Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
1. But now--notwithstanding God's past just judgments for Israel's
created--not only in the general sense, but specially created as
a peculiar people unto Himself
(Isa 43:7, 15, 21;
Isa 44:2, 21, 24).
So believers, "created in Christ Jesus"
"a peculiar people"
redeemed--a second argument why they should trust Him besides
creation. The Hebrew means to ransom by a price paid
in lieu of the captives (compare
Babylon was to be the ransom in this case, that is, was to be
destroyed, in order that they might be delivered; so Christ became a
curse, doomed to death, that we might be redeemed.
called . . . by . . . name--not merely "called" in general, as in
Isa 42:6; 48:12; 51:2,
but designated as His own peculiar people (compare
Isa 45:3, 4;
Ex 32:1; 33:12;
2. rivers . . . not overflow thee--so in passing Jordan, though at its
"overflow," when its "swellings" were especially dangerous
waters . . . fire--a proverbial phrase for the extremest perils
Literally fulfilled at the Red Sea
(Ex 14:21, 22),
and in the case of the three youths cast into the fiery furnace for
(Da 3:25, 27).
3. Egypt for thy ransom--Either Egypt or Israel must perish; God
chose that Egypt, though so much more mighty, should be destroyed, in
order that His people might be delivered; thus Egypt stood, instead of Israel, as a kind of "ransom." The Hebrew, kopher, means properly
"that with which anything is overlaid," as the pitch with which the ark
was overlaid; hence that which covers over sins, an atonement.
Nebuchadnezzar had subdued Egypt, Ethiopia (Hebrew, Cush), and Saba
(descended from Cush,
probably Meroe of Ethiopia, a great island formed by the Astaboras and
the Nile, conquered by Cambyses, successor of Cyrus). Cyrus received
these from God with the rest of the Babylonian dominions, in
consideration of his being about to deliver Israel. However, the
reference may be to the three years' war in which Sargon overcame these
countries, and so had his attention diverted from Israel (see on
[VITRINGA]. But the reference is probably more
general, namely, to all the instances in which Jehovah
sacrificed mighty heathen nations, when the safety of Israel required
4. Since--All along from the beginning; for there was never a time
when Israel was not Jehovah's people. The apodosis should be at, "I
will give." "Since ever thou wast precious in My sight, honorable, and
that I loved thee, I will give," &c. [MAURER].
English Version, takes "Since" to mean, "Inasmuch as." If the
apodosis be as in English Version, "Since thou wast precious" will
refer to the time when God called His people out of Egypt, manifesting
then first the love which He had from everlasting towards them
"honorable" and "loved," refer to outward marks of honor and
love from God.
men . . . people--other nations for thee (so
thy life--thy person.
seed--descendants scattered in all lands.
VITRINGA understands it of
the spiritual "seed" of the Church produced by mystical regeneration:
for the expression is, "bring," not "bring back." This sense is perhaps
included, but not to the exclusion of the literal Israel's restoration
(Jer 30:10, 11;
6. Give up--namely, My people.
sons . . . daughters--The feminine joined to the masculine expresses
the complete totality of anything
7. called by my name--belong to Israel, whose people, as sons of
God, bear the name of their Father
(Isa 44:5; 48:1).
for my glory--
8. Solemn challenge given by God to the nations to argue with Him the
question of His superiority to their idols, and His power to deliver
blind people--the Gentiles, who also, like Israel
are blind (spiritually), though having eyes; that is, natural faculties,
whereby they might know God
(Ro 1:20, 21)
[LOWTH]. Or else, the Jews [VITRINGA].
9. who . . . can declare this--who among the idolatrous soothsayers
hath predicted this; that is, as to Cyrus being the deliverer of
former--predictions, as in
[MAURER]. Or, things that shall first come to pass
Isa 41:21, 22)
let them bring forth their witnesses--as I do mine
justified--declared veracious in their pretended prophecies.
or--rather, "and"; let men hear their prediction and say, from
the event, It is verified (see on
10. Ye--the Jews, to whom I have given predictions, verified by the
event; and in delivering whom I have so often manifested My power (see
Isa 43:3, 4;
and my servant--that is, the whole Jewish people
formed--before I existed none of the false gods were formed. "Formed" applies to the idols, not to God.
uses the same language to prove the Godhead of Jesus, as Isaiah
here to prove the Godhead of Jehovah.
saviour--temporally, from Babylon: eternally, from sin and hell
The same titles as are applied to God are applied to Jesus.
12. declared--predicted the future
(Isa 41:22, 23).
saved--the nation, in past times of danger.
showed--namely, that I was God.
when . . . no strange god, &c.--to whom the predictions uttered by Me
could be assigned. "Strange" means foreign, introduced
13. before--literally, from the time of the first existence of day.
let--Old English for "hinder"
Rather, translate, "undo it" [HORSLEY].
14. sent--namely, the Medes and Persians
(Isa 10:5, 6; 13:3).
brought down--"made to go down" to the sea
in order to escape the impending destruction of Babylon.
nobles--rather, "fugitives," namely, the foreigners who sojourned in
distinct from the Chaldeans [MAURER].
whose cry is in the ships--exulting in their ships with the joyous
sailors--cry, boastingly; their joy heretofore in their ships contrasts
sadly with their present panic in fleeing to them
Babylon was on the Euphrates, which was joined to the Tigris by a
canal, and flowed into the Persian Gulf. Thus it was famed for ships
and commerce until the Persian monarchs, to prevent revolt or invasion,
obstructed navigation by dams across the Tigris and Euphrates.
15. creator of Israel--
your--proved to be specially yours by delivering you.
16, 17. Allusion to the deliverance of Israel and overthrow of Pharaoh
in the Red Sea, the standing illustration of God's unchanging character
towards His people
(Ex 14:21, 22, 27, 28).
17. the power--the might of the enemies host, every mighty warrior.
they shall lie down together--as Pharaoh's army sank "together" in a
18. So wonderful shall be God's future interpositions in your behalf,
that all past ones shall be forgotten in comparison. Plainly the future
restoration of Israel is the event ultimately meant. Thus the "former
things" are such events as the destruction of Sennacherib and the return
from Babylon. "Things of old" are events still more ancient, the
deliverance from Egypt and at the Red Sea, and entry into Canaan
19. new--unprecedented in its wonderful character
spring forth--as a germinating herb: a beautiful image of the
silent but certain gradual growth of events in God's providence
way in . . . wilderness--just as Israel in the wilderness, between
the Red Sea and Canaan, was guided, and supplied with water by Jehovah;
but the "new" deliverance shall be attended with manifestations of God's
power and love, eclipsing the old (compare
"I will open a way, not merely in the Red Sea, but in the wilderness of
the whole world; and not merely one river shall gush out of the rock,
but many, which shall refresh, not the bodies as formerly, but the
souls of the thirsty, so that the prophecy shall be fulfilled: 'With
joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation'" [JEROME]. "A way" often stands for the true
(Ac 9:2; 18:26).
"Rivers" express the influences of the Holy Spirit
Israel's literal restoration hereafter is included, as appears
Isa 11:15, 16.
20. beast--image of idolaters, defiled with blood and pollutions,
dwelling like dragons, &c., in the wastes of Gentile ignorance: even
they shall be converted. Or else, literally, such copious floods of
water shall be given by God in the desert, that the very beasts shall
(in poetic language) praise the Lord
dragons--"serpents," or else jackals
21. This people--namely, The same as "My people, My chosen" (see
Isa 43:1, 7;
my praise--on account of the many and great benefits conferred on
them, especially their restoration.
22. But--Israel, however, is not to think that these divine favors
are due to their own piety towards God. So the believer
weary of me--
(Am 8:5, 6;
though "I have not wearied thee"
yet "thou hast been weary of Me."
23. small cattle--rather, the "lamb" or "kid," required by the law
to be daily offered to God
sacrifices--offered any way; whereas the Hebrew for "holocaust,"
or "burnt offering," denotes that which ascends as an offering
consumed by fire.
I have not caused thee to serve--that is, to render the the service
of a slave
1Jo 4:18; 5:3).
(Le 2:1, 2).
"Thou hast been weary of Me." Though God in the law required
such offerings, yet not so as to "weary" the worshipper, or to exact
them in cases where, as in the Babylonish captivity, they were
physically unable to render them; God did not require them, save in
subordination to the higher moral duties
(Ps 50:8-14; 51:16, 17;
Mic 6:3, 6-8).
24. bought--for "sweet cane" (aromatic calamus) was not indigenous
to Palestine, but had to be bought from foreign countries
It was used among the Hebrews to make the sacred ointment
It is often offered as a mark of hospitality.
God deigns to use human language to adapt Himself to human modes of
made me to serve--though "I have not caused thee to serve"
Our sin made the Son of God to become "a servant." He
served to save us from servile bondage
Heb 2:14, 15).
wearied me--Though I have "not wearied thee"
25. I, even I--the God against whom your sin is committed, and who
alone can and will pardon.
for mine own sake--
(Isa 48:9, 11).
How abominable a thing sin is, since it is against such a God of grace!
"Blotted out" is an image from an account-book, in which, when a debt
is paid, the charge is cancelled or blotted out.
not remember . . . sins--
When God forgives, He forgets; that is, treats the sinner as if He had
forgotten his sins.
26. Put me in remembrance--Remind Me of every plea which thou hast
to urge before Me in thy defense. Image from a trial
(Isa 1:18; 41:1).
Our strongest plea is to remind God of His own promises. So Jacob did
at Mahanaim and Peniel
(Ge 32:9, 12).
God, then, instead of "pleading against us with His great power," "will
put His strength" in us
we thus become "the Lord's remembrancers"
Margin). "Declare God's righteousness" vindicated in
Jesus Christ "that thou mayest be justified"
and Ps 143:2).
27. first father--collectively for "most ancient
ancestors," as the parallelism ("teachers") proves [MAURER]. Or, thy chief religious ministers or
priests [GESENIUS]. Adam, the common
father of all nations, can hardly be meant here, as it would have been
irrelevant to mention his sin in an address to the Jews
specially. Abraham is equally out of place here, as he is
everywhere cited as an example of faithfulness, not of "sin." However,
taking the passage in its ultimate application to the Church at large,
Adam may be meant.
teachers--literally, "interpreters" between God and man, the priests
28. profaned the princes--
La 2:2, 6, 7).
I have esteemed, or treated, them as persons not sacred. I have left
them to suffer the same treatment as the common people, stripped of
their holy office and in captivity.
princes of the sanctuary--"governors of" it
directing its holy services; priests.
curse--Hebrew, cherim, a "solemn anathema," or "excommunication."
(Ps 123:3, 4).