In my reading today I came across the following which might help explain Isaiah 2:19:
And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for
fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the
Subterraneous places. Mines. Caves.
Thus having taken some notice of the superficies of the land, let us a little search
into its bowels. You may divide the subterraneous country into three parts: the metal
mines, the caves, and the places of burial.
This land was eminently noted for metal mines, so that "its stones," in very
many places, "were iron, and out of its hills was digged brass," Deuteronomy
8:9. From these gain accrued to the Jews: but to the Christians, not seldom slavery and
misery; being frequently condemned hither by tyrants. So Eusebius of Edesius, "He was
condemned to the metal mines of Palestine." And again, concerning others, "Then
passing to the other confessors of Christ, he condemns them all to the brass mines, which
were in Pheno of Palestine."
On the north part of the land, in the country of Asher, were mines of metal. Hence is
that in Deuteronomy 33:25, "Thy shoes shall be iron and brass." On the south, in
the desert of Sin, the utmost bounds of Judea, were mines also: hence--and shall pass to
Zin, as our translation reads, Numbers 34:4,--in the Jerusalem Targumist, is over-against
the mountain of iron: and in Jonathan, unto the palm-trees of the mountain of iron: and in
the Talmudists, the palm-trees of the mountain of iron are fit to make a small bundle to
carry in the hand in the feast of Tabernacles. On the east coast of Perea was also
"an iron mountain,"--witness Josephus. And without doubt there were other
such-like mines, scattered here and there in other parts of that land, though of them we
have no mention.
You will not at all wonder at these underminings of the earth, seeing they brought so
much profit and gain with them, and were so necessary to the life of man. But what shall
we say of those dens and caves in rocks and mountains, whence no gain seemed to be digged,
but rather danger arose to the neighbouring places oftentimes? For what were these, but
lurking-places for wild beasts and robbers? There is infinite mention of these caves both
in the Holy Scriptures and in other writings, especially in Josephus, where subterraneous
passages, and dens, are mentioned a thousand times. And many of these were of a vast
largeness, scarcely to be credited; those especially in the Talmudists, which are called
"The dens of Zedekiah," not a few miles in distance.
But were those hollows the work of nature, or of the hands and industry of man? By one
example, taken out of Josephus, the thing may be determined. Relating the story of a
castle built by Hyrcanus in Perea, among other things he speaks thus: "Out of the
rock against the mountain, having cut in two the prominent parts of it, he made dens of
many furlongs long." And a little after, "He made the mouths that opened into
these dens to be strait, that but one might go in at a time, and no more": "and
this he did on purpose for security's sake, and for avoiding danger, in case he should be
besieged by his brethren."
These dens, therefore, were cut out of mountains and rocks for the uses of war, that
they might serve for refuge and strength. And it is probable the Canaanites, a warlike and
gigantic nation, had digged very many of these caves before the entrance of the Israelites
into that land; and that the Israelites also increased the number of them. See concerning
these caves, Joshua 10:16; Judges 6:2; 1 Samuel 22:1, and 24:3; 1 Kings 18:13; Isaiah
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