Isaiah 47:9
But these two things shall come to you in a moment in one day, the loss of children, and widowhood: they shall come on you in their perfection for the multitude of your sorceries, and for the great abundance of your enchantments.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(9) In their perfection.—Better, in their completeness. She should taste the full bitterness of widowhood and bereavement.

For the multitude of thy sorceries.—Better, in spite of . . .

Isaiah 47:9. These two things shall come to thee — The very two things that thou didst set at defiance; loss of children and widowhood — Both thy princes and thy people shall be cut off, so that thou shalt be no more a government, and no more a nation. They shall come in their perfection — In the highest degree: thy king and kingdom shall be utterly and irretrievably destroyed. This prophecy was twice fulfilled; “having been accomplished the very night that Babylon was taken, when the Persians slew the king himself and a great number of the Babylonians: it was fulfilled a second time, when that city was besieged by Darius. Being determined to hold out to the last extremity, they took all their women, and each man choosing one of them, whom he liked best, out of his own family, they strangled all the rest, that unnecessary mouths might not consume their provision. By means of this shocking expedient they sustained a siege and all the efforts of Darius for twenty months, and the city was at last taken by stratagem. As soon as Darius made himself master of the place, he ordered three thousand of the principal men to be crucified; and thus this prophecy was signally fulfilled, both by the hands of the Babylonians themselves, and by the cruelties exercised upon them by their conquerors.” — Bishop Newton. For the multitude of thy sorceries — For thy superstitious and magical practices, which were very frequent in Babylon, as we see below, (Isaiah 47:12-13,) and as has been observed before. Hebrew, in the multitude, &c., or, as Dr. Waterland renders it, “Notwithstanding the multitude of thy sorceries, and the force of thy enchantments;” notwithstanding all thy diabolical artifices, whereby thou thinkest to foresee all dangers, and to secure thyself from them.47:7-15 Let us beware of acting and speaking as Babylon did; of trusting in tyranny and oppression; of boasting as to our abilities, relying on ourselves, and ascribing success to our own prudence and wisdom; lest we partake of her plagues. Those in the height of prosperity, are apt to fancy themselves out of the reach of adversity. It is also common for sinners to think they shall be safe, because they think to be secret in wicked ways. But their security shall be their ruin. Let us draw from such passages as the foregoing, those lessons of humility and trust in God which they convey. If we believe the word of God, we may know how it will be with the righteous and the wicked to all eternity. We may learn how to escape the wrath to come, to glorify God, to have peace through life, hope in death, and everlasting happiness. Let us then stand aloof from all delusions.In a moment, in one day - This is designed, undoubtedly, to describe the suddenness with which Babylon would be destroyed. It would not decay slowly, and by natural causes, but it would not decay slowly, and by natural causes, but it would be suddenly and unexpectedly destroyed. How strikingly this was fulfilled, it is not needful to pause to state (see Isaiah 13, note; Isaiah 14:1, note) In the single night in which Babylon was taken by Cyrus, a death-blow was given to all her greatness and power, and at that moment a train of causes was originated which did not cease to operate until it became a pile of ruins.

The loss of children, and widowhood - Babylon would be in the situation of a wife and a mother who is instantaneously deprived of her husband, and bereft of all her children.

They shall come upon thee in their perfection - In full measure; completely; entirely. You shall know all that is meant by this condition. The state referred to is that of a wife who is suddenly deprived of her husband, and who, at the same time, and by the same stroke, is bereft of all her children. And the sense is, that Babylon would know all that was meant by such a condition, and would experience the utmost extremity of grief which such a condition involved.

For the multitude of thy sorceries - This was one of the reasons why God would thus destroy her, that sorceries and enchantments abounded there. Lowth, however, renders this, 'Notwithstanding the multitude of thy sorceries.' So Noyes, 'In spite of thy sorceries.' The Hebrew is, 'in the multitude (ברב berôb) of thy sorceries.' Jerome renders it, 'On account of ("propter") the multitude of thy sorceries.' The Septuagint: 'In (ἐν en) thy sorcery.' Perhaps the idea is, that sorcery and enchantment abounded, and that these calamities would come notwithstanding all that they could do. They would come in the very midst of the abounding necromancy and enchantments, while the people practiced these arts, and while they depended on them. That this trust in sorcery was one cause why these judgments would come upon them, is apparent from Isaiah 47:10-11. And that they would not be able to protect the city, or that these judgments would come in spite of all their efforts, is apparent from Isaiah 47:13. The idea is exactly expressed by a literal translation of the Hebrew. They would come upon her in, that is, "in the very midst" of the multitude of sorceries and enchantments. The word rendered here 'sorceries,' means magic, incantation, and is applied to the work of magicians (2 Kings 9:22; Nehemiah 3:4; Micah 5:11; compare Exodus 7:2; Deuteronomy 18:10; Daniel 2:2; Malachi 3:5). Magic, it is well known, abounded in the East, and indeed this may be regarded as the birthplace of the art (see the note at Isaiah 2:6).

And for the great abundance of thine enchantments - Hebrew, 'And in the strength;' that is, in the full vigor of thine enchantments. While they would abound, and while they would exert their utmost power to preserve the city. The word rendered 'enchantments,' means properly society, company, community - from being associated, or bound together; and then spells, or enchantments, from the notion that they bound or confined the object that was the subject of the charm. The idea was that of controlling, binding, or restraining anyone whom they pleased, by the power of a spell.

9. in a moment—It should not decay slowly, but be suddenly and unexpectedly destroyed; in a single night it was taken by Cyrus. The prophecy was again literally fulfilled when Babylon revolted against Darius; and, in order to hold out to the last, each man chose one woman of his family, and strangled the rest, to save provisions. Darius impaled three thousand of the revolters.

in … perfection—that is, "in full measure."

for … for—rather, "notwithstanding the … notwithstanding"; "in spite of" [Lowth]. So "for" (Nu 14:11). Babylon was famous for "expiations or sacrifices, and other incantations, whereby they tried to avert evil and obtain good" [Diodorus Siculus].

In their perfection; in the highest degree. Thy king and kingdom shall be utterly and eternally destroyed.

For the multitude of thy sorceries, and for the great abundance of thine enchantments; for thy superstitious and magical practices, which were very frequent there, as we see Isaiah 47:12,13, and as was observed before. Or, as it is in the Hebrew, in the multitude of thy sorceries, &c.; in the midst of and notwithstanding all thy diabolical artifices, whereby thou thinkest to foresee any dangers, and to secure thyself from them. But these two things shall come to thee in a moment on one day,.... Suddenly, at once, at one and the same time. The destruction of Babylon was very sudden; the city was taken by surprise, before the inhabitants were aware of it, while the king and his nobles were regaling themselves at a feast; that very night Belshazzar was slain, and Darius the Mede took the kingdom, Daniel 5:30 and so those two things she boasted of would never be her lot came upon her together and at once: "the loss of children, and widowhood"; bereaved of her king, and the whole royal family, and of her people in great numbers, who were either slain, or carried captive; or, however, the kingdom was transferred from them to another people. When Babylon was taken by Cyrus, according to Xenophon (k), not only the king was slain, but those that were about him; and orders were presently given to the inhabitants to keep within doors, and to slay all that were found without. Though Dr. Prideaux (l) thinks this prophecy had its accomplishment when Babylon was besieged by Darius, who, to save provisions, slew all their own women, wives, sisters, daughters, and all their children, reserving only one wife and maidservant to a man; and when it was taken, Darius ordered three thousand of the principal inhabitants to be crucified. And in much such language is the destruction of mystical Babylon expressed, when God shall "kill her children with death; her plagues shall come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine", Revelation 2:23,

they shall come upon thee in their perfection; those evils and calamities shall be fully accomplished, not in part only, but in whole; she should have no king to govern, nor anything like one; should have no share of government; and her children or subjects should be entirely destroyed:

for the multitude of thy sorceries, and for the great abundance of thine enchantments; which the Chaldeans were very famous for; this is another reason given for their destruction; see Daniel 2:2, or, "in the multitude of thy sorceries" (m), &c.; notwithstanding these, her destruction should come upon her, which her sorcerers and enchanters could neither foresee nor prevent. Sorceries are ascribed to mystical Babylon, and as the cause of her ruin, Revelation 9:21.

(k) Cyropaedia, 1. 7. sect. 23. (l) Connexion, &c. part 1. B. 3. p. 188, 189. (m) "in multitudine maleficiorum tuorum", Munster, Montanus; "in multitudine praestigiarum", Cocceius.

But these two things shall come to thee in a moment in one day, the loss of children, and widowhood: they shall come upon thee in their {i} perfection for the multitude of thy sorceries, and for the great abundance of thy enchantments.

(i) So that your punishment will be so great, as is possible to be imagined.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
9. widowhood] is simply a figure for desolation, which is not to be pressed by asking the question, Who was the husband? The reference could hardly be to the king (for which there are no analogies), still less to the foreign nations with whom she trafficked.

in their perfection] i.e. in their full measure (R.V.).

for the multitude] Better: in spite of, &c. (as in ch. Isaiah 5:25 &c., “for all this”). Strict rhythm would here be restored by transposing the two clauses: “for the great abundance …—for the multitude …”Verse 9. - In a moment in one day. The day of the capture of the city by Cyrus, which was the third of Marchesvan, B.C. 539. Then, "in a moment," Babylon lost the whole of her prestige, ceased to reign, ceased to be an independent power, became a "widow," had a portion of her population turn from her, was brought down to the dust. Loss of children, and widowhood came upon her in their perfection; i.e. "in the full extent of their bitterness" (Cheyne). Not that Cyrus imitated her common practice by carrying off her entire population; on the contrary, she continued for more than two centuries to be a flourishing and populous town. Twice she revolted from Darius Hystaspis ('Beh. Ins.,' col. 1. par. 16; col 3, par. 13), once, perhaps, from Xerxes (Ctes., 'Ext. Pers,' § 22). Alexander the Great found her walls and her great buildings in ruins, but still she was a considerable place. Cyrus, however, no doubt, carried off a portion of her population, which thenceforth begun to dwindle, and continually became less and less as time went on, until she sank into a solitude. That extreme desolation which the prophets paint in such vivid colours (Isaiah 12:19-22; 14:22, 23; Jeremiah 50:10:15, 38-40; 2:36-43) was potentially contained in the capture by Cyrus, which was the work of a single day. For the multitude of thy sorceries... of thine enchantments (comp. ver. 13; and see also Daniel 2:2; Daniel 5:7). The word here translated "sorceries" probably means "incantations" or "enchantments," while that translated "enchantments" means "spells." The addiction of the Babylonians to marc is largely attested by the classical writers, and has been proved beyond a doubt by the lately discovered native remains. By these it appears that their magic fell under three principal heads:

(1) the preparation and use of spells and talismans, which were written forms engraved on stone or impressed on clay, and worn on the person or attached to the object on which their influence was to be exerted;

(2) the composition and recitation of formulae of incantation, which were supposed to act as charms, and to drive away demons and diseases; and

(3) the taking of observations and framing of tables of prognostics and of omens for general use, together with the casting of horoscopes for the special advantage of individuals (see Rawlinson's 'Egypt and Babylon,' p. 58; and comp. Lenor, mant,'La Magic chez les Chaldaens,' and Professor Sayce's papers in the 'Transactions of the Society of Bibl. Archaeol.,' vol. 3:p. 145, et seqq.; vol. 4:p. 302, et seqq.). The first and second forms of marc are glanced at in the present passage; the third is noticed in ver. 13. From the gods of Babylon the proclamation of judgment passes onto Babylon itself. "Come down, and sit in the dust, O virgin daughter Babel; sit on the ground without a throne, O Chaldaeans-daughter! For men no longer call thee delicate and voluptuous. Take the mill, and grind meal: throw back they veil, lift up the train, uncover the thigh, wade through streams. Let thy nakedness be uncovered, even let thy shame be seen; I shall take vengeance, and not spare men. Our Redeemer, Jehovah of hosts is His name, Holy One of Israel." This is the first strophe in the prophecy. As v. 36 clearly shows, what precedes is a penal sentence from Jehovah. Both בּת in relation to בּתוּלת (Isaiah 23:12; Isaiah 37:22), and בּבל and כּשׂדּים in relation to בּת, are appositional genitives; Babel and Chaldeans (כשׂדים as in Isaiah 48:20) are regarded as a woman, and that as one not yet dishonoured. The unconquered oppressor is threatened with degradation from her proud eminence into shameful humiliation; sitting on the ground is used in the same sense as in Isaiah 3:26. Hitherto men have called her, with envious admiration, rakkâh va‛ânuggâh (from Deuteronomy 28:56), mollis et delicata, as having carefully kept everything disagreeable at a distance, and revelled in nothing but luxury (compare ‛ōneg, Isaiah 13:22). Debauchery with its attendant rioting (Isaiah 14:11; Isaiah 25:5), and the Mylitta worship with its licensed prostitution (Herod. i. 199), were current there; but now all this was at an end. תוסיפי, according to the Masora, has only one pashta both here and in Isaiah 47:5, and so has the tone upon the last syllable, and accordingly metheg in the antepenult. Isaiah's artistic style may be readily perceived both in the three clauses of Isaiah 47:1 that are comparable to a long trumpet-blast (compare Isaiah 40:9 and Isaiah 16:1), and also in the short, rugged, involuntarily excited clauses that follow. The mistress becomes the maid, and has to perform the low, menial service of those who, as Homer says in Od. vii. 104, ἀλετρεύουσι μύλης ἔπι μήλοπα καρπόν (grind at the mill the quince-coloured fruit; compare at Job 31:10). She has to leave her palace as a prisoner of war, and, laying aside all feminine modesty, to wade through the rivers upon which she borders. Chespı̄ has ĕ instead of ĭ, and, as in other cases where a sibilant precedes, the mute p instead of f (compare 'ispı̄, Jeremiah 10:17). Both the prosopopeia and the parallel, "thy shame shall be seen," require that the expression "thy nakedness shall be uncovered" should not be understood literally. The shame of Babel is her shameful conduct, which is not to be exhibited in its true colours, inasmuch as a stronger one is coming upon it to rob it of its might and honour. This stronger one, apart from the instrument employed, is Jehovah: vindictam sumam, non parcam homini. Stier gives a different rendering here, namely, "I will run upon no man, i.e., so as to make him give way;" Hahn, "I will not meet with a man," so destitute of population will Babylon be; and Ruetschi, "I will not step in as a man." Gesenius and Rosenmller are nearer to the mark when they suggest non pangam (paciscar) cum homine; but this would require at any rate את־אדם, even if the verb פּגע really had the meaning to strike a treaty. It means rather to strike against a person, to assault any one, then to meet or come in an opposite direction, and that not only in a hostile sense, but, as in this instance, and also in Isaiah 64:4, in a friendly sense as well. Hence, "I shall not receive any man, or pardon any man" (Hitzig, Ewald, etc.). According to an old method of writing the passage, there is a pause here. But Isaiah 47:4 is still connected with what goes before. As Jehovah is speaking in Isaiah 47:5, but Israel in Isaiah 47:4, and as Isaiah 47:4 is unsuitable to form the basis of the words of Jehovah, it must be regarded as the antiphone to Isaiah 47:1-3 (cf., Isaiah 45:15). Our Redeemer, exclaims the church in joyfully exalted self-consciousness, He is Jehovah of Hosts, the Holy One of Israel! The one name affirms that He possesses the all-conquering might; the other that He possesses the will to carry on the work of redemption - a will influenced and constrained by both love and wrath.
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