Isaiah 13:2
Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them, shake the hand, that they may go into the gates of the nobles.
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(2) Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain . . .—Strictly speaking, a bare mountain. where there were no trees to hide the standard round which the forces that the prophet sees were to rally. The word and thought are the same as in Isaiah 5:26; but there the summons lies for the invaders of Israel, here for its avengers. The voice that summons is, as the next verse shows, that of Jehovah. The “shaking the hand” is, as in Isaiah 10:32, the act of the generals pointing with emphatic gesture to the city that is to be destroyed.

The gates of the nobles.—The word is used to heighten the contrast between the greatness of the city to be destroyed, with its gates that had witnessed for centuries the entrance of kings and princes, and the wild roughness of the barbarian destroyers.

Isaiah 13:2-3. Lift up a banner — To gather soldiers together for this expedition; upon the high mountain — Whence it may be discerned at a considerable distance. Exalt the voice unto them — To the Medes, named Isaiah 13:17. Shake the hand — Beckon to them with your hand, that they may come to this service. That they may go into the gates of the nobles — That they may go and take Babylon, and so may enter into the palaces of the king, and of his princes, and spoil them at their pleasure. I have commanded my sanctified ones — Or, my appointed ones, as Dr. Waterland renders מקדשׁי, namely, the Medes and Persians, who were solemnly designed and set apart by God for his service, in this sacred work of executing his just vengeance upon the Babylonians. I have called my mighty ones — Those whom I have made mighty for this work; even them that rejoice in my highness — Or, exult in my greatness, as Bishop Lowth renders it, that is, in the doing that work which will tend to the advancement of my glory, in destroying the Babylonian empire. Not that the Medes and Persians had any regard to God or to his glory, in undertaking and prosecuting this war: they certainly had only the gratifying their own ambition, and lust of power and empire, in view.

13:1-5 The threatenings of God's word press heavily upon the wicked, and are a sore burden, too heavy for them to bear. The persons brought together to lay Babylon waste, are called God's sanctified or appointed ones; designed for this service, and made able to do it. They are called God's mighty ones, because they had their might from God, and were now to use it for him. They come from afar. God can make those a scourge and ruin to his enemies, who are farthest off, and therefore least dreaded.Lift ye up a banner - A military ensign or standard. The vision opens here; and the first thing which the prophet hears, is the solemn command of God addressed to the nations as subject to him, to rear the standard of war, and to gather around it the mighty armies which were to be employed in the destruction of the city. This command, 'Lift ye up a banner,' is addressed to the leaders of those armies to assemble them, and to prepare them for war.

Upon the high mountain - It was customary for military leaders to plant a standard on a tower, a fortress, a city, a high mountain, or any elevated spot, in order that it might be seen afar, and be the rallying point for the people to collect together (see the note at Isaiah 11:10). Here, the prophet does not refer to any particular "mountain," but means simply, that a standard should be raised, around which the hosts should be assembled to march to Babylon. The Chaldee renders it, 'Over the city dwelling in security, lift up the banner.'

Exalt the voice - Raise up the voice, commanding the people to assemble, and to prepare for the march against Babylon, Perhaps, however, the word 'voice' here (קול qôl) refers to the "clangor," or sound, of a trumpet used for mustering armies. The word is often used to denote "any" noise, and is frequently applied to thunder, to the trumpet, etc.

Unto them - That is, to the Medes and Persians, who were to be employed in the destruction of Babylon.

Shake the hand - In the way of beckoning; as when one is at so great a distance that the voice cannot be heard, the hand is waved for a sign. This was a command to beckon to the nations to assemble for the destruction of Babylon.

That they may go into the gates of the nobles - The word rendered here 'nobles' (נדיבים nedı̂ybı̂ym) means, properly, "voluntary, free, liberal;" then those who are noble, or liberally-minded, from the connection between nobleness and liberality; then those who are noble or elevated in rank or office. In this sense it is used here; compare Job 12:21; Job 34:18; 1 Samuel 2:8; Psalm 107:40; and Proverbs 8:16, where it is rendered 'princes;' Numbers 21:18, where it is rendered 'nobles.' Lowth renders it here 'princes.' Noyes renders it 'tyrants ' - a sense which the word has in Job 21:28 (see the note at that place). There is no doubt that it refers to Babylon; and the prophet designs probably to speak of Babylon as a magnificent city - a city of princes, or nobles. The Chaldee renders it, 'That they may enter its gates, which open to them of their own accord;' retaining the original signification of "voluntariness" in the Hebrew word, and expressing the idea that the conquest would be easy. Our common translation has expressed the correct sense.

2. Lift … banner—(Isa 5:26; 11:10).

the high mountain—rather, "a bare (literally, "bald," that is, without trees) mountain"; from it the banner could be seen afar off, so as to rally together the peoples against Babylon.

unto them—unto the Medes (Isa 13:17), the assailants of Babylon. It is remarkable that Isaiah does not foretell here the Jews' captivity in Babylon, but presupposes that event, and throws himself beyond, predicting another event still more future, the overthrow of the city of Israel's oppressors. It was now one hundred seventy-four years before the event.

shake … hand—beckon with the hand—wave the hand to direct the nations to march against Babylon.

nobles—Babylonian. Rather, in a bad sense, tyrants; as in Isa 14:5, "rulers" in parallelism to "the wicked"; and Job 21:28 [Maurer].

Lift ye up a banner, to gather soldiers together for this expedition.

Upon the high mountain; whence it may be discerned at a considerable distance. Withal he seems to intimate that their enemies should come from the mountainous country of Media.

Unto them; to the Medes, who are named below, Isaiah 13:17.

Shake the hand; beckon to them with your hand, that they may come to this service.

That they may go into the gates of the nobles; that they may go and fight against Babylon, and take it, and so enter into the palaces of the king, and of his princes, and spoil them at their pleasure; which the Medes and Persians did. The manner of expression implies how easily and expeditiously they did their work, that, like Caesar, they might say they only came, and saw, and overcame.

Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain,.... Or "upon the mountain Nishphah"; some high mountain in Media or Persia, proper to set a standard on, or erect a banner for the gathering men together, to enlist themselves as soldiers, and so form an army to march into the land of Chaldea. Vitringa thinks there may be an allusion to the mountain Zagrius, which divides Media and Persia from Assyria, mentioned by Strabo (x). Or "upon a high mountain"; any high mountain fit for such a purpose; or "against the high mountain", as some (y) read it; meaning Babylon, called a mountain, Jeremiah 51:25 not because of its situation, for it was in a plain; but because of its eminence above other cities and states. The Targum is,

"against the city that dwells securely, lift up a sign;''

a token of war, proclaim war against it, that lives at ease, and is in peace; and so the word is used in the Talmudic language, as Kimchi observes; and to this agrees Jarchi's note,

"to gather against the mountain that is quiet, and trusts in its tranquillity, lift up a banner to the nations.''

Exalt the voice unto them; the Medes, mentioned by name in Isaiah 13:17 such as were within call, or were gathered together by the lifting up of the banner; such were to be urged with great vehemency to enlist themselves, and engage in a war against Babylon:

shake the hand; beckon with it to them that are afar off, that cannot hear the voice:

that they may go into the gates of the nobles; that dwell in the city of Babylon, where they might expect to find rich plunder; though some understand this of the nobles or princes of the Medes and Persians, as Kimchi observes, that should enter through the gates of Babylon into the city; and by others it is interpreted of the soldiers coming to the doors of the leaders or generals of the army, to give in their names, and enlist themselves in their service; which well agrees with what goes before.

(x) Geograph. l. 11. p. 359. (y) "contra montem excelsum", Forerius, Sanctius.

Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice to them, shake the {b} hand, that they may go into the gates of the nobles.

(b) That is, the Medes and Persians.

2. Lift ye up a banner] a signal, ch. Isaiah 5:26.

upon the high mountain] Render, upon a bare mountain; i.e. one denuded of trees, so that the signal might be clearly distinguished.

the gates of the nobles] The city gates through which the Babylonian magnates passed to and fro. The name Babel (Bab-ilu) signifies “Gate of God.”

2–4. Jehovah musters His hosts.

Verse 2. - Lift ye up a banner; rather, a standard - "an ensign," as in Isaiah 5:26: 11:12. "Ensigns" were used both by the Assyrians and the Egyptians. "Banners," or flags, do not seem to have been employed in the ancient world. Upon the high mountain; rather, upon a bare mountain - one that was clear of trees, so that the signal might be the better seen from it. God's army having to be summoned against Babylon, the summons is made in three ways:

(1) by a signal or ensign lifted up on a high hill;

(2) by a loud call or shout; and

(3) by waving or beckoning with the hand.

The whole description is, of course, pure metaphor. That they may go into the gates of the nobles. Either that they may enter into the palaces of the grandees in Babylon, or that they may take the towns of the tributary princes. Isaiah 13:2The prophet hears a call to war. From whom it issues, and to whom or against whom it is directed, still remains a secret; but this only adds to the intensity."On woodless mountain lift ye up a banner, call to them with loud sounding voice, shake the hand, that they may enter into gates of princes!" The summons is urgent: hence a threefold signal, viz., the banner-staff planted on a mountain "made bald" (nishpeh, from which comes shephi, which only occurs in Isaiah and Jeremiah), the voice raised high, and the shaking of the hand, denoting a violent beckoning - all three being favourite signs with Isaiah. The destination of this army is to enter into a city of princes (nedı̄bı̄m, freemen, nobles, princes, Psalm 107:40, cf., Psalm 113:8), namely, to enter as conquerors; for it is not the princes who invite them, but Jehovah.
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