Isaiah 41:27
The first shall say to Zion, Behold, behold them: and I will give to Jerusalem one that brings good tidings.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(27) The first shall say to Zion.—The italics show the difficulty and abruptness of the originals. A preferable rendering is, (1) I was the first that said to Zion, &c. No oracle or soothsayer anticipated that message of deliverance (Ewald, Del.); or (2) a forerunner shall say . . . The words “Behold them” point to the returning exiles. The second clause fits in better with (2), and explains it. Jehovah sends a herald of good news (not Cyrus himself, but a messenger reporting his victories, or possibly Isaiah himself, as a more distant herald) to Jerusalem, to say that the exiles are returning.

Isaiah 41:27. The first shall say, &c. — Hebrew, ראשׁון לציון, literally, first, or the first to Zion; which words some interpret thus: I, who am the first, (Isaiah 41:4,) do and will foretel to my people things to come. Behold, behold them — I represent things future (namely, the rise of Cyrus, and the deliverance of my people from Babylon by him) as if they were present, and to be beheld with men’s bodily eyes. Behold the wonderful works which God hath wrought for you: or, Behold my people returning to their ancient habitations. Bishop Lowth, who observes, “The verse is somewhat obscure by the transposition of the parts of the sentence,” translates it thus: I first to Zion, (gave the word,) Behold, they are here; And to Jerusalem I give the messenger of good tidings. The sense of which he says is, “I first, by my prophets, give notice of these events, saying, Behold, they are at hand! I give to Jerusalem,” &c.41:21-29 There needs no more to show the folly of sin, than to bring to notice the reasons given in defence of it. There is nothing in idols worthy of regard. They are less than nothing, and worse than nothing. Let the advocates of other doctrines than that of salvation through Christ, bring their arguments. Can they tell of a cure for human depravity? Jehovah has power which cannot be withstood; this he will make appear. But the certain knowledge of the future must be only with Jehovah, who fulfils his own plans. All prophecies, except those of the Bible, have been uncertain. In the work of redemption the Lord showed himself much more than in the release of the Jews from Babylon. The good tidings the Lord will send in the gospel, is a mystery hid from ages and generations. A Deliverer is raised up for us, of nobler name and greater power than the deliverer of the captive Jews. May we be numbered among his obedient servants and faithful friends.The first shall say to Zion - This translation is unhappy. It does not convey any clear meaning, nor is it possible from the translation to conjecture what the word 'first' refers to. The correct rendering undoubtedly is, 'I first said to Zion;' and the sense is, 'I, Yahweh, first gave to Zion the announcement of these things. I predicted the restoration of the Jews to their own land, and the raising up of the man who should deliver them; and I only have uttered the prophecies respecting the time and circumstances in which these events would occur.' The Septuagint renders it, 'I will first give notice to Zion, and I will comfort Jerusalem in the way.' The Chaldee renders it 'The words of consolation which the prophets have uttered respecting Zion in the beginning, lo, they are about to come to pass.' The sense of the passage is, that no one of the idol-gods, or their prophets, had predicted these events. The first intimation of them had been by Yahweh, and this had been made to Zion, and designed for its consolation.

Behold, behold them - Lo, these events are about to come to pass. Zion, or Jerusalem, was to behold them, for they were intended to effect its deliverance, and secure its welfare. The words 'Zion' and 'Jerusalem' here seem intended to denote the Jewish people in general, or to refer to Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish nation. The intimation had been given in the capital of the nation, and thence to the entire people.

And I will give - Or rather, I give, or I have given. The passage means, that the hearer of the good tidings of the raising up of a deliverer should be sent to the Jewish people. To them the joyful news was announced long before the event; the news of the raising up of such a man - an event of so much interest to them - was made to them long before the pagan had any intimation of it; and it would occur as the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy recorded among the Jews. The prophet refers here, doubtless, in the main, to his own prophecies uttered so long before the event would occur, and which would be distinctly known when they would be in exile in Babylon.

27. Rather, "I first will give to Zion and to Jerusalem the messenger of good tidings, Behold, behold them!" The clause, "Behold … them" (the wished-for event is now present) is inserted in the middle of the sentence as a detached exclamation, by an elegant transposition, the language being framed abruptly, as one would speak in putting vividly as it were, before the eyes of others, some joyous event which he had just learned [Ludovicus De Dieu] (compare Isa 40:9). None of the idols had foretold these events. Jehovah was the "first" to do so (see Isa 41:4). The first; I who am the first, as I said before, Isaiah 41:4, and therefore capable of declaring or foretelling things to come from the beginning, which your idols cannot do, Isaiah 41:26.

Shall say to Zion; do and will foretell unto my people by my prophets things to come.

Behold, behold them; I represent things future as if they were present, and to be beheld with your eyes. By them he means either,

1. These things which are to come: or,

2. These men; either Cyrus and his forces, who came to deliver the Jews out of Babylon; or, which is the same thing in effect, the Jews returning from their captivity in Babylon.

One that bringeth good tidings; a messenger or messengers, the singular number being here put for the plural, as it is in many other places, to wit, my prophets, who shall foretell the good tidings of their deliverance from captivity. The first shall say to Zion, behold, behold them,.... Or, "I the first say to Zion"; I who am the first and the last, Isaiah 41:4 which some ancient Jewish writers (d) observe is the name of the Messiah, and apply the passage to him; or, I am the "first" that say these things to Zion (e),

behold, behold them; behold such and such things shall come to pass, and accordingly they have come to pass; or, "behold", the promised Messiah, whom I have long spoken of, behold, he is come; see Isaiah 42:1, and behold them, his apostles and ministers, publishing the good tidings of salvation, as follows. The Targum is,

"the words of consolation which the prophets prophesied from the beginning concerning Sion, behold they come;''

they come to pass; which is such a proof of deity the idols and their worshippers cannot give:

and I will give to Jerusalem one that bringeth good tidings; which some interpret of Isaiah; others of Cyrus; others of Christ; and others of John the Baptist. I suppose the singular put for the plural, "one that bringeth good tidings", or, "an evangelist for evangelists"; and may be understood of Gospel teachers, whom the Lord gave to his church and people, and by means of whom he spread his Gospel, not only in Judea, but in the Gentile world, to the overthrow of Paganism.

(d) T. Bab. Pesach. fol. 5. 1. Bereshit Rabba, sect. 63. fol. 55. 3. and Vajikra Rabba, sect. 30. fol. 171. 2.((e) "ego primus sum qui dico haec Sioni", Tigurine version.

The first shall say to Zion, Behold, behold {z} them: and I will give to Jerusalem {a} one that bringeth good tidings.

(z) That is, the Israelites who return from the captivity.

(a) That is, a continual succession of prophets and ministers.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
27. The first … behold them] A very perplexing sentence: lit. “A first one to Zion, Behold, behold them!” We may render (nearly as R.V.) (I) first (have said) to Zion, Behold, etc. Or we may supply the verb from the following line, thus: “I first will give to Zion (one saying) Behold,” etc.; or “I will give a first one (i.e. a forerunner) to Zion (saying), Behold, etc.” It is difficult to choose. In any case there appears (from the phrase “behold them”) to be a reference back to ch. Isaiah 40:9 ff.; and the general sense must be that that prediction was the first authoritative declaration of the meaning of the appearance of Cyrus. That Cyrus himself is the “forerunner” (Nägelsbach) is not a probable interpretation.

one that bringeth good tidings] an evangelist (see ch. Isaiah 40:9).Verse 27. - The first shall say to Zion, Behold, behold them; rather, the first has said. By "the first" must certainly be meant Jehovah - " the First, and with the last" of ver. 4. He has already announced to Zion her deliverance (see Isaiah 40:9-11; Isaiah 41:2, etc.). I will give to Jerusalem one that bringeth good tidings. Perhaps Isaiah himself (Grotius, Stier, Delitzsch). Perhaps some prophet of the Captivity, as Daniel, who "knew by books" when the Captivity was drawing to a close (Daniel 9:2), and may be supposed to have announced the good tidings to the other exiles. There follows now the second stage in the suit. "Bring hither your cause, saith Jehovah; bring forward your proofs, saith the king of Jacob. Let them bring forward, and make known to us what will happen: make known the beginning, what it is, and we will fix our heart upon it, and take knowledge of its issue; or let us hear what is to come. Make known what is coming later, and we will acknowledge that ye are gods: yea, do good, and do evil, and we will measure ourselves, and see together." In the first stage Jehovah appealed, in support of His deity, to the fact that it was He who had called the oppressor of the nations upon the arena of history. In this second stage He appeals to the fact that He only knows or can predict the future. There the challenge was addressed to the worshippers of idols, here to the idols themselves; but in both cases both of these are ranged on the one side, and Jehovah with His people upon the other. It is with purpose that Jehovah is called the "King of Jacob,"as being the tutelar God of Israel, in contrast to the tutelar deities of the heathen. The challenge to the latter to establish their deity is first of all addressed to them directly in Isaiah 41:21, and then indirectly in Isaiah 41:22, where Jehovah connects Himself with His people as the opposing party; but in Isaiah 41:22 He returns again to a direct address. עצּמות are evidences (lit. robara, cf., ὀχυρώματα, 2 Corinthians 10:4, from עצם, to be strong or stringent; mishn. נתעצּם, to contend with one another pro et contra); here it signifies proofs that they can foresee the future. Jehovah for His part has displayed this knowledge, inasmuch as, at the very time when He threatened destruction to the heathen at the hands of Cyrus, He consoled His people with the announcement of their deliverance (Isaiah 41:8-20). It is therefore the turn of the idol deities now: "Let them bring forward and announce to us the things that will come to pass." the general idea of what is in the future stands at the head. Then within this the choice is given them of proving their foreknowledge of what is afterwards to happen, by announcing either ראשׁנות, or even בּאות. These two ideas, therefore, are generic terms within the range of the things that are to happen. Consequently הרשׁנות cannot mean "earlier predictions," prius praedicta, as Hitzig, Knobel, and others suppose. This explanation is precluded in the present instance by the logic of the context. Both ideas lie upon the one line of the future; the one being more immediate, the other more remote, or as the expression alternating with הבאות implies לאחור האתיּות, ventura in posterum ("in later times," compare Isaiah 42:23, "at a later period;" from the participle אתה, radical form אתי, vid., Ges. 75, Anm. 5, probably to distinguish it from אתות). This is the explanation adopted by Stier and Hahn, the latter of whom has correctly expounded the word, as denoting "the events about to happen first in the immediate future, which it is not so difficult to prognosticate from signs that are discernible in the present." The choice is given them, either to foretell "things at the beginning" (haggı̄dū in our editions is erroneously pointed with kadma instead of geresh), i.e., that which will take place first or next, "what they be" (quae et qualia sint), so that now, when the achărı̄th, "the latter end" (i.e., the issue of that which is held out to view), as prognosticated from the standpoint of the present, really occurs, the prophetic utterance concerning it may be verified; or "things to come," i.e., things further off, in later times (in the remote future), the prediction of which is incomparably more difficult, because without any point of contact in the present. They are to choose which they like (או from אוה, like vel from velle): "ye do good, and do evil," i.e., (according to the proverbial use of the phrase; cf., Zephaniah 1:12 and Jeremiah 10:5) only express yourselves in some way; come forward, and do either the one or the other. The meaning is, not that they are to stir themselves and predict either good or evil, but they are to show some sign of life, no matter what. "And we will measure ourselves (i.e., look one another in the face, testing and measuring), and see together," viz., what the result of the contest will be. השׁתּעה like התראה in 2 Kings 14:8, 2 Kings 14:11, with a cohortative âh, which is rarely met with in connection with verbs ל ה, and the tone upon the penultimate, the âh being attached without tone to the voluntative נשׁתּע in 2 Kings 14:5 (Ewald, 228, c). For the chethib ונראה, the Keri has the voluntative ונרא.
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