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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Isaiah 30

 

 

Introduction

Isaiah 28-31.—In the main these chapters belong to the period before Sennacherib's invasion in 701 (pp. 59, 71f.). Special prominence is given to the project of an alliance with Egypt, which was strenuously opposed by Isaiah but carried through in spite of him, though the attempt was made to keep it from his knowledge, a signal proof that his opposition was feared by its promoters. Several recent critics have regarded much in these chapters as post-exilic, in some cases on cogent, in others on more flimsy grounds. The transitions from gloom to radiance, from predictions of doom to glowing descriptions of the happy future, are in some cases very abrupt; the phraseology is sometimes non-Isaianic, and the ideas have more affinity with those in the post-exilic period than in the age of Isaiah. We must be on our guard, however, against pressing the argument from theological ideas too far, in view of the scantiness of the earlier prophetic literature now extant, and, remembering that Isaiah held the doctrine of the happy future as well as the doctrine of a terrible judgment, we should not too readily condemn the optimistic sections, especially when they are happy endings, as necessarily later insertions.


Verses 1-5

Isaiah 30. Denunciation of the Egyptian Alliance. The Blessed Future of Israel. The Destruction of Assyria.—We should probably pass the same judgment on Isaiah 30:18-26 as on Isaiah 29:16-24. The two passages are closely related, and are not improbably by the same author. A post-exilic date seems on the whole more likely. There are no substantial reasons for rejecting the Isaianic authorship of Isaiah 30:27-33.

Isaiah 30:1-5. Woe to the unfilial rebels who negotiate alliance with Egypt, leaving God out of their counsels. intriguers who flout the prophetic spirit, piling one sin upon another. Egypt will prove no refuge, but a bitter disappointment. Though Pharaoh's princes are in Tanis (Isaiah 19:11) and his envoys in Hanes, yet those who trust in their help will find that it is not forthcoming in their need.

Isaiah 30:1. Perhaps we should render "weave a web" (mg.), i.e. carry on an intrigue. The second margin, "pour out a drink offering," would give a good sense, the allusion being to the libation at the making of an alliance.

Isaiah 30:4. Hanes: Heracleopolis Magna, the Egyptian Hanes, W. of the Nile, S. of the Fayyum, a city of great importance. It has been inferred from this verse that the prophecy refers to negotiations with Egypt in the time of Sargon rather than of Sennacherib, Zoan and Hanes marking the limits of the Pharaoh's dominion.


Verses 6-17

Isaiah 30:6-17. This passage is introduced by a strange title, "Oracle concerning the beasts of the Negeb," i.e. either the beasts who carry the treasure to Egypt (Isaiah 30:6 b), or the wild creatures that infest the Negeb. Duhm supposes that the oracle began "In the wastes of the South," and that the title should be, "Oracle. In the wastes of the South." the title being taken from the opening words, which have fallen out of the text through haplography. With great trouble and expense the ambassadors go through the difficult and dangerous desert to negotiate a useless alliance with Egypt, an insolent and indolent people. The prophet is bidden write his oracle on a tablet (Isaiah 8:1) and inscribe it in a book, that it may be a witness (mg.) for ever (Isaiah 8:16), to prove the accuracy of his foresight when history has vindicated it. For the people is disobedient to the teaching (mg.) of Yahweh. They will not tolerate harsh realities from the prophets, but bid them turn aside to a smoother message and a more congenial presentation of God. But this scorn of the warning word, this trust in crooked policy, will prove their ruin, sudden and complete, like a crack in a wall, small at first, but spreading till the wall comes crashing down. For the State will be smashed like an earthenware vessel into tiny fragments. For their salvation lay in renunciation of a spirited foreign policy and confidence in God, but they had refused to listen. They had relied on horses (Isaiah 31:3) for battle, but they will serve them only for flight. A thousand will be pursued by one, till they will be left lonely as a flag-staff on the summit of a hill.

Isaiah 30:6. bunches: humps.

Isaiah 30:7. Rahab that sitteth still: Rahab was properly the chaos monster subdued by God (Job 9:13; *Job 26:12; Isaiah 51:9*). Here it is applied to Egypt, as in Psalms 87:4. If the text here is correct, the suggestion in the name Rahab may be the etymological one of arrogance. Egypt's stormy bluster, however, amounts to nothing. When the crisis comes she sits still (Isaiah 36:6). This is, however, very uncertain, and the text is probably corrupt. Gunkel reads, "Rahab the subdued."


Verses 18-26

Isaiah 30:18-26. Yahweh waits till the time is ripe for intervention, and then shows His graciousness and mercy. Then there shall be no sorrow in Zion; Yahweh's answer anticipates (render, "has answered") His people's prayer (Isaiah 65:24). Even though they have been reduced to the barest necessities, yet Yahweh Himself shall be the teacher, His voice guiding them in the right way. The idols will be cast away, agriculture will flourish, the early rain at sowing-time will not fail, there shall be abundance of food for man, ample pasturage for the cattle. The oxen and asses will eat provender separated from its chaff and made savoury with salt (mg.). Even the mountains will run down with water in the day when Yahweh smites the foe with a great slaughter. The moon shall shine like the sun, and the sun with a sevenfold light.

Isaiah 30:20. Read (cf. mg.), "yet shall not thy teacher hide himself" and "see thy teacher."

Isaiah 30:22. The idols were made of wood and coated with precious metal.

Isaiah 30:26. as the light of seven days: omit (LXX).


Verses 27-33

Isaiah 30:27-33. If this is the work of Isaiah, it describes the overthrow of Assyria. The description is very vigorous, and some feel that the loud colours are dashed on too violently to make Isaiah's authorship probable. And the zest with which the disaster is painted is thought to be unworthy of him. But these reasons are far from cogent. Yahweh comes like the dense thunder-cloud from the far horizon, from which the devastating lightning will leap, while torrential rain floods the land. The nations will be passed through the sieve till they are destroyed, and will be guided in the way of ruin. While the Assyrians are being overthrown the Jews are exultant, as when they sing their song by night at the Feast of Tabernacles (or perhaps Passover), or as when they go in procession to the Temple. For Yahweh's voice shall peal out in thunder, while the lightnings flash, the clouds burst, and the hail descends, and the Assyrian is seized with panic. A funeral pyre has been prepared for the hosts of the Assyrian dead, vast in extent, burning fiercely at the blast of Yahweh's breath.

Isaiah 30:27. the name: for primitive thought the name was an essential part of the personality (Genesis 32:27*). The name of Yahweh in the OT usually means Yahweh in His self-revealing aspect; just as the name manifests the nature, so Yahweh's action discloses His character

Isaiah 30:32. Unintelligible (see CB2).

Isaiah 30:33. Topheth: Jeremiah 7:31*, and note on that passage in Cent.B.—for the king: either the king of Assyria or Molech.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Isaiah 30:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/isaiah-30.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, July 21st, 2019
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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