Thus said God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which comes out of it; he that gives breath to the people on it, and spirit to them that walk therein:
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And stretched them out - The heavens are often represented as stretched out as a veil (Genesis 1:6, Hebrew) or as an expanse that can be rolled up (see the note at Isaiah 34:4), or as a tent for the appropriate dwelling-place of God (see the note at Isaiah 40:22). His great power and glory are indicated by the fact that he has stretched out what to us appears a vast expanse over our heads. On the grammatical construction of the word which occurs here in the Hebrew, see Rosenmuller in loc.
He that spread forth the earth - He stretched it out as a plain - retaining the idea which was so common among the ancients that the earth was a vast plain, reaching from one end of the heavens to the other. The words, however, which are used here are not inconsistent with the idea that the earth is a sphere, since it may still be represented as stretched out, or expanded to a vast extent. The main idea in the passage is not to teach the form in which the earth is made, but to show that it has been made by God.
And that which cometh out of it - The productions of the earth - the trees, shrubs, grain, etc. As the verb to stretch out cannot be applied to these, some verb must be understood; as he produced, or caused to grow.
He that giveth breath and spirit to them - This refers, doubtless, to beasts as well as to people; and the idea is, that God is the source of life to all the creatures that live and move on the earth. The argument in the passage is, that as God is the creator and upholder of all; as he has given life to all, and has the universe entirely under his control, he has a right to appoint whom he will to be the medium of his favors to people, and to demand that suitable respect shall be shown to the Messiah whom he has designated for this work.
"Rabbi Meir cites this passage so as to add after ירוץ yarats כוחו cocho, his force, which word is not found in the present Hebrew text, but seems necessary to be added to make the sense more distinct." Capell. Crit. Sac. p. 382. For which reason I had added it in the translation, before I observed this remark of Capellus. - L.
he that created the heavens, and stretched them out: he first made them out of nothing, and stretched out the firmament of them as a curtain and canopy over the earth, and them as a tent for himself to dwell in, Isaiah 40:22,
he that spread forth the earth; into the length and breadth it has, for man and beast to dwell on it:
and that which cometh out of it; grass, herbs, and trees, which he has spread all over it:
he that giveth breath unto the people upon it; as he did to man at first, he breathed into him the breath of life, and as he gives to all since, Genesis 2:7,
and spirit to them that walk therein; not only breath in common with the beasts of the field, and other creatures, but a rational spirit, or a reasonable soul, an intellective faculty, a capacity of understanding things, as brutes have not. Jarchi interprets this of the Holy Spirit, which God gives to them that walk before him.Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein:Isaiah 41:25 points back to the first charge against the heathen and their gods (Isaiah 41:2-7), so Isaiah 41:26-28 point back to the second. Not only did Jehovah manifest Himself as the Universal Ruler in the waking up of Cyrus, but as the Omniscient Ruler also. "Who hath made it known from the beginning, we will acknowledge it, and from former time, we will say He is in the right?! Yea, there was none that made known; yea, none that caused to hear; yea, none that heard your words. As the first I saith to Zion, Behold, behold, there it is: and I bestow evangelists upon Jerusalem. And I looked, and there was no man; and of these there was no one answering whom I would ask, and who would give me an answer." If any one of the heathen deities had foretold this appearance of Cyrus so long before as at the very commencement of that course of history which had thus reached its goal, Jehovah with His people, being thus taught by experience, would admit and acknowledge their divinity. מראשׁ is used in the same sense as in Isaiah 48:16 : and also in Isaiah 41:4 and Isaiah 40:21, where it refers according to the context in each case, to the beginning of the particular line of history. צדּיק signifies either "he is right," i.e., in the right (compare the Arabic siddik, genuine), or in a neuter sense, "it is right" ( equals true), i.e., the claim to divine honours is really founded upon divine performances. But there was not one who had proclaimed it, or who gave a single sound of himself; no one had heard anything of the kind from them. אין receives a retrospective character from the connection; and bearing this in mind, the participles may be also resolved into imperfects. The repeated אף, passing beyond what is set down as possible, declares the reality of the very opposite. What Jehovah thus proves the idols to want, He can lay claim to for Himself. In Isaiah 41:27 we need not assume that there is any hyperbaton, as Louis de Dieu, Rosenmller, and others have done: "I first will give to Zion and Jerusalem one bringing glad tidings: behold, behold them." After what has gone before in Isaiah 41:26 we may easily supply אמרתּי, "I said," in Isaiah 41:27 (compare Isaiah 8:19; Isaiah 14:16; Isaiah 27:2), not אמר, for the whole comparison drawn by Jehovah between Himself and the idols is retrospective, and looks back from the fulfilment in progress to the prophecies relating to it. The only reply that we can look for to the question in Isaiah 41:26 is not, "I on the contrary do it," but "I did it." At the same time, the rendering is a correct one: "Behold, behold them" (illa; for the neuter use of the masculine, compare Isaiah 48:3; Isaiah 38:16; Isaiah 45:8). "As the first," Jehovah replies (i.e., without any one anticipating me), "Have I spoken to Zion: behold, behold, there it is," pointing with the finger of prophecy to the coming salvation, which is here regarded as present; "and I gave to Jerusalem messengers of joy;" i.e., long ago, before what is now approaching could be known by any one, I foretold to my church, through the medium of prophets, the glad tidings of the deliverance from Babylon. If the author of chapters 40-66 were a prophet of the captivity, his reference here would be to such prophecies as Isaiah 11:11 (where Shinar is mentioned as a land of dispersion), and more especially still Micah 4:10, "There in Babylon wilt thou be delivered, there will Jehovah redeem thee out of the hand of thine enemies;" but if Isaiah were the author, he is looking back from the ideal standpoint of the time of the captivity, and of Cyrus more especially, to his own prophecies before the captivity (such as Isaiah 13:1-14:23, and Isaiah 21:1-10), just as Ezekiel, when prophesying of Gog and Magog, looks back in Isaiah 38:17 fro the ideal standpoint of this remote future, more especially to his own prophecies in relation to it. In that case the mebhassēr, or evangelist, more especially referred to is the prophet himself (Grotius and Stier), namely, as being the foreteller of those prophets to whom the commission in Isaiah 40:1, "Comfort ye, comfort ye," is addressed, and who are greeted in Isaiah 52:7-8 as the bearers of the joyful news of the existing fulfilment of the deliverance that has appeared, and therefore as the mebhassēr or evangelist of the future מבשׂרים. In any case, it follows from Isaiah 41:26, Isaiah 41:27 that the overthrow of Babylon and the redemption of Israel had long before been proclaimed by Jehovah through His prophets; and if our exposition is correct so far, the futures in Isaiah 41:28 are to be taken as imperfects: And I looked round (וארא, a voluntative in the hypothetical protasis, Ges. 128, 2), and there was no one (who announced anything of the kind); and of these (the idols) there was no adviser (with regard to the future, Numbers 24:14), and none whom I could ask, and who answered me (the questioner). Consequently, just as the raising up of Cyrus proclaimed the sole omnipotence of Jehovah, so did the fact that the deliverance of Zion-Jerusalem, for which the raising up of Cyrus prepared the way, had been predicted by Him long before, proclaim His sole omniscience. Verse 5. - Thus saith God the Lord; literally, thus saith the (One) God, Jehovah. The entire utterance, vers. 1-4, is the utterance of God; but, as that fact is gathered by inference, not asserted, the prophet suddenly stops, and makes a new beginning. It must be made perfectly clear that the announcement of the "Servant of the Lord" and his mission are from the Almighty; and so we have the solemn announcement of the present verse. He that created the heavens, etc. (comp. Isaiah 40:12, 22). The earth, and that which cometh out of it; i.e. all that the earth produces - gold, and silver, and precious stones, and corn, and wine, and luscious fruits, and lovely flowers - all that sustains life, and all that makes life delightful - nay more, life itself - the breath and the spirit that make men living beings.
he that created
he that spread
he that giveth
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