Isaiah 48


The Jews reproved for their obstinate attachment to idols,

notwithstanding their experience of the Divine providence over

them; and of the Divine prescience that revealed by the

prophets the most remarkable events which concerned them, that

they should not have the least pretext for ascribing any

portion of their success to their idols, 1-8.

The Almighty, after bringing them to the furnace for their

perverseness, asserts his glorious sovereignty, and repeats his

gracious promises of deliverance and consolation, 9-11.

Prophecy concerning that individual (Cyrus) who shall be an

instrument in the hand of God of executing his will on Babylon,

and his power on the Chaldeans; and the idols of the people are

again challenged to give a like proof of their foreknowledge,


Tender and passionate exclamation of Jehovah respecting the

hardened condition of the Jewish nation, to which the very

pathetic exclamation of the Divine Saviour when he wept over

Jerusalem may be considered a striking parallel, 17-19.

Notwithstanding the repeated provocations of the house of

Israel, Jehovah will again be merciful to them. They are

commanded to escape from Babylon; and God's gracious favour

towards them is beautifully represented by images borrowed from

the exodus from Egypt, 20, 21.

Certain perdition of the finally impenitent, 22.

It will be proper here to remark that many passages in this

chapter, and indeed the general strain of these prophecies,

have a plain aspect to a restoration of the Church in the

latter days upon a scale much greater than the world has yet

witnessed, when the very violent fall of Babylon the Great,

mentioned in the Revelation, of which the Chaldean capital was

an expressive type, shall introduce by a most tremendous

political convulsion, (Re 16:17-21,)

that glorious epoch of the Gospel, which forms so conspicuous

a part of the prophecies of the Old Testament, and has been a

subject of the prayers of all saints in all ages.


Verse 1. Are come forth out of the waters of Judah-"Ye that flow

from the fountain of Judah"] mimmey, "from the waters."

Perhaps mimmeey, "from the bowels," SO many others have

conjectured, or meni yehudah, or meyhudah,

"from Judah."-Secker. But see Michaelis in Praelect, not. 22. And

we have eyn yaakob, "the fountain of Jacob," De 33:28,

and mimmekor yishrael, "from the fountain of Israel,"

Ps 68:27. Twenty-seven MSS. of

Kennicott's, six of De Rossi's and two of my own, with six

editions, have meymey, "from the days;" which makes no good


Verse 6. Thou hast heard, see all this-"Thou didst hear it

beforehand; behold, the whole is accomplished"] For chazeh,

see, a MS. has hazzeh, this; thou hast heard the whole of

this: the Syriac has vechazith, "thou hast heard, and

thou hast seen, the whole." Perhaps it should be hinneh,

behold. In order to express the full sense, I have rendered it

somewhat paraphrastically.

Verse 9. And for my praise-"And for the sake of my praise"] I

read ulemaan tehillathi. The word lemaan,

though not absolutely necessary here, for it may be understood as

supplied from the preceding member, yet seems to have been removed

from hence to Isa 48:11; where it is redundant, and where it is

not repeated in the Septuagint, Syriac, and a MS. I have therefore

omitted it in the latter place, and added it here.

Verse 10. I have chosen thee-"I have tried thee"] For

becharticha, "I have chosen thee," a MS. has

bechanticha, "I have tried thee." And so perhaps read the Syriac

and Chaldee interpreters; they retain the same word

bechartach; but in those languages it signifies, I have tried

thee. kecheseph, quasi argentum, "as silver." Vulgate.

I cannot think becheseph, WITH silver, is the true reading.

kecheseph, LIKE silver, as the Vulgate evidently read it, I

suppose to have been the original reading, though no MS. yet found

supports this word; the similarity of the two letters, beth and

caph, might have easily led to the mistake in the first

instance; and it has been but too faithfully copied ever since.

cur, which we translate furnace, should be rendered

crucible, the vessel in which the silver is melted. The

meaning of the verse seems to be this: I have purified you, but

not as silver is purified; for when it is purified, no dross of

any kind is left behind. Had I done this with you, I should have

consumed you altogether; but I have put you in the crucible of

affliction, in captivity, that you may acknowledge your sins, and

turn unto me.

Verse 11. For how should my name be polluted-"For how would my

name be blasphemed"] The word shemi, my name, is dropped out

of the text; it is supplied by a MS. which has shemi; and by

the Septuagint, οτιτοεμονονομαβεβηλουται. The Syriac and

Vulgate get over the difficulty, by making the verb in the first

person; that I may not be blasphemed.

Verse 12. O Jacob-"O Jacob, my servant"] After yaakob, a

MS. of Kennicott's, two of De Rossi's, and the two old editions of

1486 and 1488, add the word abdi, "my servant," which is lost

out of the present text; and there is a rasure in its place in

another ancient MS. The Jerusalem Talmud has the same word.

I also am the last-"I am the last"] For aph ani,

"even I," two ancient MSS. and the ancient Versions, read

veani, "and I;" more properly.

Verse 14. Which among them hath declared these things-"Who among

you hath predicted these things"] For bahem, "among them,"

twenty-one MSS., nine ancient, and two editions, one of them that

of the year 1488, fourteen of De Rossi's, and one ancient of my

own, have bachem, "among you;" and so the Syriac.

The Lord hath loved him: he will do his pleasure on Babylon-"He,

whom JEHOVAH hath loved, will execute his will on Babylon"] That

is, Cyrus; so Symmachus has well rendered it: ονοκυριοςηγαπησε

ποιησειτοθελημααυτου, "He whom the Lord hath loved will perform

his will."

On the Chaldeans.] The preposition is lost; it is supplied in

the edition of 1486, which has bechasdim, and so the

Chaldee and Vulgate.

Verse 16. Come ye near unto me] After the word kirbu,

"draw near," a MS. adds goyim, "O ye nations;" which, as this

and the two preceding verses are plainly addressed to the

idolatrous nations, reproaching their gods as unable to predict

future events, is probably genuine.

Hear ye this-"And hear ye this"] A MS. adds the conjunction,

vashimu; and so the Septuagint, Syriac, and Vulgate.

I have not spoken in secret] The Alexandrine copy of the

Septuagint adds here, ουδεεντοπωγηςσκοτεινω, "nor in a dark

place of the earth," as in Isa 45:19. That it stands rightly, or

at least stood very early, in this place of the Version of the

Septuagint, is highly probable, because it is acknowledged by

the Arabic Version, and by the Coptic MS. St. Germain de Prez,

Paris, translated likewise from the Septuagint. But whether it

should be inserted, as of right belonging to the Hebrew text, may

be doubted; for a transcriber of the Greek Version might easily

add it by memory from the parallel place; and it is not necessary

to the sense.

From the time that it was-"Before the time when it began to

exist"] An ancient MS. has heyotham, "they began to exist;"

and so another had it at first. From the time that the expedition

of Cyrus was planned, there was God managing the whole by the

economy of his providence.

There am I-"I had decreed it"] I take sham for a verb,

not an adverb.

And now the Lord God, and his Spirit, hath sent me-"And now the

Lord JEHOVAH hath sent me, and his Spirit"] τιςεστινοεντω




αγιονπνευματοδευτερονεστιναληθες. "Who is it that saith in

Isaiah, And now the Lord hath sent me and his Spirit? in which, as

the expression is ambiguous, is it the Father and the Holy Spirit

who have sent Jesus; or the Father, who hath sent both Christ and

the Holy Spirit. The latter is the true interpretation."-Origen

cont. Cels. lib. i. I have kept to the order of the words of the

original, on purpose that the ambiguity, which Origen remarks in

the Version of the Septuagint, and which is the same in the Hebrew

might still remain; and the sense which he gives to it, be offered

to the reader's judgment, which is wholly excluded in our


Verse 18. As a river-"Like the river"] That is, the Euphrates.

Verse 19. Like the gravel thereof-"Like that of the bowels

thereof"] betseetsaey meey haiyam vehem

haddagim; "As the issue of the bowels of the sea; that is,

fishes."-Salom. ben Melec. And so likewise Aben Ezra, Jarchi,

Kimchi, &c.

His name-"Thy name"] For shemo, "his name," the

Septuagint had in the copy from which they translated

shimcha, "thy name."

Verse 20. Tell this-"Make it heard"] Twenty-seven MSS. of

Kennicott's, (ten ancient,) many of De Rossi's, and two ancient,

of my own, with the Septuagint, Syriac, Chaldee, and Arabic, and

one edition, prefix to the verb the conjunction vau,


Verse 21. They thirsted not-through the deserts] Kimchi has a

surprising observation upon this place: "If the prophecy,' says

he, "relates to the return from the Babylonish captivity, as it

seems to do, it is to be wondered how it comes to pass, that in

the Book of Ezra, in which he gives an account of their return, no

mention is made that such miracles were wrought for them; as, for

instance, that God clave the rock for them in the desert." It is

really much to be wondered, that one of the most learned and

judicious of the Jewish expositors of the Old Testament, having

advanced so far in a large Comment on Isaiah, should appear to be

totally ignorant of the prophet's manner of writing; of the

parabolic style, which prevails in the writings of all the

prophets, and more particularly in the prophecy of Isaiah, which

abounds throughout in parabolical images from the beginning to the

end; from "Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth," to "the worm

and the fire" in the last verse. And how came he to keep his

wonderment to himself so long? Why did he not expect that the

historian should have related how, as they passed through the

desert, cedars, pines, and olive-trees shot up at once on the side

of the way to shade them; and that instead of briers and brambles

the acacia and the myrtle sprung up under their feet, according to

God's promises, Isa 41:19; 55:13? These and a multitude of the

like parabolical or poetical images, were never intended to be

understood literally. All that the prophet designed in this place,

and which he has executed in the most elegant manner, was an

amplification and illustration of the gracious care and protection

of God vouchsafed to his people in their return from Babylon, by

an allusion to the miraculous exodus from Egypt. See De S. Poesi,

Hebr. Prael. ix.

Verse 22. There is no peace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked.]

See below, Clarke's note on "Isa 57:21". As the destruction of

Babylon was determined, God commands his people to hasten out of it; for,

saith the Lord, there is no peace (prosperity) to the wicked; ουκ

εστιχαιρειντοιςασεβεσινλεγεικυριος.-Sept. "There is no

rejoicing or prosperity to the wicked saith the Lord." Their is

not pese to unrytous men seith the Lord.-Old MS. Bible.

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