This is the purpose that is purposed on the whole earth: and this is the hand that is stretched out on all the nations.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)This is the hand that is stretched out . . .—The words point, as it were, to the idea of a universal history. The fall of the Assyrian power and of Babylon does not stand alone, but forms part of a scheme embracing all nations and all ages (Isaiah 9:12).
hand … stretched out upon—namely, in punishment (Isa 5:25).Upon the whole earth; upon this vast empire, now in the hands of the Assyrians, and shortly to come into the hands of the Babylonians.
The whole earth is put synecdochically for a great part of it. The hand; the providence of God executing his purpose.
"all the inhabitants of the earth;''
and the Septuagint version, "the whole world", meaning the Assyrian empire, and all states depending on it; as the Roman empire is called, Luke 2:1 for this purpose respects not the end of the world, and the judgment of it at the last day, as some have thought; but the preceding prophecy, purpose, or counsel, concerning breaking and trampling under foot the Assyrians, and delivering the Jews from subjection to them:
and this is the hand that is stretched out upon all the nations; of which the Assyrian army consisted, or which made up the Assyrian monarchy, or depended on it, and fell with it. "Purpose" denotes the counsel, will, and decree of God, about this business; and "hand" the execution of it. The Targum renders it "power"; so "hand" and "counsel" go together in Acts 4:28. The Targum isThis is the purpose that is purposed upon the whole earth: and this is the hand that is stretched out upon all the nations.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)26, 27. This plan of Jehovah embraces the destinies of all nations (see ch. Isaiah 28:22, Isaiah 10:23, Isaiah 8:9). The expression “the whole earth” is not to be restricted to the Assyrian Empire, nor on the other hand is the meaning that all other peoples shall suffer the same fate as Assyria; it is simply that the event announced is of world-wide importance, and affects the interests of humanity at large. This indeed followed from the ambitious designs of Assyria, which could not stop short of universal empire. But Isaiah no doubt looked deeper than this, and thought of its bearings on the religious future of mankind. The two verses are a striking testimony to the grandeur of Isaiah’s conception of the Divine government.
this is the hand that is stretched out] cf. Isaiah 14:26, ch. Isaiah 5:25, Isaiah 9:12, &c.
ii. Isaiah 14:28-32. An oracle on Philistia. The Philistines, who are rejoicing at the fall of some cruel oppressor, are warned that the dreaded power will soon be re-established in a more terrible form than ever (Isaiah 14:29). A contrast is then drawn between the miserable fate of the Philistines and the peace and security in store for Israel (Isaiah 14:30). In Isaiah 14:31 the warning is repeated, and it is indicated that the formidable enemy is one who comes from the north. Meanwhile ambassadors from a foreign people (no doubt the Philistines) are in Jerusalem awaiting an answer to their proposals; and the prophet gives the answer in the name of Jehovah, as he does in the case of the Ethiopian envoys in ch. 18.
The situation which best combines the various allusions of the prophecy would seem to be the death of some Assyrian monarch, which in Isaiah’s time was invariably the signal for active conspiracy among the states of Palestine (General Introd., pp. xiv f.). That the broken rod is Ahaz and the future oppressor Hezekiah, although suggested by the title, appears to be excluded by Isaiah 14:31, where the invasion is said to come from the north. It is still less natural to suppose that the rod is a Jewish dominion, and the threatened danger an Assyrian supremacy, because Isaiah 14:29 seems to imply that the new tyranny springs from the same root as the old. Assuming, then, that two successive Assyrian kings are meant, there are three occasions within the lifetime of Isaiah which satisfy the conditions required by the prophecy: the death of Tiglath-pileser III. in 727; of Shalmaneser IV. in 722; and of Sargon in 705. It is hardly possible with the data at our disposal to decide between these periods. Each of the monarchs named had ravaged the Philistine territory; the death of each was followed by an outbreak of disaffection in which the Philistines took a leading part, and at any time Isaiah would have given the advice to his countrymen which he virtually gives here. On the last occasion we might perhaps have expected a reference to the overthrow of Assyria, as in the answer to the Ethiopians about the same time (ch. 18). The first event mentioned corresponds approximately with one of the dates assigned for the death of Ahaz (727), and would therefore go far to vindicate the accuracy of the superscription.Verse 26. - The whole earth... all the nations. Blows struck against Assyria or Babylonia affected all the then known nations Each, in its turn, was "the hammer of the whole earth" (Jeremiah 1:23), and a check received by either caused world-wide disturbance. No sooner did one subject nation recover her freedom, than an electric shock ran through all the rest - plots were laid, confederacies formed, revolts planned, embassies sent hither and thither. The complete destruction of Assyria involved a complete change in the relations, not only of the principal powers - Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia, Media, Elam, but even of the minor ones - Philistia, Edom, Moab, Syria, Phoenicia, Ammon.
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