For since the beginning of the world men have not heard "For never have men heard" - St. Paul is generally supposed to have quoted this passage of Isaiah, 1 Corinthians 2:9; and Clemens Romanus in his first epistle has made the same quotation, very nearly in the same words with the apostle. But the citation is so very different both from the Hebrew text and the version of the Septuagint, that it seems very difficult, if not impossible, to reconcile them by any literal emendation, without going beyond the bounds of temperate criticism. One clause, "neither hath it entered into the heart of man," (which, by the way, is a phrase purely Hebrew, לב על עלה alah al leb, and should seem to belong to the prophet), is wholly left out; and another is repeated without force or propriety; viz., "nor perceived by the ear," after, "never have heard:" and the sense and expression of the apostle is far preferable to that of the Hebrew text. Under these difficulties I am at a loss what to do better, than to offer to the reader this, perhaps disagreeable, alternative: either to consider the Hebrew text and Septuagint in this place as wilfully disguised and corrupted by the Jews; of which practice in regard to other quotations in the New Testament from the Old, they lie under strong suspicions, (see Dr. Owen on the version of the Septuagint, sect. vi. ix.); or to look upon St. Paul's quotation as not made from Isaiah, but from one or other of the two apocryphal books, entitled, The Ascension of Esaiah, and the Apocalypse of Elias, in both of which this passage was found; and the apostle is by some supposed in other places to have quoted such apocryphal writings. As the first of these conclusions will perhaps not easily be admitted by many, so I must fairly warn my readers that the second is treated by Jerome as little better than heresy. See his comment on this place of Isaiah. - L. I would read the whole verse thus; "Yea, from the time of old they have not heard, they have not hearkened to, an eye hath not seen a God besides thee. He shall work for that one that waiteth for him." This I really think on the whole to be the best translation of the original.
The variations on this place are as follows: for שמעו shameu, they have heard, a MS. and the Septuagint read שמענו shamanu, we have heard: for the second לא lo, not, sixty-nine MSS. and four editions have ולא velo, and not, and the Syriac, Chaldee, and Vulgate. And so ועין veayin, and eye, Septuagint and Syriac. את eth, the, (emphatic), is added before אלהים Elohim, God, in MS. Bodleian. למחכי limechakkey, to them that wait, plural, two MSS. and all the ancient Versions. - L.
For since the beginning of the world - This verse is quoted, though not literally, by the apostle Paul, as illustrating the effects of the gospel in producing happiness and salvation (see the notes at 1 Corinthians 2:9). The meaning here is, that nowhere else among people had there been such blessings imparted, and such happiness enjoyed; or so many proofs of love and protection, as among those who were the people of God, and who feared him.
Men have not heard - In no nation in all past time have deeds been heard of such as thou hast performed.
Nor perceived by the ear - Paul 1 Corinthians 2:9 renders this ‹neither have entered into the heart of man,‘ ‹which,‘ says Lowth, ‹is a phrase purely Hebrew, and which should seem to belong to the prophet.‘ The phrase, ‹Nor perceived by the ear,‘ he says, is repeated without force or propriety, and he seems to suppose that this place has been either willfully corrupted by the Jews, or that Paul made his quotation from some Apocryphal book - either the ascension of Esaiah, or the Apocalypse of Elias, in both of which the passage is found as quoted by Paul. The phrase is wholly omitted by the Septuagint and the Arabic, but is found in the Vulgate and Syriac. There is no authority from the Hebrew manuscripts to omit it.
Neither hath the eye seen - The margin here undoubtedly expresses the true sense. So Lowth renders it, ‹Nor hath the eye seen a God beside thee, which doeth such things for those that trust in him.‘ In a similar manner, the Septuagint translates it, ‹Neither have our eyes seen a God beside thee ( οὐδὲ οἱ ὀφθαλμοὶ ἡμῶν εἶδον θεὸν πλήν σου oude hoi ophthalmoi hēmōn eidon theon plēn sou ), and thy works which thou hast done for those who wait for mercy.‘ The sense is, no eye had ever seen such a God as Yahweh; one who so richly rewarded those who put their trust in him. In the Hebrew, the word rendered ‹O God,‘ may be either in the accusative or vocative case, and the sense is, that Yahweh was a more glorious rewarder and protector than any of the gods which had ever been worshipped by the nations.
What he hath prepared - Hebrew, יעשׂה ya‛ăs'eh - ‹He doeth,‘ or will do. So the Septuagint, Ἅ ποιήσεις Ha poiēseis - ‹What thou wilt do.‘ The sense given by our translators - ‹What he hath prepared,‘ has been evidently adopted to accommodate the passage to the sense given by Paul 1 Corinthians 2:9, ἅἠτοίμασεν, κ.τ.λ. ha ētoimasen etc ‹What God has prepared.‘ But the idea is, in the Hebrew, not what God has prepared or laid up in the sense of preserving it for the future; but what he bad already done in the past. No god had done what he had; no human being had ever witnessed such manifestations from any other god.
For him that waiteth for him - Lowth and Noyes, ‹For him who trusteth in him.‘ Paul renders this, ‹For them that love him,‘ and it is evident that he did not intend to quote this literally, but meant to give the general sense. The idea in the Hebrew is, ‹For him who waits (למחכה limchakēh ) for Yahweh,‘ that is, who feels his helplessness, and relies on him to interpose and save him. Piety is often represented as an attitude of waiting on God Psalm 25:3, Psalm 25:5, Psalm 25:21; Psalm 27:14; Psalm 37:9; Psalm 130:5. The sense of the whole verse is, that God in his past dealings had given manifestations of his existence, power, and goodness, to those who were his friends, which had been furnished nowhere else. To those interpositions the suppliants appeal, as a reason why he should again interpose, and why he should save them in their heavy calamities.
It is called the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ. His coming surpasses in glory all that the eye has ever seen. Far exceeding anything the imagination has conceived will be His personal revelation in the clouds of heaven. Then there will be a perfect contrast to the humility which attended His first advent. Then He came as the Son of the infinite God, but His glory was concealed by the garb of humanity. Then He came without any worldly distinction of royalty, without any visible manifestation of glory; but at His second appearing He comes with His own glory and the glory of the Father and attended by the angelic host of heaven. In the place of that crown of thorns which marred His brow, He wears a crown within a crown. No longer is He clad with the garments of humility, with the old kingly robe placed upon Him by His mockers. No: He comes clad in a robe whiter than the whitest white. Upon His vesture and thigh a name is inscribed, “King of kings, and Lord of lords.” HP 357.3Read in context »
“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.” 1 John 3:1. MH 425.1
“Men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear,
Neither hath the eye seen a God besides Thee,
Who worketh for him that waiteth for Him.” MH 425.2
Isaiah 64:4, A.R.V. MH 425Read in context »