|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.
Verses 5-14. - The covenant between Jehovah and Israel is one reason why Babylon must fall; and Babylon's own guilt is another. Hence pity is out of place.
"Here liveth piety where pity ends;
Can any man be guilty more than he
Whose bias with the doom of God contends?"
(Dante, 'Inferno,' 20:28, Cayley.) Flee, therefore, lest ye be involved in Babylon's ruin. For Jehovah's purpose of vengeance cannot be reversed. Verse 5. - Hath not been forsaken. The Hebrew is much more forcible, "is not widowed" - alluding to the fundamental Old Testament idea of a mystic marriage between God and his people (comp. Isaiah 50:1; Isaiah 54:4-6; Hosea 2.). Was filled with sin; rather, with guilt (Hebrew, asham).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For Israel hath not been forsaken, nor Judah of his God,
of the Lord of hosts,.... That is, not totally and finally; for though they might seem to be forsaken, when carried captive by their enemies, yet they were not in such sense as a woman is deprived of her husband when dead, and she is become a widow, as the word (d) used may signify; or when divorced from him; or as children are deprived of their parents, and become orphans; but so it was not with Israel; for thought they were under the frowns of Providence, and the resentment of God they had sinned against, yet the relation between them still subsisted; he was their covenant God and Father, their husband and protector, and who would vindicate them, and avenge them on their enemies:
though their land was filled with sin against the Holy One of Israel; which was the reason why they were carried captive, and so seemed to be forsaken of God; or though their land was filled with punishment, with devastation and destruction, yet nevertheless God would appear for them, and restore that and them unto it; or rather this is to be understood of the land of the Chaldeans, as it is by Jarchi and Kimchi; and be rendered, "for their land is filled with punishment for sin, from", or "by", or "because of the Holy One of Israel" (e); by which it appears, that the people of God were not forsaken by him, and were not without a patron and defender of them; since it was a plain case that the land of the Chaldeans was filled with the punishment of the sword and other calamities by the Holy One of Israel, because of the sins they had committed against him, and the injuries they had done to his people. So the Targum,
"for their land is filled with, (punishment for) the sins of murder, by the word of the Holy One of Israel.''
(d) "viduus, sive viduatus", Vatablus, Calvin, Montanus; "ut vidua", Pagninus; "orbus", Schmidt. (e) "quia terra illorum repleta est delicto, sive reatu, vel poena", Grotius; so some in Gataker. "a Sancto Israelis", Montanus, Schmidt; "propter Sanctum Israelis", Vatablus, Calvin, Cocceius; so Ben Melech.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
5. forsaken—as a widow (Hebrew). Israel is not severed from her husband, Jehovah (Isa 54:5-7), by a perpetual divorce.
though … sin—though the land of Israel has been filled with sin, that is, with the punishment of their sin, devastation. But, as the Hebrew means "for," or "and therefore," not "though," translate, "and therefore their (the Chaldeans') land has been filled with (the penal consequences of) their sin" [Grotius].
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