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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Isaiah 50:2

 

 

"Why was there no man when I came? When I called, why was there none to answer? Is My hand so short that it cannot ransom? Or have I no power to deliver? Behold, I dry up the sea with My rebuke, I make the rivers a wilderness; Their fish stink for lack of water And die of thirst.

Adam Clarke Commentary

Their fish stinketh "Their fish is dried up" - For תבאש tibaosh, stinketh, read תיבש tibash, is dried up; so it stands in the Bodl. MS., and it is confirmed by the Septuagint, ξηρανθησονται, they shall be dried up.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Isaiah 50:2". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/isaiah-50.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Wherefore, when I came, was there no man? - That is, when I came to call you to repentance, why was there no man of the nation to yield obedience? The sense is, that they had not been punished without warning. He had called them to repentance, but no one heard his voice. The Chaldee renders this, ‹Wherefore did I send my prophets, and they did not turn? They prophesied, but they did not attend.‘

When I called, was there none to answer? - None obeyed, or regarded my voice. It was not, therefore, by his fault that they had been punished, but it was because they did not listen to the messengers which he had sent unto them.

Is my hand shortened at all? - The meaning of this is, that it was not because God was unable to save, that they had been thus punished. The hand, in the Scriptures, is an emblem of strength, as it is the instrument by which we accomplish our purposes. To shorten the hand, that is, to cut it off, is an emblem of diminishing, or destroying our ability to execute any purpose (see Isaiah 59:1). So in Numbers 11:23: ‹Is the Lord‘s hand waxed short?‘

That it cannot redeem? - That it cannot rescue or deliver you. The idea is, that it was not because he was less able to save them than he had been in former times, that they were sold into captivity, and sighed in bondage.

Behold, at my rebuke - At my chiding - as a father rebukes a disobedient child, or as a man would rebuke an excited multitude. Similar language is used of the Saviour when he stilled the tempest on the sea of Gennesareth: ‹Then he arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm‘ Matthew 8:26. The reference here is, undoubtedly, to the fact that God dried up the Red Sea, or made a way for the children of Israel to pass through it. The idea is, that he who had power to perform such a stupendous miracle as that, had power also to deliver his people at any time, and that, therefore, it was for no want of power in him that the Jews were suffering in exile.

I make the rivers a wilderness - I dry up streams at pleasure, and have power even to make the bed of rivers, and all the country watered by them, a pathless, and an unfruitful desert.

Their fish stinketh - The waters leave them, and the fish die, and putrify. It is not uncommon in the East for large streams and even rivers thus to be dried up by the intense heat of the sun, and by being lost in the sand. Thus the river Barrady which flows through the fertile plain on which Damascus is situated, and which is divided into innumerable streams and canals to water the city and the gardens adjacent to it, after flowing to a short distance from the city is wholly lost - partly absorbed in the sands, and partly dried up by the intense rays of the sun (see Jones‘ ‹Excursions to Jerusalem, Egypt, etc. ‹) The idea here is, that it was God who had power to dry up those streams, and that he who could do that, could save and vindicate his people.


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Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Isaiah 50:2". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/isaiah-50.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Wherefore, when I came, was there no man?.... The Targum is,

"why have I sent my prophets, and they are not converted?'

And so Aben Ezra and Kimchi interpret it of the prophets that prophesied unto them, to bring them to repentance: the Lord might be said to come by his prophets, his messengers; but they did not receive them, nor their messages, but despised and rejected them, and therefore were carried captive, 2 Chronicles 36:15, but it is best to understand it of the coming of Christ in the flesh; when there were none that would receive, nor even come to him, but hid their faces from him, nor suffer others to be gathered unto him, or attend his ministry; they would neither go in themselves into the kingdom of the Messiah, nor let others go in that were entering, John 1:11,

when I called, was there none to answer? he called them to the marriage feast, to his word and ordinances, but they made light of it, and went about their worldly business; many were called externally in his ministry, but few were chosen, and effectually wrought upon; he called, but there was no answer given; for there was no internal principle in them, no grace to answer to the call; he stretched out his hands to a rebellious and gainsaying people, Matthew 22:2,

is my hand shortened at all, that it cannot redeem? or have I no power to deliver? they did not know him to be the mighty God; they took him to be a mere man; and being descended from such mean parents, and making such a mean appearance, they could not think he was able to be their Redeemer and Saviour; but that he had sufficient ability appears by what follows:

behold, at my rebuke I dry up the sea; he was able to do it, and did do it for the children of Israel, and made a passage through the Red sea for them, as on dry land; which was done by a strong east wind he caused to blow, here called his "rebuke", Exodus 14:20, of Christ's rebuking the sea, see Matthew 8:26.

I make the rivers a wilderness; as dry as the wilderness, and parched ground; in which persons may pass as on dry ground, and as travellers pass through a wilderness; so Jordan was made for the Israelites, Joshua 3:17, and may be here particularly meant; called "rivers" because of the excellency of it, and the abundance of water in it, which sometimes overflowed its banks; and because other rivers fall into it, as Kimchi observes:

their flesh stinketh because there is no water, and dieth for thirst; as they did when the rivers of Egypt were turned into blood, Exodus 7:21.


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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 50:2". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/isaiah-50.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

d Why, when I came, [was there] no man? when I called, [was there] none to answer? Is my hand e shortened at all, that it cannot redeem? or have I no power to deliver? behold, at my rebuke I dry up the sea, I make the rivers a wilderness: their fish smelleth rotten, because [there is] no water, and dieth for thirst.

(d) He came by his prophets and ministers, but they would not believe their doctrine and convert.

(e) Am I not able to help you, as I have helped your fathers of old, when I dried up the Red sea, and killed the fish in the rivers, and also afterward in Jordan?


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Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Isaiah 50:2". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/isaiah-50.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

I — Messiah.

no man — willing to believe in and obey Me (Isaiah 52:1, Isaiah 52:3). The same Divine Person had “come” by His prophets in the Old Testament (appealing to them, but in vain, Jeremiah 7:25, Jeremiah 7:26), who was about to come under the New Testament.

hand shortened — the Oriental emblem of weakness, as the long stretched-out hand is of power (Isaiah 59:1). Notwithstanding your sins, I can still “redeem” you from your bondage and dispersion.

dry up … sea — (Exodus 14:21). The second exodus shall exceed, while it resembles in wonders, the first (Isaiah 11:11, Isaiah 11:15; Isaiah 51:15).

make … rivers … wilderness — turn the prosperity of Israel‘s foes into adversity.

fish stinketh — the very judgment inflicted on their Egyptian enemies at the first exodus (Exodus 7:18, Exodus 7:21).


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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 50:2". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/isaiah-50.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Wherefore, when I came, was there no man? when I called, was there none to answer? Is my hand shortened at all, that it cannot redeem? or have I no power to deliver? behold, at my rebuke I dry up the sea, I make the rivers a wilderness: their fish stinketh, because there is no water, and dieth for thirst.

Wherefore — The general accusation delivered in the last words he now proves by particular instances.

When — When I, first by my prophets, came to call them to repentance.

No man — That complied with my call.

To answer — To come at my call.

Is my hand — What is the reason of this contempt? Is it because you think I am either unwilling or unable to save you? A wilderness - As dry and fit for travelling as a wilderness.


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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.

Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 50:2". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/isaiah-50.html. 1765.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

2.Why did I come? This might be a reason assigned, that the people have not only brought upon themselves all immense mass of evils by provoking God’s anger, but have likewise, by their obstinacy, cut off the hope of obtaining pardon and salvation. But I think that God proceeds still further. After having explained that he had good reason for divorcing the people, because they had of their own accord given themselves up to bondage, when they might have been free, he adds that still it is not he who prevents them from being immediately set at liberty. As he shewed, in the former verse, that the whole blame rests with the Jews, so now he declares that it arises from their own fault that they grow old and rot in their distresses; for the Lord was ready to assist them, if they had not rejected his grace and kindness. In a word, he shows that both the beginning and the progress of the evil arise from the fault of the people, in order that he may free God from all blame, and may shew that the Jews act wickedly in accusing him as the author of evil, or in complaining that he will not assist them.

First, then, the Lord says that he “came;” and why, but that he might stretch out his hand to the Jews? Whence it follows that they are justly deprived; for they would not receive his grace. Now, the Lord is said to “come,” when he gives any token of his presence. He approaches by the preaching of the Word, and he approaches also by various benefits which he bestows on us, and by the tokens which he employs for manifesting his fatherly kindness toward us.

“Was there ever any people,” as Moses says, “that saw so many signs, and heard the voice of God speaking, like this people?” (Deuteronomy 4:33.)

Constant invitation having been of no advantage to them, when he held out the hope of pardon and exhorted them to repentance, it is with good reason that he speaks of it as a monstrous thing, and asks why there was no man to meet him. They are therefore held to be convicted of ingratitude, because, while they ought to have sought God, they did not even choose to meet him when he came; for it is an instance of extreme ingratitude to refuse to accept the grace of God which is freely offered.

Why did I call, and no one answered? In the word call there is a repetition of the same statement in different words. When God “calls,” we ought to be ready and submissive; for this is the “answer” which, he complains, was refused to him; that is, we ought to yield implicitly to his word. But this expression applies strictly to the matter now in hand; because God, when he offered a termination to their distresses, was obstinately despised, as if he had spoken to the deaf and dumb. Hence he infers that on themselves lies the blame of not having been sooner delivered; and he supports this by former proofs, because he had formerly shewn to the fathers that he possessed abundance of power to assist them. Again, that they may not cavil and excuse themselves by saying that they had not obtained salvation, though they heartily desired it, he maintains, on the other hand, that the cause of the change ought to be sought somewhere else than in him, (for his power was not at all diminished,) and therefore that he would not have delayed to stretch out his hand to them in distress, if they had not wickedly refused his aid.

By shortening hath my hand been shortened? By this interrogation he expresses greater boldness, as if he were affirming what could not be called in question; for who would venture to plead against God that his power was diminished? He therefore relates how powerfully he rescued his people out of Egypt, that they may not now imagine that he is less powerful, but may acknowledge that their sins were the hinderance. (14) He says that by his reproof he “dried up the sea,” as if he had struck terror by a threatening word; for by his authority, and at his command, the seas were divided, so that a passage was opened up, (Exodus 14:21,) and Jordan was driven back. (Joshua 3:16.) The consequence was, that “the fishes,” being deprived of water, died and putrified.


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 50:2". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/isaiah-50.html. 1840-57.

Scofield's Reference Notes

redeem

(See Scofield "Isaiah 59:20") See Scofield "Exodus 14:30".


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These files are considered public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available in the Online Bible Software Library.

Bibliography
Scofield, C. I. "Scofield Reference Notes on Isaiah 50:2". "Scofield Reference Notes (1917 Edition)". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/srn/isaiah-50.html. 1917.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Isaiah 50:2 Wherefore, when I came, [was there] no man? when I called, [was there] none to answer? Is my hand shortened at all, that it cannot redeem? or have I no power to deliver? behold, at my rebuke I dry up the sea, I make the rivers a wilderness: their fish stinketh, because [there is] no water, and dieth for thirst.

Ver. 2. Wherefore, when I came, was there no man?] Christ "came unto his own, but his own received him not." [John 1:11] This was condemnation, [John 3:19] their rebelling against the light of the gospel; this was the great offence, the damning sin, the very cause of their utter rejection.

Is my hand shortened at all?] Or rather, Have not you, by your obstinace and incredulity, transfused, as it were, a dead palsy into the hand of Omnipotence? "He could do there no mighty work because of their unbelief": [Mark 6:5] of so venomous a nature is that cursed sin.

Behold, at my rebuke I dry up the sea.] I have done it, you know, [Psalms 106:9] and can do it again. Be not therefore "faithless, but believing." [John 20:27]


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 50:2". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/isaiah-50.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

The general accusation delivered in the last words he now proveth by particular instances. When I came; when I, first by my prophets, and at last by my Son, came unto them, to call them to repentance, and to redeem and deliver them, as it is explained in the following clauses of this verse. No man that regarded and received me, that complied with my call and offer of grace, as it follows; whereby he implies that the generality of the Jews were guilty of gross infidelity and obstinate disobedience, and therefore might justly be rejected.

When I called; called them to repentance, or to come unto me, or to do my will, as masters call their servants.

None to answer; to come at my call, to obey my commands. Have I no power to deliver? what is the reason of this horrible contempt and rebellion? Is it because you expect no good from me, but think that I am either unwilling or unable to save you? Because you see no miracles wrought for you to save you from the Babylonians; and because my Son, your Messiah, cometh not with pomp and power, as you expect, but in the form of a servant, poor, and exposed to contempt and death; do you therefore believe that my power to deliver you is less than it was?

At my rebuke: this phrase is borrowed from Psalms 106:9, and it is used Matthew 8:26. At my word or command, whereby I rebuke and check its proud waves.

I dry up, Heb. I will dry up; or, I can dry up; the future verb being put potentially. As I did it once, so I can and will do it again, when occasion requires it. I make the rivers a wilderness; as dry and fit for travel as a wilderness.


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Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Isaiah 50:2". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/isaiah-50.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

2. Wherefore, when I came… no man — No man of you answers to my call when I come to my people. Guilt is timid, and shrinks out of sight. It feels condemnation, not confidence. Is this your case?

Is my hand shortened — That is, cut off, and thus disabled.

That it cannot redeem — Cannot rescue and redeem my own when they stray and get enslaved.

Behold, at my rebuke — God’s kindly providence is always over his people, as against others hostile to them. Instances: the Red Sea deliverance; the retention of waters in desert wady-trunks, when winter is gone and summer drought has come; such as Wady Feiran, near Sinai; but other wadies become all dry, yet new founts are opened where not known before.


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Bibliography
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Isaiah 50:2". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/isaiah-50.html. 1874-1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

The Lord asked two more questions of His people that amount to one. Note the prominence of questions as a teaching device in this chapter ( Isaiah 50:1-2; Isaiah 50:8-11). Why had they not responded to His calls for repentance and faith (which came through the prophets)? Had they done Song of Solomon , He implied, He would not have sold them into captivity. Was His lack of deliverance when they called to Him for help the result of His inability to save them? No, He could reach them, and He was strong enough to save them. The figure of God"s hand saving shows that God Himself saves. This is the first of several references to the Lord"s hand or arm in Isaiah , a common figure in the Old Testament for strength (cf. Isaiah 51:5; Isaiah 51:9; Isaiah 52:10; Isaiah 53:1). As Isaiah would reveal, the Lord"s power was great enough not only to rescue the Israelites from captivity, but to provide salvation from sin.


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Bibliography
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Isaiah 50:2". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/isaiah-50.html. 2012.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Hear. My spouse had gone after other lovers. The people refused to hear the prophets; and the priests were become as corrupt as the rest, when the city was taken by the Chaldeans and by the Romans. (Calmet) --- Sea. Babylon, chap. xxi. (Haydock) --- I could work the same miracles, as I did when Israel came out of Egypt.


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Bibliography
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Isaiah 50:2". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/isaiah-50.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

Wherefore . . . ? Figure of speech Erotesis.

when I came. Messiah speaks.

no man. See John 1:11. Compare Jeremiah 5:1. Acts 13:46; Acts 18:6; Acts 28:28.

Is My hand shortened . . . ? Reference to Pentateuch (Numbers 11:23). Compare Isaiah 59:1. See App-92.

redeem. Hebrew. padah. See note on Exodus 13:13.

I dry up the sea. Reference to Pentateuch (Exodus 14:21). App-92.

rivers. Plural of majesty: i.e. the great river, the Jordan. Reference to Pentateuch (Joshua 4:7, Joshua 4:18). App-92. Compare Psalms 107:33.

their fish stinketh. Reference to Pentateuch (Exodus 7:18, Exodus 7:21).


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Bibliography
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Isaiah 50:2". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/isaiah-50.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Wherefore, when I came, was there no man? when I called, was there none to answer? Is my hand shortened at all, that it cannot redeem? or have I no power to deliver? behold, at my rebuke I dry up the sea, I make the rivers a wilderness: their fish stinketh, because there is no water, and dieth for thirst.

Wherefore, when I came. I-Messiah.

(Was there) no man? - willing to believe in and obey me (Isaiah 53:1; Isaiah 53:3). The same Divine Person had 'come' by His prophets in the Old Testament (appealing to them, but in vain, Jeremiah 7:25-26), who was about to come under the New Testament.

Is my hand shortened at all, that it cannot redeem? The shortened hand is the Oriental emblem of weakness, as the long stretched-out hand is of power (Isaiah 59:1). Notwithstanding your sins, I can still "redeem" you from your bondage and dispersion.

At my rebuke I dry up the sea - (Exodus 14:21.) The second exodus shall exceed, while it resembles in wonders, the first (Isaiah 11:11; Isaiah 11:15; Isaiah 51:15). I make the rivers a wilderness - I turn the prosperity of Israel's foes into adversity.

Their fish stinketh - the very judgment inflicted on their Egyptian enemies at the first exodus (Exodus 7:18; Exodus 7:21).


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Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Isaiah 50:2". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/isaiah-50.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(2) Wherefore, when I came . . .?—The “coming” of Jehovah must be taken in all its width of meaning. He came in the deliverance from Babylon, in a promise of still greater blessings, in the fullest sense, in and through His Servant, and yet none came to help in the work, or even to receive the message. (Comp. Isaiah 63:3.) Not that He needed human helpers. In words that remind us, in their sequence, of the phenomena of the plagues of Egypt, the prophet piles up the mighty works of which He is capable. The words are echoed in Revelation 6:12; Revelation 8:9; Revelation 8:12.


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Bibliography
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Isaiah 50:2". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/isaiah-50.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Wherefore, when I came, was there no man? when I called, was there none to answer? Is my hand shortened at all, that it cannot redeem? or have I no power to deliver? behold, at my rebuke I dry up the sea, I make the rivers a wilderness: their fish stinketh, because there is no water, and dieth for thirst.
when I came
59:16; 65:12; 66:4; Proverbs 1:24; Jeremiah 5:1; 7:13; 8:6; 35:15; Hosea 11:2,7; John 1:11; 3:19
Is my
59:1; Genesis 18:14; Numbers 11:23
have I
36:20; 2 Chronicles 32:15; Daniel 3:15,29; 6:20,27
at my
Psalms 106:9; Nahum 1:4; Mark 4:39
I dry
42:15; 43:16; 51:10; 63:13; Exodus 14:21,29; Joshua 3:16; Psalms 107:33; Psalms 114:3-7
their fish
Exodus 7:18,21

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Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Isaiah 50:2". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/isaiah-50.html.

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