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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Isaiah 43

Verses 1-28

Isaiah 43:1 . The Lord that created thee, oh Jacob. Not only in the first creation, but when Sarah, and when Rebecca were barren, I gave them power to become mothers. I have also created and formed thee into a nation; thy disobedience therefore is left without excuse.

Isaiah 43:3 . I gave Egypt for thy ransom. Those nations were nearly destroyed, in order to effect the emancipation of Israel. God most remarkably diverted the Assyrian invasion from Judea to an attack upon Egypt.

Isaiah 43:8 . Bring forth the blind people that have eyes. This is understood first of the Jews, who were slow to see the harmony between prophecy and providence; secondly, of the illumination of the gentile world with the light of the gospel. The prophet boldly calls upon those who are morally and therefore wilfully blind, to cast away their idols and their sins, to attest the truth of prophecy, and to witness the equity of the divine proceedings.

Isaiah 43:14 . The Chaldeans, whose cry is in the ships. Better, as the Vulgate version, in navibus gloriantes, boasting of their ships, which were said to be three thousand gallies, trading from the Persian Gulph. The nobles of the Chaldeans, the Lord had brought to the ground. Their boasted fleets sustained disasters, the particulars of which are not come down to us in the shape of history. God casts away the wicked when they have done his work: only a small proportion of their countless army ever returned to their own land. The navy of Chaldea must have corresponded with the magnitude of the empire. But on the Tigris, from Nineveh to Babylon, they had no ships. That river had rapids which gallies could not ascend. The trade on the river, says Herodotus, was conducted on rafts or floats of timber, each raft containing two men and an ass. From the Tigris, below Seleucia, they crossed to Babylon by the canal, called Naharmalca, where they sold the timber, and loaded the ass with wares for the country.

Isaiah 43:27 . Thy first father hath sinned. A delicate metonymy, which puts the name of father for that of the King, who had sinned by patronizing idolatry, and joining in its rituals. In this charge the prophet associates the princes and the nobles. As this was written after the destruction of the Assyrian army, it is likely Manasseh is meant, whose youth was corrupted by degenerate priests, who in all probability prompted the young king to cause the hoary-aged Isaiah to be sawn asunder. It was under Manasseh that the introduction of idols took place in a most shameful manner, and which is rebuked with just severity in the following chapter.


Our inspired prophet still pours consolation into Israel’s cup. He introduces God, the Creator, and Father, as speaking to his children; for the words of a God are weightier than the words of men. He is equally the Redeemer of the Israelites out of all their troubles. As a Father he had especially given to Jacob, a supplanter, the more honourable name of Israel; that is, a prevailer with God. All these arguments apply with equal force to the new, the christian Israel, over whom the great Shepherd has watched with tender care.

The Lord had brought them through fire and water; through water at the Red sea, and when crossing the Jordan; through fire when the conquering Assyrians cast the gods of the nations into the flames, and burned many cities of Judah. These words are figuratively understood of the fiery trials, and the floods of temptation we have to endure. Such is the grateful memorial of the prophet to Him who had brought them through all dangers and difficulties. Psalms 66:12. God was with his people; yea, he is ever with them, as with the three children in the fiery furnace. Daniel 3:25. The waters shall wash us clean, and the fire refine us from the dross of sin.

How criminal then for the Jew to worship any other god; for he is the one JEHOVAH, the Elohim of Israel. Deuteronomy 6:4. There are gods many and lords many, but to us there is, according to Paul, but one God, Θειοτης , the Godhead. Romans 1:20. How proper is the address, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth.

Nay, all that God had done for Israel in ages past was nothing, when compared with what his counsel and his love have determined to do in the ages still to come. Ephesians 2:7. “Behold, I will do a new thing in the earth,” turning the wilderness into a fruitful field, and opening springs in the desert. At length also he will bring into his fold the whole gentile world. Zion’s tears cannot be wiped away without the full cup of comfort in Christ Jesus In thy SEED shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Then the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days in one. All the hosts of heaven shall brighten, and break forth into singing, when the Lord shall reveal the hidden treasures yet reserved for his people in the glory of the latter day.

How shameful then, oh virgin daughter, that thou shouldst slight these promises as words of no value; that thou shouldst rob the altar of its offering, and the table of incense of its sweet canes, and grateful perfumes. Thy base heart is on earth; it does not ascend in fragrant prayers to Christ, the great Angel of the covenant. Nay, what is still worse, thou hast not only robbed the altar, but slain the beasts for thy voluptuous feasts. Yea, thou has made the altar, even the Lord, to serve for thy sins. Yet his longsuffering is infinitely great towards thee, not willing that thou shouldst perish, but return to him and live.

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Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Isaiah 43". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. 1835.