Isaiah 49:22
Thus said the Lord GOD, Behold, I will lift up my hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people: and they shall bring your sons in their arms, and your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(22) The Gentiles . . . the people . . .—Both words are used of the heathen. They are summoned by the uplifted signal of Jehovah to do their work as nursing fathers, carrying the children in their bosom (Numbers 11:12).

Isaiah 49:22-23. I will lift up my hand to the Gentiles — I will call them to me; and set up my standard to the people — As generals do, to gather their forces together. And they shall bring thy sons — Those who shall be thine by adoption, who shall own God for their Father, and Jerusalem for their mother; in their arms — With great care and tenderness, as nurses carry young infants: the sense is, Even the heathen shall contribute to the increase and preservation of those children which shall be begotten to thee. And thy daughters shall be carried, &c. — As sick or infirm persons used to be carried. And kings shall be thy nursing fathers — Kings and queens shall have a sincere affection and tender regard unto thee and thy children. Which was in some sort fulfilled by Cyrus, Ahasuerus, and some few others of the Persian kings or queens; but much more truly and fully by those many kings and emperors of the Gentile world who, after the time of Christ, did both themselves embrace the true religion, and also provide for the reception and establishment of it in their dominions. They shall bow down to thee, &c. — They shall highly reverence and honour thee, and shall most humbly and readily submit themselves unto thee. This was not verified in any of the Persian kings, but only in those kings or emperors who were converted to the Christian faith and church. And lick up the dust of thy feet — These expressions are borrowed from the manners of the eastern people in their prostrations and adorations, who bowed so low as to touch and kiss the ground. For they shall not be ashamed that wait for me — Their expectations shall not be disappointed, but abundantly satisfied.49:18-23 Zion is addressed as an afflicted widow, bereaved of her children. Numbers flock to her, and she is assured that they come to be a comfort to her. There are times when the church is desolate and few in number; yet its desolations shall not last for ever, and God will repair them. God can raise up friends for returning Israelites, even among Gentiles. They shall bring their children, and make them thy children. Let all deal tenderly and carefully with young converts and beginners in religion. Princes shall protect the church. It shall appear that God is the sovereign Lord of all. And those who in the exercise of faith, hope, and patience, wait on God for the fulfilment of his promises, shall never be confounded.Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles - To lift up the hand is a sign of beckoning to, or inviting; and the idea here is, that God would call the Gentiles to partake of the blessings of the true religion, and to embrace the Messiah (see the notes at Isaiah 11:11).

And set up my standard to the people - To the people of other lands; the word here being synonymous with the word Gentiles. A standard, or an ensign was erected in times of war to rally the forces of a nation around it; and the sense here is, that God would erect an ensign high in the sight of all the nations, and would call them to himself, as a military leader musters his forces for battle; that is, he would call the nations to embrace the true religion. See this phrase explained in the the note at Isaiah 11:12.

They shall bring thy sons in their arms - Margin, 'Bosom.' Jerome renders it, In ulnis - 'In their arms.' The Septuagint, Ἐν κόλπῳ En kolpō - 'In the bosom.' Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion, Ἀγκαλας Agkalas - 'In their arms.' If it means bosom, as Gesenius renders it, it refers to the bosom of a garment in which things are carried. But it more probably means in the arms, as children are borne; and the idea is, that the distant nations would come and bear with them those who were the children of Zion, that is, those who would become the true friends and worshippers of God.

And thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders - Referring, doubtless, to the manner in which children were carried. In Isaiah 66:12, the same idea is expressed by their being carried upon the sides, referring to the custom still prevalent in the East, of placing a child when it is nursed astride on the side of the mother. The following quotation will more fully explain the customs here alluded to. 'It is a custom in many parts of the East, to carry their children astride upon the hip, with the arm around the body. In the kingdom of Algiers, where the slaves take the Children out, the boys ride upon their shoulders; and in a religious procession, which Symes had an opportunity of seeing at Ava, the capital of the Burman empire, the first personages of rank that passed by were three children borne astride, on people's shoulders. It is evident, from these facts, that the Oriental children are carried sometimes the one way, sometimes the other.

Nor was the custom, in reality, different in Judea, though the prophet expresses himself in these terms: "They shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders;" for, according to Dr. Russel, the children able to support themselves are usually carried astride on the shoulders; but in infancy they are carried in the arms, or awkwardly on one haunch. Dandini tells us that, on horseback, the Asiatics "carry their children upon their shoulders with great dexterity. These children hold by the head of him who carries them, whether he be on horseback or on foot, and do not hinder him from walking or doing what he pleases." This augments the import of the passage in Isaiah, who speaks of the Gentiles bringing children thus; so that distance is no objection to this mode of conveyance, since they may thus be brought on horseback from among the people, however remote.' (Paxton) 'Children of both sexes are carried on the shoulders.

Thus may be seen the father carrying his son, the little fellow being astride on the shoulder, having, with his hands, hold of his father's head. Girls, however, sit on the shoulder, as if on a chair, their legs banging in front, while they also, with their hands, lay hold of the head. In going to, or returning from pagan festivals, thousands of parents and their children may be thus seen marching along with joy.' (Roberts) The sense is, that converts should come from every land - that the nations should flock to the standard of the Messiah. And why may it not be regarded as a legitimate interpretation of this passage, that those who come should bring their children, their sons and their daughters, with them? That they were borne upon the arm, or upon the shoulder, is indicative of their being young children; and that is no forced interpretation of this passage which regards it as teaching, that the parents who should be converted among the Gentiles should bring their offspring to the Redeemer, and present them publicly to God.

22. lift … hand—that is, beckon to (see on [835]Isa 13:2).

standard—(Isa 11:12).

bring … sons in … arms—The Gentiles shall aid in restoring Israel to its own land (Isa 60:4; 66:20). Children able to support themselves are carried on the shoulders in the East; but infants, in the arms, or astride on one haunch (Isa 60:12). "Thy sons" must be distinct from "the Gentiles," who carry them; and therefore cannot primarily refer to converts among the Gentiles.

I will lift up mine hand; I will call them to me, and command them to do this work, as men commonly signify their calls and commands by this gesture.

Set up my standard, as generals do to gather their forces together. See Poole "Isaiah 11:12". To the people; unto thee, or to thy church and people. Shall bring thy sons; those which shall be thine, if not by natural generation, yet by adoption, that shall own God for their Father, and Jerusalem for their mother.

In their arms; with great care and tenderness, as nurses carry young infants. The sense is, Even the heathen shall contribute to the increase and preservation of those children which shall be begotten to thee.

Thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders; as sick or infirm persons used to be carried.. See Mark 2:3 Luke 15:5. Thus saith the Lord God,.... In answer to the questions, where had these children been? and from whence did they come? who begot them, and brought them up? and by what means was all this done, or would be done?

I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles; beckoning them to come unto him, directing and ordering them what to do; or rather exerting the power of his grace in the conversion of them. The Targum is,

"I will reveal my power among the Gentiles;''

his efficacious grace attending the ministry of the word, whereby it becomes "the power of God unto salvation"; for when that hand is lifted up or exerted, the "word" comes "not in word only", "but in power, and in the Holy Ghost", and is effectual to saving purposes:

and set up my standard to the people; meaning Christ, "the ensign of the people"; who, in the ministration of the Gospel, is set up as a standard, to gather persons to him, as an ensign or standard is set up by a general of an army to collect soldiers to him, to come and enlist, and fight under his banners; see Isaiah 11:10,

and they shall bring thy sons in their arms; or, "bosom" (s); such as are regenerated by the Spirit and grace of God, under the word, are to be tenderly dealt with by the ministers of the Gospel, as they are by Christ, Isaiah 40:11 and to be encouraged to come and join themselves to the church, and be directed and assisted by them in that service:

and thy daughters shall be carried on their shoulders; meaning the same as before, only perhaps weaker converts, dealing with them according to their infirmities; carrying them with as much ease, care, and tenderness, as young children are carried on the shoulders of their parents or others. It may be these expressions are designed to show how assisting and encouraging the Christian Gentiles will be to the Jews, when converted in their several countries, both to admit them into Gospel churches, and bring them into their own land; see Isaiah 66:19.

(s) , Sept. "in gremio", Tigurine version; "in sinu", Munster, Montanus. But Ben Melech interprets it "the arm".

Thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I will lift up my hand to the {a} Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people: and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders.

(a) He shows that Christ will not only gather this great number from the Jews but also from the Gentiles.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
22, 23. The first of the three short oracles describes the restoration of the exiles as a spontaneous act of homage on the part of the Gentiles. The conception is intermediate between that of ch. Isaiah 45:14 ff., where the nations acknowledge the divinity of Jehovah and the religious supremacy of Israel, and that of ch. Isaiah 60:4; Isaiah 60:8, Isaiah 66:20; cf. ch. Isaiah 11:11-12. For Gentiles read nations, and for people, peoples, as R.V.

set up my standard] as a signal; see on ch. Isaiah 5:26.

they shall bring thy sons in the bosom] of the garment (sinus) where little children were carried (Numbers 11:12). The word belongs to late Hebrew (Nehemiah 5:13 [E.V. lap]; Psalm 129:7).Verse 22. - I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles. The new children - the new converts - are to come from the Gentiles; the fresh "sons" and "daughters" will be carried by the nations in their arms, and by the peoples upon their shoulders. It is usual to expound this and parallel passages (Isaiah 60:4; 66:20) of the return of the Jews to their own land by favour of the Gentiles, either when the decree of Cyrus went forth, or at some still future period. But perhaps the children intended are foster-children, actual Gentiles, whom their parents will bring to baptism. In the Assyrian sculptures, mothers are constantly represented as carrying their children upon their shoulders ('Ancient Monarchies,' vol. 1 p. 480). The prophet, looking back at the period of suffering from the standpoint of the deliverance, exclaims from the midst of this train of thought: Isaiah 49:14 "Zion said, Jehovah hath forsaken me, and the Lord hath forgotten me." The period of suffering which forces out this lamentation still continues. What follows, therefore, applies to the church of the present, i.e., of the captivity. Isaiah 49:15, Isaiah 49:16 "Does a woman forget her sucking child, so as not to have compassion upon the child of her womb? Even though mothers should forget, I will not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls stand continually before me." In reply to the complaining church, which knows that her home is in Zion-Jerusalem, and which has been kept so long away from her home, Jehovah sets forth His love, which is as inalienable as a mother's love, yea, far greater than even maternal love. On עוּל, the min in mērachēm is equivalent to ὥστε μή, as in Isaiah 23:1; Isaiah 24:10; Isaiah 33:15, etc. גּם, so far as the actual sense is concerned, is equivalent to גּם־כּי (Ewald, 362, b): "granted that such (mothers) should forget, i.e., disown, their love." The picture of Zion (not merely the name, as Isaiah 49:16 clearly shows) is drawn in the inside of Jehovah's hands, just as men are accustomed to burn or puncture ornamental figures and mementoes upon the hand, the arm, and the forehead, and to colour the punctures with alhenna or indigo (see Tafel, xii., in vol. ii. pp. 33-35 of Lane's Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians). There is the figure of Zion, unapproachable to every creature, as close to Him as He is to Himself, and facing Him amidst all the emotions of His divine life. There has He the walls of Zion constantly before Him (on neged, see at Isaiah 1:15; Isaiah 24:23); and even if for a time they are broken down here below, with Him they have an eternal ideal existence, which must be realized again and again in an increasingly glorious form.
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