From off thy shoulder - Bishop Lowth translates the whole verse thus: -
"And it shall come to pass in that day,
His burden shall be removed from off thy shoulder;
And his yoke off thy neck:
Yea, the yoke shall perish from off your shoulders.'
On which he gives us the following note: I follow here the Septuagint, who for שמן מפני mippeney shamen read משכמיכם mishshichmeychem, απο των ωμων ὑμων, from your shoulders, not being able to make any good sense out of the present reading. I will add here the marginal conjectures of Archbishop Secker, who appears, like all others, to have been at a loss for a probable interpretation of the text as it now stands." o. leg. שכם shakam ; forte legend. שמן מבני mibbeney shamen, vide cap. Isaiah 5:1. Zechariah 4:14; : Et possunt intelligi Judaei uncti Dei, Psalm 105:15, vel Assyrii, משמנים mishmannim, hic Psalm 105:16, ut dicat propheta depulsum iri jugum ab his impositum: sed hoc durius. Vel potest legi שמי מפני mippeney shami ."
His burden shall be taken away - The oppressions and exactions of the Assyrian.
From off thy shoulder - We bear a burden on the shoulder; and hence, any grievous exaction or oppression is represented as borne upon the shoulder.
And his yoke - Another image denoting deliverance from oppression and calamity.
And the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing - In the interpretation of these words, expositors have greatly differed. The Hebrew is literally, ‹From the face of oil,‘ מפני -שׁמן mı̂peney -shāmen The Vulgate renders it, literally, a facie olei. The Septuagint, ‹His fear shall be taken from thee, and his yoke from thy shoulders.‘ The Syraic, ‹His yoke shall be broken before the oxen.‘ The Chaldee Paraphrase, ‹The people shall be broken before the Messiah?‘ Lowth renders it, ‹The yoke shall perish from off our shoulders;‘ following the Septuagint. Grotius suggests that it means that the yoke which the Assyrians had imposed upon the Jews would be broken by Hezekiah, the king who had been annointed with oil. Jarchi also supposes that it refers to one who was anointed - to the king; and many interpreters have referred it to the Messiah, as the anointed of God. Vitringa supposes that the Holy Spirit is here intended.
Kimchi supposes, that the figure is derived from the effect of oil on wood in destroying its consistency, and loosening its fibres; and that the expression means, that the yoke would be broken or dissolved as if it were penetrated with oil. But this is ascribing a property to oil which it does not possess. Dr. Seeker supposes that, instead of “oil,” the text should read “shoulder,” by a slight change in the Hebrew. But for this conjectural reading there is no authority. Cocceius supposes, that the word “oil” here means “fatness,” and is used to denote prosperity and wealth, and that the prophet means to say, that the Assyrian would be corrupted and destroyed by the great amount of wealth which he would amass. The rabbis say, that this deliverance was performed on account of the great quantity of oil which Hezekiah caused to be consumed in the synagogues for the study of the law - a striking instance of the weak and puerile methods of interpretation which they have everywhere evinced. I confess that none of these explanations seem to me to be satisfactory, and that I do not know what is the meaning of the expression.
In a time of grave national peril, when the hosts of Assyria were invading the land of Judah and it seemed as if nothing could save Jerusalem from utter destruction, Hezekiah rallied the forces of his realm to resist with unfailing courage their heathen oppressors and to trust in the power of Jehovah to deliver. “Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him,” Hezekiah exhorted the men of Judah; “for there be more with us than with him: with him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God to help us, and to fight our battles.” 2 Chronicles 32:7, 8. PK 349.1
It was not without reason that Hezekiah could speak with certainty of the outcome. The boastful Assyrian, while used by God for a season as the rod of His anger for the punishment of the nations, was not always to prevail. See Isaiah 10:5. “Be not afraid of the Assyrian,” had been the message of the Lord through Isaiah some years before to those that dwelt in Zion; “for yet a very little while, ... and the Lord of hosts shall stir up a scourge for him according to the slaughter of Midian at the rock of Oreb: and as His rod was upon the sea, so shall He lift it up after the manner of Egypt. And it shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall be taken away from off thy shoulder, and his yoke from off thy neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing.” Verses 24-27. PK 349.2Read in context »