Isaiah 46:1
Parallel Verses
New International Version
Bel bows down, Nebo stoops low; their idols are borne by beasts of burden. The images that are carried about are burdensome, a burden for the weary.

New Living Translation
Bel and Nebo, the gods of Babylon, bow as they are lowered to the ground. They are being hauled away on ox carts. The poor beasts stagger under the weight.

English Standard Version
Bel bows down; Nebo stoops; their idols are on beasts and livestock; these things you carry are borne as burdens on weary beasts.

New American Standard Bible
Bel has bowed down, Nebo stoops over; Their images are consigned to the beasts and the cattle. The things that you carry are burdensome, A load for the weary beast.

King James Bible
Bel boweth down, Nebo stoopeth, their idols were upon the beasts, and upon the cattle: your carriages were heavy loaden; they are a burden to the weary beast.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
Bel crouches; Nebo cowers. Their idols are consigned to beasts and cattle. The images you carry are loaded, as a burden for the weary animal.

International Standard Version
"Bel bows down, Nebo stoops low. Their idols are on beasts, on livestock. Your loads are more burdensome than their reports.

NET Bible
Bel kneels down, Nebo bends low. Their images weigh down animals and beasts. Your heavy images are burdensome to tired animals.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
The god Bel bows down; the god Nebo stoops low. Their statues are seated on animals and cattle. The gods that you carry are burdens, a load for weary people.

Jubilee Bible 2000
Bel bowed down; Nebo is fallen; their images were placed upon animals and upon beasts of burden that will carry you, laden with yourselves, burden of weariness.

King James 2000 Bible
Bel bows down, Nebo stoops, their idols were upon the beasts, and upon the cattle: your carriages were heavy laden; they are a burden to the weary beast.

American King James Version
Bel bows down, Nebo stoops, their idols were on the beasts, and on the cattle: your carriages were heavy laden; they are a burden to the weary beast.

American Standard Version
Bel boweth down, Nebo stoopeth; their idols are upon the beasts, and upon the cattle: the things that ye carried about are made a load, a burden to the weary beast .

Douay-Rheims Bible
BEL is broken, Nebo is destroyed: their idols are put upon beasts and cattle, your burdens of heavy weight even unto weariness.

Darby Bible Translation
Bel is bowed down, Nebo bendeth; their idols are upon the beasts, and upon the cattle: the things ye carried are laid on, a burden to the weary [beast].

English Revised Version
Bel boweth down, Nebo stoopeth; their idols are upon the beasts, and upon the cattle: the things that ye carried about are made a load, a burden to the weary beast.

Webster's Bible Translation
Bel boweth down, Nebo stoopeth, their idols were upon the beasts, and upon the cattle: your loads were heavy; they were a burden to the weary beast.

World English Bible
Bel bows down, Nebo stoops; their idols are on the animals, and on the livestock: the things that you carried about are made a load, a burden to the weary [animal].

Young's Literal Translation
Bowed down hath Bel, stooping is Nebo, Their idols have been for the beast and for cattle, Your burdens are loaded, a burden to the weary.
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

46:1-4 The heathen insulted the Jews, as if their idols Bel and Nebo were too hard for Jehovah. But their worshippers cannot help them; both the idols and the idolaters are gone into captivity. Let not God's people be afraid of either. Those things from which ungodly men expect safety and happiness, will be found unable to save them from death and hell. The true God will never fail his worshippers. The history of the life of every believer is a kind of abstract of the history of Israel. Our spiritual life is upheld by his grace, as constantly as our natural life by his providence. And God will never leave them. The Author will be the Finisher of their well-being, when, by decays, they need help as much as in infancy. This promise to Israel, enfeebled and grown old as a nation, is applicable to every aged follower of Christ. When compassed about with infirmities, and perhaps those around begin to grow weary of you, yet I am He that I have promised to be, He that you would have me to be. I will bear you up; carry you on in your way, and carry you home at last. If we learn to trust in and love him, we need not be anxious about our remaining days or years; he will still provide for us and watch over us, both as the creatures of his power, and as new-created by his Spirit.

Pulpit Commentary

Verses 1, 2. - THE FALL OF THE GODS OF BABYLON. Among the direct consequences of the victories of Cyrus will be the downfall, in a certain sense, of the Babylonian idolatry. The prophet expresses the downfall by material imagery, graphically describing the fate of the idols themselves. But we must regard him as exulting mainly in the thought of the blow that would be dealt to idolatry in general, and to the Babylonian fond of it in particular, by the substitution of the non-idolatrous and almost monotheistic Persians for the polytheistic and grossly idolatrous Babylonians, in the sovereignty of the Asiatic world. The Babylonian religion no doubt maintained itself at Babylon until and beyond the time of Alexander; but it had lost all its prestige. From the state religion of the chief empire of Western Asia, it had sunk to the position of a provincial cult. Verse 1. - Bel boweth down, Nebo stoopeth. In the later Babylonian period, to which Isaiah's prophetic vision transports him, Bel and Nebo (if we understand by Bel, Bel-Merodach) were decidedly the two principal gods. Of the seven kings of the last dynasty, three had names in which Nebo, and two names in which Bel or Merodach, wad an element. Bel-Merodach and Nebo are the chief gods worshipped by Nebuchadnezzar and Neriglissar. Bel, Nebo, and Merodach are the only three Babylonian gods that receive acknowledgment from Cyrus in the so-called 'Cyrus Cylinder.' Bel is, in the Babylonian, "Bil," or "Belu," and means simply "lord." There was an ancient god of the name, one of the First Triad (Anu, Bel, and Hen or Hod), who came by degrees to be identified with Merodach, the tutelary deity of Babylon. Bel-Merodach was the Βῆλος (Belus) of the Greeks and Romans, who was worshipped in the great temple of Babylon, now represented by the ruin called "Babil." His name forms an element in those of Bel-lush, Bel-kudur-azur, Bel-ipni. Bel-zakir-isknn, and Belshazzar, all of them kings or viceroys of either Babylonia or Assyria. Nebu was the Babylonian god of learning, and has therefore been compared to Mercury. He was the special deity of Borsippa. The name is thought to be etymologically connected with the Hebrew nabi, prophet. The "bowing" and "stooping" of Bel and Nebo has primary reference to the overthrow of their images by the conqueror; but includes also the idea of the fall of the gods themselves in the opinions of men. Their idols were upon the beasts. The Chaldean images generally - not only those of Bel-Merodach and Nebo, but also of Ann, and Hen, and Beltis, and Ishtar, and Nergal, and Sin, and Shamas, and Gula, and others - would be torn from their shrines, and placed upon the backs of beasts of burden, to be carried off by the conquerors. No doubt this was the case with a large number of the images, which were among the most precious of the spoils seized by the soldiers. But it appears that numerous exceptions were made. Neither Cyrus nor Cambyses touched the famous golden image of Bel-Merodach at Babylon, which was first carried off from the great temple by Xerxes (Herod., 1:183). Cyrus, moreover, restored various idols, which Nabonidus had taken to Babylon from provincial towns, to the temples to which they of right belonged (Journal of Royal Asiatic Society, January, 1880, art. it.). But though their fate was in tiffs way often delayed, ultimately it is probable every valuable idol was carried off and committed to the melting-pot. Your carriages were heavy loaden; rather, the things that ye carried (in procession) are now borne along heavily. The allusion is to the contrast between the light-hearted carrying of the images on festal occasions by their votaries (Isaiah 45:20), and their slow transport to foreign lands on the backs of wearied beasts.

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Bel boweth down, Nebo stoopeth,.... These are names of the idols of Babylon. Bel is by some thought to be the contraction of Baal, the god of the Phoenicians, called by them Beel; so "Beelsamin" (h), in the Phoenician language, is Lord of heaven: but rather this is the Belus of the Babylonians, who was a renowned king of them, and after his death deified; whom Nebuchadnezzar, according to Megasthenes (i), calls Belus his progenitor, and by whom Babylon was walled about. This idol is, no doubt, the same with Jupiter Belus, who had a temple in Babylon with gates of brass, and which was in being in the times of Herodotus (k), as he reports. This name is sometimes taken into the names of their kings, as Belshazzar or Beltesbazaar. Nebo was another of their idols, an oracular one, from whom, by its priests, prophesies of things future were pretended to be given out; for it may have its name from "to prophesy", and answers to the Apollo or Mercury of other nations. The Alexandrian copy of the Septuagint has very wrongly, instead of it, Dagon the god of the Philistines; and so the Arabic version "Dsagon". This name Nebo was also taken into the names of the kings of Babylon, as Nabonassar, Nabopalassar, Nebuchadnezzar, and others. As Bel is the same with Belus, so Nebo is the same with Beltis, the queen Megasthenes or Abydenus speaks of in the same place; and Bel may design the sun, and Nebo the moon, which may have its name from "to bud forth", or "make fruitful", as the moon does; see Deuteronomy 33:14. It is said of both these deities, that they "stooped" or "bowed down"; being taken down from the high places where they were set upright, and looked grand and majestic, and where they might be seen and worshipped by the people. Jarchi gives the words another sense, that it represents in a sarcastic way these idols, as through fear, in a like condition that men are in, in a fit of the colic, who not being able to get to the solid stool, are obliged to bend their knees, and ease themselves as they can (l). Aben Ezra seems to refer to the same signification of the word, when he says the sense was well known, but it was not fit to write it. The prophet goes on in the derision of these idols:

their idols were upon the beasts, and upon the cattle; that is, being taken down, and broke to pieces for the sake of the silver, and gold, and brass that were about them, or they were made of, they were put into sacks by the Persians, and laid upon camels, and mules, and horses, and transported into Media and Persia. Jarchi interprets it, their idols are like to beasts, which defile themselves with their dung as they do; and so the Targum renders it,

"their images are "in" the likeness of serpents and beasts.''

These were the forms of them:

your carriages were heavy loaden, they are a burden to the weary beast; this seems to be spoken to the Persians, who loaded their carriages, and their beasts, with this lumber, that their wagons were ready to break down, and their cattle groaned under the weight of it; a sarcastic jeer at the idols which were become the plunder and prey of the soldiers. It was usual at the taking of cities to demolish the idols of them; and this was typical of the demolition of Heathen idols, and the cessation of Heathen oracles in the Gentile world, through the spread of the Gospel in it, in the first times of Christianity.

(h) Sanchoniatho apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 1. c. 10. p. 34. (i) Apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 4. l. p. 456. (k) Clio, sive l. 1. c. 181. Vid. Pausan. Messen. p. 261. (l) Vid. gloss. in T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 63. 2.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

CHAPTER 46

Isa 46:1-13. Babylon's Idols Could Not Save Themselves, Much Less Her. But God Can and Will Save Israel: Cyrus Is His Instrument.

1. Bel—the same as the Phoenician Baal, that is, lord, the chief god of Babylon; to it was dedicated the celebrated tower of Babylon, in the center of one of the two parts into which the city was divided, the palace being in the center of the other. Identical with the sun, worshipped on turrets, housetops, and other high places, so as to be nearer the heavenly hosts (Saba) (Jer 19:13; 32:29; Zep 1:5). Gesenius identifies Bel with the planet Jupiter, which, with the planet Venus (under the name Astarte or Astaroth), was worshipped in the East as the god of fortune, the most propitious star to be born under (see on [818]Isa 65:11). According to the Apocryphal book, Bel and the Dragon, Bel was cast down by Cyrus.

boweth … stoopeth—falleth prostrate (Isa 10:4; 1Sa 5:3, 4; Ps 20:8).

Nebo—the planet Mercury or Hermes, in astrology. The scribe of heaven, answering to the Egyptian Anubis. The extensive worship of it is shown by the many proper names compounded of it: Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuzar-adan, Nabonassar, &c.

were upon—that is, were a burden (supplied from the following clause) upon. It was customary to transport the gods of the vanquished to the land of the conquerors, who thought thereby the more effectually to keep down the subject people (1Sa 5:1, &c.; Jer 48:7; 49:3; Da 11:8).

carriages—in the Old English sense of the things carried, the images borne by you: the lading (Ac 21:15), "carriages," not the vehicles, but the baggage. Or, the images which used to be carried by you formerly in your solemn processions [Maurer].

were heavy loaden—rather, are put as a load on the beasts of burden [Maurer]. Horsley translates, "They who should have been your carriers (as Jehovah is to His people, Isa 46:3, 4) are become burdens" (see on [819]Isa 46:4).

Isaiah 46:1 Additional Commentaries
Context
Babylon's Idols
1Bel has bowed down, Nebo stoops over; Their images are consigned to the beasts and the cattle. The things that you carry are burdensome, A load for the weary beast. 2They stooped over, they have bowed down together; They could not rescue the burden, But have themselves gone into captivity.…
Cross References
Matthew 23:4
They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.

Numbers 32:38
as well as Nebo and Baal Meon (these names were changed) and Sibmah. They gave names to the cities they rebuilt.

1 Samuel 5:3
When the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the LORD! They took Dagon and put him back in his place.

Isaiah 2:18
and the idols will totally disappear.

Isaiah 21:9
Look, here comes a man in a chariot with a team of horses. And he gives back the answer: 'Babylon has fallen, has fallen! All the images of its gods lie shattered on the ground!'"

Isaiah 30:6
A prophecy concerning the animals of the Negev: Through a land of hardship and distress, of lions and lionesses, of adders and darting snakes, the envoys carry their riches on donkeys' backs, their treasures on the humps of camels, to that unprofitable nation,

Isaiah 45:20
"Gather together and come; assemble, you fugitives from the nations. Ignorant are those who carry about idols of wood, who pray to gods that cannot save.

Isaiah 46:7
They lift it to their shoulders and carry it; they set it up in its place, and there it stands. From that spot it cannot move. Even though someone cries out to it, it cannot answer; it cannot save them from their troubles.

Jeremiah 10:5
Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field, their idols cannot speak; they must be carried because they cannot walk. Do not fear them; they can do no harm nor can they do any good."

Jeremiah 50:2
"Announce and proclaim among the nations, lift up a banner and proclaim it; keep nothing back, but say, 'Babylon will be captured; Bel will be put to shame, Marduk filled with terror. Her images will be put to shame and her idols filled with terror.'

Jeremiah 50:38
A drought on her waters! They will dry up. For it is a land of idols, idols that will go mad with terror.

Jeremiah 51:44
I will punish Bel in Babylon and make him spew out what he has swallowed. The nations will no longer stream to him. And the wall of Babylon will fall.

Jeremiah 51:47
For the time will surely come when I will punish the idols of Babylon; her whole land will be disgraced and her slain will all lie fallen within her.

Daniel 3:14
and Nebuchadnezzar said to them, "Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up?

Daniel 11:8
He will also seize their gods, their metal images and their valuable articles of silver and gold and carry them off to Egypt. For some years he will leave the king of the North alone.

Nahum 1:14
The LORD has given a command concerning you, Nineveh: "You will have no descendants to bear your name. I will destroy the images and idols that are in the temple of your gods. I will prepare your grave, for you are vile."
Treasury of Scripture

Bel bows down, Nebo stoops, their idols were on the beasts, and on the cattle: your carriages were heavy laden; they are a burden to the weary beast.

Bel. Bel, called Belus by the Greek and Roman writers, is the same as Baal; and Nebo is interpreted by Castell and Norberg of Mercury; the two principal idols of Babylon. When that city was taken by the Persians, these images were carried in triumph.

Isaiah 21:9 And, behold, here comes a chariot of men, with a couple of horsemen. …

Isaiah 41:6,7 They helped every one his neighbor; and every one said to his brother, …

Exodus 12:12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite …

1 Samuel 5:3 And when they of Ashdod arose early on the morrow, behold, Dagon …

Jeremiah 48:1 Against Moab thus said the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Woe …

Jeremiah 50:2 Declare you among the nations, and publish, and set up a standard; …

Jeremiah 51:44,47,52 And I will punish Bel in Babylon, and I will bring forth out of his …

a burden

Isaiah 2:20 In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of …

Jeremiah 10:5 They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs …

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