Isaiah 41:28
For I beheld, and there was no man; even among them, and there was no counselor, that, when I asked of them, could answer a word.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(28) For I beheld, and there was no mani.e., no one who had foretold the future. Jehovah, speaking through the prophet, looks round in vain for that.

Isaiah 41:28-29. For I beheld — I looked to see if I could find any of them that could certainly foretel future events; and there was no man — Not any of the idols; for the word man is sometimes used by the Hebrews of brute creatures, and even of lifeless things. There was no counsellor — Though these idols were often consulted, yet none of them were able to give any solid or certain advice concerning future things. Behold, they are all vanity — This is the conclusion of the whole dispute, and the just sentence which God passes upon idols: they are vain things, and falsely called gods. Their molten images are wind — Empty and unsatisfying things, and which, like the wind, do quickly pass away and come to nothing; and confusion — Confused, useless things, like that rude heap in the beginning of God’s creation, of which this word, תהו, is used, Genesis 1:2. He mentions molten images particularly, because their materials were most precious, and more cost and art were commonly bestowed upon them than upon others: but under these he comprehends all images whatsoever. 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.For I beheld - I looked upon the pagan world, among all the pretended prophets, and the priests of pagan idolatry.

And there was no man - No man among them who could predict these future events.

No counselor - No one qualified to give counsel, or that could anticipate by his sagacity what would take place.

That, when I asked of them - In the manner referred to in this chapter. There is no one of whom it could be inquired what would take place in future times.

Could answer a word - They were unable to discern what would come to pass, or to predict the events which are referred to here.

28. no counsellor—no one of the idolatrous soothsayers who could inform (Nu 24:14) those who consulted them what would take place. Compare "counsel of His messenger" (Isa 44:26).

when I asked—that is, challenged them, in this chapter.

For I beheld, Heb. And I beheld; I looked about me to see if I could find any man of them that could certainly and of themselves foretell such future events.

No man; not any, to wit, of the idols; for the word man is sometimes used by the Hebrews of brute creatures, and even of lifeless things, as Isaiah 34:15 40:26, and elsewhere.

There was no counsellor; though these idols were oft consulted, and by the help of the devil did sometimes deliver oracles, yet none of them were able to give any solid and certain advice concerning future things.

That, when I asked of them, could answer a word; when I tried their divinity by this character, they had nothing to say for themselves. For I beheld, and there was no man,.... Among all the Pagan priests and prophets, that could foretell things to come; or could prove that their idols did or could say anything in favour of them:

even amongst them, and there was no counsellor: none that could be advocates for these idols, and plead their cause; or could give any good advice and counsel to persons that needed it, and who applied to them or their idols for it:

that, when I asked of them, could answer a word; when asked what they had to say on behalf of their gods they worshipped, were dumb and speechless; moreover, all this may be said of the idols themselves, that there was none among them that could foretell a future event, or give any wholesome counsel to their worshippers, or could say anything in their own defence; and therefore, to close the controversy, the following sentence is pronounced.

For {b} I beheld, and there was no man; even among them, and there was no counsellor, that, when I asked of them, could answer a word.

(b) When I looked whether the idols could do these things, I found that they had neither wisdom nor power to do anything: therefore he concludes that all are wicked that trust in such vanities.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
28. For I beheld, and there was] Rather as R.V. And when I look, there is. Cf. Isaiah 50:2 even amongst them] Better: and among these, viz., the idols; the previous clause referring to their worshippers.

no counseller] None who can advise in the present crisis.Verse 28. - For I beheld. "Jehovah once more looks round to see if any of the idols possess an ability to prophesy, but in vain" (Cheyne). He finds no counsellor, i.e. no prophet, among them. Hence the final "outburst of scorn" in ver. 29, which, however, is directed primarily against the idol-worshippers, and, only through them, against the idols.



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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