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Bible Commentaries

Adam Clarke Commentary

Isaiah 48

Verse 1


The Jews reproved for their obstinate attachment to idols,

notwithstanding their experience of the Divine providence over

them; and of the Divine prescience that revealed by the

prophets the most remarkable events which concerned them, that

they should not have the least pretext for ascribing any

portion of their success to their idols, 1-8.

The Almighty, after bringing them to the furnace for their

perverseness, asserts his glorious sovereignty, and repeats his

gracious promises of deliverance and consolation, 9-11.

Prophecy concerning that individual (Cyrus) who shall be an

instrument in the hand of God of executing his will on Babylon,

and his power on the Chaldeans; and the idols of the people are

again challenged to give a like proof of their foreknowledge,


Tender and passionate exclamation of Jehovah respecting the

hardened condition of the Jewish nation, to which the very

pathetic exclamation of the Divine Saviour when he wept over

Jerusalem may be considered a striking parallel, 17-19.

Notwithstanding the repeated provocations of the house of

Israel, Jehovah will again be merciful to them. They are

commanded to escape from Babylon; and God's gracious favour

towards them is beautifully represented by images borrowed from

the exodus from Egypt, 20, 21.

Certain perdition of the finally impenitent, 22.

It will be proper here to remark that many passages in this

chapter, and indeed the general strain of these prophecies,

have a plain aspect to a restoration of the Church in the

latter days upon a scale much greater than the world has yet

witnessed, when the very violent fall of Babylon the Great,

mentioned in the Revelation, of which the Chaldean capital was

an expressive type, shall introduce by a most tremendous

political convulsion, (Revelation 16:17-21,)

that glorious epoch of the Gospel, which forms so conspicuous

a part of the prophecies of the Old Testament, and has been a

subject of the prayers of all saints in all ages.


Verse Isaiah 48:1. Are come forth out of the waters of Judah - "Ye that flow from the fountain of Judah"] ממי mimmey, "from the waters." Perhaps ממעי mimmeey, "from the bowels," SO many others have conjectured, or מני יהודה meni yehudah, or מיהודה meyhudah, "from Judah." - Secker. But see Michaelis in Praelect, not. 22. And we have עין יעקב eyn yaakob, "the fountain of Jacob," Deuteronomy 33:28, and ממקור ישראל mimmekor yishrael, "from the fountain of Israel," Psalms 68:27. Twenty-seven MSS. of Kennicott's, six of De Rossi's and two of my own, with six editions, have מימי meymey, "from the days;" which makes no good sense.

Verse 6

Verse Isaiah 48:6. Thou hast heard, see all this - "Thou didst hear it beforehand; behold, the whole is accomplished"] For חזה chazeh, see, a MS. has הזה hazzeh, this; thou hast heard the whole of this: the Syriac has וחזית vechazith, "thou hast heard, and thou hast seen, the whole." Perhaps it should be הנה hinneh, behold. In order to express the full sense, I have rendered it somewhat paraphrastically.

Verse 9

Verse Isaiah 48:9. And for my praise - "And for the sake of my praise"] I read ולמען תהלתי ulemaan tehillathi. The word למען lemaan, though not absolutely necessary here, for it may be understood as supplied from the preceding member, yet seems to have been removed from hence to Isaiah 48:11; where it is redundant, and where it is not repeated in the Septuagint, Syriac, and a MS. I have therefore omitted it in the latter place, and added it here.

Verse 10

Verse Isaiah 48:10. I have chosen thee - "I have tried thee"] For בחרתיך becharticha, "I have chosen thee," a MS. has בחנתיך bechanticha, "I have tried thee." And so perhaps read the Syriac and Chaldee interpreters; they retain the same word בחרתך bechartach; but in those languages it signifies, I have tried thee. ככסף kecheseph, quasi argentum, "as silver." Vulgate.

I cannot think בכסף becheseph, WITH silver, is the true reading. ככסף kecheseph, LIKE silver, as the Vulgate evidently read it, I suppose to have been the original reading, though no MS. yet found supports this word; the similarity of the two letters, ב beth and כ caph, might have easily led to the mistake in the first instance; and it has been but too faithfully copied ever since. כור cur, which we translate furnace, should be rendered crucible, the vessel in which the silver is melted. The meaning of the verse seems to be this: I have purified you, but not as silver is purified; for when it is purified, no dross of any kind is left behind. Had I done this with you, I should have consumed you altogether; but I have put you in the crucible of affliction, in captivity, that you may acknowledge your sins, and turn unto me.

Verse 11

Verse Isaiah 48:11. For how should my name be polluted - "For how would my name be blasphemed"] The word שמי shemi, my name, is dropped out of the text; it is supplied by a MS. which has שמי shemi; and by the Septuagint, ὁτι το εμον ονομα βεβηλουται. The Syriac and Vulgate get over the difficulty, by making the verb in the first person; that I may not be blasphemed.

Verse 12

Verse Isaiah 48:12. O Jacob - "O Jacob, my servant"] After יעקב yaakob, a MS. of Kennicott's, two of De Rossi's, and the two old editions of 1486 and 1488, add the word עבדי abdi, "my servant," which is lost out of the present text; and there is a rasure in its place in another ancient MS. The Jerusalem Talmud has the same word.

I also am the last - "I am the last"] For אף אני aph ani, "even I," two ancient MSS. and the ancient Versions, read ואני veani, "and I;" more properly.

Verse 14

Verse Isaiah 48:14. Which among them hath declared these things - "Who among you hath predicted these things"] For בהם bahem, "among them," twenty-one MSS., nine ancient, and two editions, one of them that of the year 1488, fourteen of De Rossi's, and one ancient of my own, have bachem, "among you;" and so the Syriac.

The Lord hath loved him: he will do his pleasure on Babylon - "He, whom JEHOVAH hath loved, will execute his will on Babylon"] That is, Cyrus; so Symmachus has well rendered it: Ὁν ὁ Κυριος ηγαπησε ποιησει το θελημα αυτου, "He whom the Lord hath loved will perform his will."

On the Chaldeans. — The preposition is lost; it is supplied in the edition of 1486, which has בכשדים bechasdim, and so the Chaldee and Vulgate.

Verse 16

Verse Isaiah 48:16. Come ye near unto me — After the word קרבו kirbu, "draw near," a MS. adds גוים goyim, "O ye nations;" which, as this and the two preceding verses are plainly addressed to the idolatrous nations, reproaching their gods as unable to predict future events, is probably genuine.

Hear ye this - "And hear ye this"] A MS. adds the conjunction, ושמעו vashimu; and so the Septuagint, Syriac, and Vulgate.

I have not spoken in secret — The Alexandrine copy of the Septuagint adds here, ουδε εν τοπῳ γης σκοτεινω, "nor in a dark place of the earth," as in Isaiah 45:19. That it stands rightly, or at least stood very early, in this place of the Version of the Septuagint, is highly probable, because it is acknowledged by the Arabic Version, and by the Coptic MS. St. Germain de Prez, Paris, translated likewise from the Septuagint. But whether it should be inserted, as of right belonging to the Hebrew text, may be doubted; for a transcriber of the Greek Version might easily add it by memory from the parallel place; and it is not necessary to the sense.

From the time that it was - "Before the time when it began to exist"] An ancient MS. has היותם heyotham, "they began to exist;" and so another had it at first. From the time that the expedition of Cyrus was planned, there was God managing the whole by the economy of his providence.

There am I - "I had decreed it"] I take שם sham for a verb, not an adverb.

And now the Lord God, and his Spirit, hath sent me - "And now the Lord JEHOVAH hath sent me, and his Spirit"]

Τις εστιν ὁ εν τῳ Ησαιῳ λεγων, Και νυν Κυριος απεστειλε με και το Πνευμα αυτου; εν ᾡ, αμφιβολου οντος του ῥητου, ποτερον ὁ Πατηρ και το Ἁγιον Πνευμα απεστειλαν του Ιησουν, η ὁ Πατηρ απεστειλε τον τε Χριστον και το Ἁγιον Πνευμα το δευτερον εστιν αληθες.

"Who is it that saith in Isaiah, And now the Lord hath sent me and his Spirit? in which, as the expression is ambiguous, is it the Father and the Holy Spirit who have sent Jesus; or the Father, who hath sent both Christ and the Holy Spirit. The latter is the true interpretation." - Origen cont. Cels. lib. i. I have kept to the order of the words of the original, on purpose that the ambiguity, which Origen remarks in the Version of the Septuagint, and which is the same in the Hebrew might still remain; and the sense which he gives to it, be offered to the reader's judgment, which is wholly excluded in our translation.

Verse 18

Verse Isaiah 48:18. As a river - "Like the river"] That is, the Euphrates.

Verse 19

Verse Isaiah 48:19. Like the gravel thereof - "Like that of the bowels thereof"] בצאצאי מעי הים והם הדגים betseetsaey meey haiyam vehem haddagim; "As the issue of the bowels of the sea; that is, fishes." - Salom. ben Melec. And so likewise Aben Ezra, Jarchi, Kimchi, &c.

His name - "Thy name"] For שמו shemo, "his name," the Septuagint had in the copy from which they translated שמך shimcha, "thy name."

Verse 20

Verse Isaiah 48:20. Tell this - "Make it heard"] Twenty-seven MSS. of Kennicott's, (ten ancient,) many of De Rossi's, and two ancient, of my own, with the Septuagint, Syriac, Chaldee, and Arabic, and one edition, prefix to the verb the conjunction ו vau, והשמיעו vehashmiu.

Verse 21

Verse Isaiah 48:21. They thirsted not - through the desertsKimchi has a surprising observation upon this place: "If the prophecy,' says he, "relates to the return from the Babylonish captivity, as it seems to do, it is to be wondered how it comes to pass, that in the Book of Ezra, in which he gives an account of their return, no mention is made that such miracles were wrought for them; as, for instance, that God clave the rock for them in the desert." It is really much to be wondered, that one of the most learned and judicious of the Jewish expositors of the Old Testament, having advanced so far in a large Comment on Isaiah, should appear to be totally ignorant of the prophet's manner of writing; of the parabolic style, which prevails in the writings of all the prophets, and more particularly in the prophecy of Isaiah, which abounds throughout in parabolical images from the beginning to the end; from "Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth," to "the worm and the fire" in the last verse. And how came he to keep his wonderment to himself so long? Why did he not expect that the historian should have related how, as they passed through the desert, cedars, pines, and olive-trees shot up at once on the side of the way to shade them; and that instead of briers and brambles the acacia and the myrtle sprung up under their feet, according to God's promises, Isaiah 41:19; Isaiah 55:13? These and a multitude of the like parabolical or poetical images, were never intended to be understood literally. All that the prophet designed in this place, and which he has executed in the most elegant manner, was an amplification and illustration of the gracious care and protection of God vouchsafed to his people in their return from Babylon, by an allusion to the miraculous exodus from Egypt. See De S. Poesi, Hebr. Prael. ix.

Verse 22

Verse Isaiah 48:22. There is no peace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked.See below, Clarke's note on "Isaiah 57:21". As the destruction of Babylon was determined, God commands his people to hasten out of it; for, saith the Lord, there is no peace (prosperity) to the wicked; ουκ εστι χαιρειν τοις ασεβεσιν, λεγει Κυριος. - Sept. "There is no rejoicing or prosperity to the wicked saith the Lord." Their is not pese to unrytous men seith the Lord.-Old MS. Bible.

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Isaiah 48". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.