Isaiah 14:1
For the LORD will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land: and the strangers shall be joined with them, and they shall join to the house of Jacob.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
XIV.

(1) For the Lord will have mercy on Jacob . . .—The words imply a prevision of the return of the Israelites from exile, and therefore of the exile itself. The downfall of Babylon was certain, because without it the mercy of the Lord to Israel could not be manifested. The whole section is an anticipation of the great argument of Isaiah 40-66, and the question of its authorship stands or falls on the same grounds.

The strangers shall be joined with them . . .—The thought is one specially characteristic of the later prophecies of Isaiah (Isaiah 44:5; Isaiah 55:5; Isaiah 56:3-6), but is prominent in the earlier also (Isaiah 2:2). In later Hebrew the same words came to be applied to the proselytes who are conspicuous in the apostolic age (Acts 2:10; Acts 6:5), and in them, as before in the adhesion and support of the Persian kings and satraps, and as afterwards in the admission of the Gentiles into the kingdom of the Christ, we may trace successive fulfilments of the prophet’s words.

Isaiah 14:1. For the Lord will have mercy on Jacob — Will pity and deliver his people; and therefore will destroy Babylon. which hinders their deliverance, and will raise up and exalt Cyrus, who shall promote it; and he will not prolong the time, but do these things speedily, as the prophet had just affirmed. For he is continuing his discourse concerning Babylon, and assigning the reason, not only of its fall, but of the speedy approach of that fall, as predicted in the last clause of the preceding chapter. It was not to be delayed, because the deliverance of the church of God depended upon it. And will yet choose Israel — Will renew his choice of them, for he had appeared to reject and cast them off: or he will still regard them as his chosen people, however he may seem to desert them by giving them up to their enemies, and scattering them among the nations. Israel is put for Judah, as it frequently is. Israel being the name which God gave to Jacob, as a mark of his favour, it is chiefly made use of by the prophets when they deliver some gracious promise, or announce some blessing from the mouth of God, especially such a one as concerns the twelve tribes, all equally descended from Jacob, as this prophecy, in its ultimate sense, undoubtedly does. And the strangers shall be joined to them — It is probable that many strangers were made proselytes to the Jewish religion during their captivity, who were willing to go along with them into Judea, there to enjoy the free exercise of their religion. And others, who had not been proselytes before, might be induced to become such, and unite themselves to them, either through the favour shown to the Jews in the Persian court, or by consideration of their wonderful deliverance taking place exactly at the time foretold by the prophets. But what was then begun was more fully accomplished at the coming of the Messiah. 14:1-23 The whole plan of Divine Providence is arranged with a view to the good of the people of God. A settlement in the land of promise is of God's mercy. Let the church receive those whom God receives. God's people, wherever their lot is cast, should endeavour to recommend religion by a right and winning conversation. Those that would not be reconciled to them, should be humbled by them. This may be applied to the success of the gospel, when those were brought to obey it who had opposed it. God himself undertakes to work a blessed change. They shall have rest from their sorrow and fear, the sense of their present burdens, and the dread of worse. Babylon abounded in riches. The king of Babylon having the absolute command of so much wealth, by the help of it ruled the nations. This refers especially to the people of the Jews; and it filled up the measure of the king of Babylon's sins. Tyrants sacrifice their true interest to their lusts and passions. It is gracious ambition to covet to be like the Most Holy, for he has said, Be ye holy, for I am holy; but it is sinful ambition to aim to be like the Most High, for he has said, He who exalts himself shall be abased. The devil thus drew our first parents to sin. Utter ruin should be brought upon him. Those that will not cease to sin, God will make to cease. He should be slain, and go down to the grave; this is the common fate of tyrants. True glory, that is, true grace, will go up with the soul to heaven, but vain pomp will go down with the body to the grave; there is an end of it. To be denied burial, if for righteousness' sake, may be rejoiced in, Mt 5:12. But if the just punishment of sin, it denotes that impenitent sinners shall rise to everlasting shame and contempt. Many triumphs should be in his fall. God will reckon with those that disturb the peace of mankind. The receiving the king of Babylon into the regions of the dead, shows there is a world of spirits, to which the souls of men remove at death. And that souls have converse with each other, though we have none with them; and that death and hell will be death and hell indeed, to all who fall unholy, from the height of this world's pomps, and the fulness of its pleasures. Learn from all this, that the seed of evil-doers shall never be renowned. The royal city is to be ruined and forsaken. Thus the utter destruction of the New Testament Babylon is illustrated, Re 18:2. When a people will not be made clean with the besom of reformation, what can they expect but to be swept off the face of the earth with the besom of destruction?For the Lord will have mercy on Jacob - That is, he will pity the captive Jews in Babylon. He will not abandon them, but will remember them, and restore them to their own land.

And will yet choose Israel - Will show that he regards them as still his chosen people; or will again "choose" them by recovering them from their bondage, and by restoring them to their country as his people. The names 'Jacob' and 'Israel' here simply denote the Jews. They do not imply that all of those who were to be carried captive would return, but that as a people they would be restored.

And set them ... - Hebrew, 'Will cause them to rest in their own country;' that is, will give them peace, quietness, and security there.

And the stranger shall be joined to them - The 'stranger,' here, probably refers to those foreigners who would become proselytes to their religion, while they were in Babylon. Those proselytes would be firmly united with them, and would return with them to their own land. Their captivity would be attended with this advantage, that many even of those who led them away, would be brought to embrace their religion, and to return with them to their own country. If it is asked what "evidence" there is that any considerable number of the people of Chaldea became Jewish proselytes, I answer, that it is expressly stated in Esther 8:17 : 'And many of the people of the land became Jews, for the fear of the Jews fell upon them. Ezra, indeed, has not mentioned the fact, that many of the people of Babylonia became proselytes to the religion of the Jews, but it is in accordance with all that we know of their history, and their influence on the nations with which, from time to time, they were connected, that many should have been thus joined to them. We know that in subsequent times many of other nations became proselytes, and that multitudes of the Egyptians, the Macedonians, the Romans, and the inhabitants of Asia Minor, embraced the Jewish religion, or became what were called 'proselytes of the gate.' They were circumcised, and were regarded as entitled to a part of the privileges of the Jewish people (see Acts 2:9-11; compare Acts 17:4, Acts 17:17). Tacitus, speaking of his time, says, that every abandoned man, despising the religion of his country, bears tribute and revenue to Jerusalem, whence it happens that the number of the Jews is greatly increased.' - ("Hist." v. 5.) That the Jews, therefore, who were in Babylon should induce many of the Chaldeans during their long captivity to become proselytes, is in accordance with all their history.

CHAPTER 14

Isa 14:1-3. The Certainty of Deliverance from Babylon.

1. choose—"set His choice upon." A deliberate predilection [Horsley]. Their restoration is grounded on their election (see Ps 102:13-22).

strangers—proselytes (Es 8:17; Ac 2:10; 17:4, 17). Tacitus, a heathen [Histories, 5.5], attests the fact of numbers of the Gentiles having become Jews in his time. An earnest of the future effect on the heathen world of the Jews' spiritual restoration (Isa 60:4, 5, 10; Mic 5:7; Zec 14:16; Ro 11:12).Israel should be delivered from the Babylonish captivity: their triumphant insultation over Babel, Isaiah 14:1-23. God’s purpose against Assyria, Isaiah 14:24-27. Palestina is threatened, Isaiah 14:28-32.

The Lord will have mercy on Jacob; God will pity and deliver his people; and therefore will destroy Babylon, which hinders it, and set up Cyrus, who shall promote it.

will yet choose Israel; will renew his choice of them; for he had refused and rejected them.

The stranger shall be joined with them: so they did in part at their coming from Babylon, being thereunto moved either by the favour which the Jews had in the Persian court, or by the consideration of their wonderful deliverance, and that exactly in the time designed by their holy prophets. But what was then begun was more fully accomplished at the coming of the Messiah.

For the Lord will have mercy on Jacob, will yet choose Israel,.... While the Jews were in captivity, the Lord seemed to have no pity for them, or compassion on them, and it looked as if he had rejected them, and wholly cast them off; but by delivering them from thence, he showed that he had a merciful regard unto them, and made it to appear that they were his chosen people, and beloved by him: and this is a reason why Babylon should be destroyed, and her destruction be no longer deferred, because the Lord's heart of compassion yearned towards his own people, so that his mercy to them brought ruin upon others: a choice of persons to everlasting salvation, though it is not made in time, but before the foundation of the world, yet is made to appear by the effectual calling, which therefore is sometimes expressed by choosing, 1 Corinthians 1:26 and is the fruit and effect of sovereign grace and mercy, and may be intended here; the words may be rendered, "and will yet choose in Israel" (t), some from among them; that is, have mercy on them, and call them by his grace, and so show them to be a remnant, according to the election of grace; and such a chosen remnant there was among them in the times of Christ, and his apostles, by which it appeared that the Lord had not cast off the people whom he foreknew:

and set them in their own land: or "cause them to rest upon their own land" (u); for the word not only denotes settlement and continuance, but rest, which they had not in Babylon; but now should have, when brought into their own land; and no doubt but reference is had to the original character of the land of Canaan, as a land of rest; and hither shall the Jews be brought again, and be settled when mystical Babylon is destroyed:

and the stranger shall be joined with them, and they shall cleave to the house of Jacob; by which is meant, that proselytes should be made to the Jewish religion, who should be admitted into their church state, as well as into their commonwealth, and should abide faithful to the profession they made; which doubtless was fulfilled in part at the time of the Jews' return from the Babylonish captivity, when many, who had embraced their religion, cleaved to them, and would not leave them, but went along with them into their land, that they might join with them in religious worship there; but had a greater accomplishment in Gospel times, when Gentiles were incorporated into the same Gospel church state with the believing Jews, and became fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of the same promises and privileges; and so Kimchi and Ben Melech apply this to the times of the Messiah; and Jarchi to time to come, when Israel should be redeemed with a perfect redemption: because from the word translated "cleave" is derived another, which signifies a scab; hence the Jews (w) have a saying,

"proselytes are grievous to Israel as a scab.''

(t) "et eliget adhuc in Israele", Pagninus, Montanus. (u) "et requiescere eos faciet", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus. (w) T. Bab. Yebamot, fol. 47. 2. & Kiddushin, fol. 70. 2.

For {a} the LORD will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land: and the strangers {b} shall be joined with them, and they shall unite with the house of Jacob.

(a) He shows why God will haste to destroy his enemies, that is, because he will deliver his Church.

(b) Meaning that the Gentiles will be joined with the Church and worship God.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1. The immediate result of the judgment on Babylon will be the emancipation of Israel from captivity.

will yet choose Israel] Rather, will again choose, as formerly in Egypt (cf. Zechariah 2:12).

the strangers] the sojourner, or protected guest; here used, as in later Hebrew, with the sense of “proselyte”: ch. Isaiah 56:3-7; Zechariah 2:11; Zechariah 8:21-23.Verses 1-23. - THE RESTORATION OF ISRAEL, AND HER SONG OF TRIUMPH OVER BABYLON. The destruction of Babylon is to be followed by the restoration of Israel, with the good will of the nations, and by their exercising rule over their late oppressors (vers. 1, 2). In this time of rest and refreshment they will sing a song of triumph over Babylon. The song extends from ver. 4 to ver. 23. It consists of five stanzas, or strophes, each comprising seven long lines, after which there is a brief epode, or epilogue, of a different character. This epode is comprised in vers. 22 and 23. Verse 1. - For the Lord will have mercy on Jacob. God's purpose of mercy upon Israel requires, as its preliminary, the destruction of Babylon, and may be considered as the final cause of that destruction. His desire to have mercy on Israel soon is the reason why the days of Babylon are not prolonged (see Isaiah 13:22). Will yet choose Israel. The Captivity was a rejection of Israel from their position as a favored race - God's peculiar people; their restoration was a fresh "choice" of them out of all the nations of the world, a free act of grace on his part; to which they had no claim or right whatsoever. And set them in their own land; or, on their own ground. The land that once was theirs, but which they had forfeited by their disobedience, could only become "their own" again by a fresh gift from God. The strangers shall be joined with them; rather, the stranger shall join himself to them. On the return from the Captivity, there would be an influx of proselytes from the nations, who would voluntarily join themselves to those whom they saw favored both by God and man (comp. Esther 8:17). Though the Jews did not commonly seek proselytes, they readily received such as offered themselves. A further fulfillment of the prophecy took place when the Gentiles flocked into the Church of God after the coming of Christ. With Isaiah 13:17 the prophecy takes a fresh turn, in which the veil that has hitherto obscured it is completely broken through. We now learn the name of the conquerors. "Behold, I rouse up the Medes over them, who do not regard silver, and take no pleasure in gold." It was the Medes (Darius Medus equals Cyaxares II) who put an end to the Babylonian kingdom in combination with the Persians (Cyrus). The Persians are mentioned for the first time in the Old Testament by Ezekiel and Daniel. Consequently Mâdi (by the side of which Elam is mentioned in Isaiah 21:2) appears to have been a general term applied to the Arian populations of Eran from the most important ruling tribe. Until nearly the end of Hezekiah's reign, the Medes lived scattered about over different districts, and in hamlets (or villages) united together by a constitutional organization. After they had broken away from the Assyrians (714 b.c.) they placed themselves in 709-8 b.c. under one common king, namely Deyoces, probably for the purpose of upholding their national independence; or, to speak more correctly, under a common monarch, for even the chiefs of the villages were called kings.

(Note: See Spiegel's Eran das Land zwischen dem Indus und Tigris (1863), p. 308ff.)

It is in this sense that Jeremiah speaks of "king of Madai;" at any rate, this is a much more probable supposition than that he refers to monarchs in a generic sense. But the kings of Media, i.e., the rulers of the several villages, are mentioned in Jeremiah 25:25 among those who will have to drink the intoxicating cup which Jehovah is about to give to the nations through Nebuchadnezzar. So that their expedition against Babylon is an act of revenge for the disgrace of bondage that has been inflicted upon them. Their disregarding silver and gold is not intended to describe them as a rude, uncultivated people: the prophet simply means that they are impelled by a spirit of revenge, and do not come for the purpose of gathering booty. Revenge drives them on to forgetfulness of all morality, and humanity also.

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