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Bible Commentaries

Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

Isaiah 48

Verses 1-22

The hope of return is grounded by the prophet upon the fact that Jehovah is the only God, the Creator and Ruler of all things, the Disposer of the fate of nations, who guides the course of history according to His will. The tone of this section is argumentative, the respective claims of Jehovah and of the heathen gods being discussed as in a court of justice. The object of the argument is to encourage the Jews in their exile by showing that, since Jehovah is thus supreme, no obstacles will be able to interfere with the restoration to their own land which He has promised. With fine irony the prophet exhibits the infatuation of idol-makers and idol-worshippers; proving that, while the idols are senseless blocks and less than nothing (Isaiah 40:17), Jehovah is Lord of the world and controls all things. The Israelites can testify to His power, because through His prophets He has told them of things be fore they came to pass. Jehovah is, therefore, set forth as the deliverer of His people. But in the carrying out of His purposes He employs agents: (a) Cyrus, who is commissioned as His shepherd (Isaiah 44:28), His anointed (Isaiah 45:1), to perform all His pleasure in the overthrow of Babylon and deliverance of the Israelites from their exile; (b) the nation of Israel, which has its own work to do in the furthering of Jehovah’s purposes. The title ’servant of Jehovah,’ hitherto applied to individuals, is in these chapters (Isaiah 41:8; Isaiah 44:1-2, Isaiah 44:21; Isaiah 48:20) applied to the nation in its corporate capacity: perhaps also, though less directly, to the faithful Jews within the nation (Isaiah 42:1-7, Isaiah 42:18; Isaiah 43:8, Isaiah 43:10) on whom would devolve the fulfilment of God’s will. The name implies, in the first place, the fact of the nation’s election by Jehovah (Isaiah 48:8), and further the truth that Israel has a mission in the world, viz. to bring the knowledge of true religion to the Gentiles, and be a means of universal blessing (Isaiah 42:1 f).

Verses 1-22

Let the Exiles trust in Jehovah, and come out of Babylon

1-11. Jehovah’s purpose will be executed, but not for Israel’s merit.

12-22. Let Israel recognise His leading in the course of history, and learn to obey Him.

1. The prophet here addresses those whose professions of allegiance to Jehovah are hollow (Isaiah 46:8), and who in the land of exile had in their hearts apostatised: cp. Isaiah 42:17. Come.. waters] i.e. are descended from Judah (Psalms 68:26).

3-5. Events of their history had been foretold by Jehovah long before they happened, lest in their perversity they should attribute them to their false gods.

6-8. But now the things Jehovah purposes are declared on the eve of the event, lest in their presumption they should say that they knew them before.

6. I have shewed] RM ’Ishew.’

7. Before, etc.] RV ’and before this day thou heardest them not.’

8. Yea, from, etc.] RV ’yea, from of old thine ear,’ etc.

10. Read, ’not as silver ’(RV). So severe a refining (Psalms 12:6) would have meant the destruction of Israel. Chosen] RM ’tried.’

11. Do it] i.e. execute My purpose.

13. Spanned] RV ’stretched out.’

14. A challenge to the heathen, as in Isaiah 43:9.

14, 15. Loved him.. called him] i.e. Cyrus: cp. Isaiah 44:28; Isaiah 45:1.

16. Jehovah, unlike the idols (Isaiah 48:14), declared the future unambiguously. And now] i.e. now that the crisis is at hand the Lord has sent His prophet with the message of deliverance.

18, 19. Hadst hearkened.. had been as] This is the literal rendering, but the passage may be a promise for the future, ’O that thou wouldst hearken.. shall be.’

19. Thy seed, etc.] Old promises would have been realised (Genesis 22:17).

20. The exiles are bidden to prepare to leave Babylon.

21. The imagery is from the former exodus from Egypt.

22. Those who are unfaithful cannot share the promised peace. The words are repeated almost exactly at Isaiah 57:21.

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Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 48". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". 1909.