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Bible Commentaries

Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

Isaiah 18

Verses 1-7

Ethiopia Reassured

Isaiah here addresses the Ethiopians, who, agitated at the advance of the Assyrians west-ward, were sending ambassadors to other states to organise resistance. He foretells the sudden overthrow of the Assyrians, as in Isaiah 10:28-34; Isaiah 14:24-27; Isaiah 17:12-14 and this prophecy should accordingly be grouped with those, as relating to Sennacherib’s great invasion in the reign of Hezekiah,701 b.c.

1-3. The Ethiopians need not be anxious, but are bidden, with all nations, to watch.

4-6. For Jehovah will interpose and utterly ruin the Assyrian plans.

7. On witnessing the deliverance, Ethiopia will render homage to Jehovah.

1. RV ’Ah, the land of the rustling of wings,’ probably alluding to the buzzing swarms of flies characteristic of Ethiopia (the land between the Upper Nile and the Red Sea and Arabian Gulf), but some see a reference to the disk with wings, which appears in ancient Egyptian paintings as a symbol of Ethiopian sovereignty.

2. Vessels of bulrushes] i.e. made of papyrus, such as are still in use on the Nile. Omit saying and understand the exhortation Go ye, etc., as addressed by the prophet to the Ethiopian ambassadors, bidding them return home and prepare their nation, not for war, but to be spectators (Isaiah 18:3) of what follows. A nation scattered, etc.] AV implies that the reference is to Judah; but we should doubtless take it as referring to the Ethiopians, and read, ’a nation tall and. smooth.. that meteth out and treadeth down, whose land the rivers divide’ (RV). Notice in all these short prophecies the familiarity of Isaiah, not only with the physical features of the different countries, but with their national characteristics: cp. Isaiah 16:6; Isaiah 19.

4. The v. vividly depicts the calmness of Jehovah in contrast to the unrest amongst the nations. Like.. herbs] RM ’when there is clear heat in sunshine.’

5. When the bud.. flower] RV ’when the blossom is over and the flower becometh a ripening grape.’ The Assyrian plans are maturing (under apparently favourable conditions, Isaiah 18:4), but just as they become ripe they are suddenly marred. The sudden overthrow of the Assyrians is similarly foretold, Isaiah 10:17; Isaiah 14:25; Isaiah 17:13. Leaving the figure, the prophet refers to the corpses of the slain.

7. A people scattered] Correct the rendering as in Isaiah 18:2.

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Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 18". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". 1909.