Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
CONTINUATION OF THE
1-5. Yet--Though thou hast sinned, yet hear God's gracious promise as
to thy deliverance.
(Isa 43:1, 7).
formed . . . from . . . womb--(So
Isa 49:1, 5).
The sense is similar to that in
"I have nourished and brought up children."
Jesurun--A diminutive term of endearment applied to Israel. The full
title of affection was Israelun; contracted it became Jeshurun, with
an allusion to the Hebrew root, jashar, "upright," "perfect"
note on "He that is perfect") [GESENIUS],
him . . . thirsty--rather, "the land"
(Isa 35:6, 7),
figuratively for man thirsting after righteousness
floods--the abundant influences of the Holy Spirit, stronger than
spirit--including all spiritual and temporal gifts, as the parallel,
(Isa 11:2; 32:15).
4. they--thy "seed" and "offspring"
as among--needlessly inserted in English Version. Rather, "The
seed shall spring up as willows among the grass beside canals of water"
[HORSLEY]. Or, "They
shall spring up among the grass (that is,
luxuriantly; for what grows in the midst of grass grows luxuriantly) as
willows by the water-courses," which makes the parallel clauses better
5. The third clause answers in parallelism to the first, the fourth
to the second.
I am the Lord's--
1Co 6:19, 20;
call himself by the name of Jacob--The Gentiles (as the result of the
outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Israel, the Lord's "seed," first) shall
join themselves to the children of Jacob, in order to worship their God
Or, "calls," that is, invokes and celebrates the name of Jacob,
attaches himself to his nation and religion [MAURER],
subscribe . . . hand unto . . . Lord--in
solemn and public covenant, pledging himself to God's service (compare
after the manner of a civil contract
(Jer 32:10, 12, 44).
So the Christian in the sacraments [BARNES].
Literally, "shall fill his hand with letters
in honor of Jehovah"; or "shall write upon his hand, I am Jehovah's"
alluding to the puncture with ink on the hand, whereby a soldier marked
himself as bound to his commander; and whereby the Christians used to
mark themselves with the name of Christ [LOWTH].
The former view is simpler.
surname himself . . . Israel--MAURER
and GESENIUS interpret this as
the Hebrew sanctions, answering to their rendering of the parallel
second clause, "calls blandly (speaks in honorable terms of) the
name of Israel." Retaining English Version, we must, from the
Hebrew understand it thus, "Surname himself by the honorable
name of Israel"
6. Here follows an argument for Jehovah, as the only God, and
against the idols, as vanity
7. Who but God can predict future events and declare also the
order and time of each (see on
Isa 41:22, 23;
things to come [MAURER]. Or, "call forth" the
event; command that it happen
(Isa 46:11; 48:15),
set . . . in order--There is no chance or confusion; all events occur
in the order best fitted to subserve God's plans.
for me--It is FOR GOD
that all things exist and take place
But MAURER translates, "Let him set it
since . . . ancient people--I have given the Jews
predictions of the future ever since I appointed them as My people in
ancient times; therefore they were qualified to be His witnesses
As to their being God's "ancient (everlasting) people," see
the type of the redeemed Church
8. be afraid--literally, "be astounded," or "distracted with fear."
from that time--namely, from the time that "I appointed the ancient
From the time of Abraham's call, his family were the depositories of
the predictions of the Redeemer, whereas the promise of Cyrus was not
heard of till Isaiah's time; therefore, the event to the prediction and
accomplishment of which God appeals in proof of His sole Godhead, is
the redemption of man by a descendant of Abraham, in whose person "the
ancient people" was first formally "appointed." The deliverance of the
Jews, by Cyrus, is mentioned afterwards only as an earnest of that
greater mercy [HORSLEY].
no God--Hebrew, tsur, "rock"
that is, a stronghold to take refuge in, and a solid foundation to
(Isa 40:18, 20; 41:29).
delectable things--the idols in which they take such pride and delight.
they are their own witnesses--contrasted with, "Ye are My witnesses"
"They," that is, both the makers and the idols, are witnesses against
themselves, for the idols palpably see and know nothing
that they may be ashamed--the consequence deducible from the whole
previous argument, not merely from the words immediately preceding, as
Isa 28:13; 36:12.
I say all this to show that they are doomed to perish with
shame, which is their only fitting end.
10. Who . . . ?--Sarcastic question: "How debased the man must be who
forms a god!" It is a contradiction in terms. A made god, worshipped by its maker
11. his fellows--the associates of him who makes an idol; or of the
they are of men--They are mortal men themselves; what better, then,
can the idol be than its maker?
gathered together . . . stand up--as in a court of justice, to try
the issue between God and them
yet--wrongly inserted in English Version. The issue of the trial
shall be, "they shall fear," &c.
12. tongs--rather, "prepareth (to be supplied) an axe," namely,
with which to cut down the tree designed as the material of the idol.
The "smith" (Hebrew, "workman in iron") here answers to the
"carpenter" (Hebrew, "workman in wood"). "He worketh it (the axe, not the idol, which was wood, not metal) in the coals," &c. The axe was
wrought, not cast. The smith makes the axe for the carpenter.
hungry . . . drinketh no water--so eager is he to
expedite his work while the iron is hot. If the god were worth
anything, it would not let him grow "faint" with hunger and thirst.
WILLIAMS, the missionary, states that the South
Sea islanders when they make an idol abstain from food and drink.
13. After the smith's work in preparing the instruments comes the
carpenter's work in forming the idol.
rule--rather, "line" [BARNES].
with a line--rather, a "pencil," [HORSLEY].
Literally, "red ochre,"
which he uses to mark on the wood the outline of the figure
best, the stylus or graver, with which the incision of the outline is
planes--rather, "chisels" or "carving tools," for a plane would not
answer for carving.
compass--from a Hebrew root, "to make a circle"; by it, symmetry
of form is secured.
according to . . . beauty of a man--irony. The highest idea the
heathen could form of a god was one of a form like their own.
says, "The more handsome the statue the more august the god was
thought." The incarnation of the Son of God condescends to this
anthropomorphic feeling so natural to man, but in such a way as to raise
man's thoughts up to the infinite God who "is a spirit."
that it may remain in . . . house--the only thing it was good for; it
could not hear nor save (compare
14. Description of the material out of which the idol is formed.
cypress--rather, from Hebrew root, "to be hard," the holm oak,"
an evergreen abundant in Palestine
strengtheneth--literally, "and he getteth strength to himself in the
trees of the forest;" that is, he layeth in a great store of timber
Or, "chooseth," as "madest strong for thyself," that is,
(Ps 80:15, 17)
[GESENIUS]. But English Version gives
a good sense: "strengtheneth"; that is, rears to maturity; a meaning
suitable also to the context of
Ps 80:15, 17,
where Israel is compared to a vine planted by Jehovah [MAURER].
rain doth nourish it--Though the man planted the tree, yet he could
not make it grow. In preparing to make an idol, he has to depend on the
true God for rain from heaven
15. The same tree that furnishes the material for the god is in part
used as fuel for a fire to cook his meals and warm himself!
thereto--rather, "he falleth down before them," that is, such
16. part . . . part--not distinct parts, but the same part of the
eateth--that is, cooks so as to eat
I have seen--I feel its power.
18. he, &c.--God hath given them over to judicial blindness; not His
direct physical, but His providential agency in administering His moral
government, is meant
(Isa 6:9, 10).
"Shut," literally, "daubed," plastered up; it is an Eastern custom in
some cases to seal up the eyes of offenders.
19. considereth--literally, "layeth it to heart,"
abomination--the scriptural term for an idol, not merely abominable,
but the essence of what is so, in the eyes of a jealous God
(1Ki 11:5, 7).
20. feedeth on ashes--figuratively, for the idolater delights in what
"Feedeth on wind." There is an allusion, perhaps, also, to the god
being made of a tree, the half of which was reduced to ashes by
the idol, it is implied, was no better, and could, and ought, to have
been reduced to ashes like the other half.
deceived heart--The heart and will first go astray, then the intellect
lie in . . . right hand--Is
not my handiwork (the idol) a self-deceit?
21. Remember--"Be not like the idolaters who consider not in their
these--things just said as to the folly of idol-worship.
my servant--not like the idolaters, slaves to the stock of a tree
Isa 44:1, 2.
thou . . . not . . . forgotten of
me--Therefore thou oughtest to "remember" Me.
22. blotted out--the debt of thy sin from the
account-book in which it was entered
(Ex 32:32, 33;
as a thick cloud--scattered away by the wind
as a cloud--a descending gradation. Not only the "thick cloud" of the
heavier "transgressions," but the "cloud" ("vapor"
[LOWTH], not so
dense, but covering the sky as a mist) of the countless "sins."
These latter, though not thought much of by man, need, as much as the
former, to be cleared away by the Sun of righteousness; else they will
be a mist separating us from heaven
(Ps 19:12, 13;
return . . . for--The antecedent redemption is the ground of, and
motive to, repentance. We do not repent in order that He may redeem
us, but because He hath redeemed us
He who believes in his being forgiven cannot but love
(Lu 7:43, 47).
23. Call to inanimate nature to praise God; for it also shall share in
the coming deliverance from "the bondage of corruption"
(Ro 8:20, 21).
done it--effected redemption for both the literal and spiritual Israel.
lower parts, &c.--antithetical to "heavens"; "mountains," "forest,"
and "tree," are the intermediate objects in a descending gradation (see
Ps 96:11, 12).
24-28. Confirmation of His promises to the Church and Israel, by
various instances of His omnipotence; among these the restoration of the
Jews by Cyrus.
alone--literally, "Who was with Me?" namely, when I did it; answering
to "by Myself," in the parallel clause (compare similar phrases,
25. tokens--prognostics; the pretended miracles which they gave as
proofs of their supernatural powers.
Conjurers; or, astrologers; men leading a retired contemplative life in
order to study divination by the signs of the stars [VITRINGA].
backward--with shame at their predictions not being verified. "To turn
away the face" is to frustrate defeat
The "wise men" are the diviners who, when Babylon was attacked by
Cyrus, predicted his overthrow.
26. servant--in a collective sense, for the prophets in general,
who foretold the return from Babylon; answering to "His messengers"
(plural, in the parallel clause)
[MAURER]. Antitypically, and
ultimately, Messiah, who is the consummating embodiment of all the
prophets and messengers of God
Mt 21:34, 36, 37;
hence the singular, "His servant."
counsel--predictions; prophets' counsels concern the future
Jerusalem--regarded prophetically, as lying in ruins.
27. Referring to the Euphrates, which was turned into a different
channel, close to Babylon, by Cyrus, who thereby took the city. "The
deep" is applied to Euphrates as "sea"
(Jer 51:32, 36).
"Rivers" refers to the artificial canals from the Euphrates made to
irrigate the country; when it was turned off into a different bed
(namely, a lake, forty miles square, which was originally formed to
receive the superfluous water in an inundation), the canals became
28. my shepherd--type of Messiah
Ps 23:1; 77:20;
all my pleasure--so Messiah
(Isa 42:1; 53:10).
This is the first time Cyrus is named expressly; and that, a
hundred fifty years before the time when in 550 B.C. he began his reign. The name comes from the
Persian khorschid, "the sun"; kings often taking their names
from the gods; the sun was worshipped as a god in Persia.
saying--rather, "and that saith"; construed with God, not
with Cyrus. God's word is instantaneously efficient in
accomplishing His will.
to . . . to--or, "of Jerusalem . . .
of the temple," as previously, the same Hebrew word is
translated, "of Cyrus" [BARNES].
English Version is more graphic. Cyrus, according to
JOSEPHUS, heard of this prophecy of Isaiah
delivered so long before; hence he was induced to do that which was so
contrary to Oriental policy, to aid in restoring the captive Jews and
rebuilding their temple and city.