Isaiah 46

CHAPTER XLVI

The idols of Babylon represented as so far from being able to

bear the burden of their votaries, that they themselves are

borne by beasts of burden into captivity, 1, 2.

This beautifully contrasted with the tender care of God, in

bearing his people from first to last in his arms, and

delivering them from their distress, 3, 4.

The prophet, then, with his usual force and elegance, goes on

to show the folly of idolatry, and the utter inability of

idols, 5-7.

From which he passes with great ease to the contemplation of

the attributes and perfections of the true God, 8-10.

Particularly that prescience which foretold the deliverance of

the Jews from the Babylonish captivity, with all its leading

circumstances; and also that very remote event of which it is

the type in the days of the Messiah, 11-13.

NOTES ON CHAP. XLVI

Verse 1. Their carriages were heavy loaden-"Their burdens are

heavy"] For nesuotheychem, your burdens, the Septuagint

had in their copy nesuotheyhem, their burdens.

Verse 2. They could not deliver the burden-"They could not

deliver their own charge"] That is, their worshippers, who ought

to have been borne by them. See the two next verses. The Chaldee

and Syriac Versions render it in effect to the same purpose, those

that bear them, meaning their worshippers; but how they can render

massa in an active sense, I do not understand.

For lo, not, velo, and they could not, is the

reading of twenty-four of Kennicott's, sixteen of De Rossi's, and

two of my own MSS. The added vau gives more elegance to the

passage.

But themselves-"Even they themselves"] For venaphsham,

an ancient MS. has ki naphsham, with more force.

Verse 3. Which are borne by me from the belly-"Ye that have been

borne by me from the birth"] The prophet very ingeniously, and

with great force, contrasts the power of God, and his tender

goodness effectually exerted towards his people, with the

inability of the false gods of the heathen. He like an indulgent

father had carried his people in his arms, "as a man carrieth his

son," De 1:31. He had protected them, and delivered them from

their distresses: whereas the idols of the heathen are forced to

be carried about themselves and removed from place to place, with

great labour and fatigue, by their worshippers; nor can they

answer, or deliver their votaries, when they cry unto them.

Moses, expostulating with God on the weight of the charge laid

upon him as leader of his people, expresses that charge under the

same image of a parent's carrying his children, in very strong

terms: "Have I conceived all this people? have I begotten them?

that thou shouldest say unto me, Carry them in thy bosom, as a

nursing father beareth the sucking child, unto the land which thou

swarest unto their fathers;" Nu 11:12.

Verse 7. They bear him upon the shoulder-and set him in his

place] This is the way in which the Hindoos carry their gods; and

indeed so exact a picture is this of the idolatrous procession of

this people, that the prophet might almost be supposed to have

been sitting among the Hindoos when he delivered this

prophecy.-WARD'S Customs.

Pindar has treated with a just and very elegant ridicule the

work of the statuary even in comparison with his own poetry, from

this circumstance of its being fixed to a certain station. "The

friends of Pytheas," says the Scholiast, "came to the poet,

desiring him to write an ode on his victory. Pindar demanded three

drachms, (minae, I suppose it should be,) for the ode. No, say

they, we can have a brazen statue for that money, which will be

better than a poem. However, changing their minds afterwards, they

came and offered him what he had demanded." This gave him the hint

of the following ingenious esordium of his ode:-

ουκανδριαντοποιοςειμ

ωστελινυσσονταμεργαζε

σθαιαγαλματεπαυταςβαθμιδος

εσταοθαλλεπιπασας

οκαδοςεντακατωγλυκειαοιδα

στειχαπαυγιναςδιαγγελ

λοισοτιλαμπωνοςυιος

πυθεαςευρυσθενης

νικηνεμειοιςπαγκρατιουστεφανον Nem. v.

Thus elegantly translated by Mr. Francis in a note to Hor. Carm.

iv. 2. 19.

"It is not mine with forming hand

To bid a lifeless image stand

For ever on its base:

But fly, my verses, and proclaim

To distant realms, with deathless fame,

That Pytheas conquered in the rapid race."

Jeremiah, Jer 10:3-5, seems to be indebted to Isaiah for most

of the following passage:-

"The practices of the people are altogether vanity:

For they cut down a tree from the forest;

The work of the artificer's hand with the axe;

With silver and with gold it is adorned;

With nails and with hammers it is fastened, that it may

not totter.

Like the palm-tree they stand stiff, and cannot speak;

They are carried about, for they cannot go:

Fear them not, for they cannot do harm;

Neither is it in them to do good."

Verse 8. Show yourselves men] hithoshashu. This word is

rather of doubtful derivation and signification. It occurs only in

this place: and some of the ancient interpreters seem to have had

something different in their copies. The Vulgate read

hithbosheshu, take shame to yourselves; the Syriac

hithbonenu, consider with yourselves; the Septuagint στεναξετε

perhaps hithabbelu, groan or mourn, within yourselves.

Several MSS. read hithosheshu, but without any help to the

sense.

Verse 11. Calling a ravenous bird from the east-"Calling from

the east the eagle"] A very proper emblem for Cyrus, as in other

respects, so particularly because the ensign of Cyrus was a golden

eagle, αετοσχρυσους, the very word ayit, which the prophet

uses here, expressed as near as may be in Greek letters. XENOPH.

Cyrop. lib. vii. sub. init. Kimchi says his father understood

this, not of Cyrus, but of the Messiah.

From a far country-"From a land far distant"] Two MSS. add the

conjunction vau, umeerets; and so the Septuagint,

Syriac, and Vulgate.

Verse 12. Hearken unto me, ye stout-hearted-This is an address

to the Babylonians, stubbornly bent on the practice of injustice

towards the Israelites.

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