Isaiah 27:1 MEANING

Isaiah 27:1

(1) Leviathan the piercing serpent.--Rather, fleet, or fugitive. The verse paints in vivid symbolic language the judgment of Jehovah on the great world-powers that had shed the blood of His people. The "sword of the Lord" (primarily, perhaps, representing the lightning-flash) is turned in its threefold character as sore, and swift, and strong, against three great empires. These are represented, as in Ezekiel 17:3; Ezekiel 29:3 Daniel 7:3-7, by monstrous forms of animal life. The "dragon" is as in Isaiah 51:19; Psalm 74:13-14; Ezekiel 29:3; Ezekiel 32:2, the standing emblem of Egypt: the other two, so generically like, that the "leviathan" ("crocodile" in Job 41:1, but here, probably, generically for a monster of the serpent type) serves as a common type for both, while each has its distinctive epithet, may refer respectively to Assyria and Babylon, the epithets indicating (1) the rapid rush of the Tigris and the tortuous windings of the Euphrates; and (2) the policy characteristic of each empire, of which the rivers were looked upon as symbols, one rapidly aggressive, the other advancing as by a sinuous deceit. By some commentators, however, Egypt is represented in all three clauses; while others (Cheyne) see in them the symbols not of earthly empire, but of rebel powers of evil and darkness, quoting Job 26:12-13 in support of his view.

Verse 1. - THE TRIPLE JUDGMENT ON THE POWERS OF DARKNESS. The crowning judgment of all is now briefly described. "In that day" - the day of God's vengeance - when all his other enemies have been put down, Jehovah shall finally visit with his sword three mighty foes, which are described under three figures - the first as "Leviathan, the swift serpent;" the second as "Leviathan, the crooked serpent; "and the third as "the dragon that is in the sea." It has been usual to see in these three monsters three kingdoms inimical to God - either Assyria, Babylon, and Egypt; or Assyria, Egypt, and Tyre; or Media, Persia, and Egypt. But this diversity of interpretation shows that there is no particular fitness in the emblems to symbolize any special kingdoms or world-powers, while the imagery itself and the law of climax alike point to something higher than world-powers being intended. "Leviathan," in Job 3:8, where the word first occurs, represents a supra-mundane power - probably "the dragon, the enemy of light, who in old Eastern traditions is conceived as ready to swallow up sun and moon, and plunge creation in original chaos or darkness" ('Speaker's Commentary,' vol. 4. p. 28); and the "dragon" is a customary emblem of Satan himself (Psalm 91:13; Isaiah 51:9; Revelation 12:7, 9), the prince of darkness. The triple vengeance here is parallel to the triple punishment, in the apocalyptic vision (Revelation 19:20; Revelation 20:10), of "the devil," "the beast," and "the false prophet," who have been termed by commentators "the three great enemies of God's kingdom" (see 'Speaker's Commentary on the New Testament,' vol. 4. p. 802). Verse 1. - The Lord with his sore and great and strong sword. The "sword" of Jehovah is first heard of in the Pentateuch, where it is called" glittering" (Deuteronomy 32:41). It is spoken of by David (Psalm 7:12), and frequently by Isaiah (see Isaiah 31:8; Isaiah 34:5, 6; 46:16). Mr. Cheyne supposes the idea to have been taken from the Baby-Ionian mythology, and seems to think it half material. But it is merely on a par with other anthrepomorphisms. The word rendered "sore" probably means "well-tempered," "keen." Leviathan. Etymologically, the term "Leviathan" appears to mean "that which is coiled" or "twisted," whence it would seem to have been primarily applied, as in the present verse, to serpents. In Job 41:1-34, however, it manifestly designates the crocodile, while in Psalm 104:26 it must be used of some kind of cetacean. Thus its most appropriate English rendering would be "monster." The piercing serpent; rather, the fleet, or fugitive serpent. It is a general characteristic of the snake tribe to glide away and hide themselves when disturbed. Even leviathan that crooked serpent; rather, and also leviathan that crooked serpent. It is quite clear that two distinct foes of God are pointed at - one characterized as "fleet," the other as "tortuous." And he shall slay the dragon. Here is mention of a third enemy, probably Satan himself (see the introductory paragraph to this section).

27:1-5 The Lord Jesus with his strong sword, the virtue of his death, and the preaching of his gospel, does and will destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil, that old serpent. The world is a fruitless, worthless wilderness; but the church is a vineyard, a place that has great care taken of it, and from which precious fruits are gathered. God will keep it in the night of affliction and persecution, and in the day of peace and prosperity, the temptations of which are not less dangerous. God also takes care of the fruitfulness of this vineyard. We need the continual waterings of Divine grace; if these be at any time withdrawn, we wither, and come to nothing. Though God sometimes contends with his people, yet he graciously waits to be reconciled unto them. It is true, when he finds briers and thorns instead of vines, and they are set in array against him, he will tread them down and burn them. Here is a summary of the doctrine of the gospel, with which the church is to be watered every moment. Ever since sin first entered, there has been, on God's part, a righteous quarrel, but, on man's part, most unrighteous. Here is a gracious invitation given. Pardoning mercy is called the power of our Lord; let us take hold on that. Christ crucified is the power of God. Let us by lively faith take hold on his strength who is a strength to the needy, believing there is no other name by which we can be saved, as a man that is sinking catches hold of a bough, or cord, or plank, that is in his reach. This is the only way, and it is a sure way, to be saved. God is willing to be reconciled to us.In that day the Lord with his sore and great and strong sword,.... Meaning either the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, quick and powerful, and sharper than a twoedged sword, Ephesians 6:17 or else some sore judgment of God: some understand it of the Medes and Persians, by whom the Lord would destroy the Babylonish monarchy; or rather it is the great power of God, or his judiciary sentence, and the execution of it, the same with the twoedged sword, which proceeds out of the mouth of the Word of God, by which the antichristian kings and their armies will be slain, Revelation 19:15,

shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent (i), even leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea; by which are meant, not literally creatures so called, though the Talmud (k) interprets them of the whales, the leviathan male and female; but mystically earthly princes and potentates, for their great power and authority, their cruelty and voraciousness, their craft and cunning; so the Targum and Aben Ezra interpret them of the kings of the earth; and are to be understood either of distinct persons, or countries they rule over: some think three are pointed at, as the Egyptians, Assyrians, and Edomites, or Romans, so Jarchi; or the Greeks, Turks, and Indians, as Kimchi. The Targum is,

"he shall punish the king who is magnified as Pharaoh the first, and the king that is exalted as Sennacherib the second, and shall slay the king that is strong as the dragon (or whale) that is in the sea.''

Some are of opinion that only one person or kingdom is here meant, either the king of Egypt, compared to such a sea monster, because of the river Nile, that watered his country; see Ezekiel 29:3 others, the king of Babylon, which city was situated by the river Euphrates, and is described as dwelling on many waters, Jeremiah 51:13 and others the king of Tyre, which was situated in the sea; it seems most likely that all tyrannical oppressors and cruel persecutors of the church are intended, who shall be destroyed; and particularly Rome Pagan, signified by a red dragon, Revelation 12:3 and Rome Papal, by a beast the dragon gave his power to, which rose out of the sea, and by another out of the earth, which spoke like a dragon, Revelation 13:1 both the eastern and western antichrists may be included; the eastern antichrist, the Turk, whose dominions are large, like the waters of the sea; and the western antichrist, the whore of Rome, described as sitting on many waters, Revelation 17:1 both which are comparable to serpents and dragons for their cruelty and poison; moreover, Satan, at the head of all these, called the dragon, the old serpent, and devil, must be taken into the account, who is the last enemy that will be destroyed; he will be taken and bound a thousand years, and then, being loosed, will be retaken, and cast into the lake of fire, where the beast and false prophet be, Revelation 20:1. Kimchi thinks this prophecy belongs to the times of Gog and Magog.

(i) Or boom, or bar-serpent, "serpentem vectem", V. L. and Montanus; the same, as the Bishop of Bergen thinks, with the "soeormen", or sea snake, which often lies stretched out before a creek, like a boom, to block up the passage; and is soon bent, in a curve, in folds, and is soon again in a straight line, like a pole or beam; see his History of Norway, p. 206, 207. (k) T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 74. 2.

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