on Isaiah 42 :16
In paths - The Septuagint, Syriac, Vulgate, and nine MSS., (two ancient), read ובנתיבות ubenotiboth.
Will I do unto them - עשיתם asitem. This word, so written as it is in the text, means "thou wilt do, "in the second person. The Masoretes have indeed pointed it for the first person; but the י yod in the last syllable is absolutely necessary to distinguish the first person; and so it is written in forty MSS., עשיתים asithim.
Jarchi, Kimchi, Sal. ben Melec, etc., agree that the past time is here put for the future, עשיתי asithi for אעשה; and indeed the context necessarily requires that interpretation. Farther it is to be observed that עשיתים asithim is put for עשיתי להם asithi lahem, "I have done them," for "I have done for them;" as עשיתני asitheni is for עשיתי לי asiti li, "I have made myself," for "I have made for myself," Ezekiel 29:2; and in the celebrated passage of Jephthah's vow, Judges 11:31, והעליתיהו עולה veheelitihu olah for העליתי לו עולה heelithi lo olah, "I will offer him a burnt-offering, "for "I will offer unto him (that is, unto Jehovah) a burnt-offering;" by an ellipsis of the preposition of which Buxtorf gives many other examples, Thes. Grammat. lib. 2:17. See also note on Isaiah 65:5. A late happy application of this grammatical remark to that much disputed passage has perfectly cleared up a difficulty which for two thousand years had puzzled all the translators and expositors, had given occasion to dissertations without number, and caused endless disputes among the learned on the question, whether Jephthah sacrificed his daughter or not; in which both parties have been equally ignorant of the meaning of the place, of the state of the fact, and of the very terms of the vow; which now at last has been cleared up beyond all doubt by my learned friend Dr. Randolph, Margaret Professor of Divinity in the University of Oxford, in his Sermon on Jephthah's Vow, Oxford, 1766. - L.
on Isaiah 42 :16
And I will lead the blind - Having said in the previous verses what he would do to his enemies, God now speaks of his people. He would conduct them to their own land, as a blind people that needed a guide, and would remove whatever obstacle there was in their way. By the 'blind' here, he refers doubtless to his own people. The term is applied originally to his people in captivity, as being ignorant, after their seventy years' exile, of the way of return to their own land. It is possible that it may have a reference to the fact, so often charged on them, that they were characteristically a stupid and spiritually blind people. But it is more probable that it is the language of tenderness rather than that of objurgation; and denotes their ignorance of the way of return, and their need of a guide, rather than their guilt, and hardness of heart. If applied to the people of God under the New Testament - as the entire strain of the prophecy seems to lead ns to conclude - then it denotes that Christians will feel their need of a leader, counselor, and guide; and that Yahweh, as a military leader, will conduct them all in a way which they did not know, and remove all obstacles from their path.
By a way that they knew not - When they were ignorant what course to take; or in a path which they did not contemplate or design. It is true of all the friends of God that they have been led in a way which they knew not. They did not mark out this course for themselves; they did not at first form the plans of life which they came ultimately to pursue; they have been led, by the providence of God, in a different path, and by the Spirit of God they have been inclined to a course which they themselves would never have chosen (compare the note at Isaiah 30:21).
I will make darkness light before them - Darkness, in the Scriptures, is the emblem of ignorance, sin, adversity, and calamity. Here it seems to be the emblem of adverse and opposing events; of calamities, persecutions, and trials. The meaning is, that God would make those events which seemed to be adverse and calamitous, the means of furthering his cause, and promoting the spirit of the true religion, and the happiness of his people. This has been eminently the case with the persecutions which rite church has endured. The events which have been apparently most adverse, have been ultimately overruled to the best interests of the true religion. Such was the case with the persecutions under the Roman emperors, and in general such has been the case in all the persecutions which the church has been called to suffer.
And crooked things straight - Things which seem to be adverse and opposing - the persecutions and trials which the people of God would be called to endure.
And not forsake them - (See Isaiah 41:10, note, Isaiah 41:13, note).
on Isaiah 42 :16
42:16 The blind - The Gentiles. By a way - By the way of truth, which hitherto has been hidden from them, yea, I will take away all hindrances; I will direct then in the right way; I will enlighten their dark minds, and rectify their perverse wills and affections, until I have brought theirs to the end of their journey.