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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible
Isaiah 47

 

 

Verse 1

1. Virgin daughter — The proud city figured as a royal damsel (denoting city and inhabitants) stripped of her rich clothing, degraded from her lofty rank, and made a gazing stock of shame. For same figures see chap. xxiii, 12; Isaiah 37:22.

Chaldeans — This is the name of the peoples composing the strong nation which once occupied the city and territory of Babylon; a people from among whom Abraham was originally called.

Tender and delicate — Her queenly dignity is to be abolished forever. Under the Persians the seat of empire was removed to Susa. For description of the capture of Babylon, see HERODOTUS, 1:191.


Verse 2

2. Grind meal — The figure here is that of servitude, with all the conditions of that state; the highest in rank, equally with the lowest, set to the meanest employments.

Uncover thy locks — Rather, (Hebrews,) thy veil. In the East a token of immodest shame, except with slaves. This uncovering was a dishonouring of the person. The other phrases indicate a march of menial captives onward to exile, wading rivers and bearing burdens.


Verse 3

3. I will take vengeance — This, with the words following, has many versions. It is a divine threat against Babylonia; God himself is to execute it.

I will not meet thee as a man — There shall be no appeal to man about it: or, “I will appeal to no man:” (Nagelsbach:) “I will run on none out of whose way I must get myself:” (Stier:) “No man shall resist me:” (Grotius:) or, in executing vengeance “I will encounter no man:” (Rosenmuller:) that is, I will allow no man to resist me. This agrees with Grotius, and appears to be the true sense, and Noyes’s translation does not essentially vary from it: “I will make peace with none.”


Verse 4

4. As for our Redeemer, the Lord of hosts is his name — This appears to be antiphonal, that is, the breaking in of a chorus of voices. So Lowth and Gesenius. If Isaiah be the author, which there seems abundant reason to believe, these last twenty-seven chapters were not recited in public, but in the presence only of the prophets in the college at Jerusalem, of which Isaiah was probably the head. This accounts for the strophical character of all this poetry.


Verse 5

5. Sit thou silent — The prophet spoke, in preceding verse, in his own person. He now speaks in God’s name. He uses imperatives. Hebraistically these are predictives, the same as, Sit thou silent: lady (or mistress) of kingdoms thou shalt no more be called.


Verse 6

6. I was wroth with my people — Angry with his people, Jehovah suffered them to be treated as polluted. I…

polluted mine inheritance — Allusion is here made to Isaiah 43:28 : “Therefore I have profaned the princes of the sanctuary, and have given Jacob to the curse.”

And given them into thine hand — Into the hand of the Chaldeans or Babylonians, who showed them no mercy. See 2 Chronicles 36:17.

Upon the ancient — Meaning the aged ones of Israel, a class of persons for whose welfare Jehovah had usually tenderly cared.


Verse 8

8. Carelessly — In no anxiety about efforts of Cyrus to take the city. According to Xenophon, the princes and whole court at Babylon looked with contempt on Cyrus. She said,

I am, and none else besides me — Literally, I am, and the absence of me there is none. Profanely she parodies the divine saying, “I am Jehovah, and besides me there is none else.” This strain of defiance and of self-security continues to Isaiah 47:11.


Verse 10-11

10, 11. Fancying thyself secure in thy wickedness, thou sayest,

None seeth me. Therefore — As a reason for the chastisement about to fall on thee.

Not know… whence it riseth — That day of thy woe shall come unexpectedly; because of thy untiring defiance, thou shalt not know how or whence it so suddenly comes. It hath no dawn to thee. In astrological divining the Chaldeans were expert, but it had no availing power in their extremity. When the morn appeared the Egyptians were destroyed; at sunrise Sodom and Gomorrah were overwhelmed; so, also, Babylon had no warning of coming evil.


Verse 12

12. Wherein thou hast laboured — Namely, in astrology, magic, or sorceries, through which Babylon might attempt to thwart the divine decree.


Verse 13

13. Multitude of thy counsels — The whole magian school.

Astrologers — Rawlinson (Monarchies, 3:425) says: “Most of the astronomical tablets discovered at Babylon are of an astrological character, recording the supposed influences of the heavenly bodies, singly, in conjunction, or in opposition, upon all sublunary affairs.”

Stargazers — The zodiacal system is supposed to be in a great measure due to the Babylonians. The object of astrology was mainly to bring to light on each new moon what was to happen, by dividing the heavens into sections, watching conjunctions, oppositions, etc., of the planets, and making out the horoscope or sign which arose at the time when one was born.


Verse 14

14. The prophet further says,

They shall be as stubble — All the astrologers, or wise men, in whom Babylon trusted, and Babylon itself. Fire shall consume them; not, indeed, material fire, but what will be as destructive. The whole power of Babylon shall be consumed, as fire consumes stubble, and there shall be no help for them.

Not… a coal to warm at, nor fire to sit before it — The original is somewhat obscure, but the sense appears to be: The consumption of every thing shall be so complete that not a coal nor cinder shall be left to warm one by, or to bake one’s bread before it.


Verse 15

15. None shall save thee — Babylon was well situated for traffic with the north, northwest, east, and south. But all her diviners, her arts of astrology, her science, her foreigners and commerce and fertile soil, her massive walls and brazen gates — not all these combined can save her. Her cup is full, and Nemesis awaits her destruction. She never recovered her ancient greatness.

 


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Isaiah 47:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/isaiah-47.html. 1874-1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, June 25th, 2019
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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