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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Isaiah 46:1

 

 

Bel has bowed down, Nebo stoops over; Their images are consigned to the beasts and the cattle. The things that you carry are burdensome, A load for the weary beast.

Adam Clarke Commentary

Their carriages were heavy loaden "Their burdens are heavy" - For נשאתיכם nesuotheychem, your burdens, the Septuagint had in their copy נשאתיהם nesuotheyhem, their burdens.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Isaiah 46:1". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/isaiah-46.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Bel boweth down - Bel or Belus (בל bēl from בעל be‛ēl the same as בעל ba‛al was the chief domestic god of the Babylonians, and was worshipped in the celebrated tower of Babylon (compare Jeremiah 50:2; Jeremiah 51:44). It was usual to compound names of the titles of the divinities that were worshipped, and hence, we often meet with this name, as in Bel-shazzar, Bel-teshazzar, Baal-Peor, Baal-zebub, Baal-Gad, Baal-Berith. The Greek and Roman writers compare Bel with Jupiter, and the common name which they give to this idol is Jupiter Belus (Pliny, Nat. Hist. xxxvii. 10; Cic. De Nat. Deor. iii. 16; Diod. ii. 8,9). Herodotus (i. 181-183) says, that in the center of each division of the city of Babylon (for the Euphrates divided the city into two parts) there is a circular space surrounded by a wall. In one of these stands the royal palace, which fills a large and strongly defended space.

The temple of Jupiter Belus, says he, occupies the other, whose huge gates of brass may still be seen. It is a square building, each side of which is of the length of two furlongs. In the midst, a tower rises of the solid depth and height of one furlong; on which, resting as a base, seven other turrets are built in regular succession. The ascent on the outside, winding from the ground, is continued to the highest tower; and in the middle of the whole structure there is a convenient resting place. In this temple there is a small chapel, which contains a figure of Jupiter in a sitting posture, with a large table before him; these, with the base of the table, and the sear of the throne, are all of the purest gold. There was formerly in this temple a statue of solid gold, twelve cubits high. This was seized, says Herodotus, by Xerxes, who put the priest to death who endeavored to prevent its removal.

The upper room of this tower was occupied as an observatory. The idol Baal, or Bel, was especially the god of the Phenicians, of the Canaanites, of the Chaldeans, of the Moabites, and of some of the surrounding nations. The most common opinion has been, that the idol was the sun (see the notes at Isaiah 17:8-9), and that, under this name, this luminary received divine honors. But Gesenius supposes that by the name Jupiter Belus was not denoted Jupiter, ‹the father of the gods,‘ but the planet Jupiter, Stella Jovis, which was regarded, together with Venus, as the giver of all good fortune; and which forms with Venus the most fortunate of all constellations under which sovereigns can be born. The planet Jupiter, therefore, he supposes to have been worshipped under the name Bel, and the planet Venus under the name of Astarte, or Astareth (see Gesenius, Commentary zu Isaiah, ii. 333ff, and Robinson‘s Calmet, Art. Baal). The phrase ‹boweth down,‘ means here, probably, that the idol sunk down, fell, or was removed. It was unable to defend the city, and was taken captive, and carried away. Jerome renders Confractus est Bel - ‹Bel is broken.‘ The Septuagint, Ἔπεσε Βὴλ Epese Bēl - ‹Bel has fallen.‘ Perhaps in the language there is allusion to the fact that Dagon fell before the ark of God 1 Samuel 5:2-3, 1 Samuel 5:7. The sense is, that even the object of worship - that which was regarded as the most sacred among the Chaldeans - would be removed.

Nebo stoopeth - This was an idol-god of the Chaldeans. In the astrological mythology of the Babylonians, according to Gesenius (Commentary zu Isaiah ii. 333ff), this idol was the planet Mercury. He is regarded as the scribe of the heavens, who records the succession of the celestial and terrestrial events; and is related to the Egyptian Hermes and Anubis. The extensive worship of this idol among the Chaldeans and Assyrians is evident from the many compound proper names occurring in the Scriptures, of which this word forms a part, as Neb-uchadnezzar, Neb-uzaradan: and also in the classics, as Nab-onad, Nab-onassar. Nebo was, therefore, regarded as an attendant on Bel, or as his scribe. The exact form of the idol is, however, unknown. The word ‹stoopeth,‘ means that it had fallen down, as when one is struck dead he falls suddenly to the earth; and the language denotes conquest, where even the idols so long worshipped would be thrown down. The scene is in Babylon, and the image in the mind of the prophet is that of the city taken, and the idols that were worshipped thrown down by the conqueror, and carried away in triumph.

Their idols were upon the beasts - That is, they are laid upon the beasts to be borne away in triumph. It was customary for conquerors to carry away all that was splendid and valuable, to grace their triumph on their return; and nothing would be a more certain indication of victory, or a more splendid accompaniment to a triumph, than the gods whom the vanquished nations had adored. Thus in Jeremiah 48:7, it is said, ‹And Chemosh shall go forth into captivity, with his priests and his princes together‘ (compare Jeremiah 44:3, margin.)

Your carriages - That is, they were laden with the idols that were thus borne off in triumph.

They are a burden - They are so numerous; so heavy; and to be borne so far. This is a very striking and impressive manner of foretelling that the city of Babylon would be destroyed. Instead of employing the direct language of prophecy, the prophet represents himself as seeing the heavy laden animals and wagons moving along slowly, pressed down under the weight of the captured gods to be borne into the distant country of the conqueror. They move forth from Babylon, and the caravan laden with the idols, the spoils of victory, is seen slowly moving forward to a distant land.


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Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Isaiah 46:1". "Barnes' Notes on the New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/isaiah-46.html. 1870.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

The prophecy here foretells the fall of the idols of Babylon, emphasizing their incompetence to provide any help whatever to Babylon, or to give any kind of protection. Such gods even had to be carded about in the processions when they were honored on festive occasions, affording a dramatic contrast with Jehovah, the God of Israel, who instead of requiting that men, or beasts, carry him from one place to another, had himself "carded" the Jews from their very beginning as a nation until that present time (Isaiah 46:1-4). Then God, through his prophet Isaiah, exposed in his usual forcible and elegant style, the absurdity of idolatry (Isaiah 46:5-7). Next he vigorously asserted the claims of the One True God as the one and only Unique Deity, citing as proof of his claims the miracles, and the prophecies with which Israel had been familiar for generations (Isaiah 46:8-10). God also reiterated his intention of delivering the Jews from captivity by the hand of Cyrus (Isaiah 46:11), and at the same time he delivered a pointed warning to the Jewish captives (not to all of them, but probably to the majority of them) already hardened in sin and rebellion (Isaiah 46:12-13).

Isaiah 46:1-2

"Bel boweth down, Nebo stoopeth; their idols are upon the beasts, and upon the cattle: the things that ye carried about are made a load, a burden to the weary beast. They stoop, they bow down together; they could not deliver the burden, but themselves are gone into captivity."

The reference here is to the practice of ancient conquerors who carried off the gold and silver idols of the gods of the nations conquered. Note that the passage does not declare that Cyrus would thus dispose of the idols of Babylon. As a matter of fact, that particular monarch did not busy himself in such activity; and yet, as Hailey pointed out, that in spite of the truth that Cyrus accepted Babylon's gods and even worshipped them, "They were eventually cast down and carried into oblivion."[1] Persian successors to Cyrus, notably Xerxes, actually carted off to their homeland that great gold statue of Bel and other rich treasures, including all of the pagan deities of Babylon. Therefore the exact words of the prophet here are fully justified.

Bel was the principal one of Babylon's pagan gods. He was the equivalent of Jupiter and Zeus of the Greeks and Romans; and Nebo corresponded to their Mercury. The broad base of their ancient paganism was actually the worship of the host of heaven, notably the sun, moon, and stars. Another one of the ancient gods was Astarte, though not particularly identified with Babylon; and she was identified with Venus; Jupiter was the planet identified with Bel, and Mercury was the symbol of Mercury.[2] These planets are at times seen as "the morning star," or "the evening star."

Bel was also identified with the Baal gods of ancient Canaan; and his name was often connected with kings and rulers as in Belshazzar and Belteshazzar. The same was true of Nebo, as in Nabopolasser, or Nebuchadnezzar. The strong tendency of Israel to accept such pagan practices is seen in the fact that Israel's King Saul named his fourth son, Esh-Baal (1 Chronicles 8:33; 9:39).

The bowing of Bel and the stooping of Nebo here refer to their surrender and submission to conquerors.[3] In such an hour of danger and disaster, the idol gods are not only powerless to help, but are themselves an intolerable burden. They cannot carry the people out of danger, but must themselves be carried. The next two verses point out the contrast with Jehovah.


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James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Isaiah 46:1". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/isaiah-46.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Bel boweth down, Nebo stoopeth,.... These are names of the idols of Babylon. Bel is by some thought to be the contraction of Baal, the god of the Phoenicians, called by them Beel; so "Beelsamin"F8Sanchoniatho apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 1. c. 10. p. 34. , in the Phoenician language, is Lord of heaven: but rather this is the Belus of the Babylonians, who was a renowned king of them, and after his death deified; whom Nebuchadnezzar, according to MegasthenesF9Apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 4. l. p. 456. , calls Belus his progenitor, and by whom Babylon was walled about. This idol is, no doubt, the same with Jupiter Belus, who had a temple in Babylon with gates of brass, and which was in being in the times of HerodotusF11Clio, sive l. 1. c. 181. Vid. Pausan. Messen. p. 261. , as he reports. This name is sometimes taken into the names of their kings, as Belshazzar or Beltesbazaar. Nebo was another of their idols, an oracular one, from whom, by its priests, prophesies of things future were pretended to be given out; for it may have its name from נבא, "to prophesy", and answers to the Apollo or Mercury of other nations. The Alexandrian copy of the Septuagint has very wrongly, instead of it, Dagon the god of the Philistines; and so the Arabic version "Dsagon". This name Nebo was also taken into the names of the kings of Babylon, as Nabonassar, Nabopalassar, Nebuchadnezzar, and others. As Bel is the same with Belus, so Nebo is the same with Beltis, the queen Megasthenes or Abydenus speaks of in the same place; and Bel may design the sun, and Nebo the moon, which may have its name from נוב, "to bud forth", or "make fruitful", as the moon does; see Deuteronomy 33:14. It is said of both these deities, that they "stooped" or "bowed down"; being taken down from the high places where they were set upright, and looked grand and majestic, and where they might be seen and worshipped by the people. Jarchi gives the words another sense, that it represents in a sarcastic way these idols, as through fear, in a like condition that men are in, in a fit of the colic, who not being able to get to the solid stool, are obliged to bend their knees, and ease themselves as they canF12Vid. gloss. in T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 63. 2. . Aben Ezra seems to refer to the same signification of the word, when he says the sense was well known, but it was not fit to write it. The prophet goes on in the derision of these idols:

their idols were upon the beasts, and upon the cattle; that is, being taken down, and broke to pieces for the sake of the silver, and gold, and brass that were about them, or they were made of, they were put into sacks by the Persians, and laid upon camels, and mules, and horses, and transported into Media and Persia. Jarchi interprets it, their idols are like to beasts, which defile themselves with their dung as they do; and so the Targum renders it,

"their images are "in" the likeness of serpents and beasts.'

These were the forms of them:

your carriages were heavy loaden, they are a burden to the weary beast; this seems to be spoken to the Persians, who loaded their carriages, and their beasts, with this lumber, that their wagons were ready to break down, and their cattle groaned under the weight of it; a sarcastic jeer at the idols which were become the plunder and prey of the soldiers. It was usual at the taking of cities to demolish the idols of them; and this was typical of the demolition of Heathen idols, and the cessation of Heathen oracles in the Gentile world, through the spread of the Gospel in it, in the first times of Christianity.


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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 46:1". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/isaiah-46.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

Bel boweth down, a Nebo stoopeth, their idols were upon the b beasts, and upon the cattle: your carriages [were] heavily loaded; [they were] a burden to the weary [beast].

(a) These were the chief idols of Babylon.

(b) Because they were of gold and silver, the Medes and Persians carried them away.


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Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Isaiah 46:1". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/isaiah-46.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Isaiah 46:1-13. Babylon‘s idols could not save themselves, much less her. but God can and will save Israel: Cyrus is his instrument.

Bel — the same as the Phoenician Baal, that is, lord, the chief god of Babylon; to it was dedicated the celebrated tower of Babylon, in the center of one of the two parts into which the city was divided, the palace being in the center of the other. Identical with the sun, worshipped on turrets, housetops, and other high places, so as to be nearer the heavenly hosts (Saba) (Jeremiah 19:13; Jeremiah 32:29; Zephaniah 1:5). Gesenius identifies Bel with the planet Jupiter, which, with the planet Venus (under the name Astarte or Astaroth), was worshipped in the East as the god of fortune, the most propitious star to be born under (see on Isaiah 65:11). According to the Apocryphal book, Bel and the Dragon, Bel was cast down by Cyrus.

boweth … stoopeth — falleth prostrate (Isaiah 10:4; 1 Samuel 5:3, 1 Samuel 5:4; Psalm 20:8).

Nebo — the planet Mercury or Hermes, in astrology. The scribe of heaven, answering to the Egyptian Anubis. The extensive worship of it is shown by the many proper names compounded of it: Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuzar-adan, Nabonassar, etc.

were upon — that is, were a burden (supplied from the following clause) upon. It was customary to transport the gods of the vanquished to the land of the conquerors, who thought thereby the more effectually to keep down the subject people (1 Samuel 5:1, etc.; Jeremiah 48:7; Jeremiah 49:3; Daniel 11:8).

carriages — in the Old English sense of the things carried, the images borne by you: the lading (Acts 21:15), “carriages,” not the vehicles, but the baggage. Or, the images which used to be carried by you formerly in your solemn processions [Maurer].

were heavy loaden — rather, are put as a load on the beasts of burden [Maurer]. Horsley translates, “They who should have been your carriers (as Jehovah is to His people, Isaiah 46:3, Isaiah 46:4) are become burdens” (see on Isaiah 46:4).


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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Isaiah 46:1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/isaiah-46.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Bel boweth down, Nebo stoopeth, their idols were upon the beasts, and upon the cattle: your carriages were heavy loaden; they are a burden to the weary beast.

Bel — The chief idol of the Babylonians, called by profane historians Jupiter Belus.

Boweth — As the Babylonians used to bow down to him to worship, so now he bows down to the victorious Persians.

Nebo — Another of the famous idols, which used to deliver oracles.

Their idols — Were taken and broken, and the materials of them, gold, silver, and brass, were carried upon beasts into Persia.

Your carriages — O ye Persians, to whom he turns his speech.


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Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 46:1". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/isaiah-46.html. 1765.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

1.Bel hath bowed down. Isaiah continues the same subject; for we need not trouble ourselves about the division of chapters, which have not always been accurately divided; but we ought to examine the statements themselves, which agree with each other in the manner which I have pointed out. Yet if any prefer to view this as the commencement of a new discourse, because immediately afterwards he prophesies concerning the destruction of Babylon, I shall not greatly quarrel with him.

Nebo is cast down. “Bel” and “Nebo” were idols which were worshipped by the Babylonians, and probably were their chief patrons; as idolaters always have some particular gods, under whose protection, above all others, they consider themselves to be placed. It may be conjectured that this “Nebo” was a sort of inferior god that was added to the chief god “Bel,” as Mercury was to Jupiter. Under their names he includes also the rest of the idols, and declares that all the superstitions and false worship of the Gentiles shall be overthrown, when God shall lay low and triumph over their worshippers; because it shall then be manifest that he is the righteous avenger of his Church.

Their idols shall be on the beasts. The Babylonians having haughtily boasted of the protection of false gods, the Prophet rebukes that vain confidence, because the God of Israel will not only bring utter ruin on that wicked nation, but also will cast down and treat disdainfully their gods. The reason why he says that they shall be burdens of “beasts” is, that they shall be laid on waggons and removed from one place to another, and shall even be huddled together without any respect, as the waggoners think proper. This is what is meant by “being cast down,” for the robbers shall collect into a large heap those gods which formerly occupied an elevated station.

There can be no doubt, indeed, that this was fulfilled when the Persians and Medes took Babylon by storm; for when the monarchy was removed, these idols were taken away as a part of the booty. But Isaiah, though he predicted this, looked farther, that is, to the coming of Christ, who was to overtum and destroy all false worship; for, when his kingdom has been established, all idols immediately fall to the ground, and it is impossible that false religion and superstition can exist along with the knowledge of him. By his brightness he dispels all darkness, so as to leave no room for false gods or superstitions; for, as Paul says,

“What hath Christ to do with Belial? What hath light to do with darkness?”
(
2 Corinthians 6:14.)

At the same time it ought to be observed, that the Prophet had his eye on the time when the Jews were held in captivity; for they saw the Babylonians offer incense to idols, and ascribe to them supreme power, as if the government of affairs depended on them; while the God of the Jews was treated with scorn, as if he could not defend his people, or as if he cared nothing about them. For this reason he shews that there will be so great a revolution, that the gods of the Babylonians, which were elevated so high, shall be laid low, and God, who appeared to he low, shall rise up and avenge his people.


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 46:1". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/isaiah-46.html. 1840-57.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Isaiah 46:1 Bel boweth down, Nebo stoopeth, their idols were upon the beasts, and upon the cattle: your carriages [were] heavy loaden; [they are] a burden to the weary [beast].

Ver. 1. Bel is bowed down.] Jupiter Belus (as Pliny (a) calleth him), Babel’s chief God, is now become a prey to the Persians, and might be to them of as great worth as was Nebuchadnezzar’s solid gold image dedicated in Dura. [Daniel 3:1-2] This great golden image some think to be the same that is here called Nebo or Nebuchadnezzar. Others think it to be Apollo Deus vaticinus. Tremellius rendereth it, the prophesying or oracular God. Jeremiah seemeth to call him Merodach. [Jeremiah 51:2] Dagon the Septuagint render him, but not well.

Your carriages were heavy laden.] Tam estis dii graves.


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 46:1". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/isaiah-46.html. 1865-1868.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

CONTENTS

The prophet here draws a fine contrast between the idol-gods, and the Lord God of Israel; and thence takes occasion to invite the people to the love of God, and confidence in him.


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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Isaiah 46:1". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/isaiah-46.html. 1828.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

ISAIAH CHAPTER 46

The ruin of Babylon and her idols, Isaiah 46:1,2. God’s love and faithfulness to the Jews, Isaiah 46:3,4. Idols not to be compared with God, Isaiah 46:5-8, for power, knowledge, and sure salvation, Isaiah 46:9-13.

Bel; the chief idol of the Babylonians, Jeremiah 50:2 51:44, called by profane historians Jupiter Belus.

Boweth down; as the Babylonians used to bow down to him to worship him, so now he boweth down and submits himself to the victorious Persians.

Nebo; another of the famous idols, which used to deliver oracles, as his name signifies.

Their idols were upon the beasts; were taken and broken, and the materials of them, which were gold, and silver, and brass, as both Scripture and other authors witness, were carried upon beasts into Persia.

Your carriages, O ye Persians; to whom he suddenly turneth his speech, as is usual;

were heavy laden; they lie upon the backs of your cattle like dull, and unprofitable, and heavy burdens to the beasts, as they had been to men before.


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Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Isaiah 46:1". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/isaiah-46.html. 1685.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Bel; perhaps Nimrod, (Calmet) or Saturn, to whom they sacrificed their children. (Worthington) --- Nabo, "the oracle" of Belus. The Chaldeans adored statues and beasts. But the Persians worshipped the elements. (Calmet) --- Xerxes destroyed the tomb of Belus, after his expedition into Greece. (Arrian vii.) He had there demolished the temples, (Herodotus viii. 109.) pretending (Haydock) that "the world is the house of the gods." (Cicero, Leg. ii.) --- Weariness. The priests affected to be weighed down, as if the god were present. (Baruch vi. 25.) (St. Cyril)


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Bibliography
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Isaiah 46:1". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/isaiah-46.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

Bel. Abbreviation of Baal = lord. Here = Zeus, or Jupiter of the Greek and Roman mythology.

Nebo. Answers to the Egyptian Anubis, Greek Hermes, and Roman Mercurius (compare Acts 14:12). These gods were indeed brought down.

your carriages = the things ye carried about: i.e. in procession (Amos 5:26).

were heavy loaden = are become a burden.

they are a burden = [are even now] loaded on beasts [for exile].


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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Isaiah 46:1". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/isaiah-46.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Bel boweth down, Nebo stoopeth, their idols were upon the beasts, and upon the cattle: your carriages were heavy loaden; they are a burden to the weary beast.

Bel - The same as the Phoenician Baal - i:e., lord, the chief god of Babylon; to it was dedicated the celebrated tower of Babylon, in the center of one of the two parts into which the city was divided, the palace being in the center of the other. Identical with the Sun, worshipped on turrets, house-tops, and other high places, so as to be nearer the heavenly hosts ( tsaaba (Hebrew #6635)) (Jeremiah 19:13; Jeremiah 32:29; Zephaniah 1:5). Gesenius identifies Bel with the planet Jupiter, which, with the planet Venus (under the name Astarte or Astaroth), was worshipped in the East as the god of fortune, the most propitious star to be born under (note, Isaiah 65:11). According to the Apocryphal Book, Bel and the Dragon, Bel was cast down by Cyrus. The mound 'Babil' still remains, identical with the old temple of Bel or Belus, an oblong mass of unbaked bricks, rising above the plain 140 feet, 200 yards long by 140 broad. Berosus states that Nebuchadnezzar rebuilt it; this is confirmed by the fact that all the inscribed bricks found bear Nebuchadnezzar's name. It formed the tower of the temple surmounted by a chapel, but the main shrine, altars, and residences of the priests were below. The Kasr remains, which are south of Babil-mound, are probably the old palace coeval with Babylon; in it are found bricks inscribed with the names of kings earlier than Nebuchadnezzar. The sense of Bel or Baal is lord, not so much the ruler, as the owner and master.

Boweth down, Nebo stoopeth - falleth prostrate (Isaiah 10:4; 1 Samuel 5:3-4; Psalms 20:8).

Nebo - the planet Mercury or Hermes, in astrology. The scribe of heaven, answering to the Egyptian Anubis. The extensive worship of it is shown by the many proper names compounded of it: Nebuchadnezzar, Neb-uzaradan, Nab-onassar, etc.

Were upon the beasts - i:e., were a burden (supplied from the following clause) upon them. It was customary to transport the gods of the vanquished to the land of the conquerors, who thought thereby the more effectually to keep down the subject people (1 Samuel 5:1, etc.; Jeremiah 48:7; Jeremiah 49:3; margin, Daniel 11:8).

Your carriages. Pagninus (with the Hebrew commentators) translates, 'the beasts which carry upon are loaden with the burden to weariness.' Otherwise, in the Old English sense, the things carried, the lading (Acts 21:15, "carriages"), not the vehicles, but the baggage; 'the images which used to be carried by you' formerly in your solemn processions (Maurer).

Were heavy loaden - or, 'are put as a load on the beasts of burden' (Maurer). So Chaldaic, 'The burdens of their idols are heavy to those that carry them.' Horsley translates, 'They (the idols) who should have been your carriers (as Yahweh is to His people, Isaiah 46:3-4) are become burdens' (see note, Isaiah 46:4).


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Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Isaiah 46:1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/isaiah-46.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

XLVI.

(1) Bel boweth down, Nebo Stoopeth.—Bel or Belus (“Lord “), is perhaps identical with Marduk or Merôdach, but see Note on Jeremiah 1:2. Nabu (“ the Revealer”) was a kind of Assyrian Hermes. Isaiah sees the idols carried off as spoil, at the command of Cyrus, a heavy burden for the beasts that drag them. An inscription recently deciphered by Sir H. Rawlinson (Journal of Asiatic Society, Jan. 1880, quoted by Cheyne) presents the conduct of the conqueror under a somewhat different aspect. In that inscription he describes himself as a worshipper of Bel and Nebo, and prays to them for length of days. The king would seem from this to have been as wide in his syncretic liberalism as Alexander the Great was afterwards. How are we to reconcile the two? May we say that the prophet idealises the policy and character of the king, or that the monotheistic element which appears in his treatment of the Jews (2 Chronicles 36:22-23; Ezra 1:1-2) was, after all, dominant in his action, in spite of episodes like that indicated in the inscription. It is possible that the recognition of the Babylonian deities may have followed on the submission of the people, and been preceded by some rougher treatment. Anyhow the contrast makes it probable that the prophecy was not written after the inscription.

Your carriages.—Here, as elsewhere (1 Samuel 17:22; Acts 21:15) in the sense of things carried; i.e., in this case, the images of the gods, which used to be carried in solemn procession, but are now represented as packed into a load for transport. So Herod. (1:183) states that Xerxes carried off from Babylon the golden image of Zeus (sc. Bel), the grandson thus fulfilling the prediction which his grandfather apparently had left unfulfilled.


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Bibliography
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Isaiah 46:1". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/isaiah-46.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Bel boweth down, Nebo stoopeth, their idols were upon the beasts, and upon the cattle: your carriages were heavy loaden; they are a burden to the weary beast.
Bel
Bel, called Belus by the Greek and Roman writers, is the same as Baal; and Nebo is interpreted by Castell and Norberg of Mercury; the two principal idols of Babylon. When that city was taken by the Persians, these images were carried in triumph.
21:9; 41:6,7; Exodus 12:12; 1 Samuel 5:3; Jeremiah 48:1-25; 50:2; 51:44,47,52
a burden
2:20; Jeremiah 10:5

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Isaiah 46:1". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/isaiah-46.html.

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