Isaiah 51:18
There is none to guide her among all the sons whom she hath brought forth; neither is there any that taketh her by the hand of all the sons that she hath brought up.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Isaiah 51:18-20. There is none to guide her, &c. — When thou wast drunk with this cup, and couldest not direct or support thy steps, neither thy princes, nor prophets, nor priests, were able or willing to lead or uphold thee. These two things are come upon thee — Those here following, which, although they be expressed in four words, yet may be fitly reduced to two things, namely, desolation by famine, and destruction by the sword. Who shall be sorry for thee — Who is there left to take pity on thee, since thy children are all in as miserable a condition as thyself? See Isaiah 51:18; Isaiah 51:20. By whom shall I comfort thee — What human means of comfort is there left for thee?

Thy sons have fainted — They are so far from being able to comfort thee, as was said Isaiah 51:18, that they themselves faint away for want of comfort, and through famine. They lie at the head of all the streets — Dead by famine, or the sword of the enemy; as a wild bull in a net — Those of them who are not slain are struggling for life. They are full of the fury of the Lord — “The bold image of the cup of God’s wrath,” says Bishop Lowth, “often employed by the sacred writers, is nowhere handled with greater force and sublimity than in this passage. Jerusalem is represented in person, as staggering under the effects of it, destitute of that assistance which she might expect from her children, not one of them being able to support or lead her. They, abject and amazed, lie at the head of every street, overwhelmed with the greatness of their distress; like the oryx entangled in a net, in vain struggling to rend it and extricate himself. This is poetry of the first order, sublimity of the highest proof.”

51:17-23 God calls upon his people to mind the things that belong to their everlasting peace. Jerusalem had provoked God, and was made to taste the bitter fruits. Those who should have been her comforters, were their own tormentors. They have no patience by which to keep possesion of their own souls, nor any confidence in God's promise, by which to keep possession of its comfort. Thou art drunken, not as formerly, with the intoxicating cup of Babylon's idolatries, but with the cup of affliction. Know, then, the cause of God's people may for a time seem as lost, but God will protect it, by convincing the conscience, or confounding the projects, of those that strive against it. The oppressors required souls to be subjected to them, that every man should believe and worship as they would have them. But all they could gain by violence was, that people were brought to outward hypocritical conformity, for consciences cannot be forced.There is none to guide her - The image here is taken from the condition of one who is under the influence of an intoxicating draught, and who needs some one to sustain and guide him. The idea is, than among all the inhabitants of Jerusalem in the time of the calamity, there was none who could restore to order the agitated and distracted affairs of the nation. All its wisdom was destroyed; its counsels perplexed; its power overcome.

All the sons whom she hath brought forth - All the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

18. Following up the image in Isa 51:17, intoxicated and confused by the cup of God's anger, she has none to guide her in her helpless state; she has not yet awakened out of the sleep caused by that draught. This cannot apply to the Babylonish captivity; for in it they had Ezekiel and Daniel, Ezra and Nehemiah, as "guides," and soon awoke out of that sleep; but it applies to the Jews now, and will be still more applicable in their coming oppression by Antichrist. When thou wast drunk with this cup, and not able to go, neither thy princes, nor prophets, nor priests were able or willing to lead and support thee.

There is none to guide her among all the sons whom she hath brought forth,.... Still alluding to drunken persons staggering in the streets, that can scarcely stand on their feet, and do not know their way, and yet have none to hold them up and guide them, not even of their friends and relations:

neither is there any that taketh her by the hand of all the sons that she hath brought up; to hold her up from falling, of which there is danger by reeling to and fro, through the intoxicating liquor; and this, either for want of sons, these being dead, or through want of filial affection in them. This was true of Jerusalem, literally understood, at the time of her last destruction by the Romans, when she had no king, priest, nor prophet, to counsel and direct, defend and protect her; and will be the case of the church of God at the slaying of the witnesses, when their own friends will be shy of them, and refuse or neglect to do any kind offices, or show any respect unto them, signified by not suffering their dead bodies to be put into graves, Revelation 11:9.

There is none to guide her among all the sons whom she hath brought forth; neither is there any that taketh her by the hand of all the sons that she hath brought up.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verse 18. - None to guide her. From the time that Johanan, the son of Kareah, and the other "captains of the forces," quitted Judaea and fled into Egypt, taking with them Jeremiah and Baruch (Jeremiah 43:5-7), there was no one left in the country with any authority or any ability to direct affairs. The city, no doubt, suffered by this state of things, becoming more ruined and more desolate than it would have been otherwise. Had Johanan and the Jews under him remained in the land, God had promised to "build them, and not pull them down;" to "plant them, and not pluck them up" (Jeremiah 42:10). Thus Jerusalem's extreme desolation was not wholly the result of the Babylonian conquest, but was partly due to the after-misconduct of the Jews left in the country. Isaiah 51:18Just as we found above, that the exclamation "awake" (‛ūrı̄), which the church addresses to the arm of Jehovah, grew out of the preceding great promises; so here there grows out of the same another "awake" (hith‛ōrerı̄), which the prophet addresses to Jerusalem in the name of his God, and the reason for which is given in the form of new promises. "Wake thyself up, wake thyself up, stand up, O Jerusalem, thou that hast drunk out of the hand of Jehovah the goblet of His fury: the goblet cup of reeling hast thou drunk, sipped out. There was none who guided her of all the children that she had brought forth; and none who took her by the hand of all the children that she had brought up. There were two things that happened to thee; who should console thee? Devastation, and ruin, and famine, and the sword: how should I comfort thee? Thy children were benighted, lay at the corners of all the streets like a snared antelope: as those who were full of the fury of Jehovah, the rebuke of thy God. Therefore hearken to this, O wretched and drunken, but not with wine: Thus saith thy Lord, Jehovah, and thy God that defendeth His people, Behold, I take out of thine hand the goblet of reeling, the goblet cup of my fury: thou shalt not continue to drink it any more. And I put it into the hand of thy tormentors; who said to thy soul, Bow down, that we may go over; and thou madest thy back like the ground, and like a public way for those who go over it." In Isaiah 51:17, Jerusalem is regarded as a woman lying on the ground in the sleep of faintness and stupefaction. She has been obliged to drink, for her punishment, the goblet filled with the fury of the wrath of God, the goblet which throws those who drink it into unconscious reeling; and this goblet, which is called qubba‛ath kōs (κύπελλον ποτηιρίου, a genitive construction, though appositional in sense), for the purpose of giving greater prominence to its swelling sides, she has not only had to drink, but to drain quite clean (cf., Psalm 75:9, and more especially Ezekiel 23:32-34). Observe the plaintive falling of the tone in shâthı̄th mâtsı̄th. In this state of unconscious stupefaction was Jerusalem lying, without any help on the part of her children; there was not one who came to guide the stupefied one, or took her by the hand to lift her up. The consciousness of the punishment that their sins had deserved, and the greatness of the sufferings that the punishment had brought, pressed so heavily upon all the members of the congregation, that not one of them showed the requisite cheerfulness and strength to rise up on her behalf, so as to make her fate at any rate tolerable to her, and ward off the worst calamities. What elegiac music we have here in the deep cadences: mikkol-bânı̄m yâlâdâh, mikkol-bânı̄m giddēlâh! So terrible was her calamity, that no one ventured to break the silence of the terror, or give expression to their sympathy. Even the prophet, humanly speaking, is obliged to exclaim, "How (mı̄, literally as who, as in Amos 7:2, Amos 7:5) should I comfort thee!" He knew of no equal or greater calamity, to which he could point Jerusalem, according to the principle which experience confirms, solamen miseris socios habuisse malorum. This is the real explanation, according to Lamentations 2:13, though we must not therefore take mı̄ as an accusative equals bemı̄, as Hitzig does. The whole of the group is in the tone of the Lamentations of Jeremiah. There were two kinds of things (i.e., two kinds of evils: mishpâchōth, as in Jeremiah 15:3) that had happened to her (קרא equals קרה, with which it is used interchangeably even in the Pentateuch) - namely, the devastation and ruin of their city and their land, famine and the sword to her children, their inhabitants.

In Isaiah 51:20 this is depicted with special reference to the famine. Her children were veiled (‛ullaph, deliquium pati, lit., obvelari), and lay in a state of unconsciousness like corpses at the corner of every street, where this horrible spectacle presented itself on every hand. They lay ketho' mikhmâr (rendered strangely and with very bad taste in the lxx, viz., like a half-cooked turnip; but given correctly by Jerome, sicut oryx, as in the lxx at Deuteronomy 14:5, illaqueatus), i.e., like a netted antelope (see at Job 39:9), i.e., one that has been taken in a hunter's net and lies there exhausted, after having almost strangled itself by ineffectual attempts to release itself. The appositional וגו המלאים, which refers to בניך, gives as a quippe qui the reason for all this suffering. It is the punishment decreed by God, which has pierced their very heart, and got them completely in its power. This clause assigning the reason, shows that the expression "thy children" (bânayikh) is not to be taken here in the same manner as in Lamentations 2:11-12; Lamentations 4:3-4, viz., as referring to children in distinction from adults; the subject is a general one, as in Isaiah 5:25. With lâkhē̄n (therefore, Isaiah 51:21) the address turns from the picture of sufferings to the promise, in the view of which the cry was uttered, in Isaiah 51:17, to awake and arise. Therefore, viz., because she had endured the full measure of God's wrath, she is to hear what His mercy, that has now begun to move, purposes to do. The connecting form shekhurath stands here, according to Ges. 116, 1, notwithstanding the (epexegetical) Vav which comes between. We may see from Isaiah 29:9 how thoroughly this "drunk, but not with wine," is in Isaiah's own style (from this distinction between a higher and lower sphere of related facts, compare Isaiah 47:14; Isaiah 48:10). The intensive plural 'ădōnı̄m is only applied to human lords in other places in the book of Isaiah; but in this passage, in which Jerusalem is described as a woman, it is used once of Jehovah. Yârı̄bh ‛ammō is an attributive clause, signifying "who conducts the cause of His people," i.e., their advocate or defender. He takes the goblet of reeling and wrath, which Jerusalem has emptied, for ever out of her hand, and forces it newly filled upon her tormentors. There is no ground whatever for reading מוניך (from ינה, to throw down, related to יון, whence comes יון, a precipitate or sediment) in the place of מוגי (pret. hi. of יגה, (laborare, dolere), that favourite word of the Lamentations of Jeremiah (Lamentations 1:5, Lamentations 1:12; Lamentations 3:32, cf., Isaiah 1:4), the tone of which we recognise here throughout, as Lowth, Ewald, and Umbreit propose after the Targum ליך מונן דהוו. The words attributed to the enemies, shechı̄ vena‛ăbhorâh (from shâchâh, the kal of which only occurs here), are to be understood figuratively, as in Psalm 129:3. Jerusalem has been obliged to let her children be degraded into the defenceless objects of despotic tyranny and caprice, both at home in their own conquered country, and abroad in exile. But the relation is reversed now. Jerusalem is delivered, after having been punished, and the instruments of her punishment are given up to the punishment which their pride deserved.

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