Sec. 5. THE IDOLS OVERTHROWN.
The transition is easy from Israel’s deliverance by Cyrus, and blessings which are to follow through the Messiah, to the downfall of Babylon and its idols. In mockery of idols, a vivid picture follows of weary beasts of burden bearing away packed-up idols, instead of the idols being borne in processions of triumph by devotees amid the prostrations of other devotees along the way.
1, 2.Bel — The same as Baal (lord or master) of the Phoenicians, and Jupiter of the Greeks. Used with
Nebo — the Mercury of the Greeks — it indicates the worship of the sun and planets.
As Hebrew great names took fragments of the names Elohim and Jehovah, for example, Joshua, Elihu, etc., so Babylonian monarchs and chief men were similarly named from “Bel” and “Nebo” — as Belshazzar and Nebuchadnezzar. The prophet here pictures these images as fallen, and being carried off to captivity. Tutelar deities are often so represented when captivity and distress come upon their worshippers. See Jeremiah 48:7; Jeremiah 49:3; Hosea 10:5-6.
Carriages — This means, not vehicles, but things carried. See in Acts 21:15, “We took up our carriages.”
Heavy laden — To wit, camels, asses, oxen, etc.
3, 4.I will carry, and will deliver — The prophet shows the nation very differently cared for by its Lord Jehovah, who attended “its birth at the exodus, its infancy in the desert, its manhood under David and Solomon, its old age under the later prophets, when the first covenant was ready to decay.” Idols do no such thing to their adherents and worshippers. See Numbers 11:12.
5.To whom will ye liken me — Compare with chap. Isaiah 40:18; Isaiah 40:25. Is the compassionate and infinite Jehovah to be compared with the contemptible idols of the heathen?
6, 7.They lavish gold — A more brief but substantially similar picture to the one drawn in Isaiah 44:12-20. The idols of the more wealthy are here, doubtless, referred to. But costliness in worship, whether that of idols or the true God, does not in itself make it the more acceptable.
8, 9.Remember this — The address is now, probably, to the Israelites. The impotence of idol gods was shown them in early days. See Deuteronomy 32:37-39.
Show yourselves men — That is, learn the lesson of the impotence of idol gods to give aid; learn to stand firm, and resist staunchly the whole idol system. Know and assert who your true deity is.
11.Calling’ from the east — Literally, from the sun rising.
A ravenous bird — Cyrus was rapid in movement and execution; quick, keen sighted, strong. He is said to have taken for his ensign a golden eagle standing with outstretched wings. XENOPHON, Cyrop., Isaiah 7:1.
12, 13.Hearken’ ye stout-hearted — The strong of heart, who are far from righteousness, are all who, despite of these almighty demonstrations, still harden themselves, whether heathen or apostate Jews. The Lord still entreats them, showing unwillingness to give them up. As usual, there is in him compassion as well as power. These show unalterable love on Jehovah’s part, and exhibit his character as one with that of our blessed Lord in the New Testament. See Matthew 2.
I bring’ my righteousness — “Righteousness,” here, has the elements of demanding and bestowing — demanding men to submit, and be-stowing pardon on submission. This attribute is in constant exercise.
It shall not be far off — Salvation is the object for which it is in exercise, for which it is present. Zion is the seat of the devotions of the true Israel. The shekinah, or divine glory, shines within Zion and upon a regenerate people.
This is the theology of Isaiah, and it is the glorious Gospel throughout the Bible.
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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Isaiah 46". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
Second Sunday after Epiphany