Isaiah 48:1
Hear you this, O house of Jacob, which are called by the name of Israel, and are come forth out of the waters of Judah, which swear by the name of the LORD, and make mention of the God of Israel, but not in truth, nor in righteousness.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
XLVIII.

(1) Are come forth out of the waters of Judah.—The words limit the wider terms of Jacob and Israel to the Judæan exiles. For the phrase, comp. “ye that are of the fountains of Israel” (Psalm 68:26). The ideal attributes of Israel, “swearing by the name of Jehovah . . .” are pressed in contrast with their actual state of hypocrisy and unrighteousness.

Isaiah 48:1-2. Hear ye this, O house of Jacob — For your conviction and humiliation; that, acknowledging God to be just, and even merciful, in what he has brought upon you, you may give glory to him, and take shame to yourselves; which are called by the name of Israel — Who are Israelites in name, but not in truth; and are come out of the waters of Judah — From the lineage of your progenitor, Judah, as waters flow from a fountain; which swear by the name of the Lord — Who profess the true religion, one act thereof being put for all; that own him to be the true God and your God, and give glory to him as the righteous judge of all. Or, that swear to the name of the Lord, as the words may be rendered; that take an oath of allegiance to him as your king, and join yourselves to him in covenant. And make mention of the God of Israel — In your prayers and praises, who often speak of, seem to glory in, and call yourselves by his name; but not in truth nor in righteousness — Which are the two chief ingredients of a lawful oath, and of a sincere profession of religion. Observe, reader, our religious professions avail nothing unless they be made in truth and righteousness. If we be not sincere in them, we do but take the name of the Lord our God in vain. For — Or, as the Hebrew particle often signifies, Though, they call themselves the holy city — Though they glory in this, that they are citizens of Jerusalem, a city sanctified by God himself to be the only place of his true worship and gracious presence, which, as it was a great privilege, so it laid a great obligation upon them to walk more holily than they did. And stay themselves upon the God of Israel — Not by a true and well-grounded faith, but by a vain and presumptuous confidence, flattering themselves, as that people commonly did, that they should enjoy peace and safety, notwithstanding all their wickedness, because they were the Lord’s people, and had his temple and ordinances among them; which disposition the prophets frequently notice, and sharply censure in them.48:1-8 The Jews valued themselves on descent from Jacob, and used the name of Jehovah as their God. They prided themselves respecting Jerusalem and the temple, yet there was no holiness in their lives. If we are not sincere in religion, we do but take the name of the Lord in vain. By prophecy they were shown how God would deal with them, long before it came to pass. God has said and done enough to prevent men's boasting of themselves, which makes the sin and ruin of the proud worse; sooner or later every mouth shall be stopped, and all become silent before Him. We are all born children of disobedience. Where original sin is, actual sin will follow. Does not the conscience of every man witness to the truth of Scripture? May the Lord prove us, and render us doers of the word.Hear ye this - This is an address to the Jews regarded as in Babylon, and is designed to remind them of their origin, and of their privileges as the descendants of Jacob, and having the name of Israel (compare the notes at Isaiah 43:1).

And are come forth out of the waters of Judah - This metaphor is taken from a fountain which sends forth its streams of water, and the idea is, that they owed their origin to Judah, as the streams flowed from a fountain. A similar figure is used by Balaam in describing the vast increase of the Jews: Numbers 34 'He shall pour the waters out of his buckets, and his seed shall be in many waters.' So in Deuteronomy 33:28 : 'The fountain of Jacob shall be upon a land of corn and wine.' So Psalm 68:26 :

Bless ye God in the congregations,

Jehovah, ye that are of the fountain of Israel.

Margin

The idea is, that Judah was the fountain, or origin of the people who were then exiled in Babylon. The ten tribes had revolted, and had been carried away, and the name of Benjamin had been absorbed in that of Judah, and this had become the common name of the nation. Perhaps Judah is mentioned here with honor as the fountain of the nation, because it was from him that the Messiah was to descend Genesis 49:10 : and this mention of his name would serve to bring that promise to view, and would be an assurance that the nation would not be destroyed, nor the power finally depart until He should come.

Which swear by the name - Who worship Yahweh, and acknowledge him as the only true God (see the notes at Isaiah 19:18; Isaiah 45:23; compare Isaiah 48:1; Isaiah 65:16).

And make mention - That is, in your prayers and praises. You acknowledge him, and profess to worship him.

But not in truth - In a hypocritical manner; not in sincerity. Compare Jeremiah 5:2 : 'And though they say, The Lord liveth, surely they swear falsely.'

CHAPTER 48

Isa 48:1-22. The Things That Befall Babylon Jehovah Predicted Long before, lest Israel Should Attribute Them, in Its "Obstinate" Perversity, to Strange Gods (Isa 48:1-5).

1. the waters of Judah—spring from the fountain of Judah (Nu 24:7; De 33:28; Ps 68:26; Margin). Judah has the "fountain" attributed to it, because it survived the ten tribes, and from it Messiah was to spring.

swear by … Lord—(Isa 19:18; 45:23; 65:16).

mention—in prayers and praises.

not in truth—(Jer 5:2; Joh 4:24).God reproveth their hypocrisy and obstinacy by his prophecies, Isaiah 48:1-8. He spareth them for his name’s sake, and that they may learn to know him aright, Isaiah 48:9-11. God’s powerful salvation a motive to obedience, Isaiah 48:12-15. God lamenteth their backwardness, Isaiah 48:16-19. Deliverance out of Babylon, Isaiah 48:20,21. No peace to the wicked, Isaiah 48:22.

Hear ye this, what I am now going to say against thee, that thou mayst be assured that that great deliverance which I have determined and declared to give time is not for thy own sake, but for my name’s sake.

Which are called by the name of Israel; which are Israelites in name, but not in truth, as it follows.

Out of the waters of Judah; from the lineage of your progenitor, Judah, as waters flow from a fountain, and as the Israelites are said to be

of the fountain of Israel, Psalm 68:26. Compare also Deu 33:28 Proverbs 5:15, &c.

Which swear; which profess the true religion; one act of religion being put for all.

Make mention of the God of Israel; either in oaths or otherwise; that own him and seek to glory in him as their God, and call themselves by his name.

But not in truth, nor in righteousness; which are the two chief ingredients of a lawful oath, Jeremiah 4:2. They are guilty of falsehood and injustice, both in oaths, and in their whole conversation.

Hear ye this, O house of Jacob,.... Who were of the house and family of Jacob, his descendants and posterity; and who were of the house of the God of Jacob, had a name and a place there, at least in profession:

which are called by the name of Israel; a name given to Jacob, because of his prevalence with God in prayer; but these had only the name, not the thing, however not as yet; they were neither praying Jacobs, nor prevailing Israels; they were not Israelites indeed:

and are come forth out of the waters of Judah; that is, were of the seed of Judah, as the Targum, Aben Ezra, and Kimchi interpret it; these were waters out of his buckets, as Jarchi observes from Numbers 24:7, so we read of the fountain of Jacob, Deuteronomy 33:28. These were streams from thence; they were of the tribe of Judah, to whom the kingdom belonged; from whence was the chief ruler, the Shiloh, the King Messiah; they were of these waters, though not born again of water and of the Spirit:

which swear by the name of the Lord God; own him for their God, acknowledge him their Lord and King, and solemnly promise to serve him, and yield obedience to him:

and make mention of the God of Israel; or "remember" him (z) in their religious exercises; invoke his name, sing his praises, ask of him the ordinances of righteousness, honour him with their lips, speak honourably of him, and profess to remember his works of old at their solemn feasts:

but not in truth, nor in righteousness; not according to the will of God, nor truth of things; nor in the integrity of their hearts, but in an hypocritical way, and not in sincerity and uprightness; in word and tongue only, not in deed and in truth; worshippers of God they were externally, but not in spirit and truth.

(z) "recordantur", Munster, Vatablus.

Hear ye this, O house of Jacob, who are {a} called by the name of Israel, and have come forth out of {b} the waters of Judah, who swear by the name of the LORD, and make mention of the God of Israel, but not in truth, nor in righteousness.

(a) He detects their hypocrisy who claimed to be Israelites, but were not so.

(b) Meaning, the fountain and stock.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1. Hear ye this] refers to the following oracle, which commences with Isaiah 48:3 (cf. Isaiah 46:3 and Isaiah 48:12). The rest of Isaiah 48:1 f. is an editorial insertion, in the view of Duhm and Cheyne (see above).

which are called] Or, which call themselves, as in Isaiah 48:2 (cf. ch. Isaiah 44:5). For the remnant of the tribe of Judah, whom the author has in his view, the name “Israel” was really a title of honour.

out of the waters of Judah] The metaphor can be explained from Psalm 68:26 (R.V.), where the ancestor of the nation is compared to a fountain or cistern. It is perhaps better, however, to read (with Secker) mimm‘ê for mimmê, rendering from the bowels (as Isaiah 48:19) of Judah.

To swear by the name of the Lord is a profession of allegiance to Him, and as such is enjoined as a religious duty (Deuteronomy 6:13; Deuteronomy 10:20).

make mention of] i.e. celebrate; Psalm 20:7. The words not in truth, nor in righteousness do not refer specially to false swearing, but mean that the profession is formal and insincere.

1–11. These verses present some peculiar features, both of thought and style, which have been felt by scholars representing widely diverging critical tendencies. The severe judgement on the people goes beyond anything else in the prophecy; and, as has been pointed seems to breathe the spirit of Ezekiel rather than of the second Isaiah. Israel is addressed as a nation of hypocrites, of apostates, and of persistent idolaters. Then the argument of the passage as a whole is very remarkable. The “former things” (i.e. the events that have just taken place) were announced long beforehand, lest Israel should be led to ascribe them to some false god (Isaiah 48:3-6 a); but the “new things” (the subject of the present prophecy) have been “hidden” till the last moment, lest the people in their perversity should say they had known of them all along (6 b–8). Duhm and Cheyne agree in assigning these peculiarities to an editor, who has supplied a running commentary on the words of the original author, in the shape of annotations. There is much in the section which would be more intelligible if inserted by a later writer; but the method attributed to the editor is peculiar, and no motive suggests itself for his systematic attempt to correct the tendency of this isolated passage. The difficulties are perhaps exaggerated; the stern attitude towards the nation is not without parallels (see ch. Isaiah 45:9 ff., and on ch. Isaiah 46:8), and the special development of the argument from prophecy cannot be shown to involve a radical inconsistency with the prophet’s general conceptions.Verse 1. - Jacob... Israel (camp. Isaiah 40:27; Isaiah 41:8, 14; Isaiah 43:1, 22; Isaiah 44:1, etc.). "Jacob" is the natural and secular designation; "Israel" is a spiritual or covenant name (Cheyne). Both terms being appropriate to the ten tribes no less than to the two, and the present address being intended especially for the Jewish captives, a further designation is appended - which are come forth out of the waters of Judah (comp. Psalm 68:26, "Ye that are of the fountain of Israel," marginal rendering). Which swear by the Name of the Lord. Swearing "by the Name of the Lord" is an evidence of true religion, to a certain extent (Deuteronomy 6:13; Deuteronomy 10:20). It indicates that there has been, at any rate, no open apostasy. Still, it does not necessarily prove more than this; and, in the present case, it scarcely showed anything beyond mere outward formal conformity. The bulk of the captives "swore by the Name of Jehovah, and made mention of the God of Israel" (camp. Joshua 23:7), but did so not in truth, nor in righteousness; i.e. "without their state of mind or mode of action corresponding to their confession, so as to prove that it was sincerely and seriously meant" (Delitzsch). The condition of the majority of the exiles was that expressed in the words, "This people honoureth me with their lips, but in their hearts are far from me" (Matthew 15:8). A third strophe of this proclamation of punishment is opened here with ועתה, on the ground of the conduct censured. "And now hear this, thou voluptuous one, she who sitteth so securely, who sayeth in her heart, I am it, and none else: I shall not sit a widow, nor experience bereavement of children. And these two will come upon thee suddenly in one day: bereavement of children and widowhood; they come upon thee in fullest measure, in spite of the multitude of thy sorceries, in spite of the great abundance of thy witchcrafts. Thou trustedst in thy wickedness, saidst, No one seeth me. Thy wisdom and thy knowledge, they led thee astray; so that thou saidst in thy heart, I am it, and none else. And misfortune cometh upon thee, which thou dost not understand how to charm away: and destruction will fall upon thee, which thou canst not atone for; there will come suddenly upon thee ruin which thou suspectest not." In the surnames given to Babylon here, a new reason is assigned for the judgment - namely, extravagance, security, and self-exaltation. עדין is an intensive from of עדן (lxx τρυφερά). The i of אפסי is regarded by Hahn as the same as we meet with in אתּי equals אתּ; but this is impossible here with the first person. Rosenmller, Ewald, Gesenius, and others, take it as chirek compaginis, and equivalent to עוד אין, which would only occur in this particular formula. Hitzig supposes it to be the suffix of the word, which is meant as a preposition in the sense of et praeter me ultra (nemo); but this nemo would be omitted, which is improbable. The more probable explanation is, that אפס signifies absolute non-existence, and when used as an adverb, "exclusively, nothing but," e.g., קצהוּ אפס, nothing, the utmost extremity thereof, i.e., only the utmost extremity of it (Numbers 23:13; cf., Numbers 22:35). But it is mostly used with a verbal force, like אין (אין), (utique) non est (see Isaiah 45:14); hence אפסי, like איני, (utique) non sum. The form in which the presumption of Babylon expresses itself, viz., "I (am it), and I am absolutely nothing further," sounds like self-deification, by the side of similar self-assertion on the part of Jehovah (Isaiah 45:5-6; Isaiah 14:21, Isaiah 14:22 and Isaiah 46:9). Nineveh speaks in just the same way in Zephaniah 2:15; compare Martial: "Terrarum Dea gentiumque Roma cui par est nihil et nihil secundum." Babylon also says still further (like the Babylon of the last days in Revelation 18:7): "I shall not sit as a widow (viz., mourning thus in solitude, Lamentations 1:1; Lamentations 3:28; and secluded from the world, Genesis 38:11), nor experience the loss of children" (orbitatem). She would become a widow, if she should lose the different nations, and "the kings of the earth who committed fornication with her" (Revelation 18:9); for her relation to her own king cannot possibly be thought of, inasmuch as the relation in which a nation stands to its temporal king is never thought of as marriage, like that of Jehovah to Israel. She would also be a mother bereaved of her children, if war and captivity robbed her of her population. But both of these would happen to her suddenly in one day, so that she would succumb to the weight of the double sorrow. Both of them would come upon her kethummâm (secundum integritatem eorum), i.e., so that she would come to learn what the loss of men and the loss of children signified in all its extent and in all its depth, and that in spite of (בּ, with, equivalent to "notwithstanding," as in Isaiah 5:25; not "through equals on account of," since this tone is adopted for the first time in Isaiah 47:10) the multitude of its incantations, and the very great mass (‛ŏtsmâh, an inf. noun, as in Isaiah 30:19; Isaiah 55:2, used here, not as in Isaiah 40:29, in an intensive sense, but, like ‛âtsūm, as a parallel word to rabh in a numerical sense) of its witchcrafts (chebher, binding by means of incantations, κατάδεσμος). Babylonia was the birth-place of astrology, from which sprang the twelve-fold division of the day, the horoscope and sun-dial (Herod. ii. 109); but it was also the home of magic, which pretended to bind the course of events, and even the power of the gods, and to direct them in whatever way it pleased (Diodorus, ii. 29). Thus had Babylon trusted in her wickedness (Isaiah 13:11), viz., in the tyranny and cunning by which she hoped to ensure perpetual duration, with the notion that she was exalted above the reach of any earthly calamity.

She thought, "None seeth me" (non est videns me), thus suppressing the voice of conscience, and practically denying the omnipotence and omnipresence of God. ראני (with a verbal suffix, videns me, whereas ראי saere in Genesis 16:3 signifies videns mei equals meus), also written ראני, is a pausal form in half pause for ראני (Isaiah 29:15). Tzere passes in pause both into pathach (e.g., Isaiah 42:22), and also, apart from such hithpael forms as Isaiah 41:16, into kametz, as in קימנוּ (Job 22:20, which see). By the "wisdom and knowledge" of Babylon, which had turned her aside from the right way, we are to understand her policy, strategy, and more especially her magical arts, i.e., the mysteries of the Chaldeans, their ἐπιχώριοι φιλόσοφοι (Strabo, xxi. 1, 6). On hōvâh (used here and in Ezekiel 7:26, written havvâh elsewhere), according to its primary meaning, "yawning," χαῖνον, then a yawning depth, χάσμα, utter destruction, see at Job 37:6. שׁאה signifies primarily a desert, or desolate place, here destruction; and hence the derivative meaning, waste noise, a dull groan. The perfect consec. of the first clause precedes its predicate רעה in the radical form בא (Ges., 147, a). With the parallelism of כּפּרהּ, it is not probable that שׁחרהּ, which rhymes with it, is a substantive, in the sense of "from which thou wilt experience no morning dawn" (i.e., after the night of calamity), as Umbreit supposes. The suffix also causes some difficulty (hence the Vulgate rendering, ortum ejus, sc. mali); and instead of תדעי, we should expect תראי. In any case, shachrâh is a verb, and Hitzig renders it, "which thou wilt not know how to unblacken;" but this privative use of shichēr as a word of colour would be without example. It would be better to translate it, "which thou wilt not know how to spy out" (as in Isaiah 26:9), but better still, "which thou wilt not know how to conjure away" (shichēr equals Arab. sḥḥr, as it were incantitare, and here incantando averruncare). The last relative clause affirms what shachrâh would state, if understood according to Isaiah 26:9 : destruction which thou wilt not know, i.e., which will come suddenly and unexpectedly.

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