Isaiah 17:4
And in that day it shall come to pass, that the glory of Jacob shall be made thin, and the fatness of his flesh shall wax lean.
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(4) The glory of Jacob shall be made thin.—The word is the same as that rendered “impoverished” in Judges 6:8. “Jacob” stands as commonly in the prophets, like Israel, for the northern kingdom, and the words point, therefore, to the downfall, or, adopting the prophet’s figurative language, the emaciation, of that kingdom.

17:1-11 Sin desolates cities. It is strange that great conquerors should take pride in being enemies to mankind; but it is better that flocks should lie down there, than that they should harbour any in open rebellion against God and holiness. The strong holds of Israel, the kingdom of the ten tribes, will be brought to ruin. Those who are partakers in sin, are justly made partakers in ruin. The people had, by sins, made themselves ripe for ruin; and their glory was as quickly cut down and taken away by the enemy, as the corn is out of the field by the husbandman. Mercy is reserved in the midst of judgment, for a remnant. But very few shall be marked to be saved. Only here and there one was left behind. But they shall be a remnant made holy. The few that are saved were awakened to return to God. They shall acknowledge his hand in all events; they shall give him the glory due to his name. To bring us to this, is the design of his providence, as he is our Maker; and the work of his grace, as he is the Holy One of Israel. They shall look off from their idols, the creatures of their own fancy. We have reason to account those afflictions happy, which part between us and our sins. The God of our salvation is the Rock of our strength; and our forgetfulness and unmindfulness of him are at the bottom of all sin. The pleasant plants, and shoots from a foreign soil, are expressions for strange and idolatrous worship, and the vile practices connected therewith. Diligence would be used to promote the growth of these strange slips, but all in vain. See the evil and danger of sin, and its certain consequences.The glory of Jacob - "Jacob" is used here to denote the kingdom of Israel, or Samaria. The word 'glory' here denotes dignity, power; that on which they relied, and of which they boasted.

Shall be made thin - Shall be diminished, as a body wastes away by disease, and becomes feeble. The prophet sets forth the calamities of Ephraim by two figures; the first is that of a "body" that becomes emaciated by sickness, the other that of the harvest when all the fruits are gathered except a few in the upper branches Isaiah 17:5-6.

And the fatness his flesh shall wax lean - He shall become feeble, as a man does by wasting sickness. Chaldee, 'The riches of his glory shall be removed.'

4. glory of Jacob—the kingdom of Ephraim and all that they rely on (Ho 12:2; Mic 1:5).

fatness … lean—(See on [712]Isa 10:16).

Shall be made thin; or, shall be emptied, as this word is rendered, Isaiah 19:6. And in that day it shall come to pass,.... It being much about the same time that both kingdoms were destroyed by the Assyrians:

that the glory of Jacob shall be made thin; the same with Ephraim and Israel, the ten tribes, whose glory lay in the superior number of their tribes to Judah; in the multitude of their cities, and the inhabitants of them; but now would be thinned, by the vast numbers that should be carried captive:

and the fatness of his flesh shall wax lean: like a man in a consumption, that is become a mere skeleton, and reduced to skin and bones: the meaning is, that all their wealth and riches should be taken away; so the Targum,

"and the riches of his glory shall be carried away.''

And in that day it shall come to pass, that the glory of {f} Jacob shall be diminished, and the fatness of his flesh shall become lean.

(f) Meaning, of the ten tribes who boasted themselves of their nobility, prosperity, strength and multitude.

4. in that day] simultaneously with the judgment on Syria. the glory of Jacob] i.e. his might, his population, his prosperity, &c. (cf. Isaiah 17:3).

made thin] better, enfeebled. fatness … lean] cf. ch. Isaiah 10:16.

4–6. The fate of Ephraim, in three figures: wasting disease; the reaping of corn; the gathering of olives.Verses 4-11. - A DENUNCIATION OF WOE ON ISRAEL, COMBINED WITH THE PROMISE OF A REMNANT. Israel, having united herself with Syria to resist the Assyrians, will incur a similar fate. Her glory will decay, her population dwindle and almost disappear. Still there will be a few left, who, under the circumstances, will turn to God (ver. 7). But it will be too late for anything like a national recovery; the laud will remain "a desolation" on account of the past sins of its inhabitants (vers. 9-11). Verse 4. - The glory of Jacob shall be made thin. There is reason to believe that the deportation of the Israelites was gradual. Sargon, on taking Samaria for the first time, in B.C. 722, carried off no more than 27, 290 of the inhabitants (G. Smith, 'Eponym Canon,' p. 125). Over the remainder he appointed governors, and required them to pay the same taxation as before. About B.C. 715 he placed a number of Arabs in Samaria, probably deporting natives to make room for them (ibid., p. 128). The continuant of a remnant of Israelites in the land down to B.C. 625 is indicated by 2 Chronicles 34:9. The fatness of his flesh shall wax lean (comp. Isaiah 10:16). Depopulation is primarily intended; but there is, perhaps, also a more general reference to depression, wasting, and misery. The ultimate reason for this restlessness is, that Moab does not know the living God. "And it will come to pass, when it is seen that Moab is weary with weeping upon the mountain height, and enters into its sanctuary to pray, it will not gain anything." נלאה נראה, a pictorial assonance, such as Isaiah delights in. נראה .ni st is transferred from the Israelitish worship (appearance before God in His temple) to the heathen; syntactically, si apparuerit, etc., with Vav before the apodosis. It would be with the Moabites as with the priests of Baal in the time of Elijah (1 Kings 18:26.).
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