Isaiah 11:1

And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:

And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse,.... By which is meant, not Hezekiah, as R. Moses {o} the priest, and others, since he was now born, and must be at least ten or twelve years of age; but the Messiah, as both the text and context show, and as is owned by many Jewish writers {p}, ancient and modern: and he is called a "rod", either because of his unpromising appearance, arising "out of the stem of Jesse"; from him, in the line of David, when that family was like a tree cut down, and its stump only left in the ground, which was the case when Jesus was born of it: Jesse's family was at first but a mean and obscure one; it became very illustrious in David's time, and in some following reigns; from the Babylonish captivity, till the time of Christ, it was very low; and at the birth of Christ was low indeed, his supposed father being a carpenter, and his real mother Mary a poor virgin, dwelling at Nazareth; and it seemed very unlikely, under these circumstances, that he should be the King Messiah, and be so great as was foretold he should; and have that power, authority, and wisdom he had; and do such mighty works as he did; and especially be the author of eternal salvation; and bring forth such fruits, and be the cause of such blessings of grace, as he was: or else because of his kingly power and majesty, the rod or branch being put for a sceptre, and so a symbol of that; to which the Targum agrees, paraphrasing the words thus,

"and a King shall come forth from the sons of Jesse:''

and the sense is, that though Jesse's or David's family should be brought so very low as to be as the stem or stump of a tree, without a body, branches, leaves, and fruit; yet from thence should arise a mighty King, even the King Messiah, who is spoken of by so many august names and titles, Isaiah 9:6 and this is observed for the comfort of the people of Israel, when distressed by the Assyrians, as in the preceding chapter Isaiah 10:1; when those high ones, comparable to the loftiest cedars in Lebanon, and to the tallest trees in the forest, should be hewn down, a rod should come out of Jesse's stem, which should rise higher, and spread more than ever they did:

and a Branch shall grow out of his roots; the roots of Jesse, out of his family, compared to the stump of a tree; meaning either his ancestors, as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, Boaz, and Obed; or his posterity, as David, Joseph, and Mary; and so the Targum,

"and the Messiah shall be anointed (or exalted) from his children's children.''

The branch is a well known name of the Messiah; See Gill on "Isaiah 4:2" the word Netzer, here used, is the name of the city of Nazareth {q}; which perhaps was so called, from the trees, plants, and grass, which grew here; and so our Lord's dwelling here fulfilled a prophecy, that he should be called a Nazarene; or an inhabitant of Netzer, Matthew 2:23. The Jews {r} speak of one Ben Netzer, who they say was a robber, took cities, and reigned over them, and became the head of robbers; and make {s} him to be the little horn in Daniel 7:8 and wickedly and maliciously say {t} he was Jesus; and yet, under all this wickedness, they tacitly own that Jesus of Nazareth is the Netzer this prophecy speaks of; the design of which is to show the meanness of Christ's descent as man, and that he should be as a root out of a dry ground,

Isaiah 53:2 or rather as a rod and branch out of a dry root.

{o} Apud Aben Ezra in loc.
{p} Bereshit Rabba, sect. 85. fol. 75. 1. Midrash Tillim in Psal. lxxii. 1. Apud Yalkut Simeoni, par. 2. fol. 112. 2. Abarbinel, Mashmia Jeshua, fol. 8. 4. Aben Ezra, Jarchi, & Kimchi, in loc. Nachman. Disputat. cum Fratre Paulo, p. 53.
{q} David de Pomis Lexic. p. 141.
{r} T. Bab. Cetubot, fol. 51. 2. & Gloss. in ib.
{s} Bereshit Rabba, sect. 76. fol. 67. 2.
{t} Abarbinel in Dan. vii. 8. fol. 44. 1.