Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, June 18th, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 18

Dr. Constable's Expository NotesConstable's Expository Notes

Verses 1-3

The land that lies beyond the rivers of Cush was Cush (Nubia), notable for its ships, whose sails looked like the whirring wings of insects over water from a distance. Another view of the whirling wings is that they represent swarming hordes of people, including soldiers. [Note: Young, 1:474-75.] Cush was at the end of the earth in Isaiah’s day and therefore symbolized the ends of the earth; it was a great distance from Judah. Some scholars believe Cush lay within what is now Ethiopia, but others think Cush included modern southern Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea, and northern Ethiopia. [Note: See J. Daniel Hays, "The Cushites: A Black Nation in the Bible," Bibliotheca Sacra 153:612 (October-December 1996):396-409.] Envoys from Cush may have traveled to Moab, Philistia, and Judah seeking an alliance against Assyria. [Note: Oswalt, p. 360.]

Isaiah called on these messengers from Ethiopia to go to a nation tall and smooth (shaven). This was a common description of the Nubians (or Cushites). They were to go to a people feared far and wide, perhaps the Egyptians or the Assyrians. They were to go to a powerful and oppressive nation whose land was divided by rivers, again perhaps the Egyptians, the Assyrians, or even the Medes. Taken together these descriptions represent all great, aggressive nations.

All the recipients of this message, the "inhabitants of the world and dwellers on earth" (Isaiah 18:3), were to hear that a sovereign (the Lord) would issue a call to battle. No one could miss that call when it came.

Verses 4-7

This message by the Cushite envoys harmonized with what Yahweh had told Isaiah. Yahweh would look from His heavenly dwelling place quietly, like the shimmering heat in summer or the encroaching mist in autumn. These are figures that connote coming judgment.

He would prune the nations as a farmer pruned his grapevines and trees, but He would do it before they reached harvest time. In other words, His judging the nations would be perceived as premature. The nations would be so depopulated by this judgment that birds and beasts would feed on the remains of those judged (cf. Revelation 19:17-18).

Then the remaining representatives of all these once-powerful and aggressive nations (cf. Isaiah 18:2) would worship the Lord Almighty (cf. Psalms 68:31; Zechariah 14:16; Acts 8:26-36). They would bring their gifts to Him at Mt. Zion. This will be a time of global worship of Messiah.

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Isaiah 18". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/isaiah-18.html. 2012.
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