Isaiah 13:10
For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine.
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(10) The constellations thereof.—The noun in the singular (kesîl, foolhardy, or impious) is translated as Orion in Job 9:9; Amos 5:8. It is significant, as pointing to some widely-diffused legend, that the Persian name for the constellation is Nimrod and the Arabian Giant. In Greek mythology Orion is a giant hunter, conspicuous for acts of outrage against the gods, and finally slain by Zeus. It is obvious that the words in their first application had a figurative, and not a literal, fulfilment. Such imagery has been at all times the natural symbolism of a time of terror (Joel 2:31; Joel 3:15; Matthew 24:29; Mark 13:24; Luke 21:25).

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.For the stars of heaven - This verse cannot be understood literally, but is a metaphorical representation of the calamities that were coming upon Babylon The meaning of the figure evidently is, that those calamities would be such as would be appropriately denoted by the sudden extinguishment of the stars, the sun, and the moon. As nothing would tend more to anarchy, distress, and ruin, than thus to have all the lights of heaven suddenly and forever quenched, this was an apt and forcible representation of the awful calamities that were coming upon the people. Darkness and night, in the Scriptures, are often the emblem of calamity and distress (see the note at Matthew 24:29). The revolutions and destructions of kingdoms and nations are often represented in the Scriptures under this image. So respecting the destruction of Idumea Isaiah 34:4 :

And all the hosts of heaven shall be dissolved,

And the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll;

And all their host shall fall down,

As the leaf falleth from off the vine,

And as a falling fig from the fig-tree.

So in Ezekiel 32:7-8, in a prophecy respecting the destruction of Pharaoh, king of Egypt:

And when I shall put time out,

I will cover the heavens, and make the stoa thereof dark,

I will cover the sun with a cloud,

And the moon shall not give her light.

And the bright lights of heaven will I make dark over thee.

And set darkness upon thy land.

(Compare Joel 2:10; Joel 3:15-16.) Thus in Amos 8:9 :


10. stars, &c.—figuratively for anarchy, distress, and revolutions of kingdoms (Isa 34:4; Joe 2:10; Eze 32:7, 8; Am 8:9; Re 6:12-14). There may be a literal fulfilment finally, shadowed forth under this imagery (Re 21:1).

constellations—Hebrew, "a fool," or "impious one"; applied to the constellation Orion, which was represented as an impious giant (Nimrod deified, the founder of Babylon) chained to the sky. See on [706]Job 38:31.

The constellations; which consist of many stars, and therefore give a greater light.

The sun shall be darkened; either,

1. Properly and really, by an eclipse; for prodigies in heaven do sometimes go before or accompany great and public calamities upon earth. Or,

2. Figuratively, and in appearance. All things shall look darkly and dismally; men shall have no comfort nor hope. See the like descriptions of a most calamitous state, Isaiah 5:30 34:4 Joel 2:10,31, &c.

In his going forth; as soon as he riseth, when he is most welcome to men, and giveth them hopes of a pleasant day. As soon as they have any appearance or hope of amendment, they shall be instantly disappointed. For the stars of heaven,.... This and what follows are to be understood, not literally, but figuratively, as expressive of the dismalness and gloominess of the dispensation, of the horror and terror of it, in which there was no light, no comfort, no relief, nor any hope of any; the heavens and all the celestial bodies frowning upon them, declaring the displeasure of him that dwells there:

and the constellations thereof shall not give their light; which are assemblages of stars, or certain configurations of the heavenly bodies, devised by the ancients; to which each of the names are given for the help of the imagination and memory; the number of them are forty eight, twelve in the Zodiac, twenty one on the northern side of it, and fifteen on the southern. R. Jonah, mentioned both by Aben Ezra and Kimchi, says that "Cesil", the word here used, is a large star, called in the Arabic language "Suel", and the stars that are joined unto it are called by its name "Cesilim"; so that, according to this, only one constellation is meant; and Aben Ezra observes, that there are some that say that Cesil is a star near to the south pole, on which, if camels look, they die; but, says he, in my opinion it is "the scorpion's heart". Jerom's Hebrew master interpreted it to him Arcturus; and it is in Job 9:9 rendered Orion, and by the Septuagint here; which is one of the constellations, and one of the brightest; and the word being here in the plural number, the sense may be, were there ever so many Orions in the heavens, they should none of them give light. The Targum and Jarchi interpret it of the planets:

the sun shall be darkened in his going forth; as soon as it rises, when it goes forth out of its chamber, as in Psalm 19:5 either by an eclipse of it, or by dark clouds covering it:

and the moon shall not cause her light to shine: by night, which she borrows from the sun; so that it would be very uncomfortable, day and night, neither sun, moon, nor stars appearing, see Acts 27:20 by the sun, moon, and stars, may be meant king, queen, and nobles, whose destruction is here prophesied of; it being usual in prophetic language, as well as in other writers (f), to express great personages hereby.

(f) "Solem Asiae Brutum appellat, stellasque salubres appellat comites", Hor. Serm. 1. Satyr. 7.

For the {h} stars of heaven and its constellations shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine.

(h) They who are overcome will think that all the powers of heaven and earth are against them, Eze 32:7, Joe 3:15, Mt 24:29.

10. “The day of the Lord is darkness, and not light,” Amos 5:18.

the constellations thereof] The Heb. word (kěsîl) is used in the singular in Amos 5:8; Job 9:9; Job 38:31, of a particular constellation, probably Orion (but according to another tradition, the star Canopus). Its meaning, ‘fool’ or ‘foolhardy rebel,’ seems to point to some legend of a Titan chained to the sky for his defiance of the gods (Job 38:31). In the plural (“the Orions”) it denotes here Orion and other constellations that vie with it in brilliancy.Verse 10. - The stars of heaven... shall not give their light. Nature sympathizes with her Lord. When he is angry, the light of the heavens grows dark. So it was at the crucifixion of Christ (Matthew 27:45); so it will be at the end of the world (Matthew 24:29). So it is often, if not always, at the time of great judgments. The constellations; literally, the Orions. Kesil, the Fool, was the Hebrew name of the constellation of Orion, who was identified with Nimrod, the type of that impious folly which contends against God. From its application to this particular group of stars (Job 9:9; Job 38:31; Amos 5:8), the word came to be applied to constellations in general. The Baby-Ionians very early marked out the sky into constellations. The command of Jehovah is quickly executed. The great army is already coming down from the mountains. "Hark, a rumbling on the mountains after the manner of a great people; hark, a rumbling of kingdoms of nations met together! Jehovah of hosts musters an army, those that have come out of a distant land, from the end of the heaven: Jehovah and His instruments of wrath, to destroy the whole earth." Kōl commences an interjectional sentence, and thus becomes almost an interjection itself (compare Isaiah 52:8; Isaiah 66:6, and on Genesis 4:10). There is rumbling on the mountains (Isaiah 17:12-13), for there are the peoples of Eran, and in front the Medes inhabiting the mountainous north-western portion of Eran, who come across the lofty Shahu (Zagros), and the ranges that lie behind it towards the Tigris, and descend upon the lowlands of Babylon; and not only the peoples of Eran, but the peoples of the mountainous north of Asia generally (Jeremiah 51:27) - an army under the guidance of Jehovah, the God of hosts of spirits and stars, whose wrath it will execute over the whole earth, i.e., upon the world-empire; for the fall of Babel is a judgment, and accompanied with judgments upon all the tribes under Babylonian rule.
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