Isaiah 48:5
I have even from the beginning declared it to you; before it came to pass I showed it you: lest you should say, My idol has done them, and my graven image, and my molten image, has commanded them.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
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 even from the beginning declared it to thee - He had foretold future events, so that they had abundant demonstration thai he was the true God, and so that they could not be under a mistake in regard to the source of their deliverances from danger.

Mine idol hath done them - The idols and molten images had not foretold these events and when they came to pass, it could not, therefore, be pretended that they had been produced by idols. By predicting them, Yahweh kept up the proof that he was the true God, and demonstrated that he alone was worthy of their confidence and regard.

5. (See on [830]Isa 48:1; [831]Isa 48:3). I foretold these things, that it might be evident that they were the effects of my counsel, and not of thine idols, as I knew thou wast very inclinable to believe. I have even from the beginning declared it to thee,.... From the beginning of their being a people, even before they were formed into a body politic; yea, from the original of them, from the time of Abraham their ancestor, as before observed:

before it came to pass I showed it thee; some hundreds of years before; first to Abraham, then to Isaac, then to Jacob, then to Joseph, and then to Moses, and by him to the children of Israel:

lest thou shouldest say, mine idol hath done them, and my graven image, and my molten image, hath commanded them; or my libation or fusion of wine, oil, or blood, by which, as by other things, they made conjectures of what was to come to pass; so Gussetius (b) interprets the last word; lest they should ascribe their deliverance out of Egypt to the idols they made and worshipped, being a people prone to idolatry; as they did when they made a golden calf, and danced about it, Exodus 32:4. This the Lord knew before hand, and therefore to prevent this stupidity, or convince them of it, he foretold what should come to pass, which their idols were never able to do.

(b) Ebr. Comment. p. 517.

I have even from the beginning declared it to thee; before it came to pass I showed {f} it thee: lest thou shouldest say, My idol hath done them, and my graven image, and my molten image, hath commanded them.

(f) How you should be delivered out of Babylon.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
5. I have even … thee] And I announced it to thee beforehand (Isaiah 48:3).

lest thou shouldest say &c.] But for the predictions the appearance of Cyrus would have been attributed to the idols rather than to the God who spoke through the prophets. The prevalence of idolatry among the exiles is abundantly proved by the book of Ezekiel.Verse 5. - I have even from the beginning declared it (comp. ver. 3). The declaration here made is that God rendered his prophecies more than ordinarily marvellous on account of Israel's obstinacy, not punishing them for it, lint seeking graciously and lovingly to overcome it by adding to the weight of the evidence to which he would fain have had it yield. Had his prophecies been less astonishing, had they in a less degree transcended ordinary human experience, Israel might conceivably have ascribed them and the accomplishment of them to the false gods. As it was, this was barely possible. Mine idol... my molten image. It has been already observed (see the comment on Isaiah 40:18) that there was a strong tendency to idolatry among the Jews, not only before, but during the Captivity. Ezekiel says that those among whom he lived were "polluted after the manner of their fathers, and committed whoredom after their abominations; made their sons pass through the fire, and polluted themselves with all their idols" (Ezekiel 20:30, 31); nay, went so far as to declare boldly, "We will be as the heathen, as the inhabitants of the countries, to serve wood and stone" (Ezekiel 20:32). The "prevailing tendency," as Delitzsch remarks, was "to combine the worship of Jehovah with heathenism, or else to exchange the former altogether for the latter." We cannot conclude anything concerning the mass of the community from the character of those who returned. Those who returned were the sincere worshippers of Jehovah - the irreligious did not care to return. It is always to be borne in mind that it was "the great mass even of Judah," no less than of Israel, that "remained behind" (Delitzsch); and these "became absorbed into the heathen, to whom they became more and more assimilated" (ibid.). Hath commanded them; i.e. "hath caused them (the events) to take place" (comp. Psalm 33:9). 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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