|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
13:6-18 We have here the terrible desolation of Babylon by the Medes and Persians. Those who in the day of their peace were proud, and haughty, and terrible, are quite dispirited when trouble comes. Their faces shall be scorched with the flame. All comfort and hope shall fail. The stars of heaven shall not give their light, the sun shall be darkened. Such expressions are often employed by the prophets, to describe the convulsions of governments. God will visit them for their iniquity, particularly the sin of pride, which brings men low. There shall be a general scene of horror. Those who join themselves to Babylon, must expect to share her plagues, Re 18:4. All that men have, they would give for their lives, but no man's riches shall be the ransom of his life. Pause here and wonder that men should be thus cruel and inhuman, and see how corrupt the nature of man is become. And that little infants thus suffer, which shows that there is an original guilt, by which life is forfeited as soon as it is begun. The day of the Lord will, indeed, be terrible with wrath and fierce anger, far beyond all here stated. Nor will there be any place for the sinner to flee to, or attempt an escape. But few act as though they believed these things.
Verse 12. - I will make a man more precious than fine gold (comp. Isaiah 4:1). Population shall he so diminished that man shall be the most highly esteemed of commodities. The more scanty the supply of a thing, the greater its value. The golden wedge of Ophir; rather, pure gold of Ophir. Ophir is mentioned as a gold-region in 1 Kings 9:28; 1 Kings 10:11; 1 Kings 22:48; 1 Chronicles 29:4; 2 Chronicles 8:18; 2 Chronicles 9:10; Job 22:24; Job 28:16; Psalm 45:9. Its locality is uncertain. Gold of Ophir appears to have been considered especially pure.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
I will make a man more precious than fine gold,.... Which may denote either the scarcity of men in Babylon, through the slaughter made of them; so things that are scarce and rare are said to be precious, 1 Samuel 3:1 or the resolution of the Medes to spare none, though ever so much gold were offered to them, they being not to be bribed therewith, Isaiah 13:17 or that such should be the fear of men, that they would not be prevailed upon to take up arms to defend themselves or their king, whatever quantity of gold, even the best, was proposed unto them, a man was not to be got for money:
even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir; which designs the same thing in different words. The Targum gives another sense of the whole, paraphrasing it thus,
"I will love them that fear me more than gold, of which men glory; and those that keep the law more than the fine gold of Ophir;''
understanding it of the Israelites, that were in Babylon when it was taken, and who were precious and in high esteem with the Medes and Persians, more than gold, and whose lives they spared. Jarchi interprets it particularly of Daniel, and of the honour that was done him by Belshazzar, upon his reading and interpreting the writing on the wall, Daniel 5:29. This is interpreted by the Jews also of the King Messiah; for in an ancient writing (g) of theirs, where having mentioned this passage, it is added, this is the Messiah, that shall ascend and be more precious than all the children of the world, and all the children of the world shall worship and bow before him. Some take "Phaz", the word for fine gold, to be the name of a place from whence it came, and therefore was so called; and that the kingdom of Phez, in Africa, has its name from hence; and Ophir is taken to be Peru in America; though others place it in India; and the Arabic version renders it, "a man shall be more precious than a little stone that is" brought "from India"; and the Septuagint version is, "than a stone in", or "of sapphire".
(g) Zohar in Gen. fol. 71, 1.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
12. man … precious—I will so cut off Babylon's defenders, that a single man shall be as rare and precious as the finest gold.
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