Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, May 22nd, 2024
the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 47

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-15

Isaiah 47:2 . Take the millstones and grind meal. Prepare the weekly loaf, as was anciently the custom, a work which the servants performed with handmills.

Isaiah 47:4 . Our Redeemer, the Lord of hosts. He who redeemed us from Egypt, will redeem us from Babylon by the Persians, and throw the yoke of servitude on our oppressors.

Isaiah 47:7 . Thou saidst, I shall be a lady for ever. Oh virgin, how couldst thou dream of this, seeing every city within the grasp of thy wide empire has been stormed and ravished by thine invading armies. Shall the Lord visit other metropolitan cities for their sins, and never visit thee for the blood of all nations.

Isaiah 47:9 . These two things shall come to thee in one day, the loss of children, and widowhood. This was partly fulfilled in the sudden manner in which Cyrus stormed Babylon. But about twenty years afterward, when the Chaldeans had gotten a little strength, taking advantage of the absence of the Persian kings, they rebelled; and on being closely besieged by Darius, when the provisions grew short, it was agreed in counsel that every man should go home, and kill all his wives, with the exception of one, and all other persons who could not be useful in defending the city. So in one night they were made widowers. From that time, Babylon was gradually deserted, and the city of Seleucia rose in grandeur. Bagdad is built on the ruins of Seleucia, at the confluence of the Euphrates and the Tigris by the canal.

Isaiah 47:10 . Thou hast trusted in thy wickedness. Babylon, like most other nations, was very religious in the time of trouble. She fled to her star- gazers and sorcerers for counsel and comfort. They all promised her deliverance and relief, and doubled her misery by deception.

Isaiah 47:13 . Thou art wearied in the multitude of thy counsels. The confusion of the Chaldaic oracles greatly augmented their distress of mind. Heaven made their diviners mad.


Isaiah had severely censured the vain and haughty women of Zion, chap. 3:32.; and now he was directed to censure with equal severity the delicate women of Babylon. He in effect addresses them in language of the keenest satire that can possibly be composed. He calls Babylon a virgin, who was in idolatries the mother of harlots. They had sat on couches and thrones; now they must bewail their dead, sitting on the cold earth. They had been cruel to the captive women of Israel, and made no distinction between the old and the young; now their delicate hands must take hold of the handmills, and grind the corn for their Persian lords. They indulged in superb dresses; now they must go into captivity almost naked, and ford rivers with their tender feet. They had been addicted to nocturnal pleasures, had lived carelessly, and were soothed by sorcerers; they had trusted in their wickedness, and said, none seeth. Therefore the anger of heaven burned against them to the last extreme; and the Lord would not meet them as one who might be softened by their tears, but as an avenging God. In one night the loss of children and widowhood should come upon them. Cyrus took the city in the night; and notwithstanding his famed humanity, there was a most dreadful carnage; they put to death all they found in the streets. But the wicked, reprieved for a moment, proved themselves unworthy of life. The haughty Babylonians soon rebelled against Darius; and being pressed with a sore siege in order to hold out to the last extremity, every man who had more than one wife, chose the woman he loved best, and strangled all the others, that useless persons might not exhaust the provisions. What a stroke at polygamy! But what a striking completion of prophecy; and what a contrast between those who trust in the Lord, and those who trust diviners and earthly hopes. And were the women of Babylon more vain and effeminate, more secure and corrupt, than the fashionable ladies of our own times? Were they more disposed to dress, and to indulge in nocturnal entertainments and pleasures? In this reverse of life, from the summit of Babylonian pride to the dregs of misery, we have a most instructive mirror for modern ages, and for the fashionable circles of society in particular. Happy is that soul, truly disposed to reformation, and to learn wisdom from the divine counsel.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Isaiah 47". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/isaiah-47.html. 1835.
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