|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
50:8-20 The desolation that shall be brought upon Babylon is set forth in a variety of expressions. The cause of this destruction is the wrath of the Lord. Babylon shall be wholly desolated; for she hath sinned against the Lord. Sin makes men a mark for the arrows of God's judgments. The mercy promised to the Israel of God, shall not only accompany, but arise from the destruction of Babylon. These sheep shall be gathered from the deserts, and put again into good pasture. All who return to God and their duty, shall find satisfaction of soul in so doing. Deliverances out of trouble are comforts indeed, when fruits of the forgiveness of sin.
Verse 9. - I will raise; literally, I will stir up (or, awaken); comp. Jeremiah 6:22; Isaiah 13:17. An assembly of great nations. So in a parallel prophecy, "the kingdoms of nations gathered together" (Isaiah 13:4). Callias in Ebers' learned story, 'The Egyptian Princess,' speaks of "an empire so casually heaped together, and consisting of seventy populations of different tongues and customs, as that of Persia." From thence; i.e. from the headquarters of the array of nations. As of a mighty expert man; rather, as of an expert warrior (or, mighty man). The marginal rendering of the Authorized Version represents a various reading of the Hebrew found in three old editions, and presupposed in the Targum and Vulgate, "one making childless," i.e. "a destroyer." The received reading, however, is self-evidently right. None shall return in vain. It seems doubtful whether this refers to the arrow or to the mighty man. The arrow may be said to "return [or, 'turn'] in vain" when it misses its aim or strikes the mark without piercing it (comp. 2 Samuel 1:22, where, however, it is the sword which is thus spoken of); the mighty man when he retires from the field defeated. This wider use of the phrase is sanctioned by Isaiah 55:11.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For, lo, I will raise and cause to come up against Babylon,.... The work was of the Lord; it was he that would give a commission and a command to the enemies of Babylon; that would incline them, and stir them up, to come against her; that would direct their motions and guide them thither, so that it would assuredly be; wherefore it behooves the people of God to make haste out of it:
an assembly of great nations from the north country; the Medes and Persians, with their allies and auxiliaries which came with them from the north; as also a collection of Christian nations from the north of Europe against antichrist:
and they shall set themselves in array against her; draw up their army in form of battle, or prepare and dispose their instruments of war for the siege of Babylon:
from thence shall she be taken; on the north side, from which quarter the enemy should come; or from the place where their army is drawn up in battle array; or suddenly, and at once: so Babylon was destroyed by Cyrus; and the destruction of Rome, or mystical Babylon, will be sudden and at an unawares, Revelation 18:8;
their arrows shall be as of a mighty expert man; or "that bereaves" (g) women of their husbands, and parents of their children: the Medes and Persians were famous for archery, strong to draw the bow, and skilful to guide and direct the arrow. Strabo (h) says of Media major, that it sometimes furnished out thirteen thousand archers to the Elymaeans, or Persians, against the Susians and Babylonians;
none shall return in vain; not one of the arrows but shall do execution, kill a man: or "it", or "he, which" or "who, shall not return in vain" (i); the assembly of nations, or anyone of the archers or soldiers.
(g) "orbantis", Pagninus, Vatablus, Piscator. (h) Geograph. l. 11. p. 361. (i) "quae non redibit frustra", Schmidt; "quae non revertitur frustra", De Dieu; "qui non redit vacuus", Cocceius.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
9. from thence—that is, from the north country.
expert—literally, "prosperous." Besides "might," "expertness" is needed, that an arrow may do execution. The Margin has a different Hebrew reading; "destroying," literally, "bereaving, childless-making" (Jer 15:7). The Septuagint and Syriac support English Version.
In vain—without killing him at whom it was aimed (2Sa 1:22).
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