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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Isaiah 30

 

 

Verse 1

Woe to the rebellious children, saith the LORD, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin:

Jewish ambassadors were now on their way to Egypt to seek aid against Assyria (Isaiah 30:2-6; Isaiah 30:15; Isaiah 31:1). Isaiah denounces this reliance on Egypt rather than on Yahweh. God had prohibited such alliances with pagan nations, and it was a leading part of Jewish polity that they should be a separate people (Exodus 23:32; Deuteronomy 7:2).

That take counsel. Gesenius of Isaiah 30:4; Isaiah 30:6, translates, execute counsels. But the "woe" from God is on the ground, not merely of their executing, but of their having formed the counsel or plan. The Chaldaic supports the English version.

And that cover with a covering - i:e., wrap themselves in reliances disloyal toward Yahweh. "Cover" thus answers to "seek deep to hide their counsel from their Lord" Isaiah 29:15 : cf. also Isaiah 28:20, 'the covering (the same Hebrew as here) is narrower than that he can wrap himself in it.' But the Hebrew may mean [ w


Verse 2

That walk to go down into Egypt, and have not asked at my mouth; to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt!

That walk - that are now setting out namely, their ambassadors (Isaiah 30:4). To go down into Egypt - see note in the beginning of Isaiah 19:1-25; Isaiah 20:1-6.

Pharaoh - the general name of the Kings of Egypt, as Caesar was at Rome. The word in Egyptian means king (Josephus, 'Antiquities,' 8: 6. 2). Phra, 'the sun,' was the hieroglyphic symbol and title of the king, who was considered as the representative on earth of the god RA, or the sun.

To trust in the shadow of Egypt - image from shelter against heat: protection (Psalms 121:5-6).


Verse 3

Therefore shall the strength of Pharaoh be your shame, and the trust in the shadow of Egypt your confusion.

Therefore shall the strength of Pharaoh be your shame - your disappointment. Egypt, weakened by its internal dissensions, can give no solid help.


Verse 4

For his princes were at Zoan, and his ambassadors came to Hanes.

For his - Judah's (cf. Isaiah 9:21).

Princes were at Zoan - are already arrived there on their errand to Pharaoh (see Isaiah 19:11).

And his ambassadors came to Hanes - are come there. West of the Nile, in central Egypt: Egyptian Hnes; the Greek Heracleopolis; perhaps the Anysis of Herodotus (2: 137); according to Grotius, Tahpanhes contracted (Jeremiah 43:7-9); the seat of a reigning prince at the time, as was Zoan; hence, the Jewish ambassadors go to both.


Verse 5

They were all ashamed of a people that could not profit them, nor be an help nor profit, but a shame, and also a reproach.

They were all ashamed of a people (that) could not profit them - (Jeremiah 2:36.)


Verse 6

The burden of the beasts of the south: into the land of trouble and anguish, from whence come the young and old lion, the viper and fiery flying serpent, they will carry their riches upon the shoulders of young asses, and their treasures upon the bunches of camels, to a people that shall not profit them.

The burden of the beasts of the south - the Septuagint, 'The vision of the quadrupeds in the desert.' The fresh inscription here marks emphatically the prediction that follows. Isaiah sees in vision the ambassadors' beasts burdened with rich presents traveling southwards (namely, to Egypt, Daniel 11:5-6), and plays on the double signification of massa, a weighty burden, and a weighty prophecy, by the inscription, 'The burden of the beasts of the south' - i:e., the burden of prophecy as well as the burden of weight which those Jews load themselves with, who, like laden beasts, go southward to Egypt (Forerius). (Hosea 8:9; Hosea 12:1.)

Into the land of trouble - the desert between Palestine and Egypt, destitute of water, and abounding in dangerous animals (Deuteronomy 8:15; Jeremiah 2:6, "a land of the shadow of death").

From whence come the ... fiery flying serpent (Isaiah 14:29) - a species which springs like a dart from trees on its prey. But these tree serpents (called by the Arabs at Basra Heie sursurie, or thiare) are said to be harmless; whereas the Saraph, or fiery serpent here, is probably so called from the inflammation caused by the bite. The epithet "flying" may imply the rapidity with which they darted. Herodotus, 2: 75; 3: 108, speaks of winged serpents. Some flying or darting and venomous kind now extinct is probably meant.

They will carry - rather, present, they carry; namely, as presents to Egypt (1 Kings 15:19).

Upon ... young asses - rather full-grown donkeys (Maurer).


Verse 7

For the Egyptians shall help in vain, and to no purpose: therefore have I cried concerning this, Their strength is to sit still.

For the Egyptians shall help in vain, and to no purpose - Hebrew, 'The Egyptians are vanity, and to no purpose will they help' (Calvin).

Therefore have I cried concerning this (this purpose of theirs to send to Egypt for help: or else the Hebrew, laazo't (H2063), is to her), their strength (is) to sit still. "Strength" - Hebrew, raahaab (Hebrew #7293): since this is a designation of Egypt (Isaiah 51:9; Psalms 87:4), implying her haughty fierceness. DeDieu translates, 'Therefore I called her Arrogance that sitteth still.' Raahaab (Hebrew #7293) heem (Hebrew #1992) shaabet (Hebrew #7674) - literally, 'Rabab, they (are) stillness:' Proud Egypt - i:e., its inhabitants sit still. She who boasted of the help she would give, when it came to the test, sat still (Isaiah 36:6). The English version agrees with Isaiah 30:15 and Isaiah 7:4. The Vulgate, Syriac, and apparently the Septuagint and Arabic, support it-literally, '(It is) strength for them to sit still.'


Verse 8

Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come for ever and ever:

A table - a tablet (Habakkuk 2:2), which should set in public, containing the prophecy in a briefer form, to be read by all.

A book - namely, a parchment roll, containing the prophecy in full, for the use of distant posterity. Its truth will be seen hereafter when the event has come to pass. See Isaiah 8:1; Isaiah 8:16, notes.

For ever and ever. The Chaldaic, Vulgate, and Syriac read [ laa`eed (Hebrew #5707) for laa`ad], 'For a testimony forever:' 'testimony' is often joined to the notion of perpetuity (Deuteronomy 31:19; Deuteronomy 31:21; Deuteronomy 31:26). But the Septuagint and Arabic read as the Hebrew text, which should not be rashly changed.


Verse 9

That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the LORD:

Lying children - unfaithful to Yahweh, whose covenant they had taken on them as His adopted children (Isaiah 59:13; Proverbs 30:9).


Verse 10

Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits:

Which say to the seers, See not - (Micah 2:6; Micah 2:11; Micah 3:5).

See not - as you now do, foretelling misfortune. Prophecy not ... right things. Not that they avowedly requested this, but their conduct virtually expressed it. No man, professedly, wishes to be deceived; but many seek a kind of teaching which is deceit; and which, if they would examine, they might know to be such (1 Kings 22:13). The Jews desired success to be foretold as the issue of their league with Egypt, though ill had been announced by God's prophet as the result: this constituted the "deceits."


Verse 11

Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us.

Get you out of the way - Depart from the true "way:" so in Acts 19:9; Acts 19:23, "that way" is used of religion.

Cause the Holy One of Israel to cease - let us hear no more of His name. God's holiness is what troubles sinners most.


Verse 12

Wherefore thus saith the Holy One of Israel, Because ye despise this word, and trust in oppression and perverseness, and stay thereon:

Wherefore thus saith the Holy One. Isaiah so little yields to their wicked prejudices that he repeats the very name and truth which they disliked.

Because ye despise this word - Isaiah's exhortation to reliance on Yahweh.

And trust in oppression - whereby they levied the treasures to be sent to conciliate Egypt (Isaiah 30:6).

And perverseness - in relying on Egypt rather than on Yahweh.


Verse 13

Therefore this iniquity shall be to you as a breach ready to fall, swelling out in a high wall, whose breaking cometh suddenly at an instant.

As a breach ready to fall - image from a curve swelling out in a wall (Psalms 62:3): when the former gives way, it canoes the downfall of the whole wall; so their policy as to Egypt.


Verse 14

And he shall break it as the breaking of the potters' vessel that is broken in pieces; he shall not spare: so that there shall not be found in the bursting of it a sherd to take fire from the hearth, or to take water withal out of the pit.

And he shall break it.

He - the enemy; or rather, God (Psalms 2:9; Jeremiah 19:11).

It - the Jewish state.

As the breaking of a potter's vessel - earthen and fragile.

Sherd (a fragment of the vessel large enough) to take fire (a live coal) from the hearth, or to take water

... out of the pit - cistern or pool. The swell of the wall is at first imperceptible and gradual, but at last it comes to the crisis: so the decay of the Jewish state.


Verse 15

For thus saith the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not.

In returning and rest shall ye be saved - In turning back from your embassy to Egypt, and ceasing from warlike preparations.

In quietness - answering to "wait for Him," God (Isaiah 30:18).


Verse 16

But ye said, No; for we will flee upon horses; therefore shall ye flee: and, We will ride upon the swift; therefore shall they that pursue you be swift. But ye said, No; for we will flee - not as fugitives, but we will speed our course-namely, against the Assyrians, by the help of cavalry supplied by Egypt (Isaiah 31:1). This was expressly against the Mosaic law (Deuteronomy 17:16 : cf. note, Isaiah 2:7; Hosea 14:3).

Therefore shall ye flee - literally, before your enemies. Their sin and its punishment correspond. Retribution in kind.


Verse 17

One thousand shall flee at the rebuke of one; at the rebuke of five shall ye flee: till ye be left as a beacon upon the top of a mountain, and as an ensign on an hill.

One thousand - Hebrew, 'elep (Hebrew #505) 'echad. The "One" is emphatic. A thousand at once, or As one man.

(Shall flee) at the rebuke of one - the battle-cry of one.

At the rebuke of five shall ye (namely, all, in contrast to the "One thousand")

Flee: till ye be left as a beacon upon the top of a mountain - ye shall flee in such confusion that even two shall not be left together, but each one shall be as solitary 'as a signal staff or a banner on a hill' (Isaiah 5:26; Isaiah 11:12). The signal-staff was erected to rally a nation in war. The remnant of Jews left would be beacons to warn all men of the justice of God and the truth of His threatenings. Maurer, from Leviticus 26:8; Deuteronomy 32:30, arbitrarily inserts (rebabah) 'ten thousand.' 'At the rebuke of five shall ten thousand of you flee.'


Verse 18

And therefore will the LORD wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him.

And therefore will the Lord wait, that he may be gracious unto you - "therefore" He will wait, or delay in punishing, to give you time for escape from the coming evils by repentance (Isaiah 30:13-14; Isaiah 30:17) (Maurer). For "And therefore" (Hebrew, w


Verse 19

For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem: thou shalt weep no more: he will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry; when he shall hear it, he will answer thee.

For the people shall dwell in Zion - (Isaiah 65:9.) The re-restoration from Babylon only typifies the full accomplishment of the prophecy (Isaiah 30:18-33).

Thou shalt weep no more - (Isaiah 25:8.)

He will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry - (Isaiah 26:8-9; Jeremiah 29:12; Jeremiah 29:14.)


Verse 20

And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers:

And (though) the Lord give you the bread of adversity. The though is not in the original. 'The Lord will give you bread' and "water," attended with trials for a time, as the preliminary discipline needed for ultimately bestowing the fullest blessings, temporal and spiritual, upon you.

Bread of adversity - He will not deny you food enough to save you in your adversity (1 Kings 22:27; Psalms 127:2). Thy teachers be removed into a corner - or else, wing their flight away ( yikaaneep (Hebrew #3670), from kaanap (Hebrew #3670)); 'hide themselves.' They shall no more be forced to hide themselves from persecution, but shall be openly received with reverence (Maurer). Contrast with this the Jews' state in their Babylonian exile and in their present long dispersion. "We see not our signs: there is no more any prophet" (Psalms 74:9; Amos 8:11). The verb is singular; the subject, "thy teachers," is plural distributively: 'thy teachers shall not be removed each into a corner.' In Hezekiah's time, though the Lord tried His people with affliction, He never forsook them, but sent good teachers among them; and so in the times following, up to the restoration from Babylon, He sent Hosea, Amos, Nahum, Habakkuk, Ezekiel, Daniel, Zechariah, Haggai, Malachi. The ultimate reference is to the times of affliction which shall immediately precede the final restoration of Israel, when Elijah, or prophets of his spirit and power, shall be sent (Malachi 4:4-6).


Verse 21

And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.

Thine ears shall hear a word behind thee - conscience, guided by the Holy Spirit (John 16:13).


Verse 22

Ye shall defile also the covering of thy graven images of silver, and the ornament of thy molten images of gold: thou shalt cast them away as a menstruous cloth; thou shalt say unto it, Get thee hence.

Ye shall defile ... the covering of thy graven images - images (formed of wood or potter's clay, and) covered with silver. Hezekiah, and afterward Josiah, defiled them (2 Kings 23:8; 2 Kings 23:10; 2 Kings 23:14; 2 Kings 23:16; 2 Chronicles 31:1 : cf. Isaiah 2:20; Deuteronomy 7:25).


Verse 23

Then shall he give the rain of thy seed, that thou shalt sow the ground withal; and bread of the increase of the earth, and it shall be fat and plenteous: in that day shall thy cattle feed in large pastures.

Then shall he give the rain of thy seed - rather, 'for thy seed.' Physical prosperity accompanies national piety, especially under the Old Testament. The early rain fell soon after the seed was sown, in October or November; the latter rain in the spring, before the ripening of the corn. Both were needed for a good harvest.

And bread of the increase - the produce of the earth. And bread of the increase - the produce of the earth.

And it shall be fat - bread made of the best wheat flour (cf. Genesis 49:20; Deuteronomy 32:14, "the fat of kidneys of wheat").


Verse 24

The oxen likewise and the young asses that ear the ground shall eat clean provender, which hath been winnowed with the shovel and with the fan.

The young donkeys that ear (i:e., till) the ground. Donkeys were employed in tillage as well as oxen (Deuteronomy 22:10).

Shall eat clean (Hebrew, chaamiyts (H2548); rather, salted) provender (Gesenius). The Arab proverb is, Sweet provender is as bread to camels; salted provender as confectionery. Bochart translates, 'mixed provender (made) somewhat acid,' which beasts of burden in the East relish. The very cattle shall share the coming felicity. Or else, well-fermented maslin - i:e., provender formed of a mixture of various substances: grain, beans, vetches, hay, and salt.

Winnowed - not as it is usually given to cattle before it is separated from the chaff: the grain shall be so abundant that it shall be given winnowed.

With the shovel. - by which the grain was thrown up in the wind to separate it from the chaff.

Fan - an instrument for winnowing.


Verse 25

And there shall be upon every high mountain, and upon every high hill, rivers and streams of waters in the day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall.

There shall be upon every high mountain ... rivers - even the otherwise barren hills shall then be well watered (Isaiah 44:3).

In the day ... when the towers fall - when the disobedient among the Jews shall have been slain, as foretold in Isaiah 30:16 : "towers," i:e., mighty men (Isaiah 2:15). Or else, the towers of the Assyrian Sennacherib, or of Babylon, types of all enemies of God's people.


Verse 26

Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day that the LORD bindeth up the breach of his people, and healeth the stroke of their wound.

The light of the moon ... the light of the sun - image from the heavenly bodies, to express the increase of spiritual light and felicity. "Seven-fold" implies the perjection of that felicity, seven being the sacred number. It shall also be literally fulfilled here after in the heavenly city (Isaiah 60:19-20; Revelation 21:23-24; Revelation 22:5).

The breach of his people - the wound or calamity sent by God on account of their sins (Isaiah 1:5).


Verse 27

Behold, the name of the LORD cometh from far, burning with his anger, and the burden thereof is heavy: his lips are full of indignation, and his tongue as a devouring fire:

The name of the Lord - i:e., Yahweh Himself (Psalms 44:5; Psalms 54:1).

Cometh from far. He is represented as a storm approaching (Psalms 75:1), and ready to burst over the Assyrians (Isaiah 30:30-31).

And the burden (thereof is) heavy. Or else, literally, grievousness is the flame - i:e., the flame which darts from Him is grievous. The Hebrew (massaah) means an uplifting, or mounting-up flame.


Verse 28

And his breath, as an overflowing stream, shall reach to the midst of the neck, to sift the nations with the sieve of vanity: and there shall be a bridle in the jaws of the people, causing them to err.

His breath, as an overflowing stream - (Isaiah 11:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:8.)

Shall reach to the midst of the neck - the most extreme danger. Yet as the head or capital of Judah was to he spared (Isaiah 8:8), so the head or sovereign of Assyria, Sennacherib, should escape.

Sieve of vanity - the winnowing fan of destruction (Lowth). (Isaiah 41:16.) A bridle in the jaws of the people - as prisoners are represented in the Assyrian inscriptions (Isaiah 37:29).

Causing (them) to err - (Isaiah 63:17.) "People" - Hebrew, peoples; namely, the various races composing the Assyrian armies (Isaiah 5:26).


Verse 29

Ye shall have a song, as in the night when a holy solemnity is kept; and gladness of heart, as when one goeth with a pipe to come into the mountain of the LORD, to the mighty One of Israel.

Ye shall have a song, as in the night, (when) a holy solemnity is kept - As in the Passover-night ye celebrate your deliverance from Egypt, so shall ye celebrate your rescue from Assyrian bondage. Translate, 'the solemnity' (Exodus 12:42).

As when one goeth with a pipe - or flute. They used to go up to Jerusalem ("the mountain of the Lord," Zion) at the three feasts, with music and gladness (Deuteronomy 16:16; Ezra 2:65; Psalms 122:1-4).


Verse 30

And the LORD shall cause his glorious voice to be heard, and shall shew the lighting down of his arm, with the indignation of his anger, and with the flame of a devouring fire, with scattering, and tempest, and hailstones.

The Lord shall cause his glorious voice to be heard. Yahweh's "glorious voice," raised against the enemy (Isaiah 30:27), is again mentioned here, in contrast to the music (Isaiah 30:29) with which His people shall come to worship Him.

And shall show the lighting down of his arm (Isaiah 30:32; Psalms 38:2) - the descent of His arm in striking.

With scattering - with a blast that scatters; or an inundation ( nepets (Hebrew #5311): from the Arabic sense) (Maurer). But the English version is more usual in Hebrew.


Verse 31

For through the voice of the LORD shall the Assyrian be beaten down, which smote with a rod For through the voice of the LORD shall the Assyrian be beaten down, which smote with a rod.

A rod. The Assyrian rod which beat, shall itself be beaten, and that by the mere voice of the Lord - i:e., an unseen divine agency (Isaiah 10:5; Isaiah 10:24).


Verse 32

And in every place where the grounded staff shall pass, which the LORD shall lay upon him, it shall be with tabrets and harps: and in battles of shaking will he fight with it.

(In) every place where the grounded - the decreed, appointed by God's firm decree: solidly founded, margin (Maurer.)

Staff - the avenging rod.

Shall pass, which the Lord shall lay upon him - the Assyrian; type of all God's enemies in every age.

(It) shall be with tabrets ... - `every passing through (infliction, Isaiah 28:15) of the appointed rod, which the Lord shall lay upon him, shall be with tabrets' - i:e., shall be accompanied with joy on the part of the rescued peoples.

And in battles of shaking - i:e., in shock of battles (Isaiah 19:16 : cf. "sift ... sieve," Isaiah 30:28).

Will he fight with it - namely, Assyria.


Verse 33

For Tophet is ordained of old; yea, for the king it is prepared; he hath made it deep and large: the pile thereof is fire and much wood; the breath of the LORD, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it.

Tophet - from tuph, to spit out; literally, a place of abomination: a grove or garden in the valley of the sons of Hinnom, southeast of Jerusalem, where Israel offered human sacrifices to Moloch by fire; hence, a place of burning (2 Kings 23:10; Jeremiah 7:31). Latterly called Gay' (Hebrew #1516) - Hinnom (Hebrew #2011) or Gehenna - i:e., valley of Hinnom. It was the receptacle of the refuse of the city, to consume which fires were constantly burning. Hence, it came to express Hell, the place of torment. In the former sense it was a fit place to symbolize the funeral pyre of the Assyrian army (not that it actually perished there): the Hebrews did not burn, but buried their dead, but the pagan Assyrians are to be burnt as a mark of ignominy. In the latter sense, Tophet is the receptacle "prepared for the devil (the antitype to "the king" of Assyria, Isaiah 14:12-15) and his angels," and unbelieving men (Matthew 5:22; Matthew 25:41; Mark 9:43-44). H. Bonar, in Smith's 'Dictionary of the Bible,' derives Tophteh (as the name is written here) from the Hebrew for tabrets in Isaiah 30:32, tupiym (Hebrew #8596). Tophet was originally the king's music grove, as Chinneroth is the harpers. Afterward it was defiled by Baal and idols, and regarded as the gate of hell, the receptacle of abominations; and finally it became "the valley of slaughter" (Jeremiah 7:32; Jeremiah 19:6).

`The pleasant valley of Hinnom, Tophet thence And black Gehenna called, the type of hell.'

(-MILTON.)

Remarks: "Woe" will be the portion of the professing children of God when they "take counsel" according to the dictates of carnal policy, not according to the teaching of the "Spirit" of the Lord. In vain men, when chastised for sin, wrap themselves in a "covering" that only 'adds sin to sin.' It is the tendency of sinners, instead of averting further judgments by repentance, to incur fresh guilt by self-devised expedients for deliverance. They who make the world their "strength" shall, to their eternal 'shame and confusion,' find that it is but a "shadow." What can a dying world "profit" an undying soul? (Isaiah 30:5-6.) To court its favour, and to gain its goods, costs "trouble" and burdensome care. Our truest "strength," in respect to it, is "to sit still" (Isaiah 30:7), and to make, not it, but the Lord our strength.

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Isaiah 30:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/isaiah-30.html. 1871-8.

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Tuesday, November 12th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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