Isaiah 48:2
For they call themselves of the holy city, and stay themselves on the God of Israel; The LORD of hosts is his name.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(2) They call themselves of the holy city . . .—The words of praise are spoken, as the preceding words show, with a touch of irony. Those who so boasted were not true citizens of Zion (Psalm 15:1; Matthew 3:9). They did not enter into all that was implied in their confession of Jehovah Sabaoth.

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.For they call themselves of the holy city - Of Jerusalem (see Isaiah 52:1; Nehemiah 11:1; Matthew 4:5; Matthew 27:53; Revelation 21:2-27). The word rendered 'for' here, (כי kı̂y) means, as it often does, "although"; and the sense is, although they call themselves of the holy city, they do not worship God in sincerity and truth. Jerusalem was called 'the holy city,' because the temple, the ark, and the symbol of the divine presence were there, and it was the place where God was worshipped. It was deemed sacred by the Jews, and they regarded it as sufficient proof of goodness, it would seem, that they had dwelt there. Even in Babylon they would pride themselves on this, and suppose, perhaps, that it entitled them to divine protection and favor.

And stay themselves upon the God of Israel - In time of danger and trial they profess to seek him, and to commit their cause to him.

The Lord of hosts is his name - (See the notes at Isaiah 1:9). The object of the prophet in here mentioning his holy name is, probably, to show them the guilt of their conduct. He was Yahweh, the source of all existence. He was the God of all the hosts of heaven, and all the armies on earth. How wicked, therefore, it was to come before him in a false and hypocritical manner, and while they were professedly worshipping him, to be really offering their hearts to idols, and to be characteristically inclined to relapse into idolatry!

2. For—Ye deserve these reproofs; "for" ye call yourselves citizens of "the holy city" (Isa 52:1), but not in truth (Isa 48:1; Ne 11:1; Da 9:24); so the inscription on their coins of the time of the Maccabees. "Jerusalem the Holy." For; or, as others render it, and this particle frequently signifies, Though. And so this is added as a great aggravation of their want and neglect of truth and righteousness.

They shall call themselves of the holy city: 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 is a great privilege, so it laid a great obligation upon them to walk more holily than they did.

Stay themselves; not by a true and well-grounded faith, but by a vain and presumptive 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 observe and sharply censure in them.

The Lord of hosts is his name; or, whose name is the Lord of hosts. For they call themselves of the holy city,.... The city Jerusalem, so called because the temple, the place of divine worship, was in it, the residence of the Holy One of Israel: they valued themselves, not only upon their being of the family of Jacob, and of the tribe of Judah, but that they were inhabitants of Jerusalem, the holy city; as many now call themselves fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God, when they are strangers both to God and his people in the experimental knowledge of things:

and stay themselves upon the God of Israel; professed to trust in the Lord, and lean upon him, and rely upon his power and providence, his mercy and goodness, and expect all needful things from him, renouncing all confidence in the creature; and yet at the same time acted an hypocritical part, their faith was feigned: see Micah 3:11.

The Lord of hosts is his name; whom they professed to be their God and Father, their Lord and Husband, their Saviour and Redeemer; who has all power in heaven and in earth, and does according to his will in both worlds, having the hosts of angels and armies of men at his command, and therefore so called.

For they call themselves of the holy city, and stay themselves {c} upon the God of Israel; The LORD of hosts is his name.

(c) They make a show, as though they would have no other God.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2. of (or by) the holy city] The phrase is here applied to Jerusalem for the first time in the O.T. It occurs again in ch. Isaiah 52:1, elsewhere only in the books of Nehemiah and Daniel (comp. Matthew 4:5).

3–6 a inculcate the lesson of the “former things,” i.e. the events that have now taken place, especially the appearance of Cyrus. These were predicted in advance, that Israel might not be able to say they were done by the false gods (Isaiah 48:5).Verse 2. - For they call themselves of the holy city. It is an indication of their real want of truth and righteousness, that they lay such stress upon what is so entirely outward and formal, as the fact of their belonging to" the holy city," Jerusalem. Compare the boast of the Jews in our Lord's time, "We be Abraham's seed" (John 8:33). Stay themselves upon the God of Israel. Not resting upon him in real faith and true humble dependence, as those Israelites who are mentioned in Isaiah 10:20. but trusting to the facts that they were "Israel," and that God was "the God of Israel," and therefore bound to protect them. God reminds them that, if he is "the God of Israel," he is also "the Lord of hosts" - a term, as Dr. Kay notes, especially connected with the holiness of God. 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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