Isaiah 18:3
All you inhabitants of the world, and dwellers on the earth, see you, when he lifts up an ensign on the mountains; and when he blows a trumpet, hear you.
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(3) When he lifteth up an ensign . . .—Both clauses are better taken as indefinite, when an ensign is set up . . . when a trumpet is sounded. The prophet calls on all nations (Ethiopia being specially included) to watch for the signal that shall be given, distinct as the beacon-fire on the hill, or the alarm of the trumpet, to proclaim the downfall of Assyria.

Isaiah 18:3. All ye inhabitants of the world, &c,, see ye — Take notice of what I say, and what God will do: Or, Ye shall see. “We have here the declaration made to the other people of the world, to expect the fall of the Assyrian. God invites all the people of the earth to this sight; that, as soon as they should observe the sign appointed by God, namely, the standards lifted up by Sennacherib, on the mountains of Judea, and the sound of the trumpets of the hostile army preparing to besiege Jerusalem, they should attend to the execution of this divine judgment.” — Vitringa. 18:1-7 God's care for his people; and the increase of the church. - This chapter is one of the most obscure in Scripture, though more of it probably was understood by those for whose use it was first intended, than by us now. Swift messengers are sent by water to a nation marked by Providence, and measured out, trodden under foot. God's people are trampled on; but whoever thinks to swallow them up, finds they are cast down, yet not deserted, not destroyed. All the dwellers on earth must watch the motions of the Divine Providence, and wait upon the directions of the Divine will. God gives assurance to his prophet, and by him to be given to his people. Zion is his rest for ever, and he will look after it. He will suit to their case the comforts and refreshments he provides for them; they will be acceptable, because seasonable. He will reckon with his and their enemies; and as God's people are protected at all seasons of the year, so their enemies are exposed at all seasons. A tribute of praise should be brought to God from all this. What is offered to God, must be offered in the way he has appointed; and we may expect him to meet us where he records his name. Thus shall the nations of the earth be convinced that Jehovah is the God, and Israel is his people, and shall unite in presenting spiritual sacrifices to his glory. Happy are those who take warning by his judgment on others, and hasten to join him and his people. Whatever land or people may be intended, we are here taught not to think that God takes no care of his church, and has no respect to the affairs of men, because he permits the wicked to triumph for a season. He has wise reasons for so doing, which we cannot now understand, but which will appear at the great day of his coming, when he will bring every work into judgment, and reward every man according to his works.All ye inhabitants of the world - These are to be regarded as the words of the prophet summoning all nations to attend to that which was about to occur. Grotius, however, and some others, suppose that they are the words of the Ethiopians. The meaning is, that the events which are here predicted would be of so public a nature as to attract the attention of all the world.

When he - Vitringa supposes that this means the Assyrians lifting up a standard on the mountains of Judea. But the better interpretation is that which refers it to the people of Nubia, mustering their forces for war. 'All nations behold when that people collects an army; sounds the trumpet for war; and arrays its military forces for battle. See then the judgments that God will inflict on them - their discomfiture Isaiah 18:4-7, and their turning to Yahweh, and sending an offering to him Isaiah 18:7.' According to this interpretation, it will refer to the people making preparation for battle; and perhaps it may mean that they were preparing to join the enemies of Judea - "not improbably preparing to join the forces of Sennacherib, and to invade Judea." For this purpose it may have been that the messengers were sent to negotiate the terms of alliance with Sennacherib; and the object of the prophecy is, to assure the Jews that this people, as well as Sennacherib, would be discomfited, and that they would yet bring an offering to God Isaiah 18:7.

Lifteth up an ensign - A military standard (see the note at Isaiah 5:26).

And when he bloweth a trumpet - Also a signal for an army to assemble (see the note at Isaiah 13:2).

3. see ye … hear ye—rather, "ye shall see … shall hear." Call to the whole earth to be witnesses of what Jehovah ("He") is about to do. He will "lift up an ensign," calling the Assyrian motley hosts together (Isa 5:26) on "the mountains" round Jerusalem, to their own destruction. This (the eighteenth chapter) declares the coming overthrow of those armies whose presence is announced in Isa 17:12, 13. The same motive, which led Hezekiah to seek aid from Egypt, led him to accept gladly the Ethiopian Tirhakah's aid (Isa 36:6; 37:9). Ethiopia, Egypt, and Judea were probably leagued together against the common enemy, 713 B.C. See notes on the [714]twenty-second chapter, where a difference of tone (as referring to a different period) as to Ethiopia is observable. Horsley takes the "ensign" to be the cross, and the "trumpet" the Gospel trumpet, which shall be sounded more loudly in the last days. See ye; take notice of what I say and God will do. Or, ye shall see it; you shall be eye-witnesses of this dreadful woe or judgment which I am bringing upon the people of whom I have spoken: The prophet doth in a manner summon all nations to bear witness of his prophecy, and of the accomplishment thereof.

When he lifteth up an ensign on the mountains, and when he bloweth a trumpet; when God shall gather together the nations, as it were, by the lifting up of an ensign, or by the sound of a trumpet, to execute his judgments upon this people. Heb. as when a man

lifts up an ensign upon the mountains, which men can easily see; and as when a man sounds a trumpet, they can hear: no less visible and manifest shall this judgment of God be.

Hear ye; ye shall hear it, as in the other branch. All ye inhabitants of the world, and dwellers on the earth,.... All the men of the world are here called upon, either by the Lord, or rather by the prophet, to be eye and ear witnesses of the judgment that should be inflicted upon the above nation, and of the salvation of his own people; which should be so manifest, that all should see it as easily as an ensign set up on a mountain; and the news of it should ring through the earth, and be as plainly heard as when a trumpet is blown: unless it should be thought that these are the words of the messengers sent to the above nation, addressing them in such terms, assuring them, that, however stupid and secure they were now, they should quickly see the sign and hear the alarm of war; it being usual to call any large kingdom the world, and the earth:

see ye, when be lifteth up an ensign on the mountains; or ye shall see this as clearly as when a flag is set up on a mountain; or ye shall be sensible of this judgment coming on, when a standard shall be set up on the mountains, to gather the people to war. Vitringa interprets this of the mountains of Judea, where the Assyrians would set up their banners, and blow their trumpets, as follows:

and when he bloweth a trumpet, hear ye; or, "ye shall hear"; the trumpet sounding as an alarm of war, by which the people will be summoned, and come to execute the judgment threatened. The Targum is,

"ye shall hear the redemption;''

that is, of Israel, in the times of the Messiah, and in the war of Gog and Magog; of which times Jarchi and Kimchi interpret this whole prophecy.

All ye inhabitants of the world, and dwellers on the earth, see ye, when {f} he lifteth up an ensign on the mountains; and when he bloweth a trumpet, hear ye.

(f) When the Lord prepared to fight against the Ethiopians.

3. This verse gives the message which the ambassadors are to carry home to their countrymen, although it concerns all the world as much as the Ethiopians.

Render: when a signal is lifted up … when a trumpet is blown. Cf. ch. Isaiah 13:2. Since the whole process is supernatural it is idle to enquire what the “signal” and “trumpet” signify. The verse is simply a summons to be prepared for the moment of Jehovah’s decisive intervention.Verse 3. - All ye inhabitants of the world. From exhorting the messengers to hasten on their errand, Isaiah turns to the nations generally, and bids them attend to a coming signal - an ensign is about to be raised, a trumpet is about to be sounded - let them gaze and hearken; the result will be well worth noting. The imagery is not to be taken literally, but in the same way as the notices in Isaiah 11:10, 12; Isaiah 13:2. When he lifteth up an ensign... when he bloweth a trumpet; rather, when an ensign is lifted up... when a trumpet sounds. On the mountains. Wherever the great event took place, the signal for it was given on the mountains of Judea (see 2 Kings 19:20-34). Third turn: "In that day will his fortified cities be like the ruins of the forest and of the mountain top, which they cleared before the sons of Israel: and there arises a waste place. For thou hast forgotten the God of thy salvation, and hast not thought of the Rock of thy stronghold, therefore thou plantedst charming plantations, and didst set them with strange vines. In the day that thou plantedst, thou didst make a fence; and with the morning dawn thou madest thy sowing to blossom: a harvest heap in the day of deep wounds and deadly sorrow of heart." The statement in Isaiah 17:3, "The fortress of Ephraim is abolished," is repeated in Isaiah 17:9 in a more descriptive manner. The fate of the strongly fortified cities of Ephraim would be the same as that of the old Canaanitish castles, which were still to be discerned in their antiquated remains, either in the depths of forests or high up on the mountains. The word ‛azubâh, which the early translators quite misunderstood, signifies, both here and in Isaiah 6:12, desolate places that have gone to ruin. They also misunderstood והאמיר הסהרשׁ. The Septuagint renders it, by a bold conjecture, οἱ Αμοῤῥηαῖοι καὶ οὶ Εὐαῖοι; but this is at once proved to be false by the inversion of the names of the two peoples, which was very properly thought to be necessary. האמיר undoubtedly signifies the top of a tree, which is quite unsuitable here. But as even this meaning points back to אמר, extollere, efferre (see at Psalm 94:4), it may also mean the mountain-top. The name hâ'emori (the Amorites: those who dwell high up in the mountains) proves the possibility of this; and the prophet had this name in his mind, and was guided by it in his choice of a word. The subject of עזבוּ is self-evident. And the reason why only the ruins in forests and on mountains are mentioned is, that other places, which were situated on the different lines of traffic, merely changed their inhabitants when the land was taken by Israel. The reason why the fate of Ephraim's fortified castles was the same as that of the Amoritish castles, which were then lying in ruins, was that Ephraim, as stated in Isaiah 17:10, had turned away from its true rocky stronghold, namely from Jehovah. It was a consequence of this estrangement from God, that Ephraim planted נעמנים נטעי, plantations of the nature of pleasant things, or pleasant plantations (compare on Psalm 78:49, and Ewald, 287, ab), i.e., cultivated all kinds of sensual accompaniments to its worship, in accordance with its heathen propensities; and sowed, or rather (as zemōrâh is the layer of a vine) "set," this garden-ground, to which the suffix ennu refers, with strange grapes, by forming an alliance with a zâr (a stranger), namely the king of Damascus. On the very day of the planting, Ephraim fenced it carefully (this is the meaning of the pilpel, sigsēg from שׂוּג equals סוּג, not "to raise," as no such verb as שׂוּג equals שׂגה, סגא, can be shown to exist), that is to say, he ensured the perpetuity of these sensuous modes of worship as a state religion, with all the shrewdness of a Jeroboam (see Amos 7:13). And the very next morning he had brought into blossom what he had sown: the foreign layer had shot up like a hot-house plant, i.e., the alliance had speedily grown into a hearty agreement, and had already produced one blossom at any rate, viz., the plan of a joint attack upon Judah. But this plantation, which was so flattering and promising for Israel, and which had succeeded so rapidly, and to all appearance so happily, was a harvest heap for the day of the judgment. Nearly all modern expositors have taken nēd as the third person (after the form mēth, Ges. 72, Anm. 1), and render it "the harvest flees;" but the third person of נוּד would be נד, like the participle in Genesis 4:12; whereas the meaning cumulus (a heap), which it has elsewhere as a substantive, is quite appropriate, and the statement of the prophet resembles that of the apostle in Romans 2:5. The day of the judgment is called "the day of נחלה" (or, according to another reading, נחלה), not, however, as equivalent to nachal, a stream (Luzzatto, in giorno di fiumana), as in Psalm 124:4 (the tone upon the last syllable proves this), nor in the sense of "in the day of possession," as Rosenmller and others suppose, since this necessarily gives to נד the former objectionable and (by the side of קציר) improbable verbal sense; but as the feminine of nachleh, written briefly for maccâh nachlâh (Jeremiah 14:17), i.e., inasmuch as it inflicts grievous and mortal wounds. Ephraim's plantation is a harvest heap for that day (compare kâtzir, the harvest of punishment, in Hosea 6:11 and Jeremiah 51:33); and the hope set upon this plantation is changed into אנוּשׁ כּאב, a desperate and incurable heartfelt sorrow (Jeremiah 30:15). The organic connection between Isaiah 17:12-14, which follow, and the oracle concerning Damascus and Israel, has also been either entirely misunderstood, or not thoroughly appreciated. The connection is the following: As the prophet sets before himself the manner in which the sin of Ephraim is punished by Asshur, as the latter sweeps over the Holy Land, the promise which already began to dawn in the second turn bursts completely through: the world-power is the instrument of punishment in the hands of Jehovah, but not for ever.
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