Isaiah 37:26
Have you not heard long ago, how I have done it; and of ancient times, that I have formed it? now have I brought it to pass, that you should be to lay waste defended cities into ruinous heaps.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(26) Hast thou not heard . . .—The speech of Sennacherib ends, and that of Jehovah begins. The adverb “long ago” should be connected with the words that follow. The events of history had all been foreseen and ordered, as in the remote past, by the counsels of Jehovah. Kings and armies were but as His puppets in the drama of the world’s history. The words “hast thou not heard” suggest the thought that Isaiah assumes that Sennacherib had heard of his prophecies, or those of his fore-runners, as to the purposes of Jehovah—an assumption which, looking to the fact that he had ministers who were well acquainted with Hebrew (Isaiah 36:12), was in itself probable enough.

37:1-38 This chapter is the same as 2Ki 19Hast thou not heard - This is evidently the language of God addressed to Sennacherib. It is designed to state to him that he was under his control; that this was the reason Isaiah 37:27 why the inhabitants of the nations had been unable to resist him; that he was entirely in his hands Isaiah 37:28; and that lie would control him as he pleased Isaiah 37:29.

Long ago how I have done it - You boast that all this is by your own counsel and power. Yet I have done it; that is, I have purposed, planned, arranged it long ago (compare Isaiah 22:11).

That thou shouldest be to lay waste - I have raised you up for this purpose, and you have been entirely under my control (see the note at Isaiah 10:5).

26. Reply of God to Sennacherib.

long ago—join, rather, with "I have done it." Thou dost boast that it is all by thy counsel and might: but it is I who, long ago, have ordered it so (Isa 22:11); thou wert but the instrument in My hands (Isa 10:5, 15). This was the reason why "the inhabitants were of small power before thee" (Isa 37:27), namely, that I ordered it so; yet thou art in My hands, and I know thy ways (Isa 37:28), and I will check thee (Isa 37:29). Connect also, "I from ancient times have arranged ('formed') it." However, English Version is supported by Isa 33:13; 45:6, 21; 48:5.

No text from Poole on this verse. Hast thou not heard long ago?.... By report, by reading the history of ancient times, or by means of the prophets; these are the words of the Lord to Sennacherib. The Targum adds,

"what I did to Pharaoh king of Egypt;''

it follows:

how I have done it; and of ancient times that I have formed it? meaning either the decree in his own breast from all eternity, and which he had published by his prophets, of raising up him, this wicked prince, to be the scourge of nations; or by the "it" are meant the people of the Jews, God's Israel, whom he had made, formed into a body politic, and into a church state, and had done great things for, in bringing them out of Egypt, leading them through the Red sea, providing for them, and protecting them in the wilderness, subduing nations under them, and settling them in the land of Canaan;

now have I brought it to pass, that thou shouldest be to lay waste defenced cities into ruinous heaps (t); which some render interrogatively,

now should I bring, it to be laid waste, and fenced cities to be ruinous heaps? that is, the people of the Jews, the city of Jerusalem, and other fenced cities? no, I will not: or the meaning is, that that decree, which he had framed and formed in his own mind from all eternity, he was now bringing to pass; which was, that this king of Babylon should be a waster and destroyer of fortified cities, which he should reduce to heaps of ruin; wherefore he had no reason to vaunt as he had done, for he was only an instrument of executing the purposes and designs of God, though it was not in his heart, nor did he so mean.

(t) "in acervos et flores", "into heaps and flowers", that is, into heaps of dust, which being moved, and raised by the wind, fly away like flowers and blossoms of trees; so Gussetius, "in acervos volantes, aut ad volandum excitatos, scil. dum redacti in pulveres, magna ex parte, volant, excitati a ventis", Comment. Ebr. p. 502.

Hast thou not heard long ago, how I have done it; and of ancient times, {r} that I have formed it? now have I brought it to pass, that thou shouldest be to lay waste fortified cities into ruinous heaps.

(r) Signifying that God did not make his Church to destroy it, but to preserve it: and therefore he says that he formed it of old, even in his eternal counsel which cannot be changed.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
26. The verse reads, with a slight change of pointing: Hast thou not heard? Long ago have I made it, from the days of old have I formed it: now I bring it to pass, and so hast thou been (able) to lay waste in ruined heaps defenced cities. Cf. ch. Isaiah 22:11, Isaiah 44:7, Isaiah 46:11.

26, 27. In all his successes the Assyrian has been but the unconscious instrument of Jehovah’s eternal purpose. Cf. ch. Isaiah 10:5-15.Verse 26. - Hast thou not heard, etc.? An abrupt transition, such as is common in Isaiah. From speaking in the person of Sennacherib, the prophet without warning breaks off, and returns to speaking in the person of Jehovah, as his mouthpiece. "Hast thou not heard," he says, long ago; or rather, "that from long ago! have done this?" Art thou so ignorant, so devoid of that light of nature, which should "lighten every man that cometh into the world" (John 1:9), as not to know God's method of governing the world? How that "from long ago," in his eternal counsels, he designs the rise and fall of nations, and the mode in which their destruction is to be brought about? Art thou not aware that conquerors are mere instruments in God's hands - "the rods of his anger" (Isaiah 10:5) - to work his will, and then to have his will worked upon them in turn (see Isaiah 10:6-19)? Sennacherib seems to be really reproached for not knowing what he ought to have known, and might have known, if he had listened to the voice of conscience and reason. Now have brought it to pass, etc. All that Sennacherib had done, he had done as God's instrument, by his permission - nay, by his aid. He had been the axe in the hand of the hewer (Isaiah 10:15), the saw, the rod, the staff, of God's indignation (Isaiah 10:5), the executor of his vengeance. The very purpose of his being was that he should "lay waste (certain) defenced cities into ruinous heaps." This intimidating message, which declared the God of Israel to be utterly powerless, was conveyed by the messengers of Sennacherib in the form of a latter. "And Hizkiyahu took the letter out of the hand of the messengers, and read it (K. read them), and went up to the house of Jehovah; and Hizkiyahu spread it before Jehovah." Sephârı̄m (the sheets) is equivalent to the letter (not a letter in duplo), like literae (cf., grammata). ויּקראהוּ (changed by K. into m- ') is construed according to the singular idea. Thenius regards this spreading out of the letter as a naivetי; and Gesenius even goes so far as to speak of the praying machines of the Buddhists. But it was simply prayer without words - an act of prayer, which afterwards passed into vocal prayer. "And Hizkiyahu prayed to (K. before) Jehovah, saying (K. and said), Jehovah of hosts (K. omits tsebhâ'ōth), God of Israel, enthroned upon the cherubim, Thou, yea Thou alone, art God of all the kingdoms of the earth; Thou, Thou hast made the heavens and the earth. Incline Thine ear, Jehovah, and hear וּשׁמע, various reading in both texts וּשׁמע)! Open Thine eyes (K. with Yod of the plural), Jehovah, and see; and hear the (K. all the) words of Sennacherib, which he hath sent (K. with which he hath sent him, i.e., Rabshakeh) to despise the living God! Truly, O Jehovah, the kings of Asshur have laid waste all lands, and their land (K. the nations and their land), and have put (venâthōn, K. venâthenū) their gods into the fire: for they were not gods, only the work of men's hands, wood and stone; therefore they have destroyed them. And now, Jehovah our God, help us (K. adds pray) out of his hand, and all the kingdoms of the earth may know that Thou Jehovah (K. Jehovah Elohim) art it alone." On כּרבים (no doubt the same word as γρυπές, though not fabulous beings like these, but a symbolical representation of heavenly beings), see my Genesis, p. 626; and on yōshēbh hakkerubhı̄m (enthroned on the cherubim), see at Psalm 18:11 and Psalm 80:2. הוּא in אתּה־הוּא is an emphatic repetition, that is to say a strengthening, of the subject, like Isaiah 43:25; Isaiah 51:12; 2 Samuel 7:28; Jeremiah 49:12; Psalm 44:5; Nehemiah 9:6-7; Ezra 5:11 : tu ille (not tu es ille, Ges. 121, 2) equals tu, nullus alius. Such passages as Isaiah 41:4, where הוּא is the predicate, do not belong here. עין is not a singular (like עיני in Psalm 32:8, where the lxx have עיני), but a defective plural, as we should expect after pâqach. On the other hand, the reading shelâchō ("hath sent him"), which cannot refer to debhârı̄m (the words), but only to the person bringing the written message, is to be rejected. Moreover, Knobel cannot help giving up his preference for the reading venâthōn (compare Genesis 41:43; Ges. 131, 4a); just as, on the other hand, we cannot help regarding the reading ואת־ארצם את־כּל־הארצות as a mistake, when compared with the reading of the book of Kings. Abravanel explains the passage thus: "The Assyrians have devastated the lands, and their own land" (cf., Isaiah 14:20), of which we may find examples in the list of victories given above; compare also Beth-arbel in Hosea 10:14, if this is Irbil on the Tigris, from which Alexander's second battle in Persia, which was really fought at Gaugamela, derived its name. But how does this tally with the fact that they threw the gods of these lands - that is to say, of their own land also (for אלהיהם could not possibly refer to הארצות, to the exclusion of ארצם) - into the fire? If we read haggōyı̄m (the nations), we get rid both of the reference to their own land, which is certainly purposeless here, and also of the otherwise inevitable conclusion that they burned the gods of their own country. The reading הארצות appears to have arisen from the fact, that after the verb החריב the lands appeared to follow more naturally as the object, than the tribes themselves (compare, however, Isaiah 60:12). The train of thought is the following: The Assyrians have certainly destroyed nations and their gods, because these gods were nothing but the works of men: do Thou then help us, O Jehovah, that the world may see that Thou alone art it, viz., God ('Elōhı̄m, as K. adds, although, according to the accents, Jehovah Elohim are connected together, as in the books of Samuel and Chronicles, and very frequently in the mouth of David: see Symbolae in Psalmos, pp. 15, 16).
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