Isaiah 49:14
But Zion said, The LORD has forsaken me, and my Lord has forgotten me.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(14) But Zion said . . .—In the midst of all that Jehovah was doing for his people they were still showing their little faith, and thinking of themselves as forsaken. They shared the misgivings which were felt even by the Servant, but they did not rise out of them as quickly as He did into the full assurance of faith.

Isaiah 49:14. But Zion said, &c. — This is an objection against all these glorious predictions and promises. How can these things be true when the condition of God’s church is now so sad and desperate? Most commentators understand by Zion here, the Jewish Church, and suppose that the complaint which she is here represented as uttering, refers either to her desolate state when in Babylon, or to the time of her long dispersion and desolation in the days of the Messiah. But Vitringa is of opinion that the Christian Church is rather intended, and that the time referred to is that of her cruel persecution under the Romans. Be it which it may, God here declares that he will show her mercy, and destroy her mighty oppressors, Isaiah 49:24-26.49:13-17 Let there be universal joy, for God will have mercy upon the afflicted, because of his compassion; upon his afflicted, because of his covenant. We have no more reason to question his promise and grace, than we have to question his providence and justice. Be assured that God has a tender affection for his church and people; he would not have them to be discouraged. Some mothers do neglect their children; but God's compassions to his people, infinitely exceed those of the tenderest parents toward their children. His setting them as a mark on his hand, or a seal upon his arm, denotes his being ever mindful of them. As far as we have scriptural evidence that we belong to his ransomed flock, we may be sure that he will never forsake us. Let us then give diligence to make our calling and election sure, and rejoice in the hope and glory of God.But Zion said - On the word 'Zion,' see the note at Isaiah 1:8. The language here is that of complaint, and expresses the deep feeling of the people of God amidst many calamities, afflictions, and trials. It may be applicable to the exile Jews in Babylon during their long captivity, as if God had forsaken them; or to those who were waiting for the coming of the Messiah, and who were sighing for the divine interposition under him to restore the beauty of Zion, and to extend his kingdom; or in general, to the church when wickedness triumphs in a community, and when God seems to have forsaken Zion, and to have forgotten its interests. The language here was suggested, doubtless, by a view of the desolations of Jerusalem and Judea, and of the long and painful captivity in Babylon; but it is general, and is applicable to the people of God, in all times of similar oppression and distress. The object of the prophet is to furnish the assurance that, whatever might be the trials and the sufferings of his people, God had not forgotten them, and he neither could nor would forsake them. For this purpose, he makes use of two most striking and forcible arguments Isaiah 49:15-16, to show in the strongest possible manner that the interests of his people were safe. 14. Zion—the literal Israel's complaint, as if God had forsaken her in the Babylonian captivity; also in their dispersion previous to their future restoration; thereby God's mercy shall be called forth (Isa 63:15-19; Ps 77:9, 10; 102:17). This is an objection against all these glorious predictions and promises hitherto mentioned. How can these things be true, when the condition of God’s church is now so sad and desperate? as it was when the Jews were captives in Babylon, in which the prophet here supposeth them to be. But Zion said,.... By way of objection, as some think, to the above prophecies of glorious and comfortable times; she being now in a very disconsolate condition, and could not tell how to take it in, how it should thus be, when the case was with her as it was; though I rather think the words should be rendered, "for Zion had said"; and which is mentioned to show the uncomfortable condition she had been in, and to observe the method the Lord took to comfort her, as he before promises. Reference may be had to the Jews in the times of the Babylonish captivity, mentioned under the name of Zion; because, as Kimchi says, that was the chief city of the kingdom of Israel; who, because of the length of their captivity, might think themselves forsaken and forgotten by the Lord: yet, by Zion is meant the church under the Gospel dispensation, the saints that meet at Mount Zion, the hundred and forty and four thousand, with the Lamb there, Hebrews 12:22,

the Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me: so the church might be tempted to conclude, during the persecutions under Rome Pagan, and the long reign of antichrist not yet at an end, and because of his oppressions and cruelties; and because of the low and declining state of the interest of Christ, as it now is; few being converted by the ministry of the word; great opposition made to the truths of the Gospel with success; the ordinances of it perverted or neglected; the presence of God in them very little enjoyed; great indifference and lukewarmness among professors of religion, and discord and dissensions in churches. And so it is with particular believers, when they do not enjoy the presence of God as formerly, either in private or in public ordinances; have not had a promise for a long time; nor are favoured with the discoveries of the love of God, or with any visit from him; then they are apt to say they are forsaken by the Lord, though they cannot give up their interest in him, and therefore call him "my Lord".

But Zion said, The LORD hath {t} forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me.

(t) He objects what the faithful might say in their long affliction and answers to comfort them with a most proper comparison and full of consolation.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
14. But Zion said] Zion is the city of Jerusalem personified (cf. Isaiah 49:16) and, by a common O.T. figure, conceived as the mother of the citizens (see further on Isaiah 49:21). This is no doubt the primary reference of the figure, but since the city derives its religious significance from its being the centre of the national life, Zion really represents the nation of Israel, as in ch. Isaiah 40:2. Hence the complaint of this verse is the same as was previously heard from the lips of Israel (ch. Isaiah 40:27).

my Lord] Better, as R.V. the Lord. The word when pointed, as here (’Adônâi), is always equivalent to Jehovah. The suggestion that it may be used in the sense of “husband” (as Genesis 18:12) would demand a different vocalisation (’Ădônî). But although the idea of Jehovah as the husband of Zion was undoubtedly present to the prophet’s mind (Isaiah 50:1, Isaiah 54:6) it does not emerge in this verse.

Ch. Isaiah 49:14 to Isaiah 50:3. The Consolation of Zion

(i) Isaiah 49:14-21. In an apostrophe to Jerusalem the prophet announces the speedy return of her population and the rebuilding of her waste places. The poetry of the passage is singularly beautiful, and charged with tender emotion. Zion, the idealised city, is the wife of Jehovah, and the mother of her inhabitants. Although she now thinks of herself as rejected and barren (Isaiah 49:14), she is assured of the unchanging love of her God (Isaiah 49:15-16) which will soon be manifested in her restoration to the joy of motherhood (17–20). The ecstasy of amazement and delight with which she recognises and welcomes her children (Isaiah 49:21) is finely opposed to the opening picture of her desolation and despondency. Note also the contrast between the whole conception and the fate of the “virgin daughter of Babylon” (Isaiah 47:8-9).

(ii) Ch. Isaiah 49:22 to Isaiah 50:3. Three oracles, confirming the promise to Zion.

(1) Isaiah 49:22-23. On a signal from Jehovah the nations shall bring home the scattered children of Zion; nay, their kings and queens shall esteem it an honour to foster the newly-formed community.

(2) Isaiah 49:24-26. No earthly power can interpose between Jehovah and the deliverance of His people; Israel is His lawful prey, and none shall pluck them from Him (see the notes below). In thus representing the deliverance as effected by force, the prophet no doubt has in view the one nation that would not obey the signal of Isaiah 49:22.

-3Isaiah 50:1-3. Lastly, there exists no legal impediment to the redemption of Israel; Jehovah has issued no sentence of formal rejection against His people, nor has anyone acquired the rights of a creditor over them (Isaiah 49:1). He therefore expresses surprise that there is so little response to the promise of salvation, so little faith in His almighty power.Verse 14. - But Zion said. "Zion" is here the "daughter of Zion," or the people of Israel, as in Isaiah 51:16. The meaning is a rare one. The Lord hath forsaken me (comp. Isaiah 40:27). It is not surprising that Israel - even faithful Israel - sometimes desponded, or perhaps despaired, during the long and weary time of the Captivity. Even the "Servant of the Lord" knew moments of despondency (see above, ver. 4, with the comment). The next two vv. describe (though only with reference to Israel, the immediate circle) what is the glory of the vocation to which Jehovah, in accordance with His promise, exalts His chosen One. "Thus saith Jehovah, In a time of favour have I heard thee, and in the day of salvation have I helped thee: and I form thee, and set thee for a covenant of the people, to raise up the land, to apportion again desolate inheritances, saying to prisoners, Go ye out: to those who are in darkness, Come ye to the light." Jehovah heard His servant, and came to his help when he prayed to Him out of the condition of bondage to the world, which he shared with his people. He did it at the time for the active display of His good pleasure, and for the realizing of salvation, which had been foreseen by Him, and had now arrived. The futures which follow are to be taken as such. The fact that Jehovah makes His servant "a covenant of the people," i.e., the personal bond which unites Israel and its God in a new fellowship (see Isaiah 42:6), is the fruit of his being heard and helped. The infinitives with Lamed affirm in what way the new covenant relation will be made manifest. The land that has fallen into decay rises into prosperity again, and the desolate possessions return to their former owners. This manifestation of the covenant grace, that has been restored to the nation again, is effected through the medium of the servant of Jehovah. The rendering of the lxx is quite correct: τοῦ καταστῆσαι τὴν γῆν καὶ κληρονομῆσαι κληρονομίας ἐρήμους λέγοντα לאמר is a dicendo governed by both infinitives. The prisoners in the darkness of the prison and of affliction are the exiles (Isaiah 42:22). The mighty word of the servant of Jehovah brings to them the light of liberty, in connection with which (as has been already more than once observed) the fact should be noticed, that the redemption is viewed in connection with the termination of the captivity, and, in accordance with the peculiar character of the Old Testament, is regarded as possessing a national character, and therefore is purely external.

The person of the servant of Jehovah now falls into the background again, and the prophecy proceeds with a description of the return of the redeemed. "They shall feed by the ways, and there is pasture for them upon all field-hills. They shall not hunger nor thirst, and the mirage and sun shall not blind them: for He that hath mercy on them shall lead them, and guide them by bubbling water-springs. And I make all my mountains ways, and my roads are exalted. Behold these, they come from afar; and, behold, these from the north and from the sea; and these from the land of the Sinese." The people returning home are represented as a flock. By the roads that they take to their homes, they are able to obtain sufficient pasture, without being obliged to go a long way round in order to find a sufficient supply; and even upon bare sandy hills (Isaiah 41:18) there is pasture found for them. Nothing is wanting; even the shârâb (see Isaiah 35:7) and the sun do not hurt them, the former by deceiving and leading astray, the latter by wearying them with its oppressive heat: for He whose compassion has been excited by their long pining misery (Isaiah 41:17-20) is leading them, and bringing them along in comfort by bubbling springs of real and refreshing water (ינחל, as Petrarch once says of shepherds, Move la schira sua soavemente). Jehovah also makes all the mountains into roads for those who are returning home, and the paths of the desert are lifted up, as it were, into well-made roads (yerumūn, Ges. 47, Anm. 4). They are called my mountains and my highways (differently from Isaiah 14:25), because they are His creation; and therefore He is also able to change them, and now really does change them for the good of His people, who are returning to the land of their forefathers out of every quarter of the globe. Although in Psalm 107:3 yâm (the sea) appears to stand for the south, as referring to the southern part of the Mediterranean, which washes the coast of Egypt, there is no ground at all in the present instance for regarding it as employed in any other than its usual sense, namely the west; mērâchōq (from far) is therefore either the south (cf., Isaiah 43:6) or the east, according to the interpretation that we give to 'erets Sı̄nı̄m, as signifying a land to the east or to the south.

The Phoenician Sinim (Ges. Isaiah 10:17), the inhabitants of a fortified town in the neighbourhood of Area, which has now disappeared, but which was seen not only by Jerome, but also by Mariono Sanuto (de castro Arachas ad dimidiam leucam est oppidum Sin), cannot be thought of, for the simple reason that this Sin was too near, and was situated to the west of Babylon and to the north of Jerusalem; whilst Sin ( equals Pelusium) in Egypt, to which Ewald refers, did not give its name to either a tribe or a land. Arias Montanus was among the first to suggest that the Sinim are the Sinese (Chinese); and since the question has been so thoroughly discussed by Gesenius (in his Commentary and Thesaursu), most of the commentators, and also such Orientalists as Langles (in his Recherches asiatiques), Movers (in his Phoenicians), Lassen (in his Indische Alterthumskunde, i.-856-7), have decided in favour of this opinion. The objection brought against the supposition, that the name of the Chinese was known to the nations of the west at so early a period as this, viz., that this could not have been the case till after the reign of the emperor Shi-hoang-ti, of the dynasty of Thsin, who restored the empire that had been broken up into seven smaller kingdoms (in the year 247 b.c.), and through whose celebrated reign the name of his dynasty came to be employed in the western nations as the name of China generally, is met by Lassen with the simple fact that the name occurs at a much earlier period than this, and in many different forms, as the name of smaller states into which the empire was broken up after the reign of Wu-wang (1122-1115 b.c.). "The name Θῖναι (Strabo), Σῖναι (Ptol.), Τζίνιτζα (Kosmas), says the Sinologist Neumann, did not obtain currency for the first time from the founder of the great dynasty of Tsin; but long before this, Tsin was the name of a feudal kingdom of some importance in Shen-si, one of the western provinces of the Sinese land, and Fei-tse, the first feudal king of Tsin, began to reign as early as 897 b.c." It is quite possible, therefore, that the prophet, whether he were Isaiah or any other, may have heard of the land of the Sinese in the far east, and this is all that we need assume; not that Sinese merchants visited the market of the world on the Euphrates (Movers and Lassen), but only that information concerning the strange people who were so wealthy in rare productions, had reached the remote parts of the East through the medium of commerce, possibly from Ophir, and through the Phoenicians. But Egli replies: "The seer on the streams of Babel certainly could not have described any exiles as returning home from China, if he had not known that some of his countrymen were pining there in misery, and I most positively affirm that this was not the case." What is here assumed - namely, that there must have been a Chinese diaspora in the prophet's own time - is overthrown by what has been already observed in Isaiah 11:11; and we may also see that it is to purely by accident that the land of the Sinese is given as the farthest point to the east, from my communications concerning the Jews of China in the History of the Post-biblical Poetry of the Jews (1836, pp. 58-62, cf., p. 21). I have not yet seen Sionnet's work, which has appeared since, viz., Essai sur les Juifs de la Chine et sur l'influence, qu'ils ont eue sur la litrature de ce vaste empire, avant l're chrtienne; but I have read the Mission of Enquiry to the Jews in China in the Jewish Intelligence, May 1851, where a facsimile of their thorah is given. The immigration took place from Persia (cf., ‛Elâm, Isaiah 11:11), at the latest, under the Han dynasty (205 b.c.-220 a.d.), and certainly before the Christian era.

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