Isaiah 47:8
Therefore hear now this, thou that art given to pleasures, that dwellest carelessly, that sayest in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me; I shall not sit as a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children:
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(8) I am, and none else beside me . . .—The boasts of Babylon are purposely embodied by the prophet in praises that recall Jehovah’s assertion of His own eternity. She practically deified herself. So a like boast is put into the mouth of Nineveh in Zephaniah 2:15, and was repeated almost verbally by the poets of Rome: Terrarum dea gentiumque Roma, cui par est nihil, et nihil secundum (Martial).

47:7-15 Let us beware of acting and speaking as Babylon did; of trusting in tyranny and oppression; of boasting as to our abilities, relying on ourselves, and ascribing success to our own prudence and wisdom; lest we partake of her plagues. Those in the height of prosperity, are apt to fancy themselves out of the reach of adversity. It is also common for sinners to think they shall be safe, because they think to be secret in wicked ways. But their security shall be their ruin. Let us draw from such passages as the foregoing, those lessons of humility and trust in God which they convey. If we believe the word of God, we may know how it will be with the righteous and the wicked to all eternity. We may learn how to escape the wrath to come, to glorify God, to have peace through life, hope in death, and everlasting happiness. Let us then stand aloof from all delusions.Therefore hear now this - The prophet proceeds, in this verse and the following, to detail more particularly the sins of Babylon, and to state the certainty of the punishment which would come upon her. In the previous verses, the denunciation of punishment had been figurative. It had been represented under the image of a lady delicately trained and nurtured, doomed to the lowest condition of life, and compelled to stoop to the most menial offices. Here the prophet uses language without figure, and states directly her crimes, and her doom.

That art given to pleasures - Devoted to dissipation, and to the effeminate pleasures which luxury engenders (see the notes at Isaiah 47:1). Curtius, in his History of Babylon as it was in the times of Alexander (v. 5. 36), Herodotus (i. 198), and Strabo Georg. xvi.), have given a description of it, all representing it as corrupt, licentious, and dissipated in the extreme. Curtius, in the passage quoted on Isaiah 47:1, says, among other things, that no city was more corrupt in its morals; nowhere were there so many excitements to licentious and guilty pleasures.

That dwellest carelessly - In vain security; without any consciousness of danger, and without alarm (compare Zephaniah 2:15).

I am, and none else besides me - The language of pride. She regarded herself as the principal city of the world, and all others as unworthy to be named in comparison with her (compare the note at Isaiah 45:6). Language remarkably similar to this occurs in Martial's description of Rome (xii. 8):

Terrarum dea gentiumque, Roma,

Cui par est nihil, et nihil secundum -

Rome, goddess of the earth and of nations, to whom nothing is equal, nothing second.'

I shall not sit as a widow - On the word 'sit,' see the note at Isaiah 47:1. The sense is, that she would never be lonely, sad, and afflicted, like a wife deprived of her husband, and a mother of her children. The figure is changed from Isaiah 47:1, where she is represented as a virgin; but the same idea is presented under another form (compare the note at Isaiah 23:4).

8. given to pleasures—(See on [829]Isa 47:1). In no city were there so many incentives to licentiousness.

I am … none … beside me—(Isa 47:10). Language of arrogance in man's mouth; fitting for God alone (Isa 45:6). See Isa 5:8, latter part.

widow … loss of children—A state, represented as a female, when it has fallen is called a widow, because its king is no more; and childless, because it has no inhabitants; they having been carried off as captives (Isa 23:4; 54:1, 4, 5; Re 18:7, 8).

I am; I am independent, and self-sufficient, and unchangeable, as that phrase implies, which therefore is appropriated to God, Isaiah 41:4 43:10, and elsewhere. The prophet doth not here use the very phrase which the Babylonians used, but expresseth their sense in a Scripture phrase.

None else beside me; which is not either subject to me, or far inferior to me in power and glory; so that in comparison of me it may be said not to be, because it disappears like stars at the presence of the sun.

I shall not sit as a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children; I shall never want either a king or people to defend me from all dangers.

Therefore hear now this, thou that art given to pleasures,.... To carnal lusts and pleasures; gratifying her sensual appetite; indulging herself in everything that was agreeable to the senses; abounding in delicacies, and living deliciously; as is said of mystical Babylon, Revelation 18:4, particularly given to venereal pleasures. Curtius says (g),

"no city was more corrupt in its manners, or furnished to irritate or allure to immoderate pleasures. Parents and husbands suffered their children and wives to prostitute themselves to strangers, so that they had but a price.''

Yea, every woman was obliged by a law to do this once in life, and that in a public manner, in the temple of Venus; the impurities of which are at large described by Herodotus (h) and Strabo (i):

that dwelleth carelessly; in great confidence and security, being fearless of danger, and insensible of any:

that sayest in thine heart, I am, and none else besides me: sole monarch of the world, empress of the whole universe; no competitor with me, none that can rival me. These words are sometimes used by the eternal and unchangeable Jehovah of himself, and indeed they suit with none but him; and it is the height of insolence and blasphemy in a creature to use them of itself; they fitly express that sovereignty, supremacy, infallibility, and even deity, which mystical Babylon assumes and ascribes to her head:

I shall not sit as a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children; not be without a head, king, or monarch, which is as a husband to the state; nor without numerous subjects, which are as children. The like mystical Babylon says, "I sit a queen, and am no widow", Revelation 18:7.

(g) Hist. l. 5. c. 1. sect. 1.((h) Clio, sive l. 1. c. 199. (i) Geograph. l. 16. p. 513.

Therefore hear now this, thou that art given to pleasures, that dwellest carelessly, that sayest in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me; I shall not sit as a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children:
Verse 8. - Therefore; rather, and now. The third strophe begins here, but with a single, instead of a double, imperative. So also the fourth strophe in ver. 12. Thou that art given to pleasures (see the comment on ver. 1, sub fin.). That dwellest carelessly; or, that sittest securely; i.e. in an imagined security. Herodotus says that, when Cyrus invested the city, the inhabitants "made light of his siege" (1:190), and occupied themselves "in dancing and revelry" (1:191). The Nabonidus Tablet seems to show that very slight and insufficient preparations for defence were made.! am, and none else Beside me. This is not self-deification, but only a boast of superiority to all other earthly powers. Zephaniah expresses in exactly similar terms the pride and arrogance of Assyria (Zephaniah 2:15). I shall not sit as a widow; i.e. in solitude and desolation (Lamentations 1:1), deserted by the crowds who had sought her marts and delighted in her luxury. This result, which now impended, had never been anticipated by the "careless" one, who had expected to be for ever "the lady of kingdoms." The loss of children; i.e. diminution of population. Isaiah 47:8A third strophe of this proclamation of punishment is opened here with ועתה, on the ground of the conduct censured. "And now hear this, thou voluptuous one, she who sitteth so securely, who sayeth in her heart, I am it, and none else: I shall not sit a widow, nor experience bereavement of children. And these two will come upon thee suddenly in one day: bereavement of children and widowhood; they come upon thee in fullest measure, in spite of the multitude of thy sorceries, in spite of the great abundance of thy witchcrafts. Thou trustedst in thy wickedness, saidst, No one seeth me. Thy wisdom and thy knowledge, they led thee astray; so that thou saidst in thy heart, I am it, and none else. And misfortune cometh upon thee, which thou dost not understand how to charm away: and destruction will fall upon thee, which thou canst not atone for; there will come suddenly upon thee ruin which thou suspectest not." In the surnames given to Babylon here, a new reason is assigned for the judgment - namely, extravagance, security, and self-exaltation. עדין is an intensive from of עדן (lxx τρυφερά). The i of אפסי is regarded by Hahn as the same as we meet with in אתּי equals אתּ; but this is impossible here with the first person. Rosenmller, Ewald, Gesenius, and others, take it as chirek compaginis, and equivalent to עוד אין, which would only occur in this particular formula. Hitzig supposes it to be the suffix of the word, which is meant as a preposition in the sense of et praeter me ultra (nemo); but this nemo would be omitted, which is improbable. The more probable explanation is, that אפס signifies absolute non-existence, and when used as an adverb, "exclusively, nothing but," e.g., קצהוּ אפס, nothing, the utmost extremity thereof, i.e., only the utmost extremity of it (Numbers 23:13; cf., Numbers 22:35). But it is mostly used with a verbal force, like אין (אין), (utique) non est (see Isaiah 45:14); hence אפסי, like איני, (utique) non sum. The form in which the presumption of Babylon expresses itself, viz., "I (am it), and I am absolutely nothing further," sounds like self-deification, by the side of similar self-assertion on the part of Jehovah (Isaiah 45:5-6; Isaiah 14:21, Isaiah 14:22 and Isaiah 46:9). Nineveh speaks in just the same way in Zephaniah 2:15; compare Martial: "Terrarum Dea gentiumque Roma cui par est nihil et nihil secundum." Babylon also says still further (like the Babylon of the last days in Revelation 18:7): "I shall not sit as a widow (viz., mourning thus in solitude, Lamentations 1:1; Lamentations 3:28; and secluded from the world, Genesis 38:11), nor experience the loss of children" (orbitatem). She would become a widow, if she should lose the different nations, and "the kings of the earth who committed fornication with her" (Revelation 18:9); for her relation to her own king cannot possibly be thought of, inasmuch as the relation in which a nation stands to its temporal king is never thought of as marriage, like that of Jehovah to Israel. She would also be a mother bereaved of her children, if war and captivity robbed her of her population. But both of these would happen to her suddenly in one day, so that she would succumb to the weight of the double sorrow. Both of them would come upon her kethummâm (secundum integritatem eorum), i.e., so that she would come to learn what the loss of men and the loss of children signified in all its extent and in all its depth, and that in spite of (בּ, with, equivalent to "notwithstanding," as in Isaiah 5:25; not "through equals on account of," since this tone is adopted for the first time in Isaiah 47:10) the multitude of its incantations, and the very great mass (‛ŏtsmâh, an inf. noun, as in Isaiah 30:19; Isaiah 55:2, used here, not as in Isaiah 40:29, in an intensive sense, but, like ‛âtsūm, as a parallel word to rabh in a numerical sense) of its witchcrafts (chebher, binding by means of incantations, κατάδεσμος). Babylonia was the birth-place of astrology, from which sprang the twelve-fold division of the day, the horoscope and sun-dial (Herod. ii. 109); but it was also the home of magic, which pretended to bind the course of events, and even the power of the gods, and to direct them in whatever way it pleased (Diodorus, ii. 29). Thus had Babylon trusted in her wickedness (Isaiah 13:11), viz., in the tyranny and cunning by which she hoped to ensure perpetual duration, with the notion that she was exalted above the reach of any earthly calamity.

She thought, "None seeth me" (non est videns me), thus suppressing the voice of conscience, and practically denying the omnipotence and omnipresence of God. ראני (with a verbal suffix, videns me, whereas ראי saere in Genesis 16:3 signifies videns mei equals meus), also written ראני, is a pausal form in half pause for ראני (Isaiah 29:15). Tzere passes in pause both into pathach (e.g., Isaiah 42:22), and also, apart from such hithpael forms as Isaiah 41:16, into kametz, as in קימנוּ (Job 22:20, which see). By the "wisdom and knowledge" of Babylon, which had turned her aside from the right way, we are to understand her policy, strategy, and more especially her magical arts, i.e., the mysteries of the Chaldeans, their ἐπιχώριοι φιλόσοφοι (Strabo, xxi. 1, 6). On hōvâh (used here and in Ezekiel 7:26, written havvâh elsewhere), according to its primary meaning, "yawning," χαῖνον, then a yawning depth, χάσμα, utter destruction, see at Job 37:6. שׁאה signifies primarily a desert, or desolate place, here destruction; and hence the derivative meaning, waste noise, a dull groan. The perfect consec. of the first clause precedes its predicate רעה in the radical form בא (Ges., 147, a). With the parallelism of כּפּרהּ, it is not probable that שׁחרהּ, which rhymes with it, is a substantive, in the sense of "from which thou wilt experience no morning dawn" (i.e., after the night of calamity), as Umbreit supposes. The suffix also causes some difficulty (hence the Vulgate rendering, ortum ejus, sc. mali); and instead of תדעי, we should expect תראי. In any case, shachrâh is a verb, and Hitzig renders it, "which thou wilt not know how to unblacken;" but this privative use of shichēr as a word of colour would be without example. It would be better to translate it, "which thou wilt not know how to spy out" (as in Isaiah 26:9), but better still, "which thou wilt not know how to conjure away" (shichēr equals Arab. sḥḥr, as it were incantitare, and here incantando averruncare). The last relative clause affirms what shachrâh would state, if understood according to Isaiah 26:9 : destruction which thou wilt not know, i.e., which will come suddenly and unexpectedly.

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