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Isaiah 30:1-2 . Woe to the rebellious children, saith the Lord, that take counsel, but not of me. It was a law among all ancient nations to undertake nothing of importance without consulting the gods. In this instance it had been neglected by the embassy that went to Egypt. That cover with a covering, or literally, as in Montanus, “that pour out a libation;” for all the ancients ratified their covenants or treaties with sacrifices. They came back with eclat; they returned so elated, and boasting of an alliance with Egypt, that they went to feasting, and added sin to sin.
Isaiah 30:4 . Zoan, called by the Greeks Tanis. Numbers 13:22. Hanes, called Tahapanes, where Jeremiah fled: Jeremiah 43:7-9. It lay, says Jerome, towards the south, and was the last royal city in Egypt going to Ethiopia. Those cities are named here, because they had palaces. But where now are those cities, palaces, and princes? Foolish man; what is thy dust better than the beggars?
Isaiah 30:6 . The burden of the beasts of the south. A fine satire on the frighted Hebrews, who fled with their riches into Egypt; whereas they ought to have believed their divinely inspired prophet, who says, Isaiah 30:15, “in returning and rest shall ye be saved.” They who believed, and rested, were saved, when the angel smote a hundred and eighty five thousand of the Assyrians. Fiery serpent. See note on Numbers 21:6.
Isaiah 30:20 . Thine eyes shall see thy teachers. This is named as one of the first blessings of a nation. No man should be encouraged as a student in the ministry, unless he have a clear head, and a warm heart. In natural theology he should make a circle through the sciences, and cultivate that knowledge by daily observations. In divinity he should be mighty in the scriptures, and apt to teach. His liberal share of earthly science should be lost in the transports of redemption, and the salvation of souls. He should shine as a star in the right hand of Christ, and have an angel’s countenance before the people. The auditor will then lift up the ear while he speaks, the people will pray when he prays, will praise when he praises, weep when he weeps, and grace and heaven will remain on the souls of his hearers.
Isaiah 30:22 . Ye shall defile the covering of thy graven images, as when Jehu made the temple of Baal in Samaria a draught-house. Then the Lord would give rain, and rivers and streams of water; yea, he would make the lights of heaven shine with sevenfold brightness on the land and people in whom he placed his chief delight.
Isaiah 30:30 . The Lord shall cause his glorious voice to be heard. As the voice addresses the ear, so the judgments of God speak to the nations. His fire or anger burns to fury, his thunders roar, his hailstones beat down his foes. By his voice shall the proud Assyrian be beaten down.
Isaiah 30:32 . In every place where the grounded staff shall pass; le baton enfoncè, the rod sinking into his flesh; which indicates a succession of defeats to his army, that would cause all the liberated nations to rejoice with tabrets and with harps.
Isaiah 30:33 . Tophet is ordained of old. From toph, a drum, a name of contempt, from the tum-tums, which deafened the cries of the children when immolated to Moloch. Jeremiah 5:22; Jeremiah 19:6. The place of this infernal worship was in the valley of the son of Hinnom, near the lower walls of Jerusalem, and desecrated by king Josiah, as a burial place. 2 Kings 23:10. Hence the compound word Gehenna, from גיא Gi, or as the Gothic, gill, a valley, and hinnom, a man. Gehenna is figuratively understood to designate eternal torments. Matthew 5:22. Mark 9:47. For the king, the blaspheming Sennacherib, who was slain in his temple, when vowing to immolate one of his sons to his god, the fire of Gehenna is prepared.
When the embassy returned to Jerusalem, after concluding a treaty offensive and defensive with the princes of Egypt, it was with great eclat, with pride and boasting of an alliance with the great and ancient nations. The rulers of Judah highly applauded the measure, and the success of the ambassadors.
Isaiah also congratulated them, but in other words. Was there no God, no oracle, in Israel, Exodus 28:30; no prophet in Jerusalem, that you went to the princes of Zoan for counsel? Did you fear that the oracle would be against you, or that the seers “would prophesy evil of you?” Oh senators of Judah, you have lost your errand! “God will disannul the covenant you have made with death, and your agreement with hell shall not stand. The overflowing scourge shall tread you down.” The Assyrians shall overrun your country, and burn the gates of Egypt. They shall bring with them an infinitude of asses and camels to carry away the treasures of all their palaces. Happy was Judah in having one faithful minister, who dared to tell both the court and the nation the whole counsel of God.
But as the air is remarkably fresh, and as the plants perfume it with a grateful fragrance after a thunder-storm; so religion, and truth, and righteousness should flourish in the land, when those storms of tremendous invasion should subside; yea, the heavens should give a sevenfold light, and the earth bring forth its plenitude of encrease. Happy when the visitations of providence are rightly improved.
But the awful exit of those bloody invaders is the most terrific and appalling burden. The prophet sends their manes to the fire of Gehenna! Where else could they go? When the angel of the Lord, after “a day of rebuke and blasphemy,” slew a hundred and eighty five thousand, they had fallen asleep in their sins, and awoke in hell. If the indulgent delicacy of modern philosophy shall say, the words of the prophet are the emanations of a contracted and illiberal mind; for the Assyrians were ministers of the God of vengeance, and sent to execute his commands. Isaiah 10:5. Read on read on; hear the prophet’s full defence. “Howbeit, he knoweth it not, neither doth his heart think so; for it is in his heart to destroy. He saith, I will cut off nations not a few.” They had no idea of avenging the quarrel of heaven; but of murder, rapine, and the indulgence of every lawless passion. Do not all the Greek and Roman poets speak of the future punishments of the wicked as the prophets? Does not Virgil, in his sixth Æneid, send them all down to Pluto’s dark house? Apologies for crime are hostile to morality: better whisper in their ears the words of the Sibyl to Æneas, “Easy is the descent into hell; day and night is open the gate of Pluto’s court; but how to recover one’s steps, how to escape and ascend to the superior regions; here is the task here is the difficulty.” See on Psalms 9:17.
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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Isaiah 30". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20