Chapter X

 

 

This prophecy recorded in chapter LX of the Book of Isaiah[1] of the Bible is reproduced below. A renowned Muslim scholar, Qa$di$ Sulayma$n Mansu$rpuri, has quoted this prophecy in his magnum opus Rahmatulli’l-‘A^lami$n and has explained it in a few lines there.[2] It is pertinent to undertake a thorough study of it. Exhaustive footnotes having sufficient references and relevant excerpts have been afforded on the spot, so that it may not be said that the evidence is scanty. They are to be carefully studied along with the text to appreciate the significance of the observations recorded at the end of the passage. In some cases they may not be directly relevant to the theme, but they are important to make the concept clear. It would be advisable that after initially going through the whole of this theme, the verses alongwith their footnotes be studied once again. It would thus be appreciated that the conclusions drawn from the verses are absolutely pertinent: 

[3]Arise, shine; for thy light is come[4], and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. (2) For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people; but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. (3) And the gentiles[5] shall come to thy light[6], and kings[7] to the brightness of thy rising.[8]  (4) Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to thee[9]; thy sons shall come from afar, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side.[10] (5) Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged [NKJV translates these italicized words as: ‘swell with joy’]; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee,[11] the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee. (6) The multitude of camels[12] shall cover thee, the dromedaries [young camels] of Midian[13] and Ephah[14]; all they from Sheba[15] shall come; they shall bring gold and incense and they shall shew forth the praises of the Lord. (7) All[16] the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered together unto thee, the rams of Nebaioth[17] shall minister[18] unto thee; they shall come up with acceptance[19] on mine altar,[20] and I will glorify the house of my glory.[21]  (8) Who are these that fly as a cloud[22], and as the doves to their windows? (9) Surely the islands shall wait for me, and the ships of Tarshish[23] first, to bring thy sons from far, (…). (11) Thereforethy gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night[24]; that men may bring unto thee the forces of the Gentiles, and that their kings may be brought. (12) For the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted.[25] (…). (14) The sons also of them that afflicted thee shall come bending unto thee; and all they that despised thee shall bow themselves down at the soles of thy feet; and they shall call thee, The city of the Lord, The Zion[26] of the Holy One of Israel.[27] (15) Whereas thou hast been forsaken[28] and hated, so that no man went through thee, I will make thee an eternal excellence, a joy of many generations[29]. (…). (18) Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise. (…). (20) Thy sun shall no more go down [30]; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself; for the Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended. (21) Thy people also shall be all righteous; they shall inherit the land forever, the branch of my planting[31], the work of my hands, that I may be glorified.[32]

Here are some observations which would help the reader to appreciate the real status of the above verses and their implications:

 1.  Changes have been made in the above passage by the redactors of the Bible, as is evident from the New Jerusalem Bible’s observation on verse 12 and 14 reproduced in the relevant footnotes above. Each and every verse, therefore, should be considered on its own merit.

2.   Most of the commentators of the Bible attach these verses to the rebuilding of the Solomon’s Temple that is generally called the ‘Second Temple’ or the ‘Temple of Zerubbabel’.[33] (A brief account of the history of the ‘Solomon’s Temple’ has been afforded under ‘Appendix IV’ at the end of this book.)

3.   Most of the scholars of the Bible hold that according to the above passage this ‘SecondTemple’ had to be more magnificent than the ‘First One’[34]. The New Oxford Annotated Bible remarks: ‘The new Jerusalem will surpass Solomon’s city in beauty and tranquillity.[35]’ The actual position is quite contrary to it. McKenzie’s Dic. of Bible explains:

It [The Second Temple] was no doubt of the same dimensions and structure as the temple of Solomon but much inferior in the richness of its decorations (Ezr 3:12; Hg 2:3).[36]

      W. Smith’s Dic. of Bible asserts:

From these dimensions we gather that if the priests and Levites and elders of families were disconsolate [i.e. unhappy, downcast] at seeing how much more sumptuous [i.e. lavish, magnificent, costly] the old temple was than the one which on account of their poverty they had hardly been able to erect, Ezra 3:12, it certainly was not because it was smaller; but it may have been that the carving and the gold and the other ornaments of Solomon’s temple far surpassed this, and the pillars of the portico [i.e. covered walk; row of columns] and the veils may all have been far more splendid; so also probably were the vessels; and all this is what a Jew would mourn over far more than mere architectural splendor.[37]

      R. J. McKelvey explains, ‘but even the foundations showed that it [the Second Temple] would be inferior to Solomon’s Temple.’[38] The 7th Day Adventist Bible Dic. explains that it was of poorer construction as compared to the Solomon’s Temple.[39] Prof. Dr George A. Barton asserts:

The dimensions of the building were probably the same as those of Solomon’s Temple, though the edifice was apparently at first lacking in ornament. It was probably because the building was less ornate that the old men who had seen the former Temple wept at the sight of its successor.[40]

4.   If someone undertakes a sincere and objective analytic study to ascertain the implications and purport of the verses, he will reach only one conclusion: these verses plainly and obviously relate only to the sacrifices offered since time immemorial by the pilgrims of the Ka’bah at Makkah. These verses can in no way be attached to the Second (or Zerubbabel’s) Temple because: (i) It was not more glorious or magnificent than the Solomon’s Temple, even if the glory be considered to be the spiritual glory as some of the scholars take it to be. (ii) The Gentiles and kings never came to the ‘light’ and ‘the brightness of the rising’ of the Second Temple (v.3). It were only a small number of Jews who visited it after they were allowed to return from their exile, for only the period of 515 BC to AD 70, whereafter the Jewish Second Temple had been destroyed and it does not exist there for almost the last twenty centuries. Even during this period of 515 BC to 70 AD the Temple and the Jews had to suffer great distress (see App.V) for a number of times. (iii) Neither the abundance of the sea was ever converted unto the Jewish clan; nor the forces of Gentiles ever came or entered to the fold of the Jews or their Second Temple (v. 5). The wealth of the nations was never brought to this Second Temple on the seas. (iv) There is no tradition that any herds of camels of the Arabian pilgrims (the people of Midian, Ephah, and Sheba, the progenies of Abraham through his wife Keturah) ever visited this Second Temple for pilgrimage ‘proclaiming the praise of the Lord’ (v. 6).[41] (v) There is no tradition that Abraham’s progenies from Ishma‘el’s sons Kedar and Nebaioth (the people of Arabia) ever gathered around the Second Temple or offered any sacrifices of flocks and rams on the Second Temple, which would be accepted as offerings on God’s altar (v.7). (vi) It is in no way applicable to the Second Temple that ‘thy gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night; that men may bring unto thee the forces of the Gentiles, and that their kings may be brought.’ (v.11). Not to say of the gates, there is not even a building of the Temple on earth for the last two thousand years. (vii) It never happened at any time in the history of nations that ‘The sons also of them [the Babylonians] that afflicted thee [the Jews] shall come bending unto thee; and all they that despised thee shall bow themselves down at the soles of thy feet.’, as the verse 14 claims; whereas the Yemeni forces that were utterly wasted due to their ill-will towards Ka‘bah but their descendants regularly visit the sanctuary with respect and fervour.  (viii) It can in no way be said of the Second Temple or the Jews ‘I will make you an object of eternal pride,[42]and the joy of all generations.[43]’ (v.15). (ix) It is also not true about the ‘Second Temple’ that ‘Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise.’ (v.18). (x) It can also not be claimed about the ‘Second Temple’ or the Israelites that ‘Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself; for the Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended’ (v.20);forthe ‘Second               Temple’ and the Israelites have undergone so many vicissitudes and misfortunes that plainly belie the assertion ‘the Lord shall be thine everlasting light,’ (xi) The conduct and status of the Israelites is quite contrary to the claim made in v. 21 ‘Thy people also shall be all righteous; they shall inherit the land forever,’. Whereas the actual fact is that instead of being ‘righteous’ they became evildoers, usurers, and wealth-worshippers; and instead of ‘inheriting the land forever’ they had been thrown out of it disgracefully. Now, that they have again been given the control of their land, they have resorted to cruelty, plunder, corruption, and sin, instead of sympathy, God-cautiousness, and virtuousness. It can by no means be attributed as righteousness. 

    From the analytical study undertaken above it can be concluded that the words of Ch. LX of the book of Isaiah, with all shades of their meanings and implications have nothing to do with the ‘Second Temple’ or the Israelites.

5.   The application of chapter LX of the book of Isaiah to the Jews or the ‘Second Temple’ being categorically ruled out, a probe into its exact significance is to be made. If someone undertakes a sincere and objective study to ascertain the implications and purport of the verses, he will reach only one conclusion: these verses plainly and obviously relate only to the sacrifices offered since time immemorial by the pilgrims of the Ka’bah at Makkah to commemorate the offering of Abraham his only son Ishma‘el. Here are some observations based on the analytic study of the verses that will be useful in appreciating their real status, purport, and significance. (a) Verse 3 asserts, ‘And the Gentiles [according to NIV and many other translations: ‘Nations’] shall come to thy light, and kings[44]to the brightness of thy rising.’ It is to be noted that as long as the Temple belonged to the Jews, the Gentiles were not permitted to enter the main Temple, and if some Gentile dared to enter the sanctuary, he was to be sentenced to death. No doubt there existed a ‘Court of the Gentiles’ with the Temple, but it lay outside the sanctuary. ‘The court of the Gentiles was accessible to anyone. It was separated from the temple and the other courts by a balustrade (row of short pillars surmounted by rail) with inscriptions prohibiting Gentiles from entering the interior courts under pain of death.’[45] When the Jews got ejected from the temple for good, its building was also destroyed and there does not exist any temple on this planet for the last twenty centuries. If the Government of Israel gets the temple reconstructed, for which it is trying hard, and there are reasons to believe that it may succeed in it, its main sanctuary would again become prohibited for the Gentiles. It is only the sanctuary of Makkah, where Muslims of all nations from all over the world have been coming regularly since time immemorial. (b) The contents of v.4, ‘Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to thee; thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side. [GNB has well translated it as, ‘Your daughters will be carried like children’]’ had never been applicable to the ‘Second Temple’. But as far as the Ka’bah is concerned, they are fully applicable to it in every sense of the words. It would be interesting to note that the Qur’ān has described the phenomenon of the Pilgrimage and the sacrifices to be offered there as:

وَإِذْ بَوَّأْنَا لِإِبْرَاهِيمَ مَكَانَ الْبَيْتِ أَن لَّا تُشْرِكْ بِي شَيْئًا وَطَهِّرْ بَيْتِيَ لِلطَّائِفِينَ وَالْقَائِمِينَ وَالرُّكَّعِ السُّجُودِ وَأَذِّن فِي النَّاسِ بِالْحَجِّ يَأْتُوكَ رِجَالًا وَعَلَى كُلِّ ضَامِرٍ يَأْتِينَ مِن كُلِّ فَجٍّ عَمِيقٍ لِيَشْهَدُوا مَنَافِعَ لَهُمْ وَيَذْكُرُوا اسْمَ اللَّهِ فِي أَيَّامٍ مَّعْلُومَاتٍ عَلَى مَا رَزَقَهُم مِّن بَهِيمَةِ الْأَنْعَامِ فَكُلُوا مِنْهَا وَأَطْعِمُوا الْبَائِسَ الْفَقِيرَ ثُمَّ لْيَقْضُوا تَفَثَهُمْ وَلْيُوفُوا نُذُورَهُمْ وَلْيَطَّوَّفُوا بِالْبَيْتِ الْعَتِيقِ ذَلِكَ وَمَن يُعَظِّمْ حُرُمَاتِ اللَّهِ فَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَّهُ عِندَ رَبِّهِ وَأُحِلَّتْ لَكُمُ الْأَنْعَامُ إِلَّا مَا يُتْلَى عَلَيْكُمْ فَاجْتَنِبُوا الرِّجْسَ مِنَ الْأَوْثَانِ وَاجْتَنِبُوا قَوْلَ الزُّورِ حُنَفَاء لِلَّهِ غَيْرَ مُشْرِكِينَ بِهِ وَمَن يُشْرِكْ بِاللَّهِ فَكَأَنَّمَا خَرَّ مِنَ السَّمَاء فَتَخْطَفُهُ الطَّيْرُ أَوْ تَهْوِي بِهِ الرِّيحُ فِي مَكَانٍ سَحِيقٍ ذَلِكَ وَمَن يُعَظِّمْ شَعَائِرَ اللَّهِ فَإِنَّهَا مِن تَقْوَى الْقُلُوبِ

 And when We settled for Abraham the place of the House [the Ka’bah]: ‘Thou shall not associate with Me anything. And do thou purify My House for those that shall go about it and those that stand, for those that bow and prostrate themselves; and proclaim among men the Pilgrimage, and they shall come unto thee on foot and upon every lean beast, they shall come from every deep ravine that they may witness things profitable to them and mention God’s Name on days well-known over such beasts of the flocks as He has provided them: So eat thereof, and feed the wretched poor. Let them then finish with their self-neglect and let them fulfil their vows, and go about [circumambulate] the Ancient House.’[46] (…). ‘Such (is the Pilgrimage): Whoever honours the sacred Rites of God, for him it is good in the sight of his Lord’[47]

      (c) It can by no means be said of the ‘Second Temple’ as the v. 5 claims, ‘the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee.’ It is true only of the Ka’bah at Makkah, that although it is situated in a barren land, yet it is abundantly provided with every sort of the provisions of the world. Again it is Makkah that the faithful Muslim Gentiles (men and women) from all over the world assemble there together with all their utilities through sea routes, land routes, and by air. It has been recorded in verse 8: ‘Who are these that fly as a cloud, and as the doves to their windows?’ The landings of the aeroplanes carrying the millions of pilgrims for the sanctuary of Makkah depict the exact picture of the verse. No planes coming to any sanctuary on earth present this phenomenon. (d) Who can claim about the Second Temple as has been asserted in v.6, ‘The multitude of camels shall cover your land, The dromedaries [young camels] of Midian and Ephah; All they from Sheba shall come: They shall bring gold and incense; and they shall proclaim the praises of the Lord.[48]’ It never happened at any stage of the history of the world that such great multitudes of the Arabian people might have visited the sanctuary of Jerusalem in the form of the camel caravans. As regards the sanctuary of Makkah and the sacrifices being offered there, it is true to the letter. It will also be appreciated that the pilgrims utter the ‘Talbiyah (a part of which is ‘All praise belongs to you, O God.’) loudly as the Bible has noted ‘they shall proclaim or shew forth [i.e. declare loudly or openly] the praises of the Lord.’  (e) No man on earth can endorse to the claim of v.7 regarding the ‘Second Temple’ that: ‘All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered together unto thee, the rams of Nebaioth shall minister unto thee: they shall come up with acceptance on mine altar, and I will glorify the house of my glory.’ Kedar and Nebaioth are the sons of Ishma‘el and their descendants have been living in Arabia for thousands of years. There had been no tradition amongst them to visit Jerusalem and to offer sacrifices there. On the other hand every informed citizen of the modern world knows that they have been coming to the sanctuary at Makkah for Pilgrimage since time immemorial. Isn’t it a sufficient proof of the fact that the above verses of chapter LX of the book of Isaiah exclusively refer to the offering of sacrifices at the sanctuary of Makkah by the descendants of Abraham’s son Ishma‘el. It is further to be considered how God can glorify the house that does not even exist on earth. It is only the house of God’s glory at Makkah that has been safely existing since time immemorial which can be glorified and is physically glorified in every sense of the word. Page H. Kelley has explained this verse as, ‘The tribes of Arabia also bring sacrificial offerings of flocks and rams.’[49] And the fact is that the tribes of Arabia never took their sacrifices to Jerusalem. The tradition amongst them has prevailed to bring sacrificial offerings to Makkah, which is an important ritual during their Pilgrimage. (f) It has been claimed in v. 9 that, ‘Surely the isles shall wait for me, and the ships of Tarshish first, to bring thy sons from far.’ Tarshish was situated on the south coast of Spain, as explained in the relevant footnote (No.209) above. As long as the Jerusalem Temple existed, there was no question of any Spaniards coming to it for offering any sacrifices. On the other hand, Spain had been conquered by the Arabs in the first century of Hijrah and they had settled there. These sons of Abraham through his son Ishma‘el, as the Arabs are, regularly visited the sanctuary of Makkah to perform Umrah (small Pilgrimage, which is performed the whole year through) and Pilgrimage and offered their sacrifices there to commemorate Abraham’s offering their fore-father Ishma‘el for sacrifice. (g) As regards v.11, ‘thy gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night’, this writer has himself visited the sanctuary at Makkah. It has been noted that it remains open around the clock. It has been a perpetually celebrated tradition through the ages. As regards the ‘Second Temple’, when there does not exist any building thereof, how the gates can remain open day or night. (h) Verse 14 asserts, ‘The sons also of them that afflicted thee shall come bending unto thee; and all they that despised thee shall bow themselves down at the soles of thy feet; and they shall call thee, the city of the Lord, the Zion of the Holy One of Israel.’ It is true of the sanctuary of Makkah verbatim et literatim. It physically happened in January, 630 at the time of the Conquest of Makkah by the Prophet of Islām. As regards the phrase ‘The Zion of the Holy One of Israel’, it does not fit in the context. It is obviously an interpolation by some redactor or a gloss by some commentator.The city of the Lord’ is the exact translation of ‘Baytullah’which is the Arabic name of ‘Ka’bah’(i) The opening clause of v. 15, ‘Whereas thou hast been forsaken and hated,’ plainly refers to Hagar. In the relevant footnote above, it has been noted with reference to Dummelow and the 7th Day Adventist Bible Com. that ‘The figure is that of a forsaken wife.’ As regards the last sentence of the verse, ‘I will make thee an eternal excellency, a joy of many [in fact this word should have been ‘all’ as has been translated by NIV, etc.] generations’ the words ‘eternal excellency’ and ‘a joy of all generations’ can in no way be applied to the temple of Jerusalem. It is only the sanctuary of Makkah that the words can be attributed to in true sense. (j) Verse 18 reads as, ‘Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise.’ Not to say of Jerusalem’s Temple being secured from ‘violence, wasting, and destruction’ it does not even exist on earth for the last two thousand years. The contents of this verse can in no way be applied to the Temple of Jerusalem. A brief sketch of the history of Jerusalem’s Temple has been afforded in ‘Appendix IV’ and it can be confirmed there. On the other hand it is applicable to the sanctuary of Makkah in true sense of the words. (k) V.21 says, ‘Thy people also shall be all righteous; they shall inherit the land for ever.’ Who can claim the Jewish people to have inherited the land of Jerusalem forever? On the other hand every knowledgeable person knows that the Arabs have been holding the land of the sanctuary of Makkah since time immemorial. As to the last clause of the verse, ‘that I may be glorified’, anybody who has happened to perform a Pilgrimage or Umrah at the sanctuary of Ka’bah, would verify the statement.

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