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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible
Isaiah 48



Verse 1

Isaiah 48:1-22. The things that befall Babylon Jehovah predicted long before, lest Israel should attribute them, in its “obstinate” perversity, to strange gods (Isaiah 48:1-5).

the waters of Judah — spring from the fountain of Judah (Numbers 24:7; Deuteronomy 33:28; Psalm 68:26; Margin). Judah has the “fountain” attributed to it, because it survived the ten tribes, and from it Messiah was to spring.

swear by … Lord — (Isaiah 19:18; Isaiah 45:23; Isaiah 65:16).

mention — in prayers and praises.

not in truth — (Jeremiah 5:2; John 4:24).

Verse 2

For — Ye deserve these reproofs; “for” ye call yourselves citizens of “the holy city” (Isaiah 52:1), but not in truth (Isaiah 48:1; Nehemiah 11:1; Daniel 9:24); so the inscription on their coins of the time of the Maccabees. “Jerusalem the Holy.”

Verse 3

former — things which have happened in time past to Israel (Isaiah 42:9; Isaiah 44:7, Isaiah 44:8; Isaiah 45:21; Isaiah 46:10).

suddenly — They came to pass so unexpectedly that the prophecy could not have resulted from mere human sagacity.

Verse 4

obstinateHebrew, “hard” (Deuteronomy 9:27; Ezekiel 3:7, Margin).

iron sinew — inflexible (Acts 7:51).

brow brass — shameless as a harlot (see Jeremiah 6:28; Jeremiah 3:3; Ezekiel 3:7, Margin).

Verse 5

(See on Isaiah 48:1; see on Isaiah 48:3).

Verse 6

Thou, etc. — So “ye are my witnesses” (Isaiah 43:10). Thou canst testify the prediction was uttered long before the fulfillment: “see all this,” namely, that the event answers to the prophecy.

declare — make the fact known as a proof that Jehovah alone is God (Isaiah 44:8).

new things — namely, the deliverance from Babylon by Cyrus, new in contradistinction from former predictions that had been fulfilled (Isaiah 42:9; Isaiah 43:19). Antitypically, the prophecy has in view the “new things” of the gospel treasury (Song of Solomon 7:13; Matthew 13:52; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Revelation 21:5). From this point forward, the prophecies as to Messiah‘s first and second advents and the restoration of Israel, have a new circumstantial distinctness, such as did not characterize the previous ones, even of Isaiah. Babylon, in this view, answers to the mystical Babylon of Revelation.

hidden — which could not have been guessed by political sagacity (Daniel 2:22, Daniel 2:29; 1 Corinthians 2:9, 1 Corinthians 2:10).

Verse 7

Not like natural results from existing causes, the events when they took place were like acts of creative power, such as had never before been “from the beginning.”

even before the day when — rather [Maurer], “And before the day (of their occurrence) thou hast not heard of them”; that is, by any human acuteness; they are only heard of by the present inspired announcement.

Verse 8

heardest not — repeated, as also “knewest not,” from Isaiah 48:7.

from that time — Omit “that.” “Yea, from the first thine ear did not open itself,” namely, to obey them [Rosenmuller]. “To open the ear” denotes obedient attention (Isaiah 50:5); or, “was not opened” to receive them; that is, they were not declared by Me to thee previously, since, if thou hadst been informed of them, such is thy perversity, thou couldst not have been kept in check [Maurer]. In the former view, the sense of the words following is, “For I knew that, if I had not foretold the destruction of Babylon so plainly that there could be no perverting of it, thou wouldst have perversely ascribed it to idols, or something else than to Me” (Isaiah 48:5). Thus they would have relapsed into idolatry, to cure them of which the Babylonian captivity was sent: so they had done (Exodus 32:4). After the return, and ever since, they have utterly forsaken idols.

wast called — as thine appropriate appellation (Isaiah 9:6).

from the womb — from the beginning of Israel‘s national existence (Isaiah 44:2).

Verse 9

refrain — literally, “muzzle”; His wrath, after the return, was to be restrained a while, and then, because of their sins, let loose again (Psalm 78:38).

for thee — that is, mine anger towards thee.

Verse 10

(See on Isaiah 1:25).

with silver — rather, “for silver.” I sought by affliction to purify thee, but thou wast not as silver obtained by melting, but as dross [Gesenius]. Thy repentance is not complete: thou art not yet as refined silver. Rosenmuller explains, “not as silver,” not with the intense heat needed to melt silver (it being harder to melt than gold), that is, not with the most extreme severity. The former view is better (Isaiah 1:25; Isaiah 42:25; Ezekiel 22:18-20, Ezekiel 22:22).

chosen — or else [Lowth], tried … proved: according to Gesenius, literally, “to rub with the touchstone,” or to cut in pieces so as to examine (Zechariah 13:9; Malachi 3:3; 1 Peter 1:7).

Verse 11

how should my name — Maurer, instead of “My name” from Isaiah 48:9, supplies “My glory” from the next clause; and translates, “How (shamefully) My glory has been profaned!” In English Version the sense is, “I will refrain (Isaiah 48:9, that is, not utterly destroy thee), for why should I permit My name to be polluted, which it would be, if the Lord utterly destroyed His elect people” (Ezekiel 20:9)?

not give my glory unto another — If God forsook His people for ever, the heathen would attribute their triumph over Israel to their idols; so God‘s glory would be given to another.

Verses 12-15

The Almighty, who has founded heaven and earth, can, and will, restore His people.

the first … last — (Isaiah 41:4; Isaiah 44:6).

Verse 13

spanned — measured out (Isaiah 40:12).

when I call … stand up together — (Isaiah 40:26; Jeremiah 33:25). But it is not their creation so much which is meant, as that, like ministers of God, the heavens and the earth are prepared at His command to execute His decrees (Psalm 119:91) [Rosenmuller].

Verse 14

among them — among the gods and astrologers of the Chaldees (Isaiah 41:22; Isaiah 43:9; Isaiah 44:7).

Lord … loved him; he will, etc. — that is, “He whom the Lord hath loved will do,” etc. [Lowth]; namely, Cyrus (Isaiah 44:28; Isaiah 45:1, Isaiah 45:13; Isaiah 46:11). However, Jehovah‘s language of love is too strong to apply to Cyrus, except as type of Messiah, to whom alone it fully applies (Revelation 5:2-5).

his pleasure — not Cyrus‘ own, but Jehovah‘s.

Verse 15

brought — led him on his way.

he — change from the first to the third person [Barnes]. Jehovah shall make his (Cyrus‘) way prosperous.

Verse 16
in secret — (Isaiah 45:19). Jehovah foretold Cyrus‘ advent, not with the studied ambiguity of heathen oracles, but plainly.

from the time, etc. — From the moment that the purpose began to be accomplished in the raising up of Cyrus I was present.

sent me — The prophet here speaks, claiming attention to his announcement as to Cyrus, on the ground of his mission from God and His Spirit. But he speaks not in his own person so much as in that of Messiah, to whom alone in the fullest sense the words apply (Isaiah 61:1; John 10:36). Plainly, Isaiah 49:1, which is the continuation of the forty-eighth chapter, from Isaiah 48:16, where the change of speaker from God (Isaiah 48:1, Isaiah 48:12-15) begins, is the language of Messiah. Luke 4:1, Luke 4:14, Luke 4:18, shows that the Spirit combined with the Father in sending the Son: therefore “His Spirit” is nominative to “sent,” not accusative, following it.

Verse 17
to profit — by affliction, such as the Babylonish captivity, and the present long-continued dispersion of Israel (Hebrews 12:10).

Verse 18

peace — (Psalm 119:165). Compare the desire expressed by the same Messiah (Matthew 23:37; Luke 19:42).

river — (Isaiah 33:21; Isaiah 41:18), a river flowing from God‘s throne is the symbol of free, abundant, and ever flowing blessings from Him (Ezekiel 47:1; Zechariah 14:8; Revelation 22:1).

righteousnessreligious prosperity; the parent of “peace” or national prosperity; therefore “peace” corresponds to “righteousness” in the parallelism (Isaiah 32:17).

Verse 19

sand — retaining the metaphor of “the sea” (Isaiah 48:18).

like the gravel thereof — rather, as the Hebrew, “like that (the offspring) of its (the sea‘s) bowels”; referring to the countless living creatures, fishes, etc., of the sea, rather than the gravel [Maurer]. Jerome, Chaldee, and Syriac support English Version.

his name … cut off — transition from the second person, “thy,” to the third “his.” Israel‘s name was cut off “as a nation” during the Babylonish captivity; also it is so now, to which the prophecy especially looks (Romans 11:20).

Verse 20
forth … end of the earth — Primarily, a prophecy of their joyful deliverance from Babylon, and a direction that they should leave it when God opened the way. But the publication of it “to the ends of the earth” shows it has a more world-wide scope antitypically; Revelation 18:4 shows that the mystical Babylon is ultimately meant.

redeemed … Jacob — (Isaiah 43:1; Isaiah 44:22, Isaiah 44:23).

Verse 21

Ezra, in describing the return, makes no mention of God cleaving the rock for them in the desert [Kimchi]. The circumstances, therefore, of the deliverance from Egypt (Exodus 17:6; Numbers 20:11; Psalm 78:15; Psalm 105:41) and of that from Babylon, are blended together; the language, while more immediately referring to the latter deliverance, yet, as being blended with circumstances of the former not strictly applicable to the latter, cannot wholly refer to either, but to the mystic deliverance of man under Messiah, and literally to the final restoration of Israel.

Verse 22

Repeated (Isaiah 57:21). All the blessings just mentioned (Isaiah 48:21) belong only to the godly, not to the wicked. Israel shall first cast away its wicked unbelief before it shall inherit national prosperity (Zechariah 12:10-14; Zechariah 13:1, Zechariah 13:9; Zechariah 14:3, Zechariah 14:14, Zechariah 14:20, Zechariah 14:21). The sentiment holds good also as to all wicked men (Job 15:20-25, Job 15:31-34).


Copyright Statement
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Isaiah 48:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". 1871-8.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 27th, 2020
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30
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