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Bible Commentaries

Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Isaiah 30


The prophet threateneth the people for their confidence in Egypt, Isaiah 30:1-7,

and contempt of God’s word, Isaiah 30:8-11;

wherefore they shall be destroyed, Isaiah 30:12-17.

God’s mercies towards the church, Isaiah 30:18-26.

God’s wrath and his people’s joy in the destruction of Assyria, Isaiah 30:27-33.

Verse 1

The rebellious children; the Jews, who call themselves God’s children, though they are rebellious ones, as was said, Isaiah 1:2.

That take counsel; that consult together, and resolve to do what follows, Isaiah 30:2.

Not of me; not following nor asking my advice, which they had command and encouragement from me to do.

That cover with a covering; that seek protection.

Not of my Spirit; not such as by my Spirit, speaking in my word, I have directed and required them to do; but such as I have severely forbidden to them; for the contrary affirmative is frequently implied in the negative; of which I have formerly given many instances.

That they may add sin to sin; that unto those sins, by which they have deserved and procured my judgments upon them, they may add distrust of my power and mercy to save them, and confidence in an arm of flesh, which also is rebellion against my express command to the contrary.

Verse 2

That walk to go down into Egypt; that send ambassadors to Egypt for succour, as we read, Isaiah 30:4, which the Jews were forward to do upon all occasions, and did now upon the invasion of the king of Assyria, as is evident from Isaiah 20:5,Isaiah 20:6, and did the like against the king of Babylon, Jeremiah 37:7; Ezekiel 17:15.

Have not asked at my mouth; either by the priests or prophets, as they were to do in weighty cases; of which see Numbers 27:21; Joshua 9:14; 1 Samuel 23:9,1 Samuel 23:10; 1 Kings 22:7; Jeremiah 21:2; Jeremiah 42:2,Jeremiah 42:20; or by studying my word, which plainly directs them to another course, and forbids them this practice.

In the shadow; in their power (as it is in the foregoing clause) and protection, which is oft signified by the shadow, as Judges 9:15; Psalms 17:8; Psalms 91:1,Psalms 91:4.

Verse 3

As being not only unprofitable, but mischievous to you.

Verse 4

His princes; the princes of Judah, either sent by the king, or by the appointment of their brethren.

Hanes; an eminent city of Egypt, called more largely Tahapanes, and Tahpanhes, Jeremiah 2:16; Jeremiah 43:8.

Verse 5

They; both the messengers, and they who sent them.

Verse 6

The burden; either

1. The prophecy; which if oft called the burden; or rather

2. The burden of riches or treasures, as it is explained in the latter part of the verse.

Of the beasts of the south; which is carried upon asses or camels, as it follows, into Egypt, which lay southward from Judea.

Into the land of trouble and anguish; into Egypt and Ethiopia or Cush; for both are joined together in this matter, Isaiah 20:0, whole land seems to be called a land of trouble and anguish prophetically, because they should distress them, and not help them; as was said of the Assyrians in the like case, 2 Chronicles 28:20, some render it, by or through the land, &c., and understand it of the vast wilderness which lay between Judea and Egypt. But it was more proper and important to speak of the land to which these man and beasts went, than of that through which they were to pass; which it was needless so particularly to describe. Nor was the direct road from Judea to Egypt such a place as is here described.

The young and old lion; which may be understood properly, because these and the following creatures did abound, and were very fierce and mischievous, in Egypt and Ethiopia; but withal, seems to design the craft and cruelty of that people, and the danger of their confederacy with them, and the harm which they should have from them.

Fiery flying serpent: that there were flying serpents in those parts, is affirmed, not only in Scripture, bout also by Herodotus, Cicero, and Ammianus, and divers other authors. They; the Jews, designed by the same pronoun,

they, Isaiah 30:5,

will carry their riches; either,

1. To secure them; or rather,

2. To procure their assistance. Upon the shoulders of young asses; much used there for carrying burdens, as is evident from Genesis 32:15; Genesis 45:23, &c.

Upon the bunches; upon the backs, which were strengthened with bunches, by a synecdoche.

Verse 7

Concerning this; concerning this counsel or practice. Or, to her; to Jerusalem or Judah.

Their strength is to sit still; it is safer and better for them to sit quietly at home, seeking to me for help. He seems industriously to use an ambiguous word, Rahab, which signifies both strength, as Job 9:13; Psalms 90:10, and Egypt, as Psalms 87:4; Isaiah 51:9, so called from its singular strength; to intimate that if they did not go to Rahab, Rahab, or what they expected from Rahab or Egypt, which was powerful succour, should come to them.

Verse 8

Write it; write this prophecy and warning which I have now delivered.

Before them; in their presence, in the public assembly; for the prophets were many times commanded to do such actions, as well as to deliver their messages.

In a table, and note it in a book; so this was to be written twice over; once in a table, to be handed up in some public place, that all that were then and there present might read it; and again in a book, that it might be kept for the use of posterity.

That it may be for the time to come, as a witness for me and against them, that I have given them fair warning, and they have wilfully run upon their own ruin.

Verse 9

Lying children; which profess one thing, and practise another.

The law of the Lord; the commands of God, either contained in Scripture, or delivered by my mouth, whereby these practices are expressly forbidden to them.

Verse 10

He speaks not of the words of their mouths; for none could be so mad of impudent as to have or profess a desire to be cheated, but of the language of their actions. They do so discourage and threaten God’s faithful prophets, and so encourage their own false prophets, as if they had rather be deceived to their destruction, than hear the truth for their preservation and salvation. They prefer the pleasing of their humours before the saving of themselves.

Verse 11

Out of the way in which you now walk, out of you present course of preaching unsavoury and frightful things to us.

Cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us; do not trouble us with harsh and repeated messages from God, as you used to do.

Verse 12

In oppression; in the wealth which you have gotten by oppression, whereby you now think to procure Egyptian succours; of which See Poole "Isaiah 30:6".

And perverseness; and in your perverse and rebellious course of sending to Egypt for help.

Verse 13

This iniquity, of sending and trusting to Egypt for succour.

Whose breaking cometh suddenly at an instant; like a wall which is high, and seems to be strong, but swelling forth in some parts, which upon the least accident falleth down suddenly to the ground. Such shall be the issue of your high and towering confidence in Egypt.

Verse 14

He shall break it; he, either God, or he whom God shall send against them. Or, it shall be broken; for such phrases are oft taken indefinitely and passively; it, this iniquity last mentioned, Isaiah 30:13, your carnal confidence and all the grounds of it, and you that lean upon it.

Verse 15

In returning, either from your present purpose of sending to Egypt, or unto God, as the LXX., and Syriac, and Arabic translators render it. Or,

in quietness; for the verb from which this word come is elsewhere used in that sense, as Psalms 23:2; Jeremiah 30:10; Jeremiah 46:27.

In quietness; in sitting still, and quieting your own minds. In confidence, to with, rightly placed upon me and my promises for your deliverance.

Verse 16

We will flee out of this land from the king of Assyria; which is very probable divers of the richer sort did, having sent their treasures before them, as we read Isaiah 30:6.

Verse 17

Shall flee; which words are fitly supplied out of the following clause.

At the rebuke; either,

1. At his real rebuke, upon his assault or onset; or rather,

2. At his verbal rebuke, upon his mere threats, as fearing that he will proceed from words to blows.

Shall ye flee; all of you, how numerous soever.

Till ye be left as a beacon, & c.; till you be generally destroyed, and but a few of you left.

Verse 18

Therefore; because of your general destruction and great misery; which is frequently mentioned in Scripture as a motive to God’s mercy, as Deuteronomy 32:36, and in many other places, as hath been oft observed already. But some rendered this Hebrew particle yet, or notwithstanding, as it is supposed to signify, Isaiah 51:21; Jeremiah 16:14; Ezekiel 39:25; Hosea 2:14.

Wait; patiently expect your repentance, and stop the course of his judicial proceedings against you, that you may have an opportunity of making your peace with him, and of preventing your utter ruin.

Will he be exalted; he will lift up and bestir himself, and will work gloriously in your behalf, as this phrase is used, Psalms 21:13; Psalms 46:10; Isaiah 33:10, and oft elsewhere; and as the following verses explain it.

Is a God of judgment; who carrieth himself towards his people (for of them only he speaks in this place) not with furious passion, but with judgment and discretion, or with equity and moderation; for judgment is oft opposed to fury and rigorous justice, as Psalms 112:5; Jeremiah 10:24; Jeremiah 30:11. Blessed are all they that wait for him; this waiting upon God, in his way, with faith and patience, is a surer way to your safety and happiness, than seeking to Egypt, or any other carnal remedies.

Verse 19

For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem; for although the time is coming, when the people shall be banished from Jerusalem, and carried captives into Babylon; yet after a set time they shall return to Jerusalem, and have a fixed and comfortable abode there: which was in part accomplished upon their return from Babylon; but more fully in the times of the gospel, when many of them were, and the whole body of them shall be, brought into Christ’s church, which is oft called Zion and Jerusalem, both in the Old and New Testament.

He will answer thee; whereas now he seems to be deaf to thy prayers.

Verse 20

And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction; and although in that time and state of the church you will be subject to many outward straits and afflictions. This phrase is borrowed from Deuteronomy 16:3; 1 Kings 22:27. He seems to allude to the condition of besieged cities, and particularly of Jerusalem, as it was straitened and distressed by Sennacherib, and as it should be far more straitened by the Chaldeans; of which see 2 Kings 25:3. Heb. And the Lord will give, &c. Or, the Lord indeed will give, &c. Yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more; as they have been in former times, both in Israel and Judah, when the godly prophets and ministers were but few, and when they were persecuted and banished by their wicked rulers. But in the New Testament God hath made better provision for his church, sending his Son, the great Teacher of the church, into the world, and pouring forth the gifts and graces of the Spirit in abundance, and increasing the number of able and faithful ministers, and promising a continued succession of them to the end of the world, Matthew 28:19,Matthew 28:20.

Thine eyes shall see thy teachers; thou shalt have their presence, and their instruction and assistance.

Verse 21

Thine ears shall hear a word; as oft as need requires thou shalt hear the voice of God’s word and Spirit directing thee in thy course.

Hear a word behind thee; a metaphor borrowed either,

1. From the custom of shepherds, who use to follow their sheep, and to recall them when they go out of the way. Or,

2. From travellers, who when they are gone out of the right way, are ofttimes recalled and admonished of their error by some other passenger or person who is behind them, and therefore discerns their mistake; which he could not so easily discover if he were before them.

Verse 22

Ye shall defile, to show your contempt of it, and to make it unfit for your own or any other’s use.

The covering; the leaves or plates wherewith their wooden images were frequently covered; of which see Exodus 38:17,Exodus 38:19; Numbers 16:38,Numbers 16:39.

The ornament; or, the coat or covering. Heb. the ephod, as this very word is rendered, Exodus 28:8; Exodus 39:5, which was a costly and glorious robe. The idolaters spared no cost in the making and adorning their idols; and, among others, the image of Jupiter in Sicily had a coat put upon it made all of massy gold.

Thou shalt cast them away as a menstruous cloth; thou shalt so deeply abhor idolatry, that thou shalt east away with indignation all the monuments and instruments thereof.

Verse 23

The rain of thy seed; or rather, as others render it; to or for thy seed, when thou hast newly sown thy seed, which was called the former rain; or such as thy seed requires, which may include both the former and the latter rain. Their sins, the cause of all God’s judgments which had befallen them, being removed by their sincere repentance, and God’s gracious pardon, God showereth down all his blessings upon them.

Bread of the increase of the earth; which shall be the fruit of thy own land and labour; which is a great mercy and comfort.

It shall be fat and plenteous; thy bread shall be excellent for quality, which is called fat. Deuteronomy 32:14, and abundant for quantity.

Verse 24

Clean provender; or, as learned Mr. Gataker renders it, threshed, which agrees well with the following clause, corn being first threshed, and then winnowed. The sense is, there should be such plenty of corn, that their very beasts, instead of straw, should eat corn; and that not in the ear, or with the straw, but the pure grain.

Verse 25

Upon every high mountain, and upon every high hill; which are commonly dry and barren, and destitute of rivers.

In the day of the great slaughter; when God shall destroy the enemies of his people, he will shower down his blessings upon his church.

The towers; either properly, the towers of Babylon, for which she was famous; or metaphorically, the high and mighty potentates, which fought against God’s people, as Isaiah 2:15.

Verse 26

As the light of the sun, for constancy and brightness; which, as also the following clause, is to be understood metaphorically, of the most glorious and comfortable condition of God’s church, far surpassing what it was in former ages. And so this, as well as other passages in this chapter, concerns the times of the gospel.

As the light of seven days; as if the light of seven days were combined together in one. Its light shall then be transcendently more bright and glorious than it hath hitherto been. Which magnificent expressions seem to be too high for the deliverance of the Jews, either from Sennacherib or but of Babylon; and do much better agree to the times of the gospel, in which the light is far more clear, and the grace of God much more abundant, than ever it was ill former times. And this exposition seems the more probable, because it is the manner of the prophets, and especially of this, who is rightly called the evangelical prophet, to take all occasions to speak of the days of the Messiah, and of the blessed privileges of that time and state of the church, among which they constantly reckon light, whether you take it for knowledge or for comfort, to be one.

In the day that the Lord bindeth up the breach of his people, and healeth the stroke of their wound; when God shall effectually cure the wounds and breaches of his people, first making up the breach between him and them, then making Israel and Judah to be one, who now are sadly divided; and making Jew and Gentile to be one fold under one Shepherd, even the Messiah, which the prophets foretell that it shall be in the times of the gospel.

Verse 27

Here begins the last part of the chapter, wherein he gives them an earnest of those greater mercies promised for times to come, by assuring them of the approaching destruction of the Assyrian forces.

The name of the Lord; the Lord himself: for as the names of men are oft put for the men themselves, as Numbers 26:53 Acts 1:15; Revelation 3:4; Revelation 11:13; so the name of God is frequently put for God, as Genesis 4:26; Deuteronomy 28:58; Psalms 20:1,Psalms 20:7, &c.

Cometh from far; from a very remote place, even from heaven, whence God sent his angel to destroy them, Isaiah 37:36. Possibly this expression may respect the judgment of the Assyrians, who looked upon God as one afar off, not only in his presence, which they thought to be confined to heaven, but in his care of and affections to the Jews; and therefore no more expected any opposition from him than from them who live in the ends of the earth.

The burden thereof is heavy; he will inflict heavy judgments upon them.

His lips are full of indignation, and his tongue as a devouring fire; he hath pronounced a severe sentence against them, and will give command for the execution of it.

Verse 28

His breath; either,

1. The breath of his nostrils, as it is called, Job 4:9; or the blast of the breath of his nostrils, as Psalms 18:15; in both which places it is mentioned as a sign and effect of God’s anger, and the cause of the destruction of those against whom it is directed. And the expression seems to be borrowed from hence, that men discover their anger by a strong and vehement breathing through their nostrils. Or,

2. The breath of his lips or mouth, to which the destruction of God’s enemies is elsewhere ascribed, as Job 15:30; Isaiah 11:4, which may be the same thing with his lips and tongue in the foregoing verse, or may design strong blast coming out of his mouth; for God is frequently said to destroy wicked men by blowing upon them, as Isaiah 40:7,Isaiah 40:24; Ezekiel 21:31; Ezekiel 22:21. As an overflowing stream; coming from him as vehemently as a mighty torrent of waters.

Shall reach to the midst of the neck; shall bring him into a most dangerous condition, as a man who is in deep waters which reach to his neck is in danger of being drowned; and afterwards, as is related in the following verses, will utterly destroy him. And this was fulfilled in Sennacherib, who was highly endangered, when he lost so great a part of his army, and shortly after slain by his own sons. Although these words may be added as a description of the overflowing: stream now mentioned, and may be thus rendered, Which reacheth even to the midst of the neck; for the relative particle is frequently understood in Scripture.

To sift; to shake and scatter, as it were, with a sieve; or to try and vex, as this metaphor signifies, Amos 9:9; Luke 22:31. The nations; the Assyrian army, which was made up of the people of several nations. With the sieve of vanity; not with an ordinary sieve, which casteth away the chaff only, but keepeth the corn; but with a sieve which should shake them so long and so vehemently as to cast away all together, and to make a full end of them.

There shall be a bridle in the jaws of the people; God will restrain and overrule them by his secret and powerful providence. Causeth them to err; whereas other bridles guide the bridled creatures into the right way, this shall turn them out of the way, by giving them up to their own mistakes, and foolish counsels, and wicked courses, which shall bring them to sore and certain ruin.

Verse 29

Ye shall have a song; you shall have occasion of great joy and songs of praise for your stupendous deliverance from that formidable enemy. Are in the night when a holy solemnity is kept: he mentions the night, either because the Jewish feasts begun at the evening, and were celebrated with great joy in part of the night season, as well as on the following day; or because he hath a particular respect to the solemnity of the passover, in which they spent some considerable part of the night in feasting, and rejoicing, and singing of psalms and songs before the Lord.

As when one goeth with a pipe; like the joy of one that is going up to the solemn feasts with music, and the voice of joy and praise, as they used to do, Psalms 42:4, to cheer up themselves in the way, which to many of them was long, and would otherwise have been tedious.

Verse 30

His glorious voice; his thunder, which is Called God’s voice, and said to be full of majesty, Psalms 29:4. But then thunder is metaphorically taken for some terrible judgment, as it is in many places of Scripture.

The lightning down of his arm upon the Assyrian, whom he will smite with a deadly blow in the face of the world. The phrase is taken from the gesture of a man who is about to smite another, who first lifts up his hand, and then lets it fall with great force upon him whom he designs to strike.

With the indignation of his anger; with great wrath; which is signified by the heaping of so many words of the same signification together.

Verse 31

The voice of the Lord; that voice mentioned in the last verse.

Which smote with a rod; which was the rod wherewith God smote his and other people, Isaiah 10:5,Isaiah 10:6. He who used to smite others shall now be smitten himself. Or, as the words may be, and by others are, rendered, he (the Lord last mentioned) shall smite him with a rod, or with his rod.

Verse 32

The grounded staff, Heb. the founded rod; the judgment of God, which is frequently called a rod in Scripture, and may be here called a founded rod, or the rod of foundation, either because it was firmly established, and certainly to come, by God’s immutable purpose and appointment; or because the rod should not slightly touch him, and pass over him, but strike deep, and be fixed, and as it were grounded or founded in his flesh, and made to rest upon him, as it follows in the next clause.

Shall lay, Heb. shall cause to rest; which is contrary to the manner of God’s dealing with his people, upon whom he will not suffer the rod of the wicked to rest, Psalms 125:3.

Upon him; upon the Assyrian, mentioned in the foregoing verse.

It shall be with tabrets and harps: the sense is either,

1. Their destruction shall be celebrated by God’s people with joy, and music, and songs of praise. Or,

2. The victory shall be got, not by warlike instruments and achievements, but as it were by tabrets and harps; wherein he may possibly allude to the victory which Jehoshaphat got against Moab and Ammon, not by fighting; but only by singing and praising God with the voice, and with musical instruments, 2 Chronicles 20:19,2 Chronicles 20:21,2 Chronicles 20:27,2 Chronicles 20:28; God being pleased to fight for them by his own immediate power; which also was the case here, which made the people of God sing a triumph before the fight, Isaiah 37:22. In battles of shaking; or, with battles or fightings of shaking, to wit, of shaking of the hand, of which kind of shaking this Hebrew word is constantly used, such as are performed by the mere shaking of the hand; namely, by God’s shaking his hand against them, as he threatens to do against others, Isaiah 11:15; Isaiah 19:16, in which last place this very word is used, and in the former the verb from whence it comes. For that this shaking is an act of God seems more than probable, and from the following words, will he, i.e. God, as all understand it, fight against it. And so the sense of the place may be this, God will fight against them, and destroy them by his own hands. Will he, to wit, the Lord, who declareth himself to be the enemy of the Assyrian, both in the foregoing and following verses, fight with it; with the army of the Assyrians: or, according to the other Hebrew reading, with them; with the, Assyrians.

Verse 33

Tophet was a place near Jerusalem, in which the idolatrous Israelites used cruelly to offer up their children to Moloch, 2 Chronicles 28:3; 2 Chronicles 33:6; see also Jeremiah 7:31; Jeremiah 19:6; and it may be put synecdochically for any place of torment or misery; and particularly it is put for hell, as well in the writings of the ancient Jewish doctors as in Holy Scripture, as Matthew 18:8,Matthew 18:9; Matthew 23:15; Mark 9:43,Mark 9:44. And so this place may be understood either,

1. Literally, of Tophet in the valley of Hinnom, in which the Assyrian host was either slain by the angel, as Josephus reports, or buried or burnt. For although the Assyrians did not make any great attempt upon Jerusalem, Isaiah 37:36, yet Rabshakeh came very near it with a great army, Isaiah 36:2. Or,

2. Figuratively, of hell. Is ordained; or, was ordered or prepared. And it might be said, in some sort, to be prepared by Hezekiah for this end, by the care which he took to purge this and other places abused to idolatry, which made them more fit to receive so great a favour mid deliverance from God. But for hell, that doubtless was ordained or prepared by God for the punishment of impenitent sinners.

Of old, Heb. from yesterday; which phrase is sometimes used of a time but lately past, as 2 Samuel 15:20; Job 8:9, and sometimes of any time past, without limitation.

For the king; for the king of Assyria; either,

1. For the kings, the singular number being put for the plural, whereby he may understand the princes or chief commanders of the host, by comparing Isaiah 10:8, Are not my princes altogether kings? Or,

2. For Rabshakeh, the general of this army, who, according to the style of Scripture, might very well be called king. Or,

3. Sennacherib, for whom this place might be said to be ordained or prepared, partly because it was ordained for the destruction of his host; nothing being more ordinary, both in sacred and profane writers, than to entitle the king or general of the army to all the victories procured, or losses or slaughter sustained, by his army; and partly because the sudden destruction of the Assyrian army, supposed to be in this place, was the occasion of the conspiracy of that king’s sons, and so of the king’s death. But if this Tophet design hell, this is emphatically denounced against him, to intimate, that although he escaped that sudden plague which cut off his army, yet there was a more terrible judgment appointed for him, which he should be utterly unable to escape. He; the Lord, who is oft designed by this pronoun, as in the next foregoing verse, and elsewhere; and who is expressed in the following words. Or it is an indefinite expression, for, it is made deep and large. Hath made it deep and large, capable of receiving vast numbers; whereby he intimates that he designed to make a great and general destruction of the Assyrians; and withal, that it was a vain and foolish confidence which the Assyrians had in their numerous host, seeing the greatest numbers of God’s enemies are wholly unable, either to oppose him, or to save themselves from his wrath and power. The pile thereof is fire and much wood; whereby he further implies that he intended to make a great slaughter among them. And he alludes in this phrase to the ancient custom, either of burning sacrifices, and particularly of burning children to Moloch, or of burning the dead bodies of men.

The breath of the Lord, the immediate hand of God, or his word of anger: See Poole "Isaiah 30:28".

Like a stream of brimstone; he seems to allude to that shower of fire and brimstone, Genesis 19:24.

Doth kindle it; the pile of fire and wood now mentioned.

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Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Isaiah 30". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.