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Prophetic hymn of praise for the great mercies vouchsafed to the children of Israel in their deliverance from the great Babylonish captivity, and for redemption by the Messiah, Isaiah 12:1-6.
This hymn seems, by its whole tenor, and by many expressions in it, much better calculated for the use of the Christian Church than for the Jewish, in any circumstances, or at any time that can be assigned. The Jews themselves seem to have applied it to the times of Messiah. On the last day of the feast of tabernacles they fetched water in a golden pitcher from the fountain of Shiloah, springing at the foot of Mount Sion without the city: they brought it through the water-gate into the temple, and poured it, mixed with wine, on the sacrifice as it lay upon the altar, with great rejoicing. They seem to have taken up this custom, for it is not ordained in the law of Moses, as an emblem of future blessings, in allusion to this passage of Isaiah, “Ye shall draw waters with joy from the fountains of salvation,” expressions that can hardly be understood of any benefits afforded by the Mosaic dispensation. Our Savior applied the ceremony, and the intention of it, to himself, and the effusion of the Holy Spirit, promised, and to be given, by him. The sense of the Jews in this matter is plainly shown by the following passage of the Jerusalem Talmud: “Why is it called the place or house of drawing?” (for that was the term for this ceremony, or for the place where the water was taken up) “Because from thence they draw the Holy Spirit; as it is written, And ye shall draw water with joy from the fountains of salvation.” See Wolf. Curae Philol. in N.T. on John 7:37, John 7:39. - L. The water is Divine knowledge, says Kimchi, and the wells the teachers of righteousness. The Targum renders this in a very remarkable manner: “Ye shall receive with joy (אולפן חדת (ulephan chadath)) a new doctrine from the chosen among the righteous.” Does not this mean the Gospel, the new covenant? And did not the Targumist speak as a prophet?
Though thou wast angry “For though thou hast been angry” - The Hebrew phrase, to which the Septuagint and Vulgate have too closely adhered, is exactly the same with that of St. Paul, Romans 6:17: “But thanks be to God, that ye were the slaves of sin; but have obeyed from the heart;” that is, “that whereas, or though, ye were the slaves of sin, yet ye have now obeyed from the heart the doctrine on the model of which ye were formed.”
The Lord Jehovah - The word יה (Yah) read here is probably a mistake; and arose originally from the custom of the Jewish scribes, who, when they found a line too short for the word, wrote as many letters as filled it, and then began the next line with the whole word. In writing the word יהוה (Jehovah), the line might terminate with יה (Yah), the two first letters; and then at the beginning of the next line the whole word יהוה (Yehovah) would be written. This might give rise to יה יהוה (Yah Yehovah). The (Yah) is wanting here in two of Dr. Kennicott‘s MSS., in one ancient MS. of my own, and in the Septuagint, Vulgate, Syriac, and Arabic. See Houbigant and De Rossi.
My song - The pronoun is here necessary; and it is added by the Septuagint, Vulgate, and Syriac, who read זמרתי (zimrathi), as it is in a MS. Two MSS. omit יה (Yah), see Houbigant, not. in loc. Another MS. has it in one word, זמרתיה (zimrathyah). Seven others omit יהוה (Yehovah). See Exodus 15:2, with Var. Lect. Kennicott.
Call upon his name - קראו בשמו (kiru bishmo), invoke his name. Make him your Mediator, or call the people in his name. Preach him who is the Root of Jesse, and who stands as an ensign for the nations. Call on the people to believe in him; as in him alone salvation is to be found.
Thou inhabitant of Zion - Not only the Jewish people, to whom his word of salvation was to be sent first; but also all members of the Church of Christ: as in them, and in his Church, the Holy One of Israel dwells. St. Paul, speaking of the mystery which had been proclaimed among the Gentiles, sums it up in these words:” which is Christ in You, the hope of glory; whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus;” Colossians 1:27, Colossians 1:28. Well, therefore, may the inhabitant of Zion cry oat and shout, and proclaim the greatness of her Redeemer.