Isaiah 48:20
Go you forth of Babylon, flee you from the Chaldeans, with a voice of singing declare you, tell this, utter it even to the end of the earth; say you, The LORD has redeemed his servant Jacob.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(20) Go ye forth of Babylon . . .—The sorrow and sighing are past, and the prophet speaks to the remnant that shall return. They are to act without fear on the promises of God, on the decree of Cyrus, and to start at once on their homeward journey, and as they go, to proclaim what great things God hath done for them.

Isaiah 48:20-21. Go ye forth of Babylon — The imperative is here, as it is very frequently, put for the future, ye shall go forth, &c. For the words do not so much contain a command as a promise. This form of speaking, however, may be the rather used to intimate, that it was their duty to go forth, as well as God’s promise to carry them forth. Flee ye from the Chaldeans — Not silently and sorrowfully, but with a voice of singing — With joy, and songs of praise to the Lord. Declare ye, &c., even to the end of the earth — Publish God’s wonderful works on your behalf to all nations. A figure this of the publishing of the gospel to all the world. And they thirsted not, &c. — This is part of the matter which the Jews are here commanded to declare to all people, as they had opportunity, namely, that God took the same care of them in their return from Babylon to Canaan, which was through many dry and desolate places, as he did of their forefathers, in their march from Egypt to Canaan. They thirsted not, &c. — That is, They shall not thirst. He speaks of things to come, as if they were already present or past, as the prophets commonly did. He caused the waters to flow out of the rock, &c. — “If this prophecy,” says Kimchi, “relate to the return from the Babylonish captivity, as it seems to do, it is to be wondered how it comes to pass, that in the book of Ezra, in which he gives an account of their return, no mention is made, that such miracles were wrought for them; as, for instance, that God clave the rock for them in the desert.” On this strange observation of the learned rabbi, Bishop Lowth remarks as follows: “It is really much to be wondered, that one of the most learned and judicious Jewish expositors of the Old Testament, having advanced so far in a large comment on Isaiah, should appear to be totally ignorant of the prophet’s manner of writing; of the parabolic style which prevails in the writings of all the prophets, and more particularly in the prophecy of Isaiah, which abounds throughout in parabolic images, from the beginning to the end: from Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth, to the worm and the fire in the last verse. And how came he to keep his wonderment to himself so long? Why did he not expect, that the historian should have related how, as they passed through the desert, cedars, pines, and olive-trees shot up at once on the side of the way to shade them; and that, instead of briers and brambles, the acacia and the myrtle sprang up under their feet, according to God’s promises, Isaiah 41:19; Isaiah 55:13? These, and a multitude of the like parabolical or poetical images, were never intended to be understood literally. All that the prophet designed in this place, and which he has executed in the most elegant manner, was an amplification and illustration of the gracious care and protection of God, vouchsafed to his people in their return from Babylon, by an allusion to the miraculous exodus from Egypt.”48:16-22 The Holy Spirit qualifies for service; and those may speak boldly, whom God and his Spirit send. This is to be applied to Christ. He was sent, and he had the Spirit without measure. Whom God redeems, he teaches; he teaches to profit by affliction, and then makes them partakers of his holiness. Also, by his grace he leads them in the way of duty; and by his providence he leads in the way of deliverance. God did not afflict them willingly. If their sins had not turned them away, their peace should have been always flowing and abundant. Spiritual enjoyments are ever joined with holiness of life and regard to God's will. It will make the misery of the disobedient the more painful, to think how happy they might have been. And here is assurance given of salvation out of captivity. Those whom God designs to bring home to himself, he will take care of, that they want not for their journey. This is applicable to the grace laid up for us in Jesus Christ, from whom all good flows to us, as the water to Israel out of the rock, for that Rock was Christ. The spiritual blessings of redemption, and the rescue of the church from antichristian tyranny, are here pointed to. But whatever changes take place, the Lord warned impenitent sinners that no good would come to them; that inward anguish and outward trouble, which spring from guilt and from the Divine wrath, must be their portion for ever.Go ye forth of Babylon - The prophet now directly addresses those who were in exile in Babylon, and commands them to depart from it. The design of this is, to furnish the assurance that they should be delivered, and to show them the duty of leaving the place of their long captivity when the opportunity of doing it should occur. It is also designed to show that when it should occur, it would be attended with great joy and rejoicing.

Flee ye from the Chaldeans with a voice of singing - With the utmost exultation and joy. They should rejoice that their captivity was ended; they should exult at the prospect of being restored again to their own land.

Utter it even to the end of the earth - It is an event so great and wonderful that all the nations should be made acquainted with it.

The Lord hath redeemed ... - Yahweh has rescued from captivity his people (see the notes at Isaiah 43:1).

20. Go … forth … end of the earth—Primarily, a prophecy of their joyful deliverance from Babylon, and a direction that they should leave it when God opened the way. But the publication of it "to the ends of the earth" shows it has a more world-wide scope antitypically; Re 18:4 shows that the mystical Babylon is ultimately meant.

redeemed … Jacob—(Isa 43:1; 44:22, 23).

Go ye forth of Babylon: the imperative is here, as it is very frequently, put for the future, Ye shall go forth, &c.; for this is not so much a command as a promise; although this form of speech may be the rather used to intimate that it was their duty to go forth, as well as God’s promise to carry them forth.

With a voice of singing; with joy and songs of praise to the Lord. Declare ye; publish God’s wonderful works on your behalf to all nations. Go ye forth of Babylon,.... Which the Jews had leave to do by the proclamation of Cyrus; and so the people of God will be called to come forth out of mystical Babylon before its destruction, to which these words are applied, Revelation 18:4 perhaps this, in the figurative sense, may be a call to the Christians in Jerusalem, now become another Babylon for wickedness, to come out of it a little before its ruin; and may be applied to the call of persons, by the Gospel, from a state of confusion, sin, and darkness, in which they are:

flee ye from the Chaldeans with the voice of singing; not by stealth, or through fear, but openly and publicly, and with all the tokens and demonstrations of joy and gladness. So the Christians separated, from the unbelieving Jews; as will the followers of the Lamb from the antichristian states, Revelation 19:1 and so all that are called by grace should flee from the company of wicked men:

declare ye, tell this, utter it even to the end of the earth; this shows that something more than deliverance from the Babylonish captivity is here intended; for what had all the ends of the earth to do with that? even redemption and salvation by Christ, typified by it; which the apostles and ministers of the word are here exhorted to declare, publish, and proclaim, to the ends of the earth; Christ having a people there to be called and saved by him; and accordingly such a declaration has been made, Romans 10:18,

say ye, the Lord hath deemed his servant Jacob; as the people of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity, so the people of God, his spiritual Jacob and Israel, his sons and servants, from sin, Satan, and the world, the law, its curses, and condemnation, by the precious blood of Christ, which is the sum and substance of the Gospel declaration.

{y} Go ye forth from Babylon, flee ye from the Chaldeans, with a voice of singing declare ye, tell this, utter it even to the end of the earth; say ye, The LORD hath redeemed his servant Jacob.

(y) After he had forewarned them of their captivity and of the reason for it, he shows them the great joy that will come of their deliverance.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verse 20. - Go ye forth of Babylon. A sudden transition from expostulation to exhortation. It might have seemed that no exhortation would be needed; that, as soon as the prison-doors were set open, there would be a general rush to escape. But, when the time came, it was not so. Those only availed themselves of the edict of Cyrus "whose spirit God had raised to go up and build his house" (Ezra 1:5). The wealthier classes, Josephus tells us ('Ant. Jud.,' 11:1), remained. The very poor, it is probable, could not leave. Motives of various kinds detained others. The result was that probably a larger number elected to continue in the country than to return to Palestine. Hence the exhortation to "go forth from Babylon and flee from the Chaldeans" was far from being superfluous. Flee ye from the Chaldeans. Not "flee before them" (see Isaiah 52:12), as enemies to be feared; but quit them hastily, as corrupters to be avoided. With a voice of singing; rather, with a voice of shouting (Delitzsch), or with a ridging cry (Cheyne). The cry was to reach even to the end of the earth. All the nations were to be informed of the great event, in which they might not feel, but in which they were, deeply interested - the deliverance of Israel out of Babylon, which was "the prelude of, and a preparation for, the world's redemption" (Kay). The prophecy opened with "Hear ye;" and now the second half commences with "Hear." Three times is the appeal made to Israel: Hear ye; Jehovah alone is God, Creator, shaper of history, God of prophecy and of fulfilment. "Hearken to me, O Jacob, and Israel my called! I am it, I first, also I last. My hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens: I call to them, and they stand there together. All ye, assemble yourselves, and hear: Who among them hath proclaimed this? He whom Jehovah loveth will accomplish his will upon Babel, and his arm upon the Chaldeans. I, I have spoken, have also called him, have brought him here, and his way prospers. Come ye near to me! Hear ye this! I have not spoken in secret, from the beginning: from the time that it takes place, there am I: and now the Lord Jehovah hath sent me and His Spirit." Israel is to hearken to the call of Jehovah. The obligation to this exists, on the one hand, in the fact that it is the nation called to be the servant of Jehovah (Isaiah 41:9), the people of sacred history; and on the other hand, in the fact that Jehovah is הוּא (ever since Deuteronomy 32:39, the fundamental clause of the Old Testament credo), i.e., the absolute and eternally unchangeable One, the Alpha and Omega of all history, more especially of that of Israel, the Creator of the earth and heavens (tippach, like nâtâh elsewhere, equivalent to the Syriac tephach, to spread out), at whose almighty call they stand ready to obey, with all the beings they contain. אני קרא is virtually a conditional sentence (Ewald, 357, b). So far everything has explained the reason for the exhortation to listen to Jehovah. A further reason is now given, by His summoning the members of His nation to assemble together, to hear His own self-attestation, and to confirm it: Who among them (the gods of the heathen) has proclaimed this, or anything of the kind? That which no one but Jehovah has ever predicted follows immediately, in the form of an independent sentence, the subject of which is אהבו יהוה (cf., Isaiah 41:24): He whom Jehovah loveth will accomplish his will upon Babylon, and his arm (accomplish it) upon the Chaldeans. וּזרעו is not an accusative (as Hitzig, Ewald, Stier, and others maintain); for the expression "accomplish his arm" (? Jehovah's or his own) is a phrase that is quite unintelligible, even if taken as zeugmatic; it is rather the nominative of the subject, whilst כּשׂדּים equals בּכּשׂדּים, like תהלתי equals תהלתי למען in Isaiah 48:9. Jehovah, He alone, is He who has proclaimed such things; He also has raised up in Cyrus the predicted conqueror of Babylon. The prosperity of his career is Jehovah's work.

As certainly now as הקּבצוּ in Isaiah 48:14 is the word of Jehovah, so certain is it that אלי קרבוּ is the same. He summons to Himself the members of His nation, that they may hear still further His own testimony concerning Himself. From the beginning He has not spoken in secret (see Isaiah 45:19); but from the time that all which now lies before their eyes - namely, the victorious career of Cyrus - has unfolded itself, He has been there, or has been by (shâm, there, as in Proverbs 8:27), to regulate what was coming to pass, and to cause it to result in the redemption of Israel. Hofmann gives a different explanation, viz.: "I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; not from the time when it came to pass (not then for the first time, but long before); I was then (when it occurred)." But the arrangement of the words is opposed to this continued force of the לא, and the accents are opposed to this breaking off of the אני שׁם, which affirms that, at the time when the revolution caused by Cyrus was preparing in the distance, He caused it to be publicly foretold, and thereby proclaimed Himself the present Author and Lord of what was then occurring. Up to this point Jehovah is speaking; but who is it that now proceeds to say, "And now - namely, now that the redemption of Israel is about to appear (ועתּה being here, as in many other instances, e.g., Isaiah 33:10, the turning-point of salvation) - now hath the Lord Jehovah sent me and His Spirit?" The majority of the commentators assume that the prophet comes forward here in his own person, behind Him whom he has introduced, and interrupts Him. But although it is perfectly true, that in all prophecy, from Deuteronomy onwards, words of Jehovah through the prophet and words of the prophet of Jehovah alternate in constant, and often harsh transitions, and that our prophet has this mark of divine inspiration in common with all the other prophets (cf., Isaiah 62:5-6), it must also be borne in mind, that hitherto he has not spoken once objectively of himself, except quite indirectly (vid., Isaiah 40:6; Isaiah 44:26), to say nothing of actually coming forward in his own person. Whether this takes place further on, more especially in Isaiah 61:1-11, we will leave for the present; but here, since the prophet has not spoken in his own person before, whereas, on the other hand, these words are followed in Isaiah 49:1. by an address concerning himself from that servant of Jehovah who announces himself as the restorer of Israel and light of the Gentiles, and who cannot therefore be ether Israel as a nation or the author of these prophecies, nothing is more natural than to suppose that the words, "And now hath the Lord," etc., form a prelude to the words of the One unequalled servant of Jehovah concerning Himself which occur in chapter 49. The surprisingly mysterious way in which the words of Jehovah suddenly pass into those of His messenger, which is only comparable to Zechariah 2:12., Zechariah 4:9 (where the speaker is also not the prophet, but a divine messenger exalted above him), can only be explained in this manner. And in no other way can we explain the ועתּה, which means that, after Jehovah has prepared the way for the redemption of Israel by the raising up of Cyrus, in accordance with prophecy, and by his success in arms, He has sent him, the speaker in this case, to carry out, in a mediatorial capacity, the redemption thus prepared, and that not by force of arms, but in the power of the Spirit of God (Isaiah 42:1; cf., Zechariah 4:6). Consequently the Spirit is not spoken of here as joining in the sending (as Umbreit and Stier suppose, after Jerome and the Targum: the Septuagint is indefinite, καὶ τὸ πνεῦμα αὐτοῦ); nor do we ever find the Spirit mentioned in such co-ordination as this (see, on the other hand, Zechariah 7:12, per spiritum suum). The meaning is, that it is also sent, i.e., sent in and with the servant of Jehovah, who is peaking here. To convey this meaning, there was no necessity to write either ורוּחו אתי שׁלח or ואת־רוחו שׁלחוי, since the expression is just the same as that in Isaiah 29:7, וּמצדתהּ צביה; and the Vav may be regarded as the Vav of companionship (Mitschaft, lit., with-ship, as the Arabs call it; see at Isaiah 42:5).

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