corner graphic   Hi,    
ver. 2.0.19.07.19
Finding the new version too difficult to understand? Go to classic.studylight.org/

Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
Isaiah 44

 

 

Verses 1-28

5. THE COMPLETION OF THE REDEMPTION BY DELIVERING FROM SIN IS THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT

Isaiah 44:1-5

1 Yet now hear, O Jacob my servant;

And Israel, whom I have chosen:

2 Thus saith the Lord that made thee,

And formed thee from the womb, which will help thee;

Fear not, O Jacob, my servant;

And thou, Jesurun, whom I have chosen.

3 For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty,

And floods upon the dry ground:

I will pour my spirit upon thy seed,

And my blessing upon thine offspring:

4 And they shall spring up as among the grass

As[FN1] willows by the water courses.

5 One shall say, I am the Lord’s;

And another[FN2] shall call himself by the name of Jacob;

And another shall subscribe with his hand unto the Lord,

And surname himself by the name of Israel.

TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL

See list for the recurrence of the words: Isaiah 44:1. ועתה. Isaiah 44:2. עשֶׂךָ—וֹצֱרך—בֶּטֶן—אל־תירא.. Isaiah 44:4. בבין.

Isaiah 44:2. מבטן is to be connected with יצרך, as appears from Isaiah 44:24; Isaiah 49:5. יצרךis an elliptical relative clause.—ישֻׁרוּן. That this word springs from ישְׂרַאֵל, (Gr. Ven. ), or that it is identical with ישׂר the first part of ישׂראל (Jerome, who translates ישׂראל by rectus Dei and ישׂרון by rectissimus; Aqu. Symm, Theod, εὐθύς, εὐθύτατος) is an ungrammatical view. But it appears also to have been shared by those that have translated Jeshurun directly by Israel (Targ, Pesch, Ar.). This they seem to have done because they saw in it, not only an indirect equivalent for the name Israel, but also (because of the supposed identity of ישׂר and ישׁר), a direct equivalent. It is now admitted that ישׁרון has nothing to do directly with ישׂראל, but is derived from an essentially different root יָשַׁר. As the word is used only of Israel, and that not as an adjective but as a name for Israel, we must regard it as a cognomen, and as so called Kunje (comp. on יְכַנֶּה Isaiah 44:5), consequently as a proper name. But, as is well known, there is greater freedom and variety used in all languages in the formation of proper names than in the formation of appellatives. This is because proper names have regard to individual peculiarities, which is not the case with appellative designations, which merely correspond to abstract modes that are always alike. Thus ישׁרון has originated from יָשָׁר by appending the nominal ending וּן, which, as the characteristic and at the same time the final syllable, has attracted the final syllable of the root. ישׁרון is therefore the notion יָשָׁר in that peculiar aspect which the ending וּן imparts to it. But what is this peculiar meaning of וּן? It occurs on the whole not often. It only appears in the appellatives צִיוּן, statutum, statua, monumentum, in the five proper names, שַׁלּוּן,נון,ישׁרון,(יְדוּתוּן) יְדִיתוּן,זְבֻלוּן, and in the word כִּיוּן ( Amos 5:26) of which it is not known definitely whether it is a proper name or an appellative. But the ending וּן is manifestly derived from וֹן, by changing the vowel. The latter ending is exceeding common both in appellatives and in proper names. Several words have both endings: thus Nun, father of Joshua, is also named נוֹן 1 Chronicles 7:27. The tribal designation from זְבֻלוּן is זכְלֻוֹנִי ( Numbers 26:27; Judges 12:11-12), and in Greek the word is pronounced regularly Ζαβουλών. צִיוּן has a near relation in צִיוֹן. For not only is Mt. Zion called Zehjun in Syriac and Arabic, but also it is even not impossible that the original meaning of צִיוֹן coincides with that of צִיוּן. For Zion might very suitably be designated as something “firmly set up, firmly founded, a מוּסָד מוּסָד, Isaiah 28:16.” There is great variety in the meaning of words in וֹן. It ought not to have been so positively contradicted that the ending ון is also used to designate diminutives. What Ewald (Gram., §167) adduces on that subject is still worthy of consideration. צַוּרָוֹן occurs only in Song of Solomon 4:9, where it is manifestly a term of endearment, and where one may translate “thou hast taken away my heart by one of thine eyes, by a picture (as if formed by a turner) of thy little neck” (properly Halzpartiechen). שְׁכִּיכּוֹן ( Genesis 49:18) from שָׁכַּף serpsit, reptavit, is called a diminutive by Gesenius, meaning “little sneak.” זֵרֵעֹגִים which occurs Daniel 1:16 for זֵדֹעִים ibid. Isaiah 44:12, can hardly mean anything else than small vegetables, i.e., something inconsiderable as means of nourishment. It is universally admitted that אִישׁוֹן, “the pupil,” means the little man in the eye; and also שַׂהֲרנִים ( Isaiah 3:18; Judges 8:26) is generally taken to mean lunulae. If, finally, Ben-Gorion, whom Ewald cites, is correct in stating that Josippon is diminutive of Joseph, I cannot see what one can object to the assumption that the Hebrews, among its diminutive forms, forms some in ־וֹן. Moreover Isaiah 44:5 manifestly corresponds to Isaiah 44:2, and as the words ver5 זה יקרא בשׁם יעקב, correspond to the words אל־תירא עברי יעקב Isaiah 44:2, so the words ישׂראל יכנה ובשׁם Isaiah 44:5. refer to the words ישׁרון בחרתי בו Isaiah 44:2, (comp. the remarks on Isaiah 44:5). From this results that the Prophet regards ישׁרון as the כִנּוּי for ישׂראל. Isaiah 44:5. Piel כִּנָּה, besides here, occurs only Isaiah 45:4 and Job 32:21-22. In Job the meaning is manifestly “to flatter.” In Isaiah 45:4 the word stands, as here, parallel with קרא, and can likewise mean only “to name honorably.” In later Hebrew the word means “cognominare, titulo appellare” in general, and כִּנּוּי is “cognomen, agnomen,” when even not exactly an honorable one. Thus אֲדֹנַי and אֱלהִים are the כּנּוּיים for יהוה. Among Hebrew grammarians the pronoun is called כנוי, because it is a word standing in place of a noun. Comp. Buxtorf, Lex. talm. et rabb, p1054. With this certainly connects the Arabic Kunje, which however has more the meaning of a familiar name of flattery or one given in jest (comp. Ewald’s Gr., pp662, 665).

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

1. This strophe connects closely with the foregoing one as its necessary conclusion. The prospect disclosed Isaiah 43:21, that not merely the brute world, but also the people of God will proclaim the praise of the Lord, cannot be realized at once after the return from Exile. For the fleshly Israel still predominates. They cannot proclaim the praise of Jehovah; they will not, in their self-righteousness, acknowledge their sin, and will not accept the sacrifice that God, in His grace, offers to make for their sin. For this they are given up to the curse of destruction. But Israel is by no means done away as a whole by this. On the contrary, the moment has come when the Lord will fulfil to the people of His choice, i.e., the election, the ἐκλογή of His people ( Isaiah 44:1-2), the promise given Isaiah 43:19-21. For then the Lord will send down, not earthly abundance of water, but streams of the Spirit, on the spiritual Israel, composed of those of Israel and of the heathen that are qualified to receive ( Isaiah 44:3), and these streams will enable the spiritual Israel to cleave to the Lord in a fresh life of the Spirit, and thus to perform what was predicted Isaiah 43:21.

2. Yet now hear——have chosen.

Isaiah 44:1-2. It is first of all to be remarked how the Lord no longer addresses His people merely by the name “Jacob” or “Israel,” but with the ten-derest expressions, and how He accumulates these expressions. We see that He is no longer dealing with the natural Israel, but with the remnant, the ἕκλογή. But now depends on Isaiah 43:28. But now, i.e., after fleshly Israel has contemned the sacrifice for its sins, and has on that account been rejected, the moment has come when the Lord prepares the true Israel for the accomplishment of His will. This Israel He first addresses as Jacob My servant. Thus we see that here, not the total, but only the noble nucleus of the nation is designated as “Servant of the Lord.” For He calls this nucleus Israel whom I have chosen ( Isaiah 41:8-9; Isaiah 43:10; Isaiah 49:7). This is the first address, and meant only to call the attention of the one addressed. Then follows the second address, which begins with naming the speaker, who is designated as Jehovah, the Creator and Former of Israel from the womb, and their Helper. From all the facts and names accumulated in the two verses, the conclusion is drawn that Israel ought not to be afraid. The words Isaiah 43:28 seem to give the occasion for this. Jeshurun [ Jesurun is an erroneous orthography.—Tr.], which occurs first [and the only passages beside.—Tr.] Deuteronomy 32:15; Deuteronomy 33:5; Deuteronomy 33:26, is undoubtedly a designation of the people of Israel (see Text and Gram.). If we may take it as a term of endearment or flattery, we may then understand it to mean “pious little one, pious little nation, Frömmchen.” It is to be noted that the second address ( Isaiah 44:2), like the first ( Isaiah 44:1) concludes with I have chosen him.—From this appears what emphasis the Prophet lays on the idea of the election.

3. For I will pour——of Israel.

Isaiah 44:3-5. Here the Lord says to His beloved people why they need not be afraid. In the judgment that is to consume the fleshly Israel, the spiritual Israel is to remain unharmed. The latter is in fact called to perform what the other could not do: proclaim the praise of Jehovah ( Isaiah 43:21). It is enabled to do so by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The Prophet here returns to the sphere of thought of Isaiah 43:20. There a rich blessing of water was promised to the nation returning home through the desert. We have seen that the Prophet here again contemplates together the whole period of salvation. We are aware of this from his seeing also the irrational brutes qualified and impelled to thanksgiving to God. But this elevated goal Israel does not attain at once. Rather in this period, beginning with the deliverance from the Exile and concluding with the reign of peace, the outward Israel descends deep down into the abyss of destruction. But the “election” will remain, and to it will be given that outpouring of streams of living water, of which the blessing of water during the journey in the desert was only a type. With Isaiah 44:3 a the Prophet makes the connection with that type. I may say, he places one foot in the physical and the other in the spiritual, and thus forms a bridge from one to the other. Not as if to the “elect” will be imparted first the physical and then the spiritual blessing. But only for the purpose of making us recognize the connection with Isaiah 43:20, the Prophet speaks first physically. But, as the following intimation shows, he means already in Isaiah 44:3 a spiritual water. צָמֵא (not צְמֵאָה) seems, in antithesis to יַבָּשָׁה “the thirsty,” to mean a living being, and יבשׁה (comp. Genesis 1:9-10) “the dry ground.” נוזליםfluentes, fluenta” (comp. Exodus 15:3; Psalm 78:16; Psalm 78:44) only here in Isaiah. When the Prophet says on thy seed, thine offspring he addresses the ideal totality of the nation (comp. Joel 3:1). The blessing, which we are primarily to understand as spiritual and belonging to eternal well-being, is the effect of the Spirit, and appears outwardly in joyous, fruitful prosperity. Hence צמחו וגו׳. The LXX. and Targ. appear to have read כְּבֵין. And at first sight one might prefer this reading to the בבין of the text (which occurs only here) were it better supported and not the easier. It seems to me that the Prophet, by the grass, does not mean the Israelites themselves, to whom “seed” and “offspring” do refer. He rather conceives of the Israelites as higher and nobler plants, say, flowers or trees, growing out of the midst of the grass, and by the grass means the converted heathen. He further compares them to Arab-trees (ערבים, Isaiah 15:7, according to Wetzstein in Delitzsch, p459. Rem., not willows, but a poplar tree that grows like willows, and along with such, by flowing water) by the water-courses (comp. Isaiah 30:25; Psalm 1:3), which, less common than the willow, rise conspicuous among the trees and bushes growing by the water.

Thus the Prophet prepares for what he would say Isaiah 44:5. He shows, namely, that to the spiritual Israel, whom he addresses Isaiah 44:1-2, belong not only such as are Israelites by corporeal descent. Not all are Israel that are of Israel ( Romans 9:6 sqq.); and just as little are the heathen on account of their descent excluded from Israel. Our Prophet, in fact, often enough utters the promise that the heathen shall come to Israel and be incorporated in Israel ( Isaiah 2:2 sqq.; Isaiah 11:10; Isaiah 42:6; Isaiah 49:6; Isaiah 49:18 sqq.; Isaiah 54:1 sqq.; Isaiah 55:5; Isaiah 56:5 sqq; Isaiah 60:3; Isaiah 65:1, etc.). Thus I see in Isaiah 44:5 an exposition of the thought that the believing Israelites sprout up in the midst of the grass, and that they thus shall be distinguished from the grass, and yet stand upon one foundation of life with it. For Isaiah 44:5 does not speak of Israelites, but of such as turn to Jehovah and to His people. But the language concerning these would be wholly disconnected if Isaiah 44:4 did not in “among the grass” contain a transition to the thought in question.

Notice that Isaiah 44:5 has two chief parts, of which each has two subdivisions. The first subdivision of each part contains a declaration of surrender to Jehovah; the second subdivision contains each time a recognition of Israel as a people of prominent importance. The first subdivisions begin with זֶה, the fourth does not. As one cannot avoid inquiring why the Prophet should refrain from a fourth זה, it appears that he would say: not all will make prominent in their confessions either Jehovah or the nation, but many will do both. Thus among these heathen there shall be so far a difference, that some in their declaration of adhesion will mention more especially the God of the people, others the people of God, while still others will mention both in equal degree. Thus one will say I am the Lord’s, another will let a loud call be heard by means of the name of Jacob, i.e., he will loudly praise Jacob (comp. on Isaiah 41:5). Finally a third will do both: he will sign away his hand, i.e., what he can do, effect, perform (compare the expression נָתַן יָד, Jeremiah 1:15; 2 Chronicles 30:8, etc.) to the Lord (כָּתַבliteris consignare also with לְ of definition, e.g., in כָּתוּב לַחַיּים4:3). This explanation appears simpler to me than the other two that translate either “to write, etch on the hand,” or “to write with the hand.” Thus one may say in Latin: literis manum suam Jovae consignabit, in order to signify surrender by means of a legal obligation. Of the same person it is said further, that “he will make an award of honor by means of the name of Israel,” i.e., that he will honorably name the name of Israel. See Text and Gram. The intimate relation between God and His people is assumed here. He that confesses the Lord must confess His people, and vice versa.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. On Isaiah 43:1. “Here are presented to us for our comfort all three articles of the Christian faith concerning the Creation, Redemption, and Sanctification. For1) if God created us He will not forsake the work of His hands ( Psalm 138:8). 2) If He has redeemed us, no one will seize His sheep out of His hand ( John 10:28). 3) If He has called us and named us by our name, we are allowed to rejoice that our names are written in heaven ( Luke 10:20)”—Cramer.

2. On Isaiah 43:2. “God delivers out of perils of water. Examples: Noah ( Genesis 8:15). Moses who was cast into the water in a little ark covered with pitch ( Exodus 2:6). The children of Israel who were led through the Red Sea ( Exodus 14:16). Jonah in the whale’s belly ( Jonah 2:11). The disciples with the Lord in the boat ( Matthew 8:26). Peter who walked on the water ( Matthew 14:30). Paul shipwrecked, and along with whom were rescued two hundred and seventy-six souls ( Acts 27:37). God delivers also from perils of fire. Examples: Daniel’s companions in the fiery furnace ( Daniel 3:24 sqq.). Lot, whom with his family the holy angel led out of Sodom ( Genesis 19:17).”—Cramer.

3. [On Isaiah 43:4. “He would cause other nations to be destroyed, if it were necessary, in order to effect their deliverance, and to restore them to their own land. We learn here, (1) That nations and armies are in the hand of God and at His disposal. (2) That His people are dear to His heart, and that it is His purpose to defend them. (3) That the revolutions among nations, the rise of one empire, and the fall of another, are often in order to promote the welfare of His church, to defend it in danger, and deliver it in time of calamity. (4) That His people should put the utmost confidence in God as being able to defend them, and as having formed a purpose to preserve and save them.”—Barnes.——“The righteous is delivered out of trouble, and the wicked cometh in his stead,” Proverbs 11:8].

4. On Isaiah 43:3-4. “There are various views of this: a. Some suppose we are to understand it thus; the Egyptians imagined they would blot out the people of Israel, but they were punished themselves; b, others apply it to the times of Hezekiah, when the Egyptians and Ethiopians were chastised by Shalmaneser; c, others suppose it was fulfilled by Nebuchadnezzar in the time of Zedekiah; d, others by the Romans, when the Jewish republic was spared and these nations encountered misfortune; e, still others regard it as yet future, and that it is to be fulfilled on anti-christian nations, which they infer from Isaiah 44:5-7.”

“Several examples of such a warding off of punishment from the Jewish nation, which on the other hand were suffered to fall on heathen nations, are to be noticed in the history of the Jews. Still this is not to be understood as if these nations suffered for the sins of Judah. The wrath of God that should have come upon Judah, came on the heathen because of their own sins, but Judah was then spared out of grace ( Proverbs 21:18). God forgave the penitent Jews their sin, but He punished the sin of the impenitent heathen.”—Starke.

5. On Isaiah 43:5-8. What the Prophet says here primarily of the return of Israel from all the lands of its exile, applies also to that return that takes place when poor, straying heathen souls are led back from dead idols to the living God, their Saviour and Redeemer. Then they are the ones that the Lord has made and prepared for His glory ( Acts 13:48; Romans 8:29 sq.) Such are the blind people that still have eyes, and the deaf that still have ears. For blind and deaf they are in as far as by nature and their birth they belong to the blind and deaf heathen world. But they have eyes and ears in as far as the Lord has opened their hearts and given them a penetration by which they see and hear better than those who, although surrounded by light through possession of the means of grace, still do not know what belongs to their peace ( Matthew 13:13 sqq.; John 9:39 sqq.).

6. On Isaiah 43:9-13. The Prophet here gives a proof of the existence of God, which at the same time involves a proof of the non-existence of idols. It cannot be denied in thesi, that a knowledge of the future lies beyond the sphere of human ability, and that if it occurs, it can only happen by virtue of a superhuman penetration that overleaps the limits of time and space. Prediction is not an art. All depends on what is foretold being fulfilled at the right time and in the right way. The agreement of prophecy and fulfilment can only be verified after the fulfilment takes place. Hence it is necessary that at the moment named the prophecy be attested as genuine, not fortuitous, not fabricated post eventum. Hence the Lord says ( Isaiah 44:10): “ye are my witnesses.” And in fact, in all its notorious history, in its remarkable indestructibility, by virtue of which it moves through the entire universal history, while all other ancient nations have disappeared, Israel is a living witness for the existence of Him who calls Himself at once the God of Israel and the Creator of heaven and earth. For it is foretold that to this nation shall happen judgment, dispersion, continued existence in dispersion and a gathering together again out of dispersion. Over thousands of years ago it was foretold, and what to the present could be fulfilled has been fulfilled. What but divine knowledge and power can have so fitted the prophecy to the fulfilment and the fulfilment to the prophecy? Therefore the existence of a divine providence is proved by the history of Israel. But what other God should be the author of this providence than He that said not only, “ye are my witnesses” ( Isaiah 44:10), but also, “I declared when there was no strange god among you?” ( Isaiah 44:12). One is reminded of the anecdote of Frederick the Great, who, having demanded a striking proof of the truth of the religion revealed in the Bible, received from one of the guests at table the answer, “Your majesty, the Jews.”

7. On Isaiah 43:10. “Neither shall there be after me.” “This expression is equivalent to that which occurs, Revelation 1:11, “I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last;” and it is remarkable that this language, which obviously implies eternity, and which in Isaiah is used expressly to prove the divinity of Jehovah, Isaiah, in Revelation 1:11, applied no less universally to the Lord Jesus Christ.”—Barnes.

On Isaiah 44:13.“ ‘Who can hinder it.’ The doctrine taught here Isaiah, (1) That God is from everlasting—for if He was before time, He must have been eternal. (2) That He is unchangeably the same—a doctrine which Isaiah, as it is here designed to be used, the only sure foundation for the security of His people—for who can trust a being who is fickle, changing, vacillating? (3) That He can deliver His people always, no matter what their circumstances. (4) That He will accomplish all His plans; no matter whether to save His people, or to destroy His foes. (5) That no one—man or devil—can hinder Him. How can the feeble arm of a creature resist God? (6) That opposition to Him is as fruitless as it is wicked. If men wish for happiness they must fall in with His plans, and aid in the furtherance of His designs.”—Barnes.]

8. On Isaiah 43:19 to Isaiah 44:5. We have here again a brilliant illustration of the grandeur of the prophetic view of history. The Prophet sees in spirit that with the deliverance from the Babylonish captivity a new thing will begin, in comparison with which the deliverance from Egyptian bondage with all its miracles will only appear as something inferior. For with the beginning of that period of salvation, the Prophet sees, too, the end. The waters with which the Lord will refresh those returning from Babylon flow from the same source as the water of regeneration, of the παλιγγενεσία, of the renewal of nature. And yet! What a tremendous period separates both, and what must Israel not go through till, from the drink out of that earthly fountain in the desert, it has attained to the well of heavenly water of life! It must first slough off the entire “fleshly Israel,” It has already performed the entire Old Testament ceremonial service in an unsatisfactory manner. Indeed, had it done this most perfectly, it could only have satisfied the needs of blotting out sin in an ideal, typical way. But Israel was far from performing even the outward letter of the law by that sort of service. The Lord must take all the guilt of His people on His own shoulders. What Israel did itself was as good as nothing. And the Lord, in His long-suffering, not only put up with this, He will even do more. He will undertake Himself the entire and complete blotting out of the guilt of His people. But the people are self-righteous and trust in their own work. They maintain that they have done what they ought, although the Lord can prove that not even their chiefs and prominent representatives have been righteous. Since then the nation, persisting, stiff-necked, in its self-righteousness, does not accept the sacrifice, that the Lord, in His infinite grace, brings for the purpose of making atonement,—this outward, fleshly Israel, with all its outward ceremonial service, which is used only to feed its self-righteousness, must be broken up and destroyed. Then, out of the ruins of the fleshly Israel, the spiritual Israel will issue as from a cast off shell, and it will be susceptible of the gracious gifts of its God. To it then will be imparted the streams of the Spirit which bring about the regeneration of all natural and personal life, and will enable Israel to sanctify the name of its God, as predicted in Isaiah 43:21.

[On Isaiah 43:25. “We may learn from this verse; (1) That it is God only who can pardon sin. How vain then is it for man to attempt it! How wicked for man to claim the prerogative! And yet it is an essential part of the papal system that the Pope and his priests have the power of remitting the penalty of transgression. (2) That this is done by God solely for His own sake. It is not (a) because we have any claim to it—for then it would not be pardon, but justice. It is not (b) because we have any power to compel God to forgive—for who can contend with Him, and how could mere power procure pardon? It is not (c) because we have any merit—for then also it would be justice—and we have no merit. Nor is it (d) primarily in order that we may be happy—for our happiness is a matter not worthy to be named compared with the honour of God. But it is solely for His own sake—to promote His own glory—to show His perfections—to evince the greatness of His mercy and compassion—and to show His boundless and eternal love. (3) They who are pardoned should live to His glory, and not to themselves [ Isaiah 44:21; Isaiah 44:5]. (4) If men are ever pardoned they must come to God—and to God alone. They must come not to justify themselves, but to confess their crimes.”—Barnes.].

10. On Isaiah 44:1-2. “God has two arguments wherewith to comfort: 1) When He reminds His own what He did for them in the past; 2) what He will yet do for them in the future.”—Cramer.

11. On Isaiah 44:3. Comparing here the bestowment of the Spirit to pouring water on dry land, happens primarily out of regard to the special connection of our passage, which treats of the return of Israel through the desert. As in Isaiah 43:19-20 abundance of water is promised for physical refreshment, so here streams of the Spirit for spiritual refreshment. Outpouring of the Spirit is promised elsewhere also for the purpose of cleansing, fructifying, refreshing ( Ezekiel 36:25; John 7:37 sqq.). When, however, the Holy Spirit appears elsewhere as a fiery energy ( Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8; Acts 2:3) it is to designate it as the principle of divine light and life-heat. Whether by the baptism of fire is to be understood also the fire of judgment ( Matthew 3:12; 1 Corinthians 3:13-15) as Origen and Ambrose think, we will leave uninvestigated here.

HOMILETICAL HINTS

1. On Isaiah 43:1-4. A glorious word of comfort for the individual Christian and for Christian communions. All grounds of comfort are therein enumerated. We learn1) what the Lord is to us ( Isaiah 44:3 God, Saviour, Isaiah 44:4 He loves us). 2) What we are to the Lord ( Isaiah 44:1 His creatures, redeemed ones, and not such as disappear in the great mass, but whom He knows by name, and whom as a precious possession He keeps ever in sight). 3) He delivers us out of manifold distresses ( Isaiah 44:2 out of all). 4) The price He pays for our deliverance ( Isaiah 44:3-4; conscious enemies, or their unconscious instruments may go to destruction to save us, e.g., in ancient times the Egyptians in the Red Sea, in modern, the French against Germany, 1870–715) To what He has destined us ( Isaiah 44:4, because so dear, thou must be glorious). On Isaiah 43:1-2. “Thou art mine! saith the Lord. By that He signifies1) a well-acquired; 2) an inviolable right of possession.” Koegel in “Aus dem Vorhof ins Heiligthum,” 1876, Vol. II. p196.

2. On Isaiah 43:5-8. Missionary Sermon. The Lord here addresses the spiritual Israel, to whom we and all out of every nation belong, who are born of God. Missions are properly nothing else than a gathering of the hidden children of God, scattered here and there, to the communion of the visible church ( John 11:52). Contemplate1) The mission territory a, in its outward extent (all nations Isaiah 44:5 b, 6); b, in its inward limitation ( Isaiah 44:7-8; all are called, only those are chosen who are marked with the name of the Lord, are prepared for His glory, among the blind and deaf are such as see and hear). 2) Mission work: a, its difficulty ( Isaiah 44:5, “fear not” implies that, humanly speaking, there is reason for fear); b, the guaranty of its success ( Isaiah 44:5, “I am with thee”).

3. On [Proofs of weariness in religion. (1) Casting off prayer: thou hast not called upon me, O Jacob. Jacob was a man famous for prayer ( Hosea 12:4); to boast the name of Jacob, and yet live without prayer, is to mock God and deceive ourselves. If Jacob does not call upon God, who will. (2) They grudged the expense of devotion. They were for a cheap religion. They had not brought even the small cattle; much less the greater, pretending they could not spare them, they must have them for the maintenance of their families; still less would they pay for a foreign article like missions; bought no sweet cane. (3) What sacrifices they did offer were not meant for God’s honor, neither hast thou honored me, etc.; being offered carelessly, or hypocritically, or perfunctorily, or ostentatiously, or perhaps even to idols, these were dishonouring to God. (4) The aggravation of this; as God appointed the service it was no burdensome thing, I have not caused thee to serve, etc. God’s commands are not grievous. After M. Henry].

4. On Isaiah 43:24-25. Passion sermon. The righteousness that avails with God1) Israel does not obtain it (it has not even fulfilled the ceremonial law; and not merely the nation in general left the law unfulfilled, but also its chiefs and teachers: and as with Israel so with mankind in general2) Christ procures it; for: a, He the guiltless, out of pure love takes on Himself the heavy burden of suffering, which beginning in Gethsemane ends on Golgotha; b, thereby He blots out our transgressions and reconciles us to the Father.

5. On Isaiah 44:1-5. Pentecost (Whitsuntide) sermon. The Church of Christ can grow, flourish, and bear fruit only by the Spirit of Christ. Hence is necessary the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. This Isaiah 1) to be hoped for with certainty, because promised by the Lord (in proportion to the need and to the receptivity the Holy Spirit will ever be imparted to the church); 2) infallibly efficient in producing all the good fruits that must adorn the vineyard of the Lord ( Isaiah 44:4-5).

6. On Isaiah 44:1-5. “The period of confirmation an Advent of Jesus to the children.” Praise and thanks to God, there is much new life born in the period while those that are to be confirmed are under instruction, and much grows up in later time out of the seed scattered then. This time ought also to open the children’s mouths for them to confess their salvation and their Saviour. That poor “yes” that the children speak at their confirmation at the altar is not enough. Nor does it suffice for us to confess our being Christians by attending church and partaking of the Lord’s Supper. The congregation that has become dumb must learn to speak again. We must boast again the unspeakable benefit of free grace. We must have a confessing church again. The confession must go with us into our life.” Ahlfeld, Das Leben im Lichte des Wortes Gottes, Halle, 1867, p150.

Footnotes:

FN#1 - poplars.

FN#2 - shall shout out the name of Jacob

V.—THE FIFTH DISCOURSE

Prophecy as proof of divinity comes to the front and culminates in the name Kores

Isaiah 44:6-28

1. JEHOVAH GUARANTEES ISRAEL’S SALVATION BY HIS PROPHECY. IDOLATERS WHOSE MADE-GODS CANNOT PROPHESY COME TO SHAME

Isaiah 44:6-11

6 Thus saith the Lord the King of Israel,

And his redeemer the Lord of hosts;

I am the first, and I am the last;

And beside me there is no God.

7 [FN3]And who, as I, shall call,

And shall declare it, and set it in order for me,

Since I appointed the ancient people?

[FN4]And the things that are coming, and shall come,

Let them shew unto them.

8 Fear ye not, neither be afraid:

Have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it?

Ye are even my witnesses.

Is there a God beside me?

Yea, there is no [FN5]God; I know not any.

9 They that make a graven image are all of them vanity;

And their [FN6]delectable things shall not profit;

And they are their own witnesses;

They see not, nor know;

That they may be ashamed.

10 Who hath formed a God,

Or molten a graven image that is profitable for nothing?

11 Behold, all his fellows shall be ashamed:

And the workmen, they are of men;

Let them all be gathered together, let them stand up;

Yet they shall fear, and they shall be ashamed together.

TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL

See List for the recurrence of the words: Isaiah 44:8. רָהָה־פָּחַד. Isaiah 44:9. יָעַל–חָמוּד–תֹּהוּ Hiph.

Isaiah 44:6-7. Isaiah 44:7 is related to Isaiah 44:6 b as the conclusion to the reason. But ver7 is to be construed so that the words ומי כמני יקרא משׂומי עם–עולם shall be taken together, and the words יגידה ויעדכה לי construed as a parenthesis. קרא, agreeably to the context, and since it has nothing to do with teaching or with announcing past things, is=“to proclaim, announce, call out aloud, publicly.” As appears to me, קָרָא is used partly for the sake of variety, the synonymous expressions having been used הִגִּיד thrice in Isaiah 44:7-8, הִשְׁמִיעַ (comp. Isaiah 43:12) once at least, but partly and chiefly, because קרא involves in a greater degree the notion of sounding. It is related to those other expressions named like our “calling” to “giving notice, letting hear.” The latter may take place by a very light voice or even without any use of the voice.—יגיד׳ ויע׳ לי, as we have said, is a parenthesis; but וְ introduces the demonstrative conclusion after the relative premise מי יקרא (comp. e.g. Numbers 23:3). The premise is only interrupted for rhetorical reasons, being the result of the pathos with which the Prophet speaks. עָרַךְ certainly has here, not merely the meaning “to lay before, to lay down,” but it involves also the notion of “doing similarly.” The Vav. before אֲשֶׁר has as often, the meaning “and indeed.” לָמוֹ after יַגִּידוּ is dat. ethicus, with strong approximation to the dativ. commodi.

Isaiah 44:8. The question הֲיֵשׁ וגו׳ is equivalent to a denial (comp. questions with מָה or מִי Job 16:6; Job 31:1; Song of Solomon 8:4, etc.).—The expression אֱלוֹהַּ does not occur again in Isaiah.

Isaiah 44:9. חמוּד is “exoptatum, deliciae” (part. pass.; only here in Isaiah; comp. Job 20:20; Psalm 39:12). But I construe “the wished-for, desired,” in the sense of “jewel, valuable.”—בל־יועילו recalls בְּלִיַּעל, thus it has hardly the merely negative meaning of inability, but also the positive meaning of something destructive, hurtful.—The words ועדיהם המה are variously explained. The Masoretic points over המה denote that it is critically suspicious. But it suits the context very well, if only the idols themselves be not regarded the witnesses: they, the idols, are their own witnesses, i.e., they testify against themselves (Delitzsch). For the notion against themselves would need to be more clearly expressed. Rather the idol-makers are the witnesses for their idols as Israel is for Jehovah. Therefore הֵמָּה is subject to the predicate עדיהם, and not merely a resumption of עדיהם construed as the subject, of יראו וגו׳.

Isaiah 44:10. מי is here, as often, at the point of passing from the interrogative to the relative sense, and hence acquires an iterative meaning. For the question “who is there, who?” which, as it were, challenges in every direction, has the sense of “whosoever, quicunque.” Comp. e.g. Exodus 24:14; Jeremiah 49:19.—I construe לבלתי ו׳ as a conclusion, whose predicate is self-evident from the foregoing clause: “whosoever forms a god (he does, forms or moulds it) for nothing.” If מי be construed as a direct interrogative, it has the appearance as if the Prophet doubted whether there were such people. For if one understands the inquiry in the sense of “reluctant wonder” (Knobel), and makes the answer to be that no rational person would do this, then the question would not be “who forms?” but “what rational person forms?”

Isaiah 44:11. According to the context the clause וחרשׁים ו׳ must, it seems to me, be construed as causal. For המה מאדם is not the parallel of יבשׁו it does not express the notion of destruction, but of what is the explanation of the destruction. Therefore I translate: “for they are (properly: they are in fact, comp. Isaiah 24:5; Isaiah 38:17 : Isaiah 39:1, etc.), smiths of men,” i.e., of human origin.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

1. The Prophet has announced (chap41), the first deliverer for the first time, and then along with him the one to be delivered, viz, the servant of God in the national sense. In contrast with both of these he has presented the second and greatest deliverer, the Servant of God in a personal sense (42). In chap 43 he has portrayed the deliverance in its chief characteristics. Now in chap 44 he gives the fullest effect to that element of his discourse, viz, the proof of divinity by means of prophecy, which so far he has produced already four times like a refrain, yet only as a prelude.

In three strophes Jehovah announces Himself in contrast with the dead idols as the true, living, omniscient, almighty God, who has predetermined Israel’s deliverance, and now foretells it so that Israel can no more doubt His divinity. For, at the close of this chapter the Prophet names with the greatest distinctness even the name of the prince who is called to be the deliverer of Israel. The first three strophes are but the substructure for this culmination that is to crown the building, that Isaiah, for the great prophetic act that is accomplished in naming the name “Kores.” In the first half of the present strophe ( Isaiah 44:6-8) the Prophet makes prominent the difference between Jehovah and idols, by contrasting the omniscience and omnipotence of Jehovah with the nescience and impotence of idols. In the second half, also consisting of three verses (8–11), the Prophet exposes the folly of idolatry.

2. Thus saith—know not any.

Isaiah 44:6-8. The Lord justifies the consoling language “fear ye not,” etc., Isaiah 44:8, by first presenting Himself as the One that will help Israel, and can help. He is willing to help as being Israel’s King, He can help as being the eternal God who has proved this His eternal divinity. Note how the Lord encloses the predicates of His existence relative to Israel in the predicates of His divine existence. He first calls Himself Jehovah, the absolutely existent. For this is the foundation. Then He calls Himself Israel’s King and Redeemer. This is His historical revelation relative to time and salvation, which is enclosed by His eternal divine existence as by a ring. The latter is completed by the notion “Jehovah of hosts.” For by this is intimated that the Lord is not only God per se, but has revealed this divinity already in a super-terrestrial sphere of dominion. How consoling for Israel that Hebrews, who is God per se, but has shown already that He can be such also for others by a super-terrestrial kingdom of glory, calls Himself Israel’s King and Redeemer! The Lord was King of Israel while Israel existed as a nation (comp. Deuteronomy 33:5; Psalm 74:12). The nation’s demand for a human king is expressly called an insult to Jehovah as heavenly King ( 1 Samuel 8:7; 1 Samuel 12:12). And also after Israel had received an earthly royalty, Jehovah still remains forever its proper, true and eternal King, from whom all earthly power of ruling emanates ( Isaiah 33:22). But the king is the natural deliverer of his people. His own interest and honor demand that his people shall not be ruined (see e.g. Psalm 79:9; Psalm 106:8). This King has at His disposal for protecting Israel invisible powers, great in strength and Numbers, viz, the heavenly hosts (comp. Deuteronomy 33:3, and Schroederin loc.; 2 Kings 6:16 sqq.; Hebrews 1:14). After this preface the Lord proceeds with what He has in mind. He calls Himself the first and the last ( Isaiah 41:4; Isaiah 48:12) beside whom there is no God ( Isaiah 43:11; Isaiah 44:8; Isaiah 45:6; Isaiah 45:21). For only He can be God who is before all and after all. But the Lord assuredly does not call Himself the first and the last in the sense of temporal succession, as if He were only the first to come into existence and the last to remain; for that would only establish a difference as to degree, between Him and creatures. No, the Lord is at the same time beginning and end, Alpha and Omega. He encircles not only Israel (comp. on Isaiah 44:6 a), but all the world’s history as a ring. To Him everything, beginning and end, is absolutely present.

Therefore, too, He can prophesy, and therefore prophesying by means of a decree is proof of His eternity, i.e., of His divinity. (On the relation of Isaiah 44:7 to6b see Text. and Gram.). עם־עולם “everlasting people;” [English Version ancient people.] I do not believe that this means the human race. The Lord describes Himself in the whole context as the God of Israel; He will comfort Israel. It may be said that God prophesied from the beginning of the world, and that humanity in a certain sense may be described as עם־עולם. Yet it is very doubtful whether in that case עָם would not require a nearer definition as in Isaiah 42:5. Isaiah 40:7, to which appeal is made, refers decidedly to Israel, as we have shown. The dead may be called עס־עולם ( Ezekiel 26:20) because they are a special part of mankind, in respect to space dwelling in a land of their own, and in respect to time of immeasurable duration. But Israel, too, may be called an everlasting people, for to it alone, of all nations, is promised an everlasting covenant ( Exodus 31:16; Leviticus 24:8; Isaiah 24:5; Isaiah 55:3; Isaiah 61:8, etc.), an everlasting sanctuary ( Ezekiel 37:26), an everlasting priesthood ( Exodus 40:15; Numbers 25:13, etc.), and kingdom ( 2 Samuel 7:13; 2 Samuel 7:16; Psalm 89:4 sqq.); indeed it is expressly said “thou hast confirmed to thyself thy people Israel to be a people unto thee forever” (לְעָם עַד־עוֹלָם) 2. Sam. Isaiah 7:24; comp. 1 Chronicles 17:22. And in fact Israel Isaiah, in a good sense, the everlasting [wandering] Jew, the only nation that does not lose itself in the sea of nations, like a river, that does not mingle its waters with the lake through which it flows. And in the end the spiritual Israel will absorb all nations, and its sanctuary and priesthood and kingdom every other sanctuary, priesthood and kingdom, to the end that the throne and sanctuary of Israel’s King and High-priest may exist alone through eternity.

The Lord has challenged the idols in Isaiah 44:7 a to produce their ancient prophecies, if they had any to show; in the second half of the verse he challenges them to produce any new ones they have. These new ones are designated as אֹתִיּוֹת and as such אֲשֶׁר תָּבֹאנָה. I do not believe that by this immediate future and remoter future things are distinguished (see on Isaiah 41:22-23). But which will come is the nearer definition of אתיות. They are not to name any sort of Song of Solomon -called future thing, but such as shall also come, i.e., actually come to pass (see Text. and Gram.). They shall foretell for their own advantage (למו see Text. and Gram.); for it were for the interest of those addressed to be able to perform what is asked of them.

Isaiah 44:8. If Jehovah, who calls Himself King and Redeemer of Israel, and who has founded this people for an everlasting existence, has furnished the proof of His divinity by a demonstration of His omniscience, then Israel need not fear. Jehovah has long in advance (מֵאָז as in Isaiah 16:13; Isaiah 45:21; Isaiah 48:3 sqq, comp. מֵרֹאשׁ41:26) foretold their distress and the deliverance from it, and Israel must testify that such is the fact ( Isaiah 43:10). Therefore the Lord can prophesy, and the fact (only affirmed Isaiah 44:6 b) is demonstrated, viz, His sole divinity. In the second clause of Isaiah 44:8 the Prophet seems to have in mind Psalm 18:32.

2. They that make—ashamed together.

Isaiah 44:9-11. The lash is now laid on the folly of those that make idols, and then themselves appear as their witnesses, whereas in fact they see nothing of the future, from which appears the powerlessness of the idols, and the inevitable result that their worshippers must come to shame. The words are throughout in contrast with what ( Isaiah 44:6-8) the Lord affirms of Himself. The idols themselves are guiltless. How can the poor blocks help men making idols of them? But the makers of idols are guilty, hence the Lord addresses them (יֹצְרֵי־פֶסֶל, the expression only here). See Text. and Gram. Jehovah is the Maker (יֹצֵר) of Israel ( Isaiah 44:2); the idol-makers are the makers (יֹצְרִים) of their gods. These idol-makers are vanity (תֹּהוּ), they sink back into chaos, or rather they produce nothing better than chaos; while Israel is the everlasting people עם־עולם). The idol-makers are witnesses of their idols, i.e., they testify in their own case. Israel is the impartial witness of Jehovah; the idols are powerless, useless images; Jehovah is the Rock and Redeemer of His people. The idols themselves see and know nothing, consequently their worshippers and witnesses know nothing (יָדַע in the absolute sense=“to have knowledge,” as Isaiah 45:20; Isaiah 56:10); to Jehovah, as the first and last, all is present, the beginning and the end, and what lies between. Therefore Israel must not fear, for it knows with the greatest certainty that it has in prospect a glorious deliverance. Isaiah 44:10-11 form the transition to Isaiah 44:12 sqq. wherein idol-manufacture is described; Isaiah 44:10 already presenting the fundamental thought that a shaped and moulded god is a contradictio in adjecto, hence a useless thing. Isaiah 44:11 describes the proper fate of idol-makers, already intimated by profitable for nothing. By חברים many understand the companions, helpers of the idol-makers. But are not they identical then; and why make them specially prominent? It is better to understand that the companions or followers of the idols are intended (comp. חֲבוּר עֲצַבִּים אֶפְרַיִם, Hosea 4:17). Yet I would restrict the meaning to those servants of idols that are at the same time their manufacturers. These are the actual allies of the idols. For by the quantity and quality of their productions idolatrous worship is made to flourish (e.g., Demetrius in Ephesus, Acts 19:24). Against this sentence the idol-makers might fancy they could oppose successful resistance by harmoniously standing up together en masse. But they mistake. They will still lose heart, and, instead of one by one, will only come to shame together.

Footnotes:

FN#3 - And who is as I, who proclaims aloud—so he shall tell it and do it like me—since I set an everlasting people.

FN#4 - And future things even what shall come to pass.

FN#5 - Heb. Rock.

FN#6 - Heb. desirable.

2. THE POWERLESSNESS OF IDOLS AND THE FOLLY OF THEIR WORSHIPPERS PROVED BY THE WAY THEY ARE PRODUCED

Isaiah 44:12-17

12 [FN7]The smith[FN8] with the tongs

Both worketh in the coals, and fashioneth it with hammers,

And worketh it with the strength of his arms:

Yea, he is hungry, and his strength faileth:

He drinketh no water, and is faint.

13 The carpenter stretcheth out his [FN9]rule; he marketh it out with a [FN10]line;

He fitteth it with planes,

And he marketh it out with the compass,

And maketh it after the figure of a Prayer of Manasseh,

According to the beauty of a man;

That it may remain in the house.

14 [FN11]He heweth him down cedars,

And taketh the cypress and the oak,

[FN12]Which he [FN13]strengtheneth for himself among the trees of the forest:

He planteth an [FN14]ash, and the rain doth nourish it.

15 Then shall it be for a man to burn:

For he will take thereof, and warm himself;

Yea, he kindleth it, and baketh bread;

Yea, he maketh a god, and worshippeth it;

He maketh it a graven image, and falleth down thereto.

16 He burneth part thereof in the fire;

With part thereof he eateth flesh;

He roasteth roast, and is satisfied:

Yea, he warmeth himself, and saith,

Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire:

17 And the residue thereof he maketh a god, even his graven image:

He falleth down unto it, and worshippeth it,

And prayeth unto it, and saith,

Deliver me; for thou art my god.

TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL

Isaiah 44:12. The words חרשׁ ברזל מעצד as they now stand mock every effort at exposition. For if we take חָרַשׁ as a verb [so J. A. A.], which conflicts with the parallel חרשׁ עצים Isaiah 44:13, and translate “ex ferro bipennim facit” (Targ.), or if we take connectedly חרשׁ ברזל as faber farrarius, and let מעצד depend on a latent verb חָרַשׁ (“the smith prepares an axe,” Gesen.), or on the following פעל (“the smith—a hatchet he works up in the glowing coals, viz., into an idol,” Hitzig), or let it be subject with לוֹ supplied (“the iron smith has a great chisel,” Delitzsch), or if we connect the three words and translate: “the master, in iron of the axe he works in the glowing coals,” Hahn; “the forger of edge-tools—he works with coals,” Knobel,—in any case we encounter grammatical difficulties, or we obtain an unsatisfactory sense. The LXX. translates: ὅτι ὤξυνε τέκτων σίδηρον, σκεπάρνῳ εἰργάσατο αὐτό. Now this ὣξυνε is nothing else than the foregoing יַחַד. For חָדַר means “to be pointed;” Hiph. הֵחֵד “to point, sharpen.” Now Cheyne thinks that a word such as הֵחֵד has been lost from the beginning of Isaiah 44:12; Delitzsch believes that חִדֵּד has dropped out. But nothing at all has fallen out. Only the Masoretic point Soph-pasuk is to be put after יֵבשׁוּ. Then יַחַד is quite simply the imperf. Hiph. of חָדַד, which imperf. occurs in only one other place, viz., Proverbs 27:17, where it reads:

בַּרְזֶל בְּבַרְזֶל יָחַ֑ד וְאִישׁ יַחַד פְּנֵי־רֵעֵהוּ, i.e., “iron on iron sharpens, and a man sharpens the countenance of his neighbor.” Of course, according to rule the consonants must be pointed יָחֵד. And it is quite possible that this, or יַחֵד (ad. f. יַתֵּם Green, § 140, 5) is the original reading of our text. As the imperf. Hiph. of הֵחֵד is a very rare form, while יַחַדuna,” is a very frequent word, confounding of the former with the latter is easily explained; and as יַחַד does not suit in Isaiah 44:12, but does suit in Isaiah 44:11, it was natural to place the Soph-pasuk after it. In Proverbs 27:17, also, the Masorets have both times taken יַהַד in the sense of una, (comp. Ewald, Lehrb., p559). But this construction is very harsh, because יַחַד must then not only be taken as a preposition, but Isaiah, moreover, in a strange manner joined with the prefix בְּ (instead of עִם or עַל). Most probably, therefore, we are to read יַחֵד in this place, or (less correctly as apocopated Hiph. from חָדַד = חָדָה, see Zoeckler on Proverbs 27:17) יַחַד.

The חַרַשׁ ברזל, as remarked, is in parallelism with the חָרַשׁ עצים Isaiah 44:13 (comp. חָרַשׁ אֶבֶז Exodus 28:11). Therefore חָרַשׁ is stat. constr. from חָרשׁ (see List).—מַֽעֲצָד (from the rad. inus. עָצַד, which like חצד in the dialects, קצע,חצה,חצב,חצץ has the sense of cutting) is an edge-tool; not necessarily a hatchet.—פָּעַל is used here absolutely=“to do work;” a use, indeed, that is rare, but comp. Isaiah 43:13=“I effect.” Moreover the word is mainly poetic, and hence a freer use of it is possible.—פֶּחָם (again only Isaiah 54:16; Proverbs 26:21) is the fire-coal.—מקבוה only here in Isaiah; comp. Isaiah 51:1.

Isaiah 44:13. שֶׂרֶר. ἅπ. λεγ. “red chalk.”—מקצעות, ἅπ. λεγ. from קָצַעabscindere,” therefore also an edge-tool; Targ. אִזְמִלַיָּא, σμίλη, scalprum, tool of the sculptor.—מְחוּנָה from חוּגcirculare, ἅπ. λεγ. “the circle.”—תָּאַר is originally=תּוּרcircuire” (hence of the course of the boundaries of the land, Joshua 15:9; Joshua 15:11; Joshua 18:14; Joshua 18:17). Piel is then “circuitum facere,” “to make outlines, to outline.” It occurs only here.—If the reading יְתָֽאֳרֵהוּ at the end of the first clause, is correct, and there is therefore a difference between it and the same word following, then it seems to me very much to correspond with the context to take the latter as denominativum from תֹּאַר in the sense of “to make beautiful.” Thus, e.g., שׁוֹרֵשׁ “to make roots” ( Isaiah 40:24) stands along with שֵׁרֵשׁ “to eradicate,” סֹעֵר “to make a storm (סַעַר), to storm forth,” along with סֵעֵד “to drive forth.” In that case our form were decidedly to be pronounced j’ thôŏrehu.

Isaiah 44:14. I cannot believe that לִכְרֹת here is to be taken in the sense of the conjugatio periphrastica. Isaiah 44:14 describes how a forest is planted out and grown large. Thus also Hahn. This statement of the aim is simply put first, and וַ in ויקּח refers backwards.—לכרת אֲרָזִים is said, not as if only cedars were planted. That would conflict with what follows where other sorts of trees are named. But only the noblest sort stands for all, as if one were to say: to have apples to eat I set out an orchard. The meaning there is not that the orchard consisted only of apple-trees. תִּרְזָה, ἅπ. λεγ., commonly supposed to mean “the ilex, rock-oak” (the evergreen oak of the south ”). אַלּוֹן the oak generally. אַמֵּץ “to make firm,” “fix,” in the sense of “choosing,” comp. Isaiah 41:10; Psalm 80:16; Psalm 80:18. אֹרֶן (with נ minusc.) also ἅπ. λεγ. It is strange that the planting of trees is said to be for the purpose of “felling cedars,” and that then no cedars are named among the planted trees Hence one is tempted to conjecture that a ז was mistaken for נ finale minusc, and that it ought to read אֶרֶז. But in Assyrian “irini Labnâna” is the common designation for the Cedars of Lebanon. Along with that is found also for cedars irsi (Schrader, Keilinschr. u. d. A. T., p 271 sq), so that in both languages אֶרֶז and אֹרֶן have kindred meaning, and the conjecture of Schrader seems well-founded, that both expressions signify only different species of the genus Pinus (the cedar resembles our larch). Hence those are right who, following the LXX. and the Vulg, prefer the meaning “pinus” to that of “ornus.”

Isaiah 44:15. According to what precedes, the notion “tree” in general is the subject of והיּה.—נָשַׂק again only Psalm 78:21; Ezekiel 39:9.—סָגַד see List. לָמוֹ is used here as singular, as probably Isaiah 53:8; Deuteronomy 33:2. Comp. Ewald, § 247, d.

Isaiah 44:16. רָאִיתִי אוּר as videre mortem, Psalm 89:49; vitam, Ecclesiastes 9:9; somnum, Ecclesiastes 8:16; famem, Jeremiah 5:12, etc.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

The truth, already uttered in the foregoing strophe, that making a god is a senseless performance, is here put in the strongest light. The Prophet describes in a drastic manner what a monstrous contrast there is between the honor that men put upon the idol and the elements from which its originates. He first describes, briefly the origin of a metal idol. It is the product of the combined labor of edge-tools, hot-coals, hammering and human sweat. Hard work that, and such as makes one hungry and thirsty. What sort of a god is that which must be fashioned with bitter sweat and from such difficult, coarse and hard material! What a contrast with the God who is spirit ( Isaiah 44:12). More particularly he describes how a wooden idol comes into existence. The artist in wood has easier work. He stretches the line so as to have a stick of the desired size. Next, with red chalk, he draws the outline of the figure, which he then executes with his tool, giving it, with the aid of the circle, beauty of form. Thus the block, by the art of the master, takes an outward human form, as is proper in order to live in human society. But the block cannot be elevated beyond this. Inwardly it remains still a block. תפארת in parallelism with תבנית seems to me to involve a progress in thought: not merely according to the human copy generally, but he makes it according to what is splendor, glory of mankind, i.e., the work of art may even represent the human form quite in its lofty ideal, still it gives only the external outline. Evidently the Prophet, by חרשׁ עצים meant, not a bungler, but a real artist ( Isaiah 44:13).

But now the Prophet goes back to the origin of the stuff itself of which the wood-idol is made.

He describes how trees are planted so as to make a forest, how the rain gives them increase ( Isaiah 44:14): then how such a tree is felled, in order to make a fire with part of it, for heating and cooking, and with another to make an idol ( Isaiah 44:15). Thus, recapitulating, of the tree, one half of which is used for heating, and the other half for preparing food, what remains is made into an idol that is worshipped and is summoned for aid as the only refuge. One would suppose that if one half were used for warming and the other for cooking, there would be nothing left. But Isaiah 44:17 speaks of a remnant (שׁארית). By this the Prophet would manifestly intimate that not even one of the two chief halves of the trunk is applied to making the idol, but only spare wood, say, the stump in the ground. [“This incongruity has no existence in the original: because, as all the other modern writers are agreed, the first and second חֶצְיוֹ of Isaiah 44:16 are one and the same half, and the other is not introduced till the next verse.”—J. A. A.] Earth-born block, watered by rain, essentially destined for heating and cooking, only formed into an idol image by the way—such things gods!

All the interpreters since Calvin quote the striking parallel from Horace (Sat. I:8):

Olim truncus eram ficulnus, inutile lignum,

Cum faber, incertus scamnum faceretne Priapum,

Maluit esse Deum.

Footnotes:

FN#7 - The artist in iron sharpens his tool and worketh, etc.

FN#8 - Or, with an axe.

FN#9 - line

FN#10 - red-chalk.

FN#11 - To hew, etc, he took.

FN#12 - Ana made choice.

FN#13 - Or, taketh courage.

FN#14 - a cedar.

2. CAUSE AND EFFECT OF IDOLATROUS NONSENSE

Isaiah 44:18-20

18 They have not known nor understood:

For he hath [FN15]shut their eyes, that they cannot see;

And their hearts, that they cannot understand.

19 And none [FN16]considereth in his heart,

Neither is there knowledge nor understanding to say,

I have burned part of it in the fire;

Yea, also I have baked bread upon the coals thereof;

I [FN17]have roasted flesh, and eaten it:

And shall I make the residue thereof an abomination?

Shall I fall down to [FN18]the stock of a tree?

20 [FN19]He feedeth on ashes: a deceived heart hath turned him aside,

That he cannot deliver his soul, [FN20]nor say,

Is there not a lie in my right hand?

TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL

Isaiah 44:18. It seems strange that טח is pointed with Pattahh instead of Kametz. For no root טָחַח from which טַח might come is used; but from טוּחַ, which occurs often especially in Ezekiel, the third pers. perf. must sound טָח (comp. Leviticus 14:42). The context gives no intimation of Jehovah being the author of the ΙΙώρωσις (comp. Romans 9). Hence it seems to me that we may take טַח as a nominal form, which owing to the relation of the עע׳ and עו׳, would then be pointed according to the type of derivatives from עע׳, to distinguish it from the verbal form טָח. This might occur the more easily since the word does not stand in pause, but in the closest connection with the following word. The singular is to be explained from the neutral construction of the preceding predicate word.

Isaiah 44:19. The expression השׁיב אל לב (rotrovertere in pectus, viz., the thing objectively noticed, occurs on the ground of Deuteronomy 4:39; Deuteronomy 30:1; 1 Kings 8:47; Lamentations 3:21. It occurs again in Isaiah 46:8, where על for אל makes no difference in the meaning.—The substantives דַּעַת and תְבוּנהָ repeat in another form the verbs of the same root in Isaiah 44:18.—It need not occasion surprise that with אצלה the discourse suddenly makes a transition to the imperfect. For the saying of the idol-worshipper, which is introduced by לאמר falls in the moment where he warms himself and has baked bread. Now, he says, I will also roast meat and eat, and make the remnant of the wood into an idol.

Isaiah 44:20. רָעָח “to pasture,” then vesci, nutriri, with accusative of the thing, is used here as in the expressions רעה רוּחַ Hosea 12:2; אְמוּנָה Psalm 37:3; אִוֶּלֶת Proverbs 15:14, etc.—הוּתַל, relative clause; the word from תָּלַל, “vilem esse.” Hiph. “ludificare, to mock.”—The general meaning of the Vav. in ולא יאמר is specialized by the context in the sense of assigning a reason. So I feel obliged to explain it, because יַצִּיל can neither be taken de conatu (Delitzsch), nor, (with Hahn) in the sense of “the soul-saving knowledge.”

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

In these verses the Prophet shows what is the cause and operation of that senseless idolatry. The cause is blindness and perversity of heart. The insane folly of what they do is not perceived by these men (יבין,ירע=“to have knowledge, penetration;” comp. Isaiah 44:9; Isaiah 32:4; Isaiah 45:20; Isaiah 56:10 : moreover, the entire expression is from Psalm 82:4), for because their inward sense, the heart, is as if stuck together, as though smeared over with mortar and whitewash, Song of Solomon, too, the outward eye is stuck together, so that they cannot see. The stupidity is aggravated; hence the Prophet cannot find words severe enough for reproof. Hence in Isaiah 44:19 he begins anew to enumerate the bad products, after having, Isaiah 44:18, named the source of them.—תועבה, abomination, is an expression that the Prophet takes out of his own heart and ascribes to the idolater. This happens also elsewhere in another fashion (comp. Exodus 8:22; Deuteronomy 27:15, which perhaps was in the mind of the Prophet; Jeremiah 16:18; 2 Kings 23:13, etc.).—בּוּל (only here in Isa.) according to its fundamental meaning is “manare, fluere, profluere,” and according to the meanings that occur elsewhere ( Job 40:20, בּוּל הָרִים=“products of the mountains;” 1 Kings 6:38, “the rain-month Bul;” comp. מַבּוּל), is not a piece of a tree, but a product of a tree.—The conclusion is couched in an utterance that sounds like a judicial sentence. Ashes are the emblem of something that deceives; one thinks he is to eat and see something good, and behold it is ashes, Job 13:12. Therefore he that nourishes himself with ashes, a heart that is blind itself, has wrought misleadingly on his outward conduct. The second half of Isaiah 44:20 I regard with Hitzig as a conclusion, which names the effect of this insane idolatry. It is this: the man does not deliver his soul. He would save it did he awake in season to the conviction that a lie (so everything is called that belongs to idolatry) is in his hand (as a would-be staff).

Footnotes:

FN#15 - Heb. daubed.

FN#16 - Heb. setteth to his heart.

FN#17 - I will roast.

FN#18 - Heb. that which comes of a tree.

FN#19 - He who feeds.

FN#20 - as he says not.

4. JEHOVAH, THE CREATOR OF HEAVEN AND EARTH, CAN PROPHESY, ADN HE PROPHESIES THE DELIVERANCE OF HIS PEOPLE BY KORES

Isaiah 44:21-28

21 Remember these, O Jacob and Israel;

[FN21]For thou art my servant:

I have formed thee; thou art my servant:

O Israel, thou shalt not be forgotten of me.

22 I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions,

And, as a cloud, thy sins:

Return unto me; for I have redeemed thee.

23 Sing, O ye heavens; for the Lord hath done it:

Shout, ye lower parts of the earth:

Break forth into singing, ye mountains,

O forest, and every tree therein:

For the Lord hath redeemed Jacob,

And glorified himself in Israel.

24 Thus saith the Lord, thy redeemer,

And he that formed thee from the womb,

I am the Lord that maketh all things;

That stretcheth forth the heavens alone;

That spreadeth abroad the earth by myself;

25 That frustrateth the tokens of the liars,

And maketh diviners mad;

That turneth wise men backward,

And maketh their knowledge foolish;

26 That confirmeth the word of his servant,

And performeth the counsel of his messengers;

That saith to Jerusalem, [FN22]Thou shalt be inhabited;

And to the cities of Judah, [FN23]Ye shall be built,

And I will raise up[FN24] the [FN25]decayed places thereof:

27 That saith to the deep, Be dry,

And I will dry up thy rivers:

28 That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd,

And shall perform all my pleasure:

Even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built;

And to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid.

TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL

See List for the recurrence of the words used, especially: Isaiah 44:23. פּאר–גאל. Isaiah 44:25. סבל comp. 2 Samuel 15:21. Isaiah 44:26. מֵקִים Isaiah 44:27. צוּלָה; and also verse21, Jacob and Israel. Isaiah 44:26. Jerusalem and Judah in parallelism. Isaiah 44:28. חֵפֶץ.

Isaiah 44:21. After “Israel” supply, not זכר־אלה, but simply זְכֹר. The other would make flat tautology. Of course the thing to be remembered is as little different as are Jacob and Israel. But parallelism requires the object to be named each time in different words. And this condition is met when we supply זְכֹר after “Israel,” and take כִּי as denoting the object, and not as causal.—לִי, instead of עבדי simply repeated, would doubtless indicate the servant-relation of Israel to be not a mere outward relation of possession, but one of ethical ownership.—I think that in תנשׁני the suffix has the meaning of לִי, as in עֲשִׂיתִינִי Ezekiel 29:3, and as the suffix of the 2 d per. in קְדַשְׁתִּיךָ Isaiah 65:5 stands for לְךָ. It is true that Niphal in its reflexive meaning often implies an ideal transitive notion on which an object may depend (comp. the verbs נָסַב,נִשְׁבַּע,נִבָּא Judges 19:22, נִבְקַע Isaiah 59:5, נִלְחַם Psalm 109:3, etc.) But with נָשָׁה this fundamental meaning is very doubtful, and moreover, whether it be removere or exarescere (comp. Isaiah 41:17; Jeremiah 51:30), one does not see how the Niphal may be taken in a reflexive sense so as to acquire a meaning analogous to the transitive Kal (comp. Jeremiah 23:39; Lamentations 3:17). And it seems to me, too, that would the Prophet express a “forget-me-not,” he would surely have used אַל rather than the strict, legal לֹא.

Isaiah 44:24. K’thibh מיאתי is to be read מִי אִתִּי; and the LXX. and Vulg. have so read. K’ri has מֵאִתִּי, which is for sense about the same as מִמֶּנִּי = “out from me,” “mea vi”(Targ. בְּנְבוּרְתִּי) מֵאֵת (comp. e.g., Ezekiel 33:30; Joshua 11:20) means the same as מֵעִם (e.g., Isaiah 8:18; Psalm 121:2), but neither of these occur again in exactly the sense demanded here. Consider, moreover, that the abruptness of מי אתי were strange, and that an original מי אתי were much easier changed into מאתי than vice versa, because the former is the more difficult reading, and it results that we must give the K’thibh the preference. It manifestly corresponds to the passage Isaiah 40:13; “Who hath directed (comprehended) the Spirit of the Lord, etc., with whom took he counsel, etc.?

Isaiah 44:26-27. In this long sentence, אקומם and אובישׁ are the only verbs in which the Prophet returns from the participle to the principal form. As far as I know there is not another example of such an extended participial construction. The great animation of the Prophet renders this long-continued tension possible.

Isaiah 44:28. As היכל is always construed elsewhere as masc, תוסד must be taken as 2 d pers, unless one prefers to assume that the form תוסד, Isaiah, as it were, attracted by תבנה, and that accordingly היכל as a quarter of the city is conceived of as fem. The latter is grammatically not impossible.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

1. The cycle of prophecy which embraces chapters40–48 has its culmination in this strophe, which represents about the middle. All that precedes Points to this crowning summit which is concentrated in the mention of the name of “Kores” or Cyrus.[FN26] The strophe consists of a general and of a particular part. In the first we have a recapitulation in general of the foundations of Israel’s deliverance, and heaven and earth are summoned to manifest their joy at that deliverance ( Isaiah 44:21-23). In the second particular these foundations and guaranties of the deliverance are specified more exactly. At the same time it is to be remarked that this part forms a single period, which as by steps leads up to the crowning point, the name of Cyrus ( Isaiah 44:24-28).

2. Remember these—in Israel

Isaiah 44:21-23. These verses are closely connected with Isaiah 44:24-28. They are, so to speak, a prelude to them, an introduction that presents in nuce the fundamental thoughts. That the short section, Isaiah 44:24-28, should be so prefaced ought to occasion no surprise in view of its immense importance. For in it is to be accomplished the great transaction of the Lord by which He would show and demonstrate how He differs from idols, and that He alone has the power to deliver Israel out of the Exile, and thereby to stablish also the principle of the “everlasting deliverance” (תשועת עולמים) 4517. That is nothing else than the mention of the name of Cyrus (see below). Remember these cannot possibly relate merely to what immediately precedes, in view of the contents of Isaiah 44:21-28. The Prophet, in what follows, recapitulates all the primary ideas of chapters40–44, therefore Israel is to remember just that, and, in fact, all that the Prophet now endeavors to call to mind. The servant of Jehovah is one of the chief notions in our section ( Isaiah 41:8-9; Isaiah 42:1; Isaiah 42:19; Isaiah 43:10; Isaiah 44:1-2). Let Israel remember that it is the servant of God, and it will remember the pith and central point of all of which chapters40,44discourse, and, in so far “for thou art my servant” is essentially identical with “these” (אֵלֶּח). The words I have formed thee, thou art my servant, are not only an emphatic repetition meant for confirmation, but also a proof of that fundamental idea. For Israel did not become the servant of Jehovah by accident, but by reason of a well-considered decree carried out in the most methodical manner. Comp. Isaiah 43:1; Isaiah 43:7; Isaiah 43:10; Isaiah 43:21; Isaiah 44:2, and see Text. and Gram. Therefore Israel shall not be forgotten ( Isaiah 49:14 sq.) תנשׁני, “thou shalt be unforgotten to me,” at the end of the verse, stands in intentional and artistic contrast with “Remember,” with which the verse begins. At the-same time it forms a fitting transition to what follows. See Text. and Gram.

Isaiah 44:22 a. I have blotted out, etc, calls to mind a second foundation of Israel’s promised salvation. It looks back to Isaiah 43:25. While the cloud of Israel’s guilt is still between them and the countenance of the Lord, Israel must still fear His wrath. But let it disappear and nothing remains to restrain the Lord’s display of grace. Then he says: return unto me. This cannot mean the inward, moral return. For that is presupposed by the blotting out of sin. What the Prophet means is the return from the Exile to the place where the Lord has His fire and hearth ( Isaiah 31:9). Thus Jeremiah also uses the word שׁוּב in a variety of senses. See remarks on Jeremiah 31:21. For I have redeemed thee involves the idea: the purchase price for thee (comp. on Isaiah 43:4), is paid, therefore thou art free and canst return home. Sing, O ye heavens,etc., Isaiah 44:23. The deliverance of Israel must interest the whole world, not only because all that the Lord does is important to all, but also because all must see in that the guaranty of their own salvation. Hence the heights and depths should burst forth in praise. The heavens represent the heights above the earth, the תחתיזת (only here in Isaiah, comp. Psalm 63:10; Psalm 139:15, etc.), are the depths of the earth in the broadest sense. Thus what is highest above man and lowest beneath him shall rejoice, and that in union with what is highest on the earth itself. These last are the mountains ( Isaiah 49:13); to which in the parallelism there is no antithesis because “the deeps of the earth” have for antithesis, not only the heavens, but also the mountains. Yet, in order to preserve the pairs of clauses, that is named that gives animation to the mountains and serves them instead of hands to clap with, viz., the trees ( Isaiah 55:12). עָשׂה (comp. Isaiah 10:13; Isaiah 41:4) has as its ideal object what is held up to view in Isaiah 44:21-22, or what is intimated by “I have redeemed thee.” This appears additionally from: for the LORD hath redeemed Jacob: for these words stand parallel with: “for the Lord hath done,” repeating and explaining the latter expression only in a different form. We had a similar declaration of praise, Isaiah 42:10 sqq. (comp. Isaiah 49:13), which, however, appealed to a more limited sphere. This call on heaven and earth (as Isaiah 1:2) shows that we stand at a very important turning point. And glorified himself in Israel.—By redeeming Israel the Lord glorifies Himself. But whereas the redemption is set forth as an accomplished fact, the glorifying of Jehovah is something that lasts forever. Hence the perf. גאל, and the imperf. יתפאר.

3. Thus saith—be laid.

Isaiah 44:24-28. In reference to this verse Delitzsch says: “the prophecy takes a new flight, becoming ever more distinctive.” This is true, indeed; especially in relation to Isaiah 44:21-23. And yet also it only recapitulates the chief thoughts of chaps, 40–54These it builds up step on step, which lead up to the apex on which the name of Cyrus shines out to us. The discourse begins with Jehovah’s being Israel’s Redeemer and Former ( Isaiah 44:24), (comp. Isaiah 44:21-22). For it treats of Israel’s salvation, and what follows is to demonstrate that none but Israel’s God can effect this, and that He will effect it. The first stone of this proof is laid by the Lord’s declaring Himself to be the One who makes all, who spreads out the heavens alone, that extends the north without any one being there as a helper (מיאתי see Text. and Gram.). That stretcheth forth the heavens is a repetition from Isaiah 40:22; that spreadeth abroad the earth, is from Isaiah 42:5. Thus the Prophet comprehends in brief what he had said in the course of the preceding chapters about God’s creative omnipotence ( Isaiah 40:12-14; Isaiah 40:21-26; Isaiah 41:4; Isaiah 42:5). In those representations he had brought out the nothingness of idols, in the strongest light of contrast ( Isaiah 40:15-20; Isaiah 41:6-7; Isaiah 42:8; Isaiah 42:17; Isaiah 44:8-20). He had also represented Jehovah’s omnipresence and omniscience and eternity, and in Isaiah 41:1-4 we have, as the first test of Jehovah’s power to foretell the (relative) future, an obscure announcement of Cyrus, the name concealed, and of Israel’s destined deliverance by him ( Isaiah 41:8-20). The heathen idols were challenged to produce their prophecy, but are put to shame ( Isaiah 41:21-29; Isaiah 43:9-13; Isaiah 44:6 sqq.). Opposed to this pitiable inability of the idols, the Lord prepares to announce something far more glorious, viz, a far more glorious Redeemer and Saviour in a yet more remote future. To all this, therefore, that the Lord from40 on had said, especially of the ignorance of idols and their followers in regard to the future, our Isaiah 44:25 refers in brief recapitulation: “ Who frustrateth the lying-signs, and makes the divinersfools,” etc. Comp. Isaiah 40:17; Isaiah 41:21-24; Isaiah 41:29; Isaiah 42:17; Isaiah 44:11. Our text serves to complete in one respect the passages cited. That the servers of idols, or heathen diviners had even made attempts to prophesy is not said in these passages, nor is it denied. Only their incapacity and coming to shame are spoken of. But in our passage it is presupposed that they have actually attempted to prophesy. Hence it reads מֵפֵר אֹתוֹת ו׳ Heathen divination was in great part the interpretation of signs. These signs (auguria) are the אתות. But as אתות בַּדִּים they are lying signs (comp. Isaiah 16:6), which, therefore, as idle counsel ( 2 Samuel 15:34), or as a broken covenant (such is the most frequent use of הֵפֵר, Isaiah 33:8; Genesis 17:14; Exodus 26:25, 44, etc.) come to nothing. The wizards (קסמים3:2) He makes appear fools (properly delusive glitter, Job 12:17; Ecclesiastes 7:7); He repels the wise so that their counsel and work make no progress but go backwards ( Isaiah 42:17), and their prudence must prove to be folly (סִכֵּל comp. 2 Samuel 15:31).

But how totally different is it with the prophecy proceeding from the omnipotent and omniscient God by His servants and messengers! “Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth (germinate) I tell you of them,” Isaiah 42:9. To these words and also Isaiah 43:12 our passage corresponds. Yea, the Lordcauses the word of his servant to receive continuance and reality (מֵקִים in this sense, only this once in Isa.; comp. Deuteronomy 9:5; 1 Samuel 1:23, etc.), and fulfills the counsel of his messengers, i.e., the counsel that He took and has announced by His messengers. According to the context a prophetic word is meant. Hence “servant” and “messengers” must be prophets. And it Isaiah, to me, quite probable that “servant” designates that prophet who first and chiefly, as the foundation and corner-stone of his successors, prophesied these things of the Exile; and that is Isaiah. עבדֹ and מלאך are conjoined here as in Isaiah 42:19, though in another sense. That saith to Jerusalem, etc., Isaiah 44:26. Now is declared wherein this fulfilment of the word announced by the prophets shall consist. The Lord shall say to Jerusalem thou shalt be inhabited ( Isaiah 5:8), and to the cities of Judah ye shall be built, and her ruins I will raise. In reference to Isaiah 44:27Delitzsch says that primarily it points to the drying up of the Euphrates to the advantage of Cyrus (Herod. I:189), and only secondarily, “in the complex view of the Prophet, to the way in which the exit of the exiles was made possible out of the prison of the metropolis which was surrounded by a natural and artificial rampart of water.” This relation I would reverse. As has been remarked, the Prophet has the contents of the preceding chapters in mind. Of these he makes prominent the main points to serve as the foundation of a prophetic transaction. Now heretofore there has been no mention of the conquest of Babylon. But the thought has been repeatedly uttered ( Isaiah 42:15; Isaiah 43; Isaiah 2, 16) that water-deeps shall be no obstacle to the returning people, in saying which the Prophet has in mind the example of the Red Sea ( Isaiah 43:17). For this reason I believe that צוּלָה is not just alone “the deep” of the Euphrates, but any deep through which returning Israel will have to pass. But I will not deny that, in the complex way intimated, the word may be referred also to the Euphrates which Cyrus was to pass.

At Isaiah 44:28 we stand on the apex of the pyramid. The God who created the world, and who is first and last, therefore eternal, can prophesy also. What is nearest as well as what is most remote is equally present to Him. By this He is distinguished from idols that can create nothing and know nothing. Now let us consider that the Prophet on this account, from chap40 on, points unceasingly to this distinction between Jehovah and idols. What representation can one make to himself of the morality of a man who continually affirms: Jehovah alone is God because He alone foreknows the future, which He evinces by naming the name Cyrus,—but who by fraudulent conversion of a res acta as a res agenda abstracts the very ground under his feet in reference to his argumentation, in fact transforms it into a proof of the contrary. What a hypocrite he must have been, who, knowing well that no divine communication had been imparted to him, still gives out that he is a prophet, who therefore rests his proof for the existence of God on a fact which he well knows does not exist! Does the author of our chapter make the impression of such a hypocrite? No! what he says of the distinction between Jehovah and idols in regard to power and knowledge, is his full and inward convictions and what he says is just in order to establish this prophecy concerning Cyrus. In the name and by commission of his God he foretells this name, first in order that afterwards one may not give the honor to idols but to Jehovah ( Isaiah 48:5), but furthermore in order that, when Cyrus comes, Israel may know that now the day of its deliverance dawns, and that Cyrus may be conscious of his divine destiny and willing to obey it.

“The native pronunciation of the name of Cyrus is K’ur’us” (Schrader, l. c. p214). According to Spiegel (Cyrus u. Kuru; Cambyses u. Kamboja, in Kuhn u. Schleicher’sBeitr z. vergl. Sprachforschung. I:1858, p 32 sqq.) the name was in ancient Persian pronounced Kuru. The same author with others says, the ancient opinion, that Κῦρος meant in Persia, the sun (Plut. Artax. 1), is incorrect. But the name Kuru coincides exactly with the river-name Cyrus, that is still called Kur, and with the ancient Indian royal name Kuru. Strabo’s remark (XV:6), Cyrus was first called Agradates, and changed his name into that of the river, Spiegel regards as “a mere addition” of the geographer. On the other hand he is not disinclined to admit the change of name, but would refer it to a mythical Kuru of the Persians cognate with that of the Indians. The Hebrew pronunciation כּוֹרשׁ, Koresh, favors the inference that Kurus was pronounced as a paroxyton with a very short final syllable. This explains the Hebrew pronunciation as a Segholate form, and the consequent change of the vowel u into o in the first syllable (comp. Ewald, § 89 g). According to all historical witnesses Cyrus was an extraordinary appearance. He was solitary in his way (comp. Doctrinaland Ethical on Isaiah 45:1). Only once beside the present is there found in the Old Testament the special prediction of a name, viz, 1 Kings 13:2 comp. 2 Kings 23:16. But 1 Kings13is critically suspicious, partly because of its peculiar contents, partly because of the mention of the name “Samaria” 5:32 at a period when there was no Samaria (comp. Baehrin loc.). And we do not need any parallel for the name of Cyrus. For the name stands solitary in history, and the previous announcement of it is not paltry prediction of something unimportant, but a prophetic act which for an extraordinary object makes use of extraordinary means. For it concerned transforming the head of the world-power into a friend of the Theocracy, and thus bringing about the great winter-solstice of the history of salvation. That the surest means of attaining this great object was the direct appeal to Cyrus with mention of his name, it seems to me, calls for no proof. Would Cyrus otherwise have begun his decree ( Ezra 1:2) with the words: “The Lord God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build Him an house,” etc.?

It is seen, from the foregoing, that I attach no value to the exegetical expedients, such as that “Kores” was a title of dignity like “Pharaoh” (Haevernick, Hengstenberg), or that, in the appellative meaning “sun,” it was a figurative designation (Keil, Introd.), or that it is a gloss (Henneberg, Schegg.).

Jehovah calls Cyrus my shepherd, because Israel is His flock ( Jeremiah 23:1), and Cyrus for that time when no national ruler existed, is destined to pasture them.

Footnotes:

FN#21 - That.

FN#22 - She.

FN#23 - they.

FN#24 - Her.

FN#25 - Heb. waste places.

FN#26 - The Author, with little exception, uses the form Kores, yet quite frequently also Cyrus, without explanation of his preference. The translation does not follow him in this, but adheres to Cyrus, except in a few instances that explain themselves.—TR.]

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

7. On Isaiah 44:6. “Πλὴν ἐμοῦ σὔκ ἐστι θεός. Εἰ πλὴν αὐτοῦ σὐκ ἔστιν, οὐχ ὁμοούσιος δὲ υἱὸς κατὰ τὴν Ἀρίου καὶ Εὐνομίου βλασφημίαν, πῶς ὑπ’ αὐτῶν καλεῖται θεός; Εἰ δὲ θεός ἐστιν, αληθὴς δὲ καὶ προφητικὸς λόγος ἄντικρυς λέγων ἕτερον μὴ εἶναι θεὸν, μία τῆς τριάδος ἐρτὶν θεότης, κᾅν μὴ θέλωσιν.”—Theoderet.

2. On Isaiah 44:7. מִי כָמוֹנִי. The incomparableness of Jehovah is declared in opposition to all that beside Him is called god, whether the idols that are falsely co-ordinated with Him, or whether the angels which are indeed related to Him, but properly subordinated (בני אלהים Job 1:6; בני אלים Psalm 29:1), or, finally, men also, who by unusual wisdom soar above their fellow-men and seem to approach the gods ( Jeremiah 10:7). Comp. Caspari, Micha d. Morastite, p 14 sq.

3. On Isaiah 44:8-20. “Extat hic sedes ordinaria loci de idololatria, cui similes huc referantur ex Psalm 115 et 116, nec non e Jesaia c40, 41, 46, 48, ex Jeremia c10, maxime vero capp. 13 et 14 Sapientiae, quae vicem loculenti commentarii in hunc prophetae locum supplere facile possunt.”—Foerster.

4. On Isaiah 44:14 [And the rain doth nourish it. “Men even in their schemes of wickedness are dependent on God. Even in forming and executing plans to oppose and resist Him, they can do nothing without His aid. He preserves them, clothes them; and the instruments which they use against Him are those which He has nurtured. On the rain of heaven; on the sunbeams and the dew; on the turning earth and on the elements which He has made, and which He controls, they are dependent; and they can do nothing in their wicked plans without abusing the bounties of His Providence, and the expressions of His tender mercies.”—Barnes].

5. On Isaiah 44:20. “The Holy Ghost says of idolatrous people who make an idol of wood which they worship, they feed themselves on ashes, because they trust and build on that which is as easily made ashes of as the chips that fall from wood. The case is not different with the wicked in general: they feed themselves with ashes, they comfort themselves with that which some heat or unforeseen fire speedily reduces to ashes, which are afterwards scattered by the wind.” Scriver, Seelenschatz, IV. Th. 18, Predigt. § 35.

6. On Isaiah 44:21. Hebrews, whose creature Israel Isaiah, and who therefore might order and demand, tenderly, begs like a lover: forget me not! “That ought to be the right forget me not, that we consider that we are in God’s commission and His servants. And that in many ways: 1) for we are bought by Him; 2) He obtained us by a struggle in battle; 3) we have surrendered and covenanted ourselves to Him for service.”—Cramer.

7. On Isaiah 44:22. “Israel has sins and great sins, which He likens to the clouds and the fog. How shall Israel be quit of them? As little as thou canst take captive a cloud in a bag, or spread out a cloth and take it away when it stands before the sun, so little canst thou lay off thy sin or do away with it. For all thou canst do, it remains and cleaves everlastingly to thee, so that thou canst not see life and the sun Christ. If the clouds and fog are to be removed, the glorious, beautiful sun must come. It devours fog and clouds that have taken possession of the heavens, so that no one knows where they have gone. Therefore, the Lord says, He alone it is who blots out our sins, and transgressions as the sun devours the clouds and fog.”—Veit Dietrich.

8. On Isaiah 44:28. Josephus (Antiqq. XI:1, 1,2) writes that Cyrus made proclamation through all Asia. “Ἐπεί με θεὸσ μέγιστος τῆς οἱκουμένης ἀπέδειξε βασιλέα, πείθομαι τοῦτον εἶναι, ὅν τὸ τῶν Ἰσραηλιτῶν ἕθνος προσκυνεῖ. Καὶ γὰρ τοὐμόν προεῖπεν ὅνομα διὰ τῶν προφητῶν, καὶ ὅτι τὅν ναὸν αὑτοῦ οἰκοδομήσω ἐν Ἱεροσολύμοις ἐν τῇ Ἰουδαίᾳ χὼρᾳ.” What Josephus adds, that Cyrus knew this ἀναγιγνώσκων τὸ βιβλίον, τῆς αὑτοῦ προφητείας Ἡσαΐας κατέλιπε, and that then ταῦτ’ ἀναγνόντα τὸν Κῖρον καὶ θαυμάσαντα τὸ θεῖον ὁρμή τις ἕλαβε καὶ φιλοτιμία ποιῆσαι τὰ γεγραμμένα,—has nothing at all improbable in it. Either the book of Isaiah existed in both parts already in the first year of Cyrus’ reign; then it is altogether credible that he got a sight of it. The Jews had not only the strongest interest in bringing it to the king’s notice, but it must also have been easy for them to find ways and means of doing so. Or the book of Isaiah at that time did not exist in its second part; then let it be explained how it came about, that Cyrus, immediately after the conquest of Babylon, had nothing that he was more in haste to do than to summon the Jews to return into their land, and to take measure for the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem.

HOMILETICAL HINTS

1. On Isaiah 44:6-8. This text may be used for a sermon on the being of God, directed against the modern heathenism1) God is a person (here as everywhere else in Scripture He speaks with “1” to our “I”). 2) God is alone and incomparable ( Isaiah 44:6 b, and7 a). 3) God is the omnipotent and omniscient (He sets up the nations of the world and announces what shall come). 4) God is therefore our only safe refuge ( Isaiah 44:8).

2. On Isaiah 44:21. “The call of Jesus from off His cross to His Christian people: Forget me not. This call we ought1) to answer by sincerely humbling ourselves before the Lord on account of our forgetfulness; 2) to let serve as a summons to most intimate remembrance.” Carl. Fr. Hartmanus, Passionspredigten, Heilbronn, 1872, p372.

3. [On Isaiah 44:22. Returning to God. I. The obstacle to return is sin and guilt. 1) “a thick cloud” between us and the sun; they interpose between God and us, and “suspend and intercept the correspondence between the upper and the lower world (sin. separates, etc., Isaiah 59:2). They threaten a storm, a deluge of wrath, as thick clouds do, Psalm 11:6.” 2) “As a cloud” or fog they cause darkness all around us, and, worse still, within us ( Matthew 6:23), so that the benighted effort at return ends in bewilderment. II. God removes the obstacle. 1) Only He can do it, as only He can reach the high clouds. It must be done by influences from above the fog and the clouds, as the sun dispels both2) He removes it effectually: “blots them out;” not a speck of cloud in the sky, not a vapor even in the valley of death. Again “God looks down upon the soul with favor; the soul looks up to Him with pleasure, Jeremiah 50:20; 2 Samuel 23:4.” III. “For I have redeemed thee.” The obstacle is not removed by a fiat but by a redeeming work. The comparison of the cloud has one point, viz.: the utter disappearance. Redemption costs a Redeemer, John 3:16; Romans 8:32. See M. Henry, Gill, J. A. A.—Tr.].

4. On Isaiah 44:23-28, The Lord His church’s secure retreat. 1) As He prepares heaven and earth, so He does past, present and future; 2) He promises His church a future full of salvation ( Isaiah 44:26; Isaiah 44:28); 3) He will fulfil this promise and so confirm the word of His messengers, but the wisdom of the wise of this world He will put to shame ( Isaiah 44:25-26).

 


Copyright Statement
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition available at BibleSupport.com. Public Domain.

Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Isaiah 44:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/isaiah-44.html. 1857-84.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, July 19th, 2019
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
ADVERTISEMENT
Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
ADVERTISEMENT
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology