flow unto it - This is a figurative expression, denoting that they would be converted to the true religion. It indicates that they would come in multitudes, like the flowing of a mighty river. The idea of the “flowing” of the nations, or of the movement of many people toward an object like a broad stream, is one that is very grand and sublime; compare Psalm 65:7. This cannot be understood of any period previous to the establishment of the gospel. At no time of the Jewish history did any events occur that would be a complete fulfillment of this prophecy. The expressions evidently refer to that period elsewhere often predicted by this prophet Isaiah 11:10; Isaiah 42:1, Isaiah 42:6; Isaiah 49:22; Isaiah 54:3; Isaiah 60:3, Isaiah 60:5, Isaiah 60:10; Isaiah 62:2; Isaiah 66:12, Isaiah 66:19, when “the Gentiles” would be brought to the knowledge of the true religion. In Isaiah 66:12, there occurs a passage remarkably similar, and which may serve to explain this:
‹Behold I will extend peace to her (to Zion) as a river;
And the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream.‘
Under the Messiah, through the preaching of the apostles and by the spread of the gospel, this prophecy was to receive its full accomplishment.