Isaiah 51:19
These two things are come to you; who shall be sorry for you? desolation, and destruction, and the famine, and the sword: by whom shall I comfort you?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(19) These two things . . .—The two things are amplified into four: (1) the two effects, and (2) the two causes.

Who shall be sorry for thee?—Better, Be sorry with thee, or who shall console thee? Even Jehovah is represented as failing, or seeming to fail, in finding a comforter for such affliction.

51:17-23 God calls upon his people to mind the things that belong to their everlasting peace. Jerusalem had provoked God, and was made to taste the bitter fruits. Those who should have been her comforters, were their own tormentors. They have no patience by which to keep possesion of their own souls, nor any confidence in God's promise, by which to keep possession of its comfort. Thou art drunken, not as formerly, with the intoxicating cup of Babylon's idolatries, but with the cup of affliction. Know, then, the cause of God's people may for a time seem as lost, but God will protect it, by convincing the conscience, or confounding the projects, of those that strive against it. The oppressors required souls to be subjected to them, that every man should believe and worship as they would have them. But all they could gain by violence was, that people were brought to outward hypocritical conformity, for consciences cannot be forced.These two things are come unto thee - Margin, 'Happened.' That is, two sources of calamity have come upon thee; to wit, famine and the sword, producing desolation and destruction; or desolation by famine, and destruction by the sword (see Lowth on Hebrew Poetry, Lect. xix.) The idea here is, that far-spread destruction had occurred, caused by the two things, famine and the sword.

Who shall be sorry for thee? - That is, who shall be able so to pity thee as to furnish relief?

Desolation - By famine.

And destruction - Margin, as Hebrew, 'Breaking.' refers to the calamities which would be inflicted by the sword. The land would be desolated, and famine would spread over it. This refers, doubtless, to the series of calamities that would come upon it in connection with the invasion of the Chaldeans.

By whom shall I comfort thee? - This intimates a desire on the part of Yahweh to give them consolation. But the idea is, that the land would be laid waste, and that they who would have been the natural comforters should be destroyed. There would be none left to whom a resort could be had for consolation.

19. two—classes of evils, for he enumerates four, namely, desolation and destruction to the land and state; famine and the sword to the people.

who shall be sorry for thee—so as to give thee effectual relief: as the parallel clause, "By whom shall I comfort thee?" shows (La 2:11-13).

These two things; either,

1. Those which were now mentioned:

1. That she was drunk with the cup of God’s wrath, Isaiah 51:17.

2. That she had none to support or comfort her in that condition, Or,

2. Those which here follow, which although they be expressed in four words, yet they may fitly be reduced to two things, the desolation or devastation of the land, and the destruction of the people, by famine and sword. So

famine and

sword are not named as new evils, but only as the particular ways or means of bringing the

destruction there mentioned; and the words may be thus rendered, desolation and destruction, even (this Hebrew particle being oft taken expositively, whereof many instances have been given) famine (or, by famine) and sword. Or two, nay be put indefinitely for many, as double is put for abundantly more, Job 11:6 Isaiah 40:2 61:7 Zechariah 9:12, and elsewhere. By whom shall I comfort thee? I cannot find any man who is able to comfort and relieve thee. These two things are come unto thee,.... Affliction from the hand of God, though by means of enemies, and no friends to help, support, and comfort, as before hinted: or else this respects what follows, after it is said,

who shall be sorry for thee? lament or bemoan thee? they of the earth will rejoice and be glad, and others will not dare to show any concern outwardly, whatever inward grief may be in their breasts, Revelation 11:10,

desolation, and destruction, and the famine, and the sword; which may be the two things before mentioned, for though there are four words, they are reducible to two things, desolation, which is the sword, and by it, and destruction, which is the famine, and comes by that, as Kimchi observes: or the words may be rendered thus, "desolation, and destruction, even the famine and the sword"; so that there is no need of making these things four, and of considering them as distinct from the other two, as the Targum makes them, which paraphrases the whole thus,

"two tribulations come upon thee, O Jerusalem, thou canst not arise; when four shall come upon thee, spoiling and breach, and the famine and the sword, there shall be none to comfort thee but I.''

All this was literally true of Jerusalem, both at the destruction of it by the Chaldeans and by the Romans, and will be mystically true of the church at the slaying of the witnesses by the sword of antichrist; when there will be a famine, not of bread, nor of water, but of hearing the word of the Lord; and which will bring great devastation and desolation on the interest of Christ:

by whom shall I comfort thee? there being no ministry of the word, nor administration of the ordinances, the usual means of comfort, the witnesses being slain; see Lamentations 1:9.

These two {q} things have come to thee; who shall be sorry for thee? desolation, and destruction, and famine, and the sword: by whom shall I comfort thee?

(q) Of which the one is outward as of the things that come to the body, as war, and famine and the other is inward, and belongs to the mind: that is, to be without comfort: therefore he says How will you be comforted?

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
19. These two things] (ch. Isaiah 47:9), i.e. two kinds of calamities; namely, devastation and destruction on land and city; famine and sword on the inhabitants.

who shall be sorry for thee] Better who condoles with thee (Jeremiah 15:5; Nahum 3:7), i.e. “thou hast no sympathizers.” To “condole” is in Hebr. to shake the head (cf. Jeremiah 16:5; Job 2:11; Job 42:11 &c.), a similar gesture, expressed by a different verb, denotes contempt (see on ch. Isaiah 37:22).

by whom shall I comfort thee?] Rather: how (lit. who) shall I comfort thee? The idiom cannot be reproduced exactly; see Amos 7:2; Amos 7:5 and comp. Davidson’s Synt. § 8 R. 1 (where it is suggested that the peculiar use of the pronoun may be provincial or colloquial). The Ancient Versions, however, read the third person, which is far easier; “who comforts thee?”Verse 19. - These two things. What are the "two things," it is asked, since four are mentioned - desolation, and destruction, and the famine, and the sword? The right answer seems to be that of Aben Ezra and Kimchi, that the two things are "desolation," or rather "wasting" within, produced by "famine;" and "destruction" without, produced by "the sword." Who shall be sorry for thee? rather, who will mourn with thee? Jerusalem is without friends; no man condoles with her over her misfortunes. God alone feels compassion; but even he scarce knows how to comfort. By whom? rather, how? (comp. Amos 7:2, 5). In the second half the promise commences again, but with more distinct reference to the oppression of the exiles and the sufferings of Jerusalem. Jehovah Himself begins to speak now, setting His seal upon what is longed and hoped for. "I am your comforter: who art thou, that thou shouldst be afraid of a mortal who will die, and of a son of man who is made a blade of grass; that thou shouldst forget Jehovah thy Creator, who stretched out the heavens and founded the earth; that thou shouldst be afraid continually all the day of the fury of the tormentor, as he aims to destroy? and where is the fury of the tormentor left? He that is bowed down is quickly set loose, and does not die to the grave, and his bread does not fail him; as truly as I Jehovah am thy God, who frighteneth up the sea, so that its waves roar: Jehovah of hosts is His name." הוּא after אנכי אנכי is an emphatic repetition, and therefore a strengthening of the subject (αὐτὸς ἐγώ), as above, in Isaiah 51:10, in אתּ־היא. From this major, that Jehovah is the comforter of His church, and by means of a minor, that whoever has Him for a comforter has no need to fear, the conclusion is drawn that the church has no cause to fear. Consequently we cannot adopt Knobel's explanation, "How small thou art, that thou art afraid." The meaning is rather, "Is it really the case with thee (i.e., art thou then so small, so forsaken), that thou hast any need to fear" (fut. consec., according to Ges. 129, 1; cf., ki, Exodus 3:11; Judges 9:28)? The attributive sentence tâmūth (who will die) brings out the meaning involved in the epithet applied to man, viz., 'ĕnōsh (compare in the Persian myth Gayomard, from the old Persian gaya meretan, mortal life); חציר equals כּחציר (Psalm 37:2; Psalm 90:5; Psalm 103:15; compare above, Isaiah 40:6-8) is an equation instead of a comparison. In Isaiah 51:12 the address is thrown into a feminine form, in Isaiah 51:13 into a masculine one; Zion being the object in the former, and (what is the same thing) Israel in the latter: that thou forgettest thy Creator, who is also the almighty Maker of the universe, and soarest about in constant endless alarm at the wrath of the tormentor, whilst he is aiming to destroy (pichad, contremiscere, as in Proverbs 28:14; ka'ăsher as in Psalm 66:7; Numbers 27:14, lit., according as; kōnēn, viz., his arrows, or even his bow, as in Psalm 11:2; Psalm 7:13, cf., Isaiah 21:13). We must not translate this quasi disposuisset, which is opposed to the actual fact, although syntactically possible (Job 10:19; Zechariah 10:6). The question with which the fear is met, "And where is the fury of the tormentor?" looks into the future: "There is not a trace of him to be seen, he is utterly swept away." If hammētsı̄q signifies the Chaldean, Isaiah 51:14, in which the warning passes into a promise, just as in the first half the promise passed into a warning, is not to be understood as referring to oppression by their own countrymen, who were more heathenish than Israelitish in their disposition, as Knobel supposes; but tsō‛eh (from tsâ‛âh, to stoop or bend) is an individualizing description of the exiles, who were in captivity in Babylon, and some of them actually in prison (see Isaiah 42:7, Isaiah 42:22). Those who were lying there in fetters, and were therefore obliged to bend, hastened to be loosed, i.e., would speedily be set at liberty (the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus may be referred to here); they would not die and fall into the pit (constr. praegnans), nor would their bread fail; that is to say, if we regard the two clauses as the dissection of one thought (which is not necessary, however, though Hitzig supports it), "he will not die of starvation." The pledge of this is to be found in the all-sufficiency of Jehovah, who throws the sea into a state of trembling (even by a threatening word, geârâh; רגע is the construct of the participle, with the tone upon the last syllable, as in Leviticus 11:7; Psalm 94:9 : see Br's Psalter, p. 132, from râga‛, tremefacere), so that its waves roar (cf., Jeremiah 31:35, and the original passage in Job 26:12).
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