Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Isaiah 29:4

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

And thy speech shall be low out of the dust "And from out of the dust thou shalt utter a feeble speech" - That the souls of the dead uttered a feeble stridulous sound, very different from the natural human voice, was a popular notion among the heathens as well as among the Jews. This appears from several passages of their poets; Homer, Virgil, Horace. The pretenders to the art of necromancy, who were chiefly women, had an art of speaking with a feigned voice, so as to deceive those who applied to them, by making them believe that it was the voice of the ghost. They had a way of uttering sounds, as if they were formed, not by the organs of speech, but deep in the chest, or in the belly; and were thence called εγγαστριμυθοι, ventriloqui: they could make the voice seem to come from beneath the ground, from a distant part, in another direction, and not from themselves; the better to impose upon those who consulted them. Εξεπιτηδες το γενος τουτο τον αμυδρον ηχον επιτηδευονται, ἱνα δια την ασαφειαν της φωνης τον του ψευδους αποδιδρασκωσιν ελεγχον. Psellus De Daemonibus, apud Bochart, 1 p. 731. "These people studiously acquire, and affect on purpose, this sort of obscure sound; that by the uncertainty of the voice they may the better escape being detected in the cheat. "From these arts of the necromancers the popular notion seems to have arisen, that the ghost's voice was a weak, stridulous, almost inarticulate sort of sound, very different from the speech of the living.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

And shalt speak out of the ground - (see the note at Isaiah 8:19). The sense here is, that Jerusalem, that had been accustomed to pride itself on its strength I would be greatly humbled and subdued. Its loud and lofty tone would be changed. It would use the suppressed language of fear and alarm as if it spoke from the dust, or in a shrill small voice, like the pretended conversers with the dead.

And thy speech shall whisper out of the dust - Margin, ‹Peep,‘ or ‹Chirp,‘ (see the note at Isaiah 8:19).

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Ariel may signify the altar of burnt-offerings. Let Jerusalem know that outward religious services will not make men free from judgements. Hypocrites never can please God, nor make their peace with him. God had often and long, by a host of angels, encamped round about Jerusalem for protection and deliverance; but now he fought against it. Proud looks and proud language shall be brought down by humbling providences. The destruction of Jerusalem's enemies is foretold. The army of Sennacherib went as a dream; and thus the multitudes, that through successive ages fight against God's altar and worship, shall fall. Speedily will sinners awake from their soothing dreams in the pains of hell.