Isaiah 43

CHAPTER XLIII

Prediction of that blessed period when God should gather the

posterity of Abraham, with tender care, from their several

dispersions in every quarter under heaven, and bring them

safely to their own land, 1-7.

Struck with astonishment at so clear a display of an event so

very remote, the prophet again challenges all the blinded

nations and their idols to produce an instance of such

foreknowledge, 8, 9;

and intimates that the Jews should remains (as at this day,) a

singular monument to witness the truth of the prediction, till

it should at length be fulfilled by the irresistible power of

God, 10-13.

He then returns to the nearer deliverance-that from the

captivity of Babylon, 14, 15;

with which, however, he immediately connects another

deliverance described by allusions to that from Egypt, but

represented as much more wonderful than that; a character which

will not at all apply to the deliverance from Babylon, and must

therefore be understood of the restoration from the mystical

Babylon, 16-18.

On this occasion the prophet, with peculiar elegance, and by a

very strong poetic figure, represents the tender care of God in

comforting and refreshing his people on their way through the

desert, to be so great as to make even the wild beasts haunting

those parched places so sensible of the blessing of those

copious streams then provided by him, as to join their hissing

and howling notes with one consent to praise God, 19-21.

This leads to a beautiful contrast of the ingratitude of the

Jews, and a vindication of God's dealings with regard to them,

22-28.

NOTES ON CHAP. XLIII

Verse 1. I have called thee by thy name] " karathi

beshimcha. So all the versions. But it seems from the seventh

verse, and from the thing itself, that we should read

karathicha bishmi, 'I have called thee by my name;' for this

form of speech often occurs-the other never. For Isa 45:24,

concerning Cyrus, is another matter; but when God calls Jacob

Israel, he calls him by the name of God. See Ex 31:2."

-Secker.

Verse 3. I gave Egypt for thy ransom] This is commonly supposed

to refer to the time of Sennacherib's invasion; who, when he was

just ready to fall upon Jerusalem, soon after his entering Judea,

was providentially diverted from that design, and turned his arms

against the Egyptians, and their allies the Cushean Arabians, with

their neighbours the Sabeans, probably joined with them under

Tirhakah. See Isa 20:1-6 and Isa 37:9. Or as there are some

reasonable objections to this opinion, perhaps it may mean more

generally that God has often saved his people at the expense of

other nations, whom he had, as it were in their stead, given up to

destruction. Vitringa explains this of Shalmaneser's designs upon

the kingdom of Judea after he had destroyed that of Samaria, from

which he was diverted by carrying the war against the Egyptians,

Cusheans, and Sabeans; but of this I think he has no clear proof

in history. It is not to be wondered at that many things of this

kind should remain very obscure for the want of the light of

history, which in regard to these times is extremely deficient.

"Did not Cyrus overcome these nations? and might they not be

given for releasing the Jews? It seems to have been so from

Isa 45:14."

-Secker.

Kimchi refers all this to the deliverance of Jerusalem from the

invasion of Sennacherib. Tirhakah, king of Ethiopia, had come out

to war against the king of Assyria, who was there-upon obliged to

raise the siege of Jerusalem. Thus the Ethiopians, Egyptians, and

Sabeans were delivered into the hands of the Assyrians as a ransom

for Israel.-Kimchi. I cannot help thinking this to be a very

rational solution of the text.

Verse 7. Every one that is called by my name] All who worship

the true God, and are obedient to his laws.

I have created him] berathiv. I have produced him out

of nothing.

For my glory] Ten MSS., three ancient, and the Syriac and

Vulgate, read licabodi, without the conjunction

vau, and.

I have formed him] yetsartiv. I have given him that

particular form and shape which are best suited to his station in

life.

I have made him] asithiv. I have adapted him to the

accomplishment of my counsels and designs.

Verse 8. Bring forth the blind people that have eyes-"Bring

forth the people, blind, although they have eyes"] I understand

this of the Gentiles, as the verse following, not of the Jews.

Their natural faculties, if they had made a proper use of them,

must have led them to the knowledge of the being and attributes of

the one true God; "for his eternal power and Godhead," if well

attended to, are clearly seen in his works, (Ro 1:20,) and would

have preserved them from running into the folly and absurdity of

worshipping idols. They are here challenged to produce the

evidence of the power and foreknowledge of their idol gods; and

the Jews are just afterwards, Isa 43:10, appealed to as witnesses

for God in this cause, therefore these latter cannot here be meant

by the people blind with eyes and deaf with ears.

Verse 9. Who among them] Seven MSS., three ancient, and the

first edition, 1486, with the Syriac and Vulgate, read

bechem, who among you; the present reading is preferable.

Verse 10. Ye (the Israelites) are my witnesses-and my servant

(the prophet) whom I have chosen, that whatever has been said

before concerning Sennacherib has been literally fulfilled. The

prophet had predicted it; the Israelites saw it accomplished.

Before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after

me.] This is a most difficult place. Was there a time when God was

not? No! Yet he says, before me. Will there be a time in which God

will not exist? No! Yet he says, after me. Are not all these words

to be referred to his creation? Before me, no god created any

thing, nor was there any thing pre-existent but myself. And after

me, i.e., after my creation, such as now exists, there shall be no

other class of beings formed. This mode of interpretation frees

the passage from all embarrassment, and the context perfectly

agrees with it. The words my servant, in this verse, the Targum

understands of the Messiah.

Verse 12. I have declared, and have saved] My prophets have

always predicted your deliverances before they took place; and I

have fulfilled their words to the uttermost.

Verse 14. The Chaldeans, whose cry is in the ships-"The

Chaldeans exulting in their ships."] Babylon was very

advantageously situated both in respect to commerce, and as a

naval power. It was open to the Persian Gulf by the Euphrates,

which was navigable by large vessels; and being joined to the

Tigris above Babylon by the canal called Naharmalca or the Royal

River, supplied the city with the produce of the whole country to

the north of it, as far as the Euxine and Caspian seas, Herod. i.

194. Semiramis was the foundress of this part also of the

Babylonian greatness. She improved the navigation of the

Euphrates, Herod. i. 184; Strabo, lib. xvi.; and is said to have

had a fleet of three thousand galleys, Huet, Hist. du Commerce,

chap. xi. We are not to wonder that in later times we hear little

of the commerce and naval power of Babylon; for, after the taking

of the city by Cyrus, the Euphrates was not only rendered less fit

for navigation by being on that occasion diverted from its course

and left to spread over the whole country; but the Persian

monarchs, residing in their own country, to prevent any invasion

by sea on that part of their empire, purposely obstructed the

navigation of both the rivers by making cataracts in them, Strabo,

ib., that is, by raising dams across the channel, and making

artificial falls in them, that no vessel of any size or force

could possibly come up. Alexander began to restore the navigation

of the rivers by demolishing the cataracts upon the Tigris as far

up as Seleucia, Arrian, lib. vii., but he did not live to finish

his great designs; those upon the Euphrates still continued.

Ammianus, xxiv. 1, mentions them as subsisting in his time.

The prophet therefore might very justly speak of the Chaldeans

as glorying in their naval power in his time; though afterwards

they had no foundation for making any such boast.

Verse 15. The Creator] For bore, "Creator," six MSS. (two

ancient) have Elohey, "God."

Verse 19. Behold, I will do a new thing] At Isa 43:16, the

prophet had referred to the deliverance from Egypt and the passage

through the Red Sea; here he promises that the same power shall be

employed in their redemption and return from the Babylonish

captivity. This was to be a new prodigy.

Verse 20. The beast of the field shall honour me-"The wild beast

of the field shall glorify me"] The image is elegant and highly

poetical. God will give such an abundant miraculous supply of

water to his people traversing the dry desert in their return to

their country, that even the wild beasts, the serpents, the

ostriches, and other animals that haunt those arid regions, shall

be sensible of the blessing, and shall break forth into

thanksgiving and praises to him for the unusual refreshment which

they receive from his so plentifully watering the sandy wastes of

Arabia Deserta, for the benefit of his people passing through

them.

Verse 22. But thou hast not called upon me] The connexion is:

But thou, Israel, whom I have chosen, whom I have formed for

myself to be my witness against the false gods of the nations;

even thou hast revolted from me, hast neglected my worship, and

hast been perpetually running after strange gods. The emphasis of

this and the following parts of the sentence, on which the sense

depends, is laid on the words ME, on MY ACCOUNT, &c. The Jews were

diligent in performing the external services of religion; in

offering prayers, incense, sacrifices, oblations; but their

prayers were not offered with faith; and their oblations were made

more frequently to their idols than to the God of their fathers.

The Hebrew idiom excludes with a general negative, in a

comparative sense, one of two objects opposed to one another:

thus, "I will have mercy, and not sacrifice," Ho 6:6. "For I

spoke not to your fathers, nor commanded them, concerning

burnt-offerings or sacrifices; but this thing I commanded them,

saying, Obey my voice," Jer 7:22, 23. And the meaning of this

place of Isaiah seems to be much the same with that of Amos; who

however has explained at large both parts of the comparison, and

specified the false service opposed to the true:-

"Have ye offered unto me sacrifices and offerings,

In the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel?

Nay, but you have borne the tabernacle of your Moloch,

And Chiun, your images;

The star of your god, which you made to yourselves."

Am 5:25, 26.

But thou hast been weary of me, O Israel-"Neither on my account

hast thou laboured, O Israel."] For ki yagata, the

Septuagint and Vulgate read veyagata.-Houbigant.

The negative is repeated or referred to by the conjunction vau;

as in many other places. See Clarke on Isa 23:4.

Verse 25. I, even I, am he] The original is extremely abrupt:

anochi anochi hu, "I, I, He." Is there any mystery

in this form? Does it refer to a plurality of persons in the

Godhead?

For mine own sake] In the pardon of sin God can draw no reason

but from his own infinite goodness.

Verse 27. Thy first father hath sinned] On this Kimchi speaks

well: "How can ye say that ye have not sinned, seeing your first

father, Adam, sinned; and man hath sin impressed on him through

natural generation?"

Verse 28. I have profaned the princes of the sanctuary-"Thy

princes have profaned my sanctuary"] Instead of

vaachallel sarey, read vayechalelu sareycha. So the

Syriac and Septuagint, καιεμιανανοιαρχοντεςτααγιαμου, "the

rulers have defiled my holy things." kodshi, Houbigant. οι

αρχοντεςσου, "thy rulers," MSS. Pachom. and I. D. II. and

Marchal.

To reproaches-"To reproach"] ligeduphah, in the

singular number; so an ancient MS. and the Septuagint, Syriac, and

Vulgate. And, alas! what a curse do they still bear, and what

reproach do they still suffer! No national crimes have ever

equalled those of the Jewish nation, for no nation ever had such

privileges to neglect, despise, sin against. When shall this

severity of God towards this people have an end? Answ. Whenever,

with one heart, they turn to him, and receive the doctrine of the

Lord Jesus; and not till then.

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