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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Isaiah 47

 

 

Verse 1

Come down, and sit in the dust, O virgin daughter of Babylon, sit on the ground: there is no throne, O daughter of the Chaldeans: for thou shalt no more be called tender and delicate.

Come down, and sit in the dust - (note, Isaiah 3:26; Job 2:13; Lamentations 2:10.)

O virgin - i:e., heretofore uncaptured (Herodotus, 1: 191).

Daughter of Babylon - Babylon and its inhabitants (notes, Isaiah 1:8; Isaiah 37:22).

(There is) no throne. The seat of empire was transferred to Shushan. Alexander intended to have made Babylon his seat of empire; but Providence defeated his design. He soon died; and Seleucia, being built near, and out of its very materials, robbed it of its inhabitants, and even of its name, which was applied to Seleucia (cf. Jeremiah 51:37; Jeremiah 51:44; Jeremiah 51:58). Babylon has been for ages the quarry out of which neighbouring tribes have built their cities-Seleucia, Ctesiphon, Bagdad, Kufa, Hillah.

Thou shalt no more be called tender and delicate - alluding to the effeminate debauchery and prostitution of all classes, at banquets and religious rites (Curtius, 5: 1; Herodotus, 1: 199; Baruch 6:43).


Verse 2

Take the millstones, and grind meal: uncover thy locks, make bare the leg, uncover the thigh, pass over the rivers.

Take the millstones - like the querns or hand-mills found in this country before the invention of water-mills and wind-mills; a convex stone, made by the hand to turn in a concave stone fitted to receive it, the grain being ground between them: the office of a female slave in the East; most degrading (Job 31:10; Matthew 24:41).

Uncover thy locks - `take off thy veil' (tsamateek, from tsaamam, to veil). So the Septuagint and Syriac (Horsley): perhaps the removal of the plaited hair worn round the woman's temples is included; it, too, is a covering (1 Corinthians 11:15); to remove it and the veil is the badge of the lowest female degradation; in the East the head is the seat of female modesty; the face of a woman is seldom, the whole head never almost, seen bare (note, Isaiah 22:8).

Make bare the leg. Gesenius translates, 'lift up (literally, uncover; as in lifting up the train the leg is Make bare the leg. Gesenius translates, 'lift up (literally, uncover; as in lifting up the train the leg is uncovered) thy flowing train' ( shobel (Hebrew #7640), from shaabal, to flow). In Mesopotamia, women of low rank, as occasion requires, wade across the rivers with stripped legs, or else entirely put off their garments and swim across. 'Exchange thy rich, loose, queenly robe, for the most abject condition, that of one going to and fro through rivers as a slave, to draw water,' etc. (cf. Isaiah 20:2.) The English version is quite as well supported, and forms a good gradation-first, "make bare the leg," next, when getting further into the river, "uncover the thigh."

Uncover the thigh - gather up the robe, so as to wade across.


Verse 3

Thy nakedness shall be uncovered, yea, thy shame shall be seen: I will take vengeance, and I will not meet thee as a man.

I will not meet (thee as) a man - whose compassion thou mightest move, or whose might thou couldest resist, but as God, whose justice thou hast arrayed against thee, and whose power thou canst not resist. Rather, 'I will not meet a man' - i:e. suffer man to intercede with me; give man an audience for thee (Jeremiah 7:16; Jeremiah 27:18) (Grotius and Horsley). Or, 'I will not make peace with any man,' before all are destroyed. (Hebrew, 'epga` (Hebrew #6293), from paaga` (Hebrew #6293)) - literally, strike a league with; a phrase arising from the custom of striking hands together in making a compact (Maurer). (Note, Proverbs 17:18; Proverbs 22:26; Proverbs 11:15, margin.) Or else, from striking the victims sacrificed in making treaties. The English version accords well with the Hebrew and the sense. Contrast Hosea 11:4, "I drew them with cords of a man."


Verse 4

As for our redeemer, the LORD of hosts is his name, the Holy One of Israel.

(As for) our Redeemer - or supply, 'Thus saith our Redeemer' (Maurer). Lowth supposes this verse to be the exclamation of a chorus breaking in with praises, 'Our Redeemer! Yahweh of hosts,' etc. (Jeremiah 50:34).


Verse 5

Sit thou silent, and get thee into darkness, O daughter of the Chaldeans: for thou shalt no more be called, The lady of kingdoms.

Sit thou silent - the posture of mourning (Ezra 9:4; Job 2:13; Lamentations 2:10). Sit thou silent - the posture of mourning (Ezra 9:4; Job 2:13; Lamentations 2:10).

Get thee into darkness - mourning and misery (Lamentations 3:2; Micah 7:8).

Lady of kingdoms - mistress of the world (Isaiah 13:19).


Verse 6

I was wroth with my people, I have polluted mine inheritance, and given them into thine hand: thou didst shew them no mercy; upon the ancient hast thou very heavily laid thy yoke.

I was wroth with my people; I have ... given them into thine hand: thou didst show them no mercy - reason for God's vengeance on Babylon: in executing God's will against His people, she had done so with wanton cruelty (Isaiah 10:5, etc.; Jeremiah 50:17; Jeremiah 51:33; Zechariah 1:15).

Polluted my inheritance - (Isaiah 43:28.)

Upon the ancient hast thou very heavily laid thy yoke - even old age was disregarded by the Chaldeans, who treated all alike with cruelty (Lamentations 4:16; Lamentations 5:12) (Rosenmuller). Or, "the ancient" means Israel, worn out with calamities in the latter period of its history (Isaiah 46:4), as its earlier stage of history is called its "youth" (Isaiah 54:6; Ezekiel 16:60).


Verse 7

And thou saidst, I shall be a lady for ever: so that thou didst not lay these things to thy heart, neither didst remember the latter end of it.

Thou saidst, I shall be a lady forever: (so) that thou didst not lay these (things) to thy heart. Through thy vain expectation of being a queen forever, thou didst advance to such a pitch of insolence as not to believe "these things" (namely, as to thy overthrow, Isaiah 47:1-15) possible.

Neither didst remember the latter end of it - namely, of thy insolence, implied in her words, "I shall be a lady forever."


Verse 8

Therefore hear now this, thou that art given to pleasures, that dwellest carelessly, that sayest in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me; I shall not sit as a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children:

Hear now this, thou (that art) given to pleasures - (note, Isaiah 47:1.) In no city were there so many incentives to licentiousness.

That sayest in thine heart, I (am), and none else besides me - (Isaiah 47:10.) Language of blasphemous arrogance in man's mouth; fitting for God alone (Isaiah 45:6). See Isaiah 5:8, latter part.

I shall not sit (as) a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children. A state, represented as a female, when it has fallen, is called a widow, because its king is no more; and childless, because it has no inhabitants, they having been carried off as captives (Isaiah 23:4; Isaiah 54:1; Isaiah 54:4-5; Revelation 18:7-8).


Verse 9

But these two things shall come to thee in a moment in one day, the loss of children, and widowhood: they shall come upon thee in their perfection for the multitude of thy sorceries, and for the great abundance of thine enchantments.

But these two (things) shall come to thee in a moment in one day - it should not decay slowly, but be suddenly and unexpectedly destroyed; in a single night it was taken by Cyrus. The prophecy was again literally fulfilled when Babylon revolted against Darius; and, in order to hold out to the last, each man chose one woman of his family, and strangled the rest, to save provisions. Darius impaled 3,000 of the revolters.

They shall come upon thee in their perfection - i:e., 'in full measure.'

For the multitude of thy sorceries, (and) for the great abundance of thine enchantments - rather, 'notwithstanding the ... notwithstanding;' 'in spite of' (Lowth). So "for," Numbers 14:11. Babylon was famed for 'expiations or sacrifices, and other incantations, whereby they tried to avert evil and obtain good' (Diodorus Siculus).


Verse 10

For thou hast trusted in thy wickedness: thou hast said, None seeth me. Thy wisdom and thy knowledge, it hath perverted thee; and thou hast said in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me.

For thou hast trusted in thy wickedness - referring, as in Isaiah 13:11, to the cruelty with which Babylon treated its subject states. Thou hast said, None seeth me (Psalms 10:11; Psalms 94:7) - 'There is none to exact punishment from me.' Sinners are not safe, though seeming secret.

Thy wisdom - astrological and political (Isaiah 19:11, etc., as to Egypt).

It hath perverted - turned thee aside from the right and safe path.


Verse 11

Therefore shall evil come upon thee; thou shalt not know from whence it riseth: and mischief shall fall upon thee; thou shalt not be able to put it off: and desolation shall come upon thee suddenly, which thou shalt not know.

Therefore shall evil come upon thee; thou shalt not know from whence it riseth - Hebrew, shaachar (Hebrew #7836), the dawn thereof; i:e., its first rising. Evil shall come on thee without the least previous intimation (Rosenmuller). But dawn is not applied to "evil," but to prosperity shining out after misery (Isaiah 21:12). Translate, 'Thou shalt not see any dawn' (of alleviation) (Maurer). But there seems to be a mockery of Babylon, whose astrologers prided themselves on being able to divine the approach of evil and of good days: 'Thou who boastest that thou canst tell the advent of all days, shalt not foresee the day of thy destruction' (Grotius).

Thou shalt not be able to put it off - rather, as margin, 'thou shalt not be able to remove it by expiation,' as one is delivered from sin and its penalty by expiation. Hebrew, Kophrah: cf. Isaiah 47:3, note; Isaiah 13:17 : it shall be never ending.

Thou shalt not know from whence it riseth - unawares; which thou dost not apprehend. Proving the fallacy of thy divinations and astrology (Job 9:5; Psalms 35:8).


Verse 12

Stand now with thine enchantments, and with the multitude of thy sorceries, wherein thou hast laboured from thy youth; if so be thou shalt be able to profit, if so be thou mayest prevail.

(Stand - forth.

Now with thine enchantments - a scornful challenge to Babylon's magicians to show whether they can defend their city.

Wherein thou hast laboured from thy youth The devil's service is a laborious yet fruitless one (Isaiah 55:2) Wherein thou hast laboured from thy youth. The devil's service is a laborious yet fruitless one (Isaiah 55:2).


Verse 13

Thou art wearied in the multitude of thy counsels. Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up, and save thee from these things that shall come upon thee.

(Thou art wearied - (Isaiah 57:10; Exodus 24:12.)

Astrologers (Kethibh, hob


Verse 14

Behold, they shall be as stubble; the fire shall burn them; they shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame: there shall not be a coal to warm at, nor fire to sit before it.

They shall be as stubble; the fire shall burn them - (Isaiah 29:6; Isaiah 30:30.)

(There shall) not (be) a coal to warm at. Like stubble, they shall burn to a dead ash, without leaving a live coal or cinder (cf. Isaiah 30:14), so utterly shall they be destroyed.


Verse 15

Thus shall they be unto thee with whom thou hast laboured, even thy merchants, from thy youth: they shall wander every one to his quarter; none shall save thee. Thus shall they be unto thee with whom thou hast laboured - Such shall be the fate of those astrologers who cost thee such an amount of trouble and money.

Thy merchants, from thy youth - i:e., with whom thou hast trafficked from thy earliest history: the foreigners sojourning in Babylon for the sake of commerce (Isaiah 13:14; Jeremiah 51:6; Jeremiah 51:9; Nahum 3:16-17) (Barnes). Rather, the astrologers, with whom Babylon had so many dealings (Isaiah 47:12-14) (Horsley).

To his quarter (Hebrew, le'ebro) - literally, straight before him (Ezekiel 1:9; Ezekiel 1:12). The foreigners, whether soothsayers or merchants, shall flee home out of Babylon (Jeremiah 50:16).

Remarks: The world-power, now so proud, shall at last, like Babylon of old, be abased to the dust. Instead of glory it shall have "shame." When God shall "take vengeance," He will "not meet" the adversary "as a man." But the people of God have as their "Redeemer the Lord of hosts ... the Holy One of Israel." After He hath sufficiently chastised Israel in His wrath, by the hand of the world-power, He will take vengeance on it for its merciless cruelty to His people. The world-power thinks to be "The lady of kingdoms ... forever" (Isaiah 47:5; Isaiah 47:7), and so will 'not lay to heart' or "remember" what God hath said as to "the latter end of it."

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Isaiah 47:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/isaiah-47.html. 1871-8.

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