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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Isaiah 44

 

 

Verses 1-5

Isaiah 43:22 to Isaiah 44:5. Yahweh's Intervention, not Purchased by His People but Entirely of His Grace, shall Bring New Life to Israel.—It is not that during the exile Israel has assiduously sought Yahweh's aid by prayer and sacrifice. Nor has He exacted gifts and incense. So far from requiring them to buy sweet-scented cane to make fragrant their choice sacrifices, He has been compelled to do service for them, in saving them from the consequences of their sins. (Of His grace He will pardon their sins. What plea can they advance?) Their ancestor, Jacob, and the prophets, the very men who should have mediated between Yahweh and Israel, sinned against Him; the princes profaned His sanctuary. So He had given His people to the ban. Yet He bids His chosen people, addressing them by the pet name Jeshurun—the upright one—fear not. Upon them He will pour out His quickening life-spirit like rain on the thirsty ground. Their vigour shall be renewed, and they shall flourish like grass that grows amid waters (LXX) or willows on the banks of streams. Unto them, to share their prosperity, shall come men from the nations, giving their adherence to Yahweh, and marking on their hands the inscription, "Yahweh's" (cf. mg.), as a sign that they have become naturalised Israelites.

Isaiah 43:22 b. Read, "nor hast thou wearied thyself over me, O Israel."

Isaiah 43:25 f. Probably a gloss. The connexion would be improved by its removal.—plead: as in a law-court.

Isaiah 43:28 a. Read (cf. LXX), "Thy princes profaned my holy sanctuary"; a succeeding parallel clause may have been lost.—will make: read mg.—curse: devoted to destruction (p. 99).

Isaiah 44:2. Jeshurun: Deuteronomy 32:15*, Deuteronomy 33:5; Deuteronomy 33:26, cf. Numbers 23:10*.

Isaiah 44:3 a Metaphorical; read mg.


Verses 6-23

Isaiah 44:6-8, Isaiah 44:21-23. The Incomparableness of Yahweh, Who Redeems Israel.—Yahweh of (the heavenly) Hosts (Genesis 2:1*, 1 Samuel 1:3*) asserts His uniqueness, challenging any who claim to have foretold the future aright to make their pretensions good. His people need not fear: long ago, as they can testify, He foretold what is now coming to pass. Let them remember the incomparableness of their Master. He blots out their sins as the sun disperses the morning clouds. The prophet adds a short lyric, calling upon all the universe to praise Yahweh, who so gloriously redeems His people.

Isaiah 44:7. Read, "Who is like me? Let him stand forth (LXX), and cry out, and declare and set it (his case) forth before me. Who foretold long ago what is now coming to pass? Let them declare to us (cf. VSS) what is yet to come!"

Isaiah 44:8 b. Read, "Is there a God or a Rock beside me?"

Isaiah 44:21. Read, "Thou wilt not renounce me" (cf. mg.).

Isaiah 44:9-20. The Folly of Idol-Worship.—This late insertion breaks the connexion between Isaiah 44:8 and Isaiah 44:21, and differs from its context in style and spirit. Makers of images are as nothing; their beloved idols ("delectable things") bring them no gain. The devotees are so blind that they must inevitably be brought to shame. He who fashions a god has merely cast a useless image. All its devotees and magicians shall be put to shame (Isaiah 44:11). The metal-worker, fashioning his image over the hot fire, grows faint. The maker of a wooden idol marks out his block with line and pencil and carves it into human shape for a domestic god. He chooses a tree, which God has planted and nourished by His rain. With part of it he warms himself and cooks his food; the rest he makes into a god before whom he prostrates himself, seeking help from it! What absurdity! yet they are too blind to see it. Such men, getting satisfaction from (not "feedeth on" as RV) wood that burns to ashes, are too perverted to save themselves by reflecting that their support is a delusion.

Isaiah 44:9. their witnesses: cf. Isaiah 43:9.—that they may be: the inevitable result of conduct is often represented as its deliberate aim.

Isaiah 44:10. An assertion rather than a question: "He who has fashioned a god, has but molten . . ."

Isaiah 44:11. Obscure: read perhaps, "All its devotees (cf. mg.) shall be ashamed, and its magicians confounded: let them," etc.

Isaiah 44:12. an axe: omit as a gloss; Heb. is impossible.

Isaiah 44:14. Heb. corrupt; no satisfactory emendation is proposed. LXX has merely, "He cutteth wood out of the forest which the Lord planted and the rain made it grow."

Isaiah 44:15. Connect the first clause with Isaiah 44:14 : "doth nourish it for kindling."—taketh thereof: read "kindles fire therefrom" (LXX).

Isaiah 44:16. with part thereof: read, as in Isaiah 44:19, "upon the coals thereof" (LXX Syr.) Read (cf. LXX), "he roasteth flesh, he eateth roast."

Isaiah 44:18. Read, "their eyes are smeared over" (cf. mg.).


Verses 24-28

Isaiah 44:24 to Isaiah 45:8. Yahweh's Commission to Cyrus.—Yahweh reminds Israel of His power as sole Creator of the universe. What He created He still controls, so that He falsifies the predictions deduced by the soothsayers from the omens, and makes the diviners look foolish, while He fulfils the predictions of His servants (read plural), the prophets. He it is who has decreed the restoration of Jerusalem, the Temple, and the cities of Judah. The hindrances are compared to a flood, which He will dry up (Exodus 14). He it is who calls Cyrus the shepherd of His people. To Cyrus, whom He has anointed for this commission, whom He supports in his career of victory, delivering to him all fortified cities, He has promised that He will go before him, smoothing difficulties from his path. Brazen gates and the iron bars that strengthen them He will shatter. He will give him the treasures hoarded in secret chambers, Babylon's spoils of conquest. Yet not for his own sake, but for Israel's, has Yahweh called him, though he knew Him not, and given him a title of honour. He, the only God, will gird Cyrus with strength, but kings who oppose him He will disarm, that all men may know He is Yahweh, sole controller of the fates of mankind. Let the heavens flood the earth with righteousness: from the womb of the earth let deliverance and prosperity spring forth, and let the earth produce the triumph of His people.

Isaiah 44:24. is: rather "was," i.e. at the creation.

Isaiah 44:25. liars: render, "soothsayers."

Isaiah 44:28. Oriental rulers often styled themselves "shepherd" of the nation.

Isaiah 45:1. loose the loins of: i.e. ungird, and consequently disarm.

Isaiah 45:7. peace: render, "prosperity."—create: delete as repetition from preceding clause.—[If a dualistic doctrine is tacitly attacked here, whose doctrine was it? J. H. Moulton (Early Zoroastrianism, p. 220) says it was "that of teachers essentially akin to the Magi." He adds: "The existence of such a dualistic tendency within the field from which he drew his observations does not prove any nexus between the Magi and Babylon, unless in their accepting Babylonian ideas as they accepted Persian. But the dualism in question may quite well have been Magian and not Babylonian at all."—evil: calamity, not moral evil.—A. S. P.].

Isaiah 45:8. Drop down: transitive, having same object as "pour down."—righteousness: "victory."—together: render, "also."

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Isaiah 44:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/isaiah-44.html. 1919.

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