Isaiah 48:3
I have declared the former things from the beginning; and they went forth out of my mouth, and I showed them; I did them suddenly, and they came to pass.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3) I have declared . . .—Once more, for the seventh time, the prophet presses the fact of the Divine foreknowledge, not, as before, against the “no-faith” of the heathen, but against the “little faith” of Judah.

Isaiah 48:3-5. I have declared — That is, predicted; the former things — Those things which are already come to pass. These, opposed to new things, (Isaiah 48:6,) seem to intend the events foretold by Isaiah in the former part of this book, relating to the two confederate kings of Syria and Israel, (chap. 7.,) and to Sennacherib, (chap. 10,) as the new things, and things to come, (Isaiah 41:22,) respect the Babylonian captivity, and their return from thence, as figures of gospel times. They went forth out of my mouth, and I did them suddenly — What my mouth foretold my hand effected, even when there was no likelihood of such events taking place, whereby I gave you full proof of my Godhead. Because I knew that thou art obstinate — Therefore I gave thee the more and clearer demonstrations of my nature and providence, because I knew thou wast an unbelieving and perverse nation, that would not easily nor willingly be convinced. And thy neck an iron sinew — Which would not bow down to receive my yoke. It is a metaphor taken from untamed and stubborn oxen. The sense is, I considered that thou wast unteachable and incorrigible. And thy brow brass — That thou wast impudent and insolent. Before it came to pass I showed it thee, lest, &c. — I foretold these things, that it might be evident that they were the effects of my counsel, and not of thine idols. “God ordained a succession of prophets to foretel the most remarkable events which should happen to the Jews, on purpose to prevent their ascribing them to their idols, which their infidelity and obstinacy might have prompted them to do.” — Lowth.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.I have declared the former things - That is, in former times I have predicted future events by the prophets, which have come to pass as they were foretold. Though the fulfillment might have appeared to be long delayed, yet it came to pass at the very time, showing it to be an exact fulfillment of the prophecy. The design of thus referring to the former predictions is, to remind them of their proneness to disregard his declarations, and to recall to their attention the fact that all that he said would be certainly accomplished. As a people, they had been prone to disbelieve his word. He saw that the same thing would take place in Babylon, and that there also they would disbelieve his prophecies about raising up Cyrus, and restoring them to their own land. He therefore endeavors to anticipate this, by reminding them of their former unbelief, and of the fact that all that he had foretold in former times had come to pass.

From the beginning - In regard to this, and the meaning of the phrase, 'the former things, see the notes at Isaiah 41:22; Isaiah 43:9. The phrase. 'former things,' refers to the things which precede others; the series, or order of events.

I did them suddenly - They came to pass at an unexpected time; when you were not looking for them, and when perhaps you were doubting whether they would occur, or were calling in question the divine veracity. The idea is, that God in like manner would, certainly, and suddenly, accomplish his predictions about Babylon, and their release from their captivity.

3. former—things which have happened in time past to Israel (Isa 42:9; 44:7, 8; 45:21; 46:10).

suddenly—They came to pass so unexpectedly that the prophecy could not have resulted from mere human sagacity.

I have declared the former things from the beginning; those things which have formerly come to pass, which I punctually foretold from time to time before they came to pass; whereby I gave you full proof of my Godhead.

They came to pass; what my mouth foretold my hand effected. I have declared the former things from the beginning,.... From the time of their first ancestors, from the time of Abraham their father, to whom was declared what should befall his posterity; that they should sojourn in Egypt, be afflicted there, and come out from thence with great substance; that they be brought into the land of Canaan, and the inhabitants of it being driven out before them, Genesis 15:13.

And they went forth out of my mouth, and I showed them; they were told to Abraham by word of mouth; they were shown to him in prophecy:

I did them suddenly, and they came to pass; for very quickly these things began to take place, even in Abraham's time; for his seed being a stranger in a land not theirs, and afflicted near four hundred years, must be reckoned from the birth of Isaac; and all which exactly came to pass as was foretold; not one thing which the Lord had spoken of failed; all was punctually fulfilled, Joshua 21:45.

I have declared the former things from the beginning; and they went forth from my mouth, and I showed {d} them; I did them suddenly, and they came to pass.

(d) He shows that they could not accuse him in anything, as he had performed whatever he had promised.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
3. For from the beginning, render beforehand, or (as R.V.) “from of old.”

they (the predictions) went forth out of my mouth … I did them] brought the events to pass; the rî’shônôth including both the predictions and their historical fulfilments (see on ch. Isaiah 41:22).Verse 3. - I have declared the former things from the beginning (comp. Isaiah 41:26; Isaiah 43:9, 10; Isaiah 44:7, 8, etc.). "Former things" are here contrasted with the "new things" of ver. 6. Two cycles of prophecy seem to be intended - one of comparatively ancient date, the other quite fresh - both equally showing forth the power of God and his infinite superiority to the idols. It is difficult to determine what the two cycles of prophecy are. Delitzsch suggests that "the former things are the events experienced by the people from the very earliest times down to the times of Cyrus," while "the new things embrace the redemption of Israel from Babylon, the glorification of the people in the midst of a world of nations converted to the God of Israel, and the creation of a new heaven and a new earth." Dr. Kay thinks that the "former things" are those mentioned in the prophecies concerning Babylon generally, the "new things those about to be announced in Isaiah 49-56. I did them suddenly; rather, suddenly I wrought. ἀλμενιχακά in Plut., read Porph., viz., in the letter of Porphyrios to the Egyptian Anebo in Euseb. praep. iii. 4, init.: τάς τε εἰς τοὺς δεκανοὺς τομὰς καὶ τοὺς ὡροσκόποὺς καὶ τοὺς λεγομένους κραταιοὺς ἡγεμόνας, ὧν καὶ ὀνόματα ἐν τοῖς ἀλμενιχιακοῖς φέρεται; compare Jamblichos, de Mysteriis, viii. 4: τά τε ἑν τοῖς σαλμεσχινιακοῖς μέρος τι βραχύτατον περιέχει τῶν ̔Ερμαικῶν διατάξεων. This reading σαλμεσχινιακοῖς has been adopted by Parthey after two codices and the text in Salmasius, de annis clim. 605. But ἀλμενιχιακοῖς is favoured by the form Almanach (Hebr. אלמנק, see Steinschneider, Catal. Codd. Lugduno-Batav. p. 370), in which the word was afterwards adopted as the name of an astrological handbook or year-book. In Arabic the word appears to me to be equivalent to 'l-mnâch, the encampment (of the stars); but to all appearance it was originally an Egyptian word, and possibly the Coptic monk (old Egyptian mench), a form or thing formed, is hidden beneath it.

Isaiah 47:12Then follows the concluding strophe, which, like the first, announces to the imperial city in a triumphantly sarcastic tone its inevitable fate; whereas the intermediate strophes refer rather to the sins by which this fate has been brought upon it. "Come near, then, with thine enchantments, and with the multitude of thy witchcrafts, wherein thou hast laboured from thy youth: perhaps thou canst profit, perhaps thou wilt inspire terror. Thou art wearied through the multitude of thy consultations; let the dissectors of the heavens come near, then, and save thee, the star-gazers, they who with every new moon bring things to light that will come upon thee. Behold, they have become like stubble: fire has consumed them: there is not a red-hot coal to warm themselves, a hearth-fire to sit before. So is it with thy people, for whom thou hast laboured: thy partners in trade from thy youth, they wander away every one in his own direction; no one who brings salvation to thee." Hitzig and others adopt the simple rendering, "Persevere, then, with thine enchantments." It is indeed true, that in Leviticus 13:5 בּ עמד signifies "to remain standing by anything," i.e., to persevere with it, just as in Ezekiel 13:5 it signifies to keep one's standing in anything; in 2 Kings 23:3, to enter upon anything; and in Ecclesiastes 8:3, to engage in anything; but there is no reason for taking it here in any other sense than in Isaiah 47:13. Babylon is to draw near with all the processes of the black art, wherein בּאשׁר, according to our western mode of expression, equivalent to בּהם אשׁר, Ges. 123, 2*) it had been addicted to abundance of routine from its youth upwards (יגעאתּ with an auxiliary pathach for יגעתּ); possibly it may be of some use, possibly it will terrify, i.e., make itself so terrible to the approaching calamity, as to cause it to keep off. The prophet now sees in spirit how Babylon draws near, and how it also harasses itself to no purpose; he therefore follows up the עמדי־נא, addressed in pleno to Babylon, with a second challenge commencing with יעמדוּ־נא. Their astrologers are to draw near, and try that power over the future to which they lay claim, by bringing it to bear at once upon the approaching destruction for the benefit of Babylon. עצתיך is a singular form connected with a feminine plural suffix, such as we find in Psalm 9:15; Ezekiel 35:11; Ezra 9:15, connected with a masculine plural suffix. Assuming the correctness of the vowel-pointing, the singular appears in such cases as these to have a collective meaning, like the Arabic pl. fractus; for there is no ground to suppose that the Aramaean plural form ‛ētsâth is used here in the place of the Hebrew. Instead of שׁמים הברו (which would be equivalent to הברו אשׁרא, the keri reads שׁמים הברי, cutters up of the heavens, i.e., planners or dissectors of them, from hâb, dissecare, resecare (compare the rabbinical habhârâh, a syllable, i.e., segmentum vocabuli, and possibly also the talmudic 'ēbhârı̄m, limbs of a body). The correction proposed by Knobel, viz., chōbherē, from châbhār, to know, or be versed in, is unnecessary. Châzâh b' signifies here, as it generally does, to look with pleasure or with interest at anything; hence Luther has rendered it correctly, die Sternkucker (Eng. ver. star-gazers). They are described still further as those who make known with every new moon (lechŏdâshı̄m, like labbeqârı̄m, every morning, Isaiah 33:2, etc.), things which, etc. מאשׁר is used in a partitive sense: out of the great mass of events they select the most important, and prepare a calendar or almanack (ἀλμενιχιακά in Plutarch) for the state every month. But these very wise men cannot save themselves, to say nothing of others, out of the power of that flame, which is no comforting coal-fire to warm one's self by, no hearth-fire (Isaiah 44:16) to sit in front of, but a devouring, eternal, i.e., peremptory flame (Isaiah 33:14). The rendering adopted by Grotius, Vitringa, Lowth, Gesenius, and others, "non supererit pruna ad calendum," is a false one, if only because it is not in harmony with the figure. "Thus shall they be unto thee," he continues in Isaiah 47:15, i.e., such things shall be endured to thy disgrace by those about whom thou hast wearied thyself (אשׁר equals בּהם אשׁר). The learned orders of the Chaldeans had their own quarter, and enjoyed all the distinction and privileges of a priestly caste. What follows cannot possibly be understood as relating to these masters of astrology and witchcraft, as Ewald supposes; for, according to the expression שׁחרהּ in Isaiah 47:11, they would be called שׁחריך. Moreover, if they became a prey of the flames, and therefore were unable to flee, we should have to assume that they were burned while taking flight (Umbreit). סחריך are those who carried on commercial intercourse with the great "trading city" (Ezekiel 17:4), as Berossos says, "In Babylon there was a great multitude of men of other nations who had settled in Chaldea, and they lived in disorder, like the wild beasts;" compare Aeschylus, Pers. 52-3, Βαβυλὼν δ ̓ ἡ πολύχρυσος πάμμικτον ὄχλον πέμπει. All of these are scattered in the wildest flight, אל־עברו אישׁ, every one on his own side, viz., in the direction of his own home, and do not trouble themselves about Babylon.

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