Isaiah 48
Clarke's Commentary
The Jews reproved for their obstinate attachment to idols, notwithstanding their experience of the Divine providence over them; and of the Divine prescience that revealed by the prophets the most remarkable events which concerned them, that they should not have the least pretext for ascribing any portion of their success to their idols, Isaiah 48:1-8. The Almighty, after bringing them to the furnace for their perverseness, asserts his glorious sovereignty, and repeats his gracious promises of deliverance and consolation, Isaiah 48:9-11. Prophecy concerning that individual (Cyrus) who shall be an instrument in the hand of God of executing his will on Babylon, and his power on the Chaldeans; and the idols of the people are again challenged to give a like proof of their foreknowledge, Isaiah 48:12-16. Tender and passionate exclamation of Jehovah respecting the hardened condition of the Jewish nation, to which the very pathetic exclamation of the Divine Savior when he wept over Jerusalem may be considered a striking parallel, Isaiah 48:17-19. Notwithstanding the repeated provocations of the house of Israel, Jehovah will again be merciful to them. They are commanded to escape from Babylon; and God's gracious favor towards them is beautifully represented by images borrowed from the exodus from Egypt, Isaiah 48:20, Isaiah 48:21. Certain perdition of the finally impenitent, Isaiah 48:22. It will be proper here to remark that many passages in this chapter, and indeed the general strain of these prophecies, have a plain aspect to a restoration of the Church in the latter days upon a scale much greater than the world has yet witnessed, when the very violent fall of Babylon the Great, mentioned in the Revelation, of which the Chaldean capital was an expressive type, shall introduce by a most tremendous political convulsion, (Revelation 16:17-21), that glorious epoch of the Gospel, which forms so conspicuous a part of the prophecies of the Old Testament, and has been a subject of the prayers of all saints in all ages.

Hear ye this, O house of Jacob, which are called by the name of Israel, and are come forth out of the waters of Judah, which swear by the name of the LORD, and make mention of the God of Israel, but not in truth, nor in righteousness.
Are come forth out of the waters of Judah "Ye that flow from the fountain of Judah" - ממי mimmey, "from the waters." Perhaps ממעי mimmeey, "from the bowels," So many others have conjectured, or מני יהודה meni yehudah, or מיהודה meyhudah, "from Judah." - Secker. But see Michaelis in Praelect, not. 22. And we have עין יעקב eyn yaakob, "the fountain of Jacob," Deuteronomy 33:28, and ממקור ישראל mimmekor yishrael, "from the fountain of Israel," Psalm 68:27. Twenty-seven MSS. of Kennicott's, six of De Rossi's and two of my own, with six editions, have מימי meymey, "from the days;" which makes no good sense.

For they call themselves of the holy city, and stay themselves upon the God of Israel; The LORD of hosts is his name.
I have declared the former things from the beginning; and they went forth out of my mouth, and I shewed them; I did them suddenly, and they came to pass.
Because I knew that thou art obstinate, and thy neck is an iron sinew, and thy brow brass;
I have even from the beginning declared it to thee; before it came to pass I shewed it thee: lest thou shouldest say, Mine idol hath done them, and my graven image, and my molten image, hath commanded them.
Thou hast heard, see all this; and will not ye declare it? I have shewed thee new things from this time, even hidden things, and thou didst not know them.
Thou hast heard, see all this "Thou didst hear it beforehand; behold, the whole is accomplished" - For חזה chazeh, see, a MS. has הזה hazzeh, this; thou hast heard the whole of this: the Syriac has וחזית vechazith, "thou hast heard, and thou hast seen, the whole." Perhaps it should be הנה hinneh, behold. In order to express the full sense, I have rendered it somewhat paraphrastically.

They are created now, and not from the beginning; even before the day when thou heardest them not; lest thou shouldest say, Behold, I knew them.
Yea, thou heardest not; yea, thou knewest not; yea, from that time that thine ear was not opened: for I knew that thou wouldest deal very treacherously, and wast called a transgressor from the womb.
For my name's sake will I defer mine anger, and for my praise will I refrain for thee, that I cut thee not off.
And for my praise "And for the sake of my praise" - I read ולמען תהלתי ulemaan tehillathi. The word למען lemaan, though not absolutely necessary here, for it may be understood as supplied from the preceding member, yet seems to have been removed from hence to Isaiah 48:11; where it is redundant, and where it is not repeated in the Septuagint, Syriac, and a MS. I have therefore omitted it in the latter place, and added it here.

Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.
I have chosen thee "I have tried thee" - For בחרתיך becharticha, "I have chosen thee," a MS. has בחנתיך bechanticha, "I have tried thee." And so perhaps read the Syriac and Chaldee interpreters; they retain the same word בחרתך bechartach; but in those languages it signifies, I have tried thee. ככסף kecheseph, quasi argentum, "as silver." Vulgate.

I cannot think בכסף becheseph, With silver, is the true reading. ככסף kecheseph, Like silver, as the Vulgate evidently read it, I suppose to have been the original reading, though no MS. yet found supports this word; the similarity of the two letters, ב beth and כ caph, might have easily led to the mistake in the first instance; and it has been but too faithfully copied ever since. כור cur, which we translate furnace, should be rendered crucible, the vessel in which the silver is melted. The meaning of the verse seems to be this: I have purified you, but not as silver is purified; for when it is purified, no dross of any kind is left behind. Had I done this with you, I should have consumed you altogether; but I have put you in the crucible of affliction, in captivity, that you may acknowledge your sins, and turn unto me.

For mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it: for how should my name be polluted? and I will not give my glory unto another.
For how should my name be polluted "For how would my name be blasphemed" - The word שמי shemi, my name, is dropped out of the text; it is supplied by a MS. which has שמי shemi; and by the Septuagint, ὁτι το εμον ονομα βεβηλουται. The Syriac and Vulgate get over the difficulty, by making the verb in the first person; that I may not be blasphemed.

Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; I am he; I am the first, I also am the last.
O Jacob "O Jacob, my servant" - After יעקב yaakob, a MS. of Kennicott's, two of De Rossi's, and the two old editions of 1486 and 1488, add the word עבדי abdi, "my servant," which is lost out of the present text; and there is a rasure in its place in another ancient MS. The Jerusalem Talmud has the same word.

I also am the last "I am the last" - For אף אני aph ani, "even I," two ancient MSS. and the ancient Versions, read ואני veani, "and I;" more properly.

Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens: when I call unto them, they stand up together.
All ye, assemble yourselves, and hear; which among them hath declared these things? The LORD hath loved him: he will do his pleasure on Babylon, and his arm shall be on the Chaldeans.
Which among them hath declared these things "Who among you hath predicted these things" - For בהם bahem, "among them," twenty-one MSS., nine ancient, and two editions, one of them that of the year 1488, fourteen of De Rossi's, and one ancient of my own, have בכם bachem, "among you;" and so the Syriac.

The Lord hath loved him: he will do his pleasure on Babylon "He, whom Jehovah hath loved, will execute his will on Babylon" - That is, Cyrus; so Symmachus has well rendered it: Ὁν ὁ Κυριος ηγαπησε ποιησει το θελημα αυτου, "He whom the Lord hath loved will perform his will."

On the Chaldeans - The preposition is lost; it is supplied in the edition of 1486, which has בכשדים bechasdim, and so the Chaldee and Vulgate.

I, even I, have spoken; yea, I have called him: I have brought him, and he shall make his way prosperous.
Come ye near unto me, hear ye this; I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, there am I: and now the Lord GOD, and his Spirit, hath sent me.
Come ye near unto me - After the word קרבו kirbu, "draw near," a MS. adds גוים goyim, "O ye nations;" which, as this and the two preceding verses are plainly addressed to the idolatrous nations, reproaching their gods as unable to predict future events, is probably genuine.

Hear ye this "And hear ye this" - A MS. adds the conjunction, ושמעו vashimu; and so the Septuagint, Syriac, and Vulgate.

I have not spoken in secret - The Alexandrine copy of the Septuagint adds here, ουδε εν τοπῳ γης σκοτεινω, "nor in a dark place of the earth," as in Isaiah 45:19. That it stands rightly, or at least stood very early, in this place of the Version of the Septuagint, is highly probable, because it is acknowledged by the Arabic Version, and by the Coptic MS. St. Germain de Prez, Paris, translated likewise from the Septuagint. But whether it should be inserted, as of right belonging to the Hebrew text, may be doubted; for a transcriber of the Greek Version might easily add it by memory from the parallel place; and it is not necessary to the sense.

From the time that it was "Before the time when it began to exist" - An ancient MS. has היותם heyotham, "they began to exist;" and so another had it at first. From the time that the expedition of Cyrus was planned, there was God managing the whole by the economy of his providence.

There am I "I had decreed it" - I take שם sham for a verb, not an adverb.

And now the Lord God, and his Spirit, hath sent me "And now the Lord Jehovah hath sent me, and his Spirit" -

Τις εστιν ὁ εν τῳ Ησαιῳ λεγων, Και νυν Κυριος απεστειλε με και το Πνευμα αυτου; εν ᾡ, αμφιβολου οντος του ῥητου, ποτερον ὁ Πατηρ και το Ἁγιον Πνευμα απεστειλαν του Ιησουν, η ὁ Πατηρ απεστειλε τον τε Χριστον και το Ἁγιον Πνευμα το δευτερον εστιν αληθες.

"Who is it that saith in Isaiah, And now the Lord hath sent me and his Spirit? in which, as the expression is ambiguous, is it the Father and the Holy Spirit who have sent Jesus; or the Father, who hath sent both Christ and the Holy Spirit. The latter is the true interpretation." - Origen cont. Cels. lib. 1.

I have kept to the order of the words of the original, on purpose that the ambiguity, which Origen remarks in the Version of the Septuagint, and which is the same in the Hebrew might still remain; and the sense whlch he gives to it, be offered to the reader's judgment, which is wholly excluded in our translation.

Thus saith the LORD, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the LORD thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go.
O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea:
As a river "Like the river" - That is, the Euphrates.

Thy seed also had been as the sand, and the offspring of thy bowels like the gravel thereof; his name should not have been cut off nor destroyed from before me.
Like the gravel thereof "Like that of the bowels thereof" - בצאצאי מעי הים והם הדגים betseetsaey meey haiyam vehem haddagim; "As the issue of the bowels of the sea; that is, fishes." - Salom. ben Melec. And so likewise Aben Ezra, Jarchi Kimchi, etc.

His name "Thy name" - For שמו shemo, "his name," the Septuagint had in the copy from which they translated שמך shimcha, "thy name."

Go ye forth of Babylon, flee ye from the Chaldeans, with a voice of singing declare ye, tell this, utter it even to the end of the earth; say ye, The LORD hath redeemed his servant Jacob.
Tell this "Make it heard" - Twenty-seven MSS. of Kennicott's, (ten ancient), many of De Rossi's, and two ancient, of my own, with the Septuagint, Syriac, Chaldee, and Arabic, and one edition, prefix to the verb the conjunction ו vau, והשמיעו vehashmiu.

And they thirsted not when he led them through the deserts: he caused the waters to flow out of the rock for them: he clave the rock also, and the waters gushed out.
They thirsted not - through the deserts - Kimchi has a surprising observation upon this place: "If the prophecy," says he, "relates to the return from the Babylonish captivity, as it seems to do, it is to be wondered how it comes to pass, that in the Book of Ezra, in which he gives an account of their return, no mention is made that such miracles were wrought for them; as, for instance, that God clave the rock for them in the desert." It is really much to be wondered, that one of the most learned and judicious of the Jewish expositors of the Old Testament, having advanced so far in a large Comment on Isaiah, should appear to be totally ignorant of the prophet's manner of writing; of the parabolic style, which prevails in the writings of all the prophets, and more particularly in the prophecy of Isaiah, which abounds throughout in parabolical images from the beginning ts the end; from "Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth," to "the worm and the fire" in the last verse. And how came he to keep his wonderment to himself so long? Why did he not expect that the historian should have related how, as they passed through the desert, cedars, pines, and olive-trees shot up at once on the side of the way to shade them; and that instead of briers and brambles the acacia and the myrtle sprung up under their feet, according to God's promises, Isaiah 41:19 and Isaiah 55:13? These and a multitude of the like parabolical or poetical images, were never intended to be understood literally. All that the prophet designed in this place, and which he has executed in the most elegant manner, was an amplification and illustration of the gracious care and protection of God vouchsafed to his people in their return from Babylon, by an allusion to the miraculous exodus from Egypt. See De S. Poesi, Hebr. Prael. ix.

There is no peace, saith the LORD, unto the wicked.
There is no peace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked - See below, note on Isaiah 57:21 (note). As the destruction of Babylon was determined, God commands his people to hasten out of it; for, saith the Lord, there is no peace (prosperity) to the wicked; ουκ εστι χαιρειν τοις ασεβεσιν, λεγει Κυριος. - Sept. "There is no rejoicing or prosperity to the wicked saith the Lord." Their is not pese to unrytous men seith the Lord. - Old MS. Bible.

Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke [1831].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

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