on Isaiah 5 :1
Now will I sing to my well-beloved a song of my beloved "Let me sing now a song," etc. - A MS., respectable for its antiquity, adds the word שיר shir, a song, after נא na; which gives so elegant a turn to the sentence by the repetition of it in the next member, and by distinguishing the members so exactly in the style and manner in the Hebrew poetical composition, that I am much inclined to think it genuine.
A song of my beloved "A song of loves" - דודי dodey, for דודים dodim: status constructus pro absoluto, as the grammarians say, as Micah 6:16; Lamentations 3:14, Lamentations 3:66, so Archbishop Secker. Or rather, in all these and the like cases, a mistake of the transcribers, by not observing a small stroke, which in many MSS., is made to supply the מ mem, of the plural, thus, דודי dodi. שירת דודים shirath dodim is the same with שיר ידידת shir yedidoth, Psalm 45:1. In this way of understanding it we avoid the great impropriety of making the author of the song, and the person to whom it is addressed, to be the same.
In a very fruitful hill "On a high and fruitful hill" - Hebrew בקרן בן שמן bekeren ben shamen, "on a horn the son of oil." The expression is highly descriptive and poetical. "He calls the land of Israel a horn, because it is higher than all lands; as the horn is higher than the whole body; and the son of oil, because it is said to be a land flowing with milk and honey." - Kimchi on the place. The parts of animals are, by an easy metaphor, applied to parts of the earth, both in common and poetical language. A promontory is called a cape or head; the Turks call it a nose. "Dorsum immane mari summo;" Virgil, a back, or ridge of rocks: -
"Hanc latus angustum jam se cogentis in arctum
Hesperiae tenuem producit in aequora linguam,
Adriacas flexis claudit quae cornibus undas."
Lucan, 2:612, of Brundusium, i.e., Βρεντεσιον, which, in the ancient language of that country, signifies stag's head, says Strabo. A horn is a proper and obvious image for a mountain or mountainous country. Solinus, cap. viii., says, "Italiam, ubi longius processerit, in cornua duo scindi;" that is, the high ridge of the Alps, which runs through the whole length of it, divides at last into two ridges, one going through Calabria, the other through the country of the Brutii. "Cornwall is called by the inhabitants in the British tongue Kernaw, as lessening by degrees like a horn, running out into promontories like so many horns. For the Britons call a horn corn, in the plural kern." - Camden. "And Sammes is of opinion, that the country had this name originally from the Phoenicians, who traded hither for tin; keren, in their language, being a horn." - Gibson.
Here the precise idea seems to be that of a high mountain standing by itself; "vertex montis, aut pars montis ad aliis divisa;" which signification, says I. H. Michaelis, Bibl. Hallens., Not. in loc., the word has in Arabic.
Judea was in general a mountainous country, whence Moses sometimes calls it The Mountain, "Thou shalt plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance;" Exodus 15:17. "I pray thee, let me go over, and see the good land beyond Jordan; that goodly mountain, and Lebanon;" Deuteronomy 3:25. And in a political and religious view it was detached and separated from all the nations round it. Whoever has considered the descriptions given of Mount Tabor, (see Reland, Palaestin.; Eugene Roger, Terre Sainte, p. 64), and the views of it which are to be seen in books of travels, (Maundrell, p. 114; Egmont and Heyman, vol. ii., p. 25; Thevenot, vol. i., p. 429), its regular conic form rising singly in a plain to a great height, from a base small in proportion, and its beauty and fertility to the very top, will have a good idea of "a horn the son of oil;" and will perhaps be induced to think that the prophet took his image from that mountain.
on Isaiah 5 :1
Now will I sing - This is an indication that what follows is poetic, or is adapted to be sung or chanted.
To my well-beloved - The word used here - ידיד yedı̂yd - is a term of endearment. It properly denotes a friend; a favorite; one greatly beloved. It is applied to saints as being the beloved, or the favorites of God, in Psalm 127:2; Deuteronomy 33:12. In this place, it is evidently applied to Yahweh, the God of the Jewish people. As there is some reason to believe that the God of the Jews - the manifested Deity who undertook their deliverance from Egypt, and who was revealed as "their" God under the name of 'the Angel of the covenant' - was the Messiah, so it may be that the prophet here meant to refer to him. It is not, however, to the Messiah "to come." It does not refer to the God incarnate - to Jesus of Nazareth; but to the God of the Jews, in his capacity as their lawgiver and protector in the time of Isaiah; not to him in the capacity of an incarnate Saviour.
A Song of my beloved - Lowth, 'A song of loves,' by a slight change in the Hebrew. The word דוד dôd usually denotes 'an uncle,' a father's brother. But it also means one beloved, a friend, a lover; Sol 1:13-14, Sol 1:16; Sol 2:3, Sol 2:8, Sol 2:9; Sol 4:16. Here it refers to Jehovah, and expresses the tender and affectionate attachment which the prophet had for his character and laws.
Touching his vineyard - The Jewish people are often represented under the image of a vineyard, planted and cultivated by God; see Psalm 80; Jeremiah 2:21; Jeremiah 12:10. Our Saviour also used this beautiful figure to denote the care and attention which God had bestowed on his people; Matthew 21:33 ff; Mark 12:1, following.
My beloved - God.
Hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill - Hebrew 'On a horn of the son of oil.' The word "horn" used here in the Hebrew, denotes the "brow, apex," or sharp point of a hill. The word is thus used in other languages to denote a hill, as in the Swiss words "shreckhorn, buchorn." Thus "Cornwall," in England, is called in the old British tongue "Kernaw," as lessening by degrees, like a horn, running out into promontories, like so many horns; for the Britons called a horn "corn," and in the plural "kern." The term 'horn' is not unfrequently applied to hills. Thus, Pococke tells us (vol. ii. p. 67), that there is a low mountain in Galilee which has both its ends raised in such a manner as to look like two mounts, which are called the 'Horns of Hutin.' Harmer, however, supposes that the term is used here to denote the land of Syria, from its resemblance to the shape ofa horn; Obs. iii. 242. But the idea is, evidently, that the land on which God respresents himself as having planted his vineyard, was like an elevated hill that was adapted eminently to such a culture. It may mean either the "top" of a mountain, or a little mountain, or a "peak" divided from others. The most favorable places for vineyards were on the sides of hills, where they would be exposed to the sun. - Shaw's "Travels," p. 338. Thus Virgil says:
- denique apertos
Bacchus amat colles.
'Bacchus loves open hills;' "Georg." ii. 113. The phrase, "son of oil," is used in accordance with the Jewish custom, where "son" means descendant, relative, etc.; see the note at Matthew 1:1. Here it means that it was so fertile that it might be called the very "son of oil," or fatness, that is, fertility. The image is poetic, and very beautiful; denoting that God had planted his people in circumstances where he had a right to expect great growth in attachment to him. It was not owing to any want of care on his part, that they were not distinguished for piety. The Chaldee renders this verse, 'The prophet said, I will sing now to Israel, who is compared to a vineyard, the seed of Abraham my beloved: a song of my beloved to his vineyard.'
on Isaiah 5 :1
5:1 Now - I will record it to he a witness for God, and against you, as Moses did his song, Deut 31:19 32:1. To - To the Lord of the vineyard. Of my beloved - Not devised by me, but inspired by God. Vineyard - His church. Hill - Hills being places most commodious for vines.