Isaiah 13:7
Therefore shall all hands be faint, and every man's heart shall melt:
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(7) Shall all hands be faint.—Better, be slack, hanging down in the helpless despondency of the terror which the next clause paints (Hebrews 12:12).

(7) They shall be in pain as a woman that travaileth.—The image of powerless agony occurs both in earlier and later prophets (Hosea 13:3; Micah 5:9; Jeremiah 6:24, et al.). Perhaps the most striking parallelism is found in Psalm 48:6, probably, like the other psalms of the sons of Korah, contemporary with Isaiah.

Their faces shall be as flames.—The comparison seems at first to describe those who cause terror rather than those that feel it. What is described is, however, the moment of horror, when the dejected pallor of ordinary fear flashes into a new intensity, and the eyeballs glare, and the face glows as with a terrible brightness.

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.Therefore shall all hands be faint - This is designed to denote the consternation and alarm of the people. They would be so terrified and alarmed that they would have no courage, no hope, and no power to make resistance. They would abandon their plans of defense, and give themselves up to despair (compare Jeremiah 50:43 : 'The king of Babylon hath heard the report of them, and his hands waxed feeble; anguish took hold of him, and pangs as of a Women in travail;' Ezekiel 7:17; Zephaniah 3:16).

And every man's heart shall melt - Or, shall faint, so that he shall have no courage or strength (compare Deuteronomy 20:8). The fact was, that the destruction of Babylon took place in the night. It came suddenly upon the city, while Belshazzar was at his impious feast; and the alarm was so unexpected and produced such consternation, that no defense was attempted (see Daniel 5:30; compare the notes at Isaiah 45:1).

7. faint … melt—So Jer 50:43; compare Jos 7:5. Babylon was taken by surprise on the night of Belshazzar's impious feast (Da 5:30). Hence the sudden fainting and melting of hearts. No text from Poole on this verse.

Therefore shall all hands be faint,.... Or hang down; that is, the hands of all the Babylonians, the city being taken suddenly and at once, so that they should not be able to lift them up to lay hold on a weapon, and defend themselves:

and every man's heart shall melt; like wax before the fire; be dispirited, and lose all their valour and courage, have neither power nor heart to resist their enemies, and attempt to save themselves.

Therefore shall all hands be faint, and every man's heart shall melt:
7. “Hands hanging down” and “hearts melting” are frequent images of despair (ch. Isaiah 19:1; Ezekiel 21:7; Job 4:3; Joshua 7:5, &c.).

Verse 7. - Therefore shall all hands be faint (comp. Jeremiah 1:43; Ezekiel 7:17; Zephaniah 3:16). There shall be a general inaction and apathy. Recently discovered accounts of the capture of Babylon by Cyrus show a great want of activity and vigor on the part of the defenders. Every man's heart shall melt (comp. Deuteronomy 20:8; Joshua 2:11; Joshua 5:1, etc.). The general inaction will spring from a general despondency. This statement agrees much better with the recently discovered documents than does the statement of Herodotus, that, safe within their walls, the Babylonians despised their assailants, and regarded themselves as perfectly secure. Isaiah 13:7Then all sink into anxious and fearful trembling. "Howl; for the day of Jehovah is near; like a destructive force from the Almighty it comes. Therefore all arms hang loosely down, and every human heart melts away. And they are troubled: they fall into cramps and pangs; like a woman in labour they twist themselves: one stares at the other; their faces are faces of flame." The command הילילוּ (not written defectively, הלילוּ) is followed by the reason for such a command, viz., "the day of Jehovah is near," the watchword of prophecy from the time of Joel downwards. The Caph in ceshod is the so-called Caph veritatis, or more correctly, the Caph of comparison between the individual and its genus. It is destruction by one who possesses unlimited power to destroy (shōd, from shâdad, from which we have shaddai, after the form chaggai, the festive one, from châgag). In this play upon the words, Isaiah also repeats certain words of Joel (Joel 1:15). Then the heads hang down from despondency and helplessness, and the heart, the seat of lift, melts (Isaiah 19:1) in the heat of anguish. Universal consternation ensues. This is expressed by the word venibhâlu, which stands in half pause; the word has shalsheleth followed by psik (pasek), an accent which only occurs in seven passages in the twenty-one prose books of the Old Testament, and always with this dividing stroke after it.

(Note: For the seven passages, see Ewald, Lehrbuch (ed. 7), p. 224.)

Observe also the following fut. paragogica, which add considerably to the energy of the description by their anapaestic rhythm. The men (subj.) lay hold of cramps and pangs (as in Job 18:20; Job 21:6), the force of the events compelling them to enter into such a condition. Their faces are faces of flames. Knobel understands this as referring to their turning pale, which is a piece of exegetical jugglery. At the same time, it does not suggest mere redness, nor a convulsive movement; but just as a flame alternates between light and darkness, so their faces become alternately flushed and pale, as the blood ebbs and flows, as it were, being at one time driven with force into their faces, and then again driven back to the heart, so as to leave deadly paleness, in consequence of their anguish and terror.

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