Isaiah 51:14
The captive exile hastens that he may be loosed, and that he should not die in the pit, nor that his bread should fail.
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(14) The captive exile.—Literally, he that is bowed down, i.e., bound in fetters. The “pit,” as in the case of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 38:6), is the underground dungeon, in which the prisoner was too often left to starve.

Isaiah 51:14-16. The captive exile hasteneth that he may be loosed — From his captivity, and may return to his own country from which he is banished. And that he should not die in the pit — Die a prisoner, through the inconveniences and hardships of his confinement; nor that his bread should fail — The bread or provision allowed to keep him alive in prison. The general sense of the verse is, God is not slack, as you think, but makes haste to fulfil his promise, and rescue his captive and oppressed people from all their oppressions and miseries. And I have put my words in thy mouth — These great and glorious promises, which are in thy mouth, are not the vain words of man, a weak, inconstant, and unfaithful creature, but the words of the almighty, unchangeable, and faithful God; and therefore they shall be infallibly accomplished. This is spoken by God to his church and people, whom he addresses, both in the foregoing and following verses. For God’s word is frequently said to be put into the mouths, not only of the prophets, but also of the people, as Isaiah 59:21; Deuteronomy 30:14. And have covered thee, &c. — Have protected thee by my almighty power. That I may plant the heavens — Bishop Lowth reads, To stretch out the heavens: and lay the foundations of the earth — I have given thee, O my church, these promises, and this protection in all thy calamities, to assure thee of my care and kindness to thee, and that I will reform thee in a most glorious manner, and bring thee unto that perfect and blessed estate which is reserved for the days of the Messiah, which, in the language of Scripture, is termed the making of new heavens and a new earth, Isaiah 65:17; and Isaiah 66:22. And say unto Zion, Thou art my people — That I may own thee for my people, in a more illustrious manner than I have done.51:9-16 The people whom Christ has redeemed with his blood, as well as by his power, will obtain joyful deliverance from every enemy. He that designs such joy for us at last, will he not work such deliverance in the mean time, as our cases require? In this world of changes, it is a short step from joy to sorrow, but in that world, sorrow shall never come in view. They prayed for the display of God's power; he answers them with consolations of his grace. Did we dread to sin against God, we should not fear the frowns of men. Happy is the man that fears God always. And Christ's church shall enjoy security by the power and providence of the Almighty.The captive exile - Lowth renders this, evidently very improperly, 'He marcheth on with speed who cometh to set the captive free;' and supposes that it refers to Cyrus, if understood of the temporal redemption from the captivity at Babylon; in the spiritual sense, to the Messiah. But the meaning evidently is, that the exile who had been so long as it were enchained in Babylon, was about to be set free, and that the time was very near when the captivity was to end. The prisoner should not die there, but should be conducted again to his own land. The word used here, and rendered 'captive exile' (צעה tso‛eh from צעה tsâ‛âh), means properly 'that which is turned on one side,' or inclined, as, e. g., a vessel for pouring Jeremiah 48:12. Then it means that which is inclined, bent, or bowed down as a captive in bonds. The Chaldee renders this, 'Vengeance shall be quickly revealed, and the just shall not die in corruption, and their food shall not fail.' Aben Ezra renders it, 'Bound.' The idea is, that they who were bowed down under bondage and oppression in Babylon, should very soon be released. This is one of the numerous passages which show that the scene of the prophetic vision is Babylon, and the time near the close of the captivity, and that the design of the prophet is to comfort them there, and to afford them the assurance that they would soon be released.

And that he should not die in the pit - That is, in Babylon, represented as a prison, or a pit. The nation would be restored to their own land. Prisoners were often confined in a deep pit or cavern, and hence, the word is synonymous with prison. The following extract from Pax. ton will illustrate this. 'The Athenians, and particularly the tribe of Hippothoontis, frequently condemned offenders to the pit. It was a dark, noisome hole, and had sharp spikes at the top, that no criminal might escape; and others at the bottom, to pierce and torment those unhappy persons who were thrown in. Similar to this place was the Lacedemonian Καιαδας Kaiadas, into which Aristomenes the Messenian being cast, made his escape in a very surprising manner.' Compare also Genesis 37:20; Numbers 16:30; Psalm 9:15; Psalm 28:1; Psalm 30:3, Psalm 30:9; Psalm 40:2; Psalm 55:23; Psalm 119:85; Psalm 140:10; Jeremiah 37:21; Zechariah 9:11.

Nor that his bread should fail - His needs shall be supplied until he is released.

14. captive exile—literally, one bowed down as a captive (Isa 10:4) [Maurer]. The scene is primarily Babylon, and the time near the close of the captivity. Secondarily, and antitypically, the mystical Babylon, the last enemy of Israel and the Church, in which they have long suffered, but from which they are to be gloriously delivered.

pit—such as were many of the ancient dungeons (compare Jer 38:6, 11, 13; Ge 37:20).

nor … bread … fail—(Isa 33:16; Jer 37:21).

God is not slack, as you think, but maketh haste to fulfil his promise, and to rescue his captive and oppressed people from all their oppressions and miseries. The captive exile hasteneth that he may be loosed,.... The time hastens on, or God will hasten the time, for the release either of the captive Jews in literal Babylon, or of his people in mystical Babylon; or they that are in exile and captivity, as soon as ever opportunity offers for their release, will take it, and make no delay: though some understand the words by way of complaint, as if the persons spoken of were impatient, and could not wait the proper time of their deliverance:

and that he should not die in the pit; in captivity, which was like a pit or grave:

nor that his bread should fail: while in the pit or prison, or on his way home. Musculus interprets all this of Pharaoh, whom he supposes to be the oppressor in the preceding verse, and renders the words,

who hastened going to open, lest he should die in the destruction; who, when he saw the firstborn slain, hastened to open and let Israel go, and was urgent upon them to be gone immediately, lest he and all his people should perish in that calamity:

nor did his bread fail; the bread of the people delivered out of Egypt, so he understands it, but were provided with bread from heaven, all the while they were in the wilderness; and yet this instance of divine power and goodness was greatly forgotten in later times. Jerome applies the whole to Christ, who should quickly come; going and treading down his enemies; opening the way of victory; saving those that are converted, and giving the bread of doctrine to them: but the words are a promise to exiles and prisoners for the sake of Christ and his Gospel, that they should be quickly loosed and set free, and not die in prison, nor want bread, neither corporeal nor spiritual.

The captive exile {m} hasteneth that he may be loosed, and that he should not die in the pit, nor that his bread should fail.

(m) He comforts them by the short time of their banishment: for in seventy years they were restored and the greatest empire of the world destroyed.

14. The received text is probably best rendered as follows: Speedily shall the crouching (prisoner) be set free, and he shall not die (and go down) to the pit, nor shall his bread fail (see R.V.); Israel in exile being compared to a prisoner in danger of death through starvation. The image reminds us of Jeremiah in the dungeon (Isaiah 38:9-10). The verse is full of obscurities, and its connexion with what precedes is of the loosest kind. The LXX. gives what is obviously a conjectural rendering, and it is not unlikely that the Hebr. represents another attempt to restore an illegible text.Verse 14. - The captive exile hasteneth that he may be loosed; rather, he that is bent down hasteneth to be released; i.e. such of the exiles as were cramped and bent by fetters, or by the stocks, would speedily, on the fall of Babylon, obtain their release. They would not "die unto the pit," i.e. so as to belong to the pit and to be east into it, but would live and have a sufficiency of sustenance. Upon this magnificent promise of the final triumph of the counsel of God, an exhortation is founded to the persecuted church, not to be afraid of men. "Hearken unto me, ye that know about righteousness, thou people with my law in the heart; fear ye not the reproach of mortals, and be ye not alarmed at their revilings. For the moth will devour them like a garment, and the worm devour them like woollen cloth; and my righteousness will stand for ever, and my salvation to distant generations." The idea of the "servant of Jehovah," in its middle sense, viz., as denoting the true Israel, is most clearly set forth in the address here. They that pursue after righteousness, and seek Jehovah (Isaiah 51:1), that is to say, the servants of Jehovah (Isaiah 65:8-9), are embraced in the unity of a "people," as in Isaiah 65:10 (cf., Isaiah 10:24), i.e., of the true people of God in the people of His choice, and therefore of the kernel in the heart of the whole mass - an integral intermediate link in the organism of the general idea, which Hvernick and, to a certain extent, Hofmann eliminate from it,

(Note: Hvernick, in his Lectures on the Theology of the Old Testament, published by H. A. Hahn, 1848, and in a second edition by H. Schultz, 1863; Drechsler, in his article on the Servant of Jehovah, in the Luth. Zeitschrift, 1852; V. Hofmann, in his Schriftbeweis, ii. 1, 147. The first two understand by the servant of Jehovah as an individual, the true Israel personified: the idea has simply Israel as a whole at its base, i.e., Israel which did not answer to its ideal, and the Messiah as the summit, in whom the ideal of Israel was fully realized. Drechsler goes so far as to call the central link, viz., an Israel true to its vocation, a modern abstraction that has no support in the Scriptures. Hofmann, however, says that he has no wish to exclude this central idea, and merely wishes to guard against the notion that a number of individuals, whether Israelites generally or pious Israelites, are ever intended by the epithet "servant of Jehovah." "The nation," he says himself at p. 145, "was called as a nation to be the servant of God, but it fulfilled its calling as a church of believers." And so say we; but we also add that this church is a kernel always existing within the outer ecclesia mixta, and therefore always a number of individuals, though they are only known to God.)

but not without thereby destroying the typical mirror in which the prophet beholds the passion of the One. The words are addressed to those who know from their own experience what righteousness is as a gift of grace, and as conduct in harmony with the plan of salvation, i.e., to the nation, which bears in its heart the law of God as the standard and impulse of its life, the church which not only has it as a letter outside itself, but as a vital power within (cf., Psalm 40:9). None of these need to be afraid of men. Their despisers and blasphemers are men ('ĕnōsh; cf., Isaiah 51:12, Psalm 9:20; Psalm 10:18), whose pretended omnipotence, exaltation, and indestructibility, are an unnatural self-convicted lie. The double figure in Isaiah 51:8, which forms a play upon words that cannot well be reproduced, affirms that the smallest exertion of strength is quite sufficient to annihilate their sham greatness and sham power; and that long before they are actually destroyed, they carry the constantly increasing germ of it within themselves. The sâs, says a Jewish proverb, is brother to the ‛âsh. The latter (from ‛âshēsh, collabi, Arab. ‛aththa, trans. corrodere) signifies a moth; the former (like the Arabic sūs, sūse, Gr. σής) a moth, and also a weevil, curculio. The relative terms in Greek are σής (Armen. tzetz) and κίς. But whilst the persecutors of the church succumb to these powers of destruction, the righteousness and salvation of God, which are even now the confidence and hope of His church, and the full and manifest realization of which it will hereafter enjoy, stand for ever, and from "generation to generation," ledōr dōrı̄m, i.e., to an age which embraces endless ages within itself.

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