|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
51:1-58 The particulars of this prophecy are dispersed and interwoven, and the same things left and returned to again. Babylon is abundant in treasures, yet neither her waters nor her wealth shall secure her. Destruction comes when they did not think of it. Wherever we are, in the greatest depths, at the greatest distances, we are to remember the Lord our God; and in the times of the greatest fears and hopes, it is most needful to remember the Lord. The feeling excited by Babylon's fall is the same with the New Testament Babylon, Re 18:9,19. The ruin of all who support idolatry, infidelity, and superstition, is needful for the revival of true godliness; and the threatening prophecies of Scripture yield comfort in this view. The great seat of antichristian tyranny, idolatry, and superstition, the persecutor of true Christians, is as certainly doomed to destruction as ancient Babylon. Then will vast multitudes mourn for sin, and seek the Lord. Then will the lost sheep of the house of Israel be brought back to the fold of the good Shepherd, and stray no more. And the exact fulfilment of these ancient prophecies encourages us to faith in all the promises and prophecies of the sacred Scriptures.
Verse 11. - Make bright; rather, polish, so that the arrows may penetrate easily (comp. Isaiah 49:2, "a polished shaft"). Gather the shields; rather, fill the shields (viz. with your arms); i.e. take hold of them. Comp. the phrase, "to fill the hand with the bow" (2 Kings 9:24). The rendering" quivers" is wanting in philological authority, and seems to have been inferred from this passage, where, however, it is unnecessary. The kings of the Medes. The prophet speaks of the Medes and not the Persians (comp. Isaiah 13:17). "The reason, probably, is twofold:
(1) that the name Madai became known to the Jews at an earlier period than Paras, 'Persia;' and
(2) that the generals of Cyrus were apparently Medes (e.g. Mazares and Harpagus, Herod., 1:157, 162)" (Cheyne's 'Prophecies of Isaiah,' 2:275, 276). The new Cyrus inscription throws light on the latter circumstance.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Make bright the arrows,.... Which were covered with rust; scour them of it; anoint them with oil, as armour were wont to be; make them neat, clean, and bright, that they may pierce the deeper; hence we read of a "polished shaft", or arrow, one made bright and pure, Isaiah 49:2; agreeably to this some render the word "sharpen the arrows" (k); so the Targum. The word has the signification of "choosing"; but, as Gussetius observes (l), whether the direction be to choose the best arrows, or to scour clean and polish them, the end is the same; namely, to have such as are most fit for use. Joseph Kimchi derives the word from another, which signifies a feather; and so renders it, "feather the arrows" (m); that they may fly the swifter. These and what follow are either the words of God, or of the prophet; or, as some think, of the Jews about to return to Judea, whose words are continued, exhorting the Medes and Persians to go on with the war against the Chaldeans; but they rather seem to be addressed to the Chaldeans themselves, putting them upon doing these things; and suggesting, that when they had done all they could, it would be to no purpose:
gather the shields; which lay scattered about and neglected in time of peace: or, "fill" them; fill the hands with them; or bring in a full or sufficient number; since there would be now occasion for them, to defend them against the enemy. The Targum, and several versions, render it, "fill the quivers" (n); that is, with arrows; and so Jarchi: or, "fill the shields" (o); that is, with oil; anoint them, as in Isaiah 21:5;
the Lord hath raised up the spirit of the kings of the Medes; of Cyaxares, or Darius the Mede, and of Cyrus, who succeeded his uncle as king of Media; and indeed the army that came against Babylon was an army of Medes joined by the Persians, Cyrus being employed as general of it by his uncle. The Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions, read it, "the spirit of the king of the Medes"; with which the following clause seems to agree:
for his device is against Babylon, to destroy it; the device of the king of the Medes, Darius; or rather the device of the Lord, who stirred up the spirit of the kings of the Medes; put it into their hearts to fulfil his will; and gave them wisdom and skill, courage and resolution, to do it; and as he will to the kings of the earth against mystical Babylon, Revelation 17:16;
because it is the vengeance of the Lord, the vengeance of his temple; his vengeance on Babylon, for the destruction of his temple, and the profanation of it; see Jeremiah 50:28.
(k) "acuite sagittas", V. L. Castalio; "exacuite", Montanus. (l) Ebr. Comment. p. 148. (m) "Ponite pennas in sagittis", so some in Vatablus. (n) , Sept. "implete pharetras", V. L. Castalio, So Syr. this version is prefered by Gussetius, Ebr. Comment. p. 860, 945. (o) "Implete scuta, scil. oleo", Stockius, p. 1098.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
11. Make bright—literally, "pure." Polish and sharpen.
gather—literally, "fill"; that is, gather in full number, so that none be wanting. So, "gave in full tale" (1Sa 18:27). Gesenius, not so well, translates, "Fill with your bodies the shields" (compare So 4:4). He means to tell the Babylonians, Make what preparations you will, all will be in vain (compare Jer 46:3-6).
kings of … Medes—He names the Medes rather than the Persians, because Darius, or Cyaxares, was above Cyrus in power and the greatness of his kingdom.
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