Isaiah 2:13
And on all the cedars of Lebanon, that are high and lifted up, and on all the oaks of Bashan,
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(13) Upon all the cedars of Lebanon . . .—The words find a striking parallel in the passage from Herodotus just referred to. In that storm which is about to burst over the land, the cedars and the oaks, and, we may add, those who were as the cedars and the oaks, in their pride and glory, should all alike be shattered.

2:10-22 The taking of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans seems first meant here, when idolatry among the Jews was done away; but our thoughts are led forward to the destruction of all the enemies of Christ. It is folly for those who are pursued by the wrath of God, to think to hide or shelter themselves from it. The shaking of the earth will be terrible to those who set their affections on things of the earth. Men's haughtiness will be brought down, either by the grace of God convincing them of the evil of pride, or by the providence of God depriving them of all the things they were proud of. The day of the Lord shall be upon those things in which they put their confidence. Those who will not be reasoned out of their sins, sooner or later shall be frightened out of them. Covetous men make money their god; but the time will come when they will feel it as much their burden. This whole passage may be applied to the case of an awakened sinner, ready to leave all that his soul may be saved. The Jews were prone to rely on their heathen neighbours; but they are here called upon to cease from depending on mortal man. We are all prone to the same sin. Then let not man be your fear, let not him be your hope; but let your hope be in the Lord your God. Let us make this our great concern.And upon all the cedars of Lebanon - This is a beautiful specimen of the poetic manner of writing, so common among the Hebrews, where spiritual and moral subjects are represented by grand or beautiful imagery taken from objects of nature. Mount Lebanon bounded Palestine on the north. It was formerly much celebrated for its large and lofty cedars. These cedars were from thirty-five to forty feet in girth, and very high. They were magnificent trees, and were valuable for ceiling: statues, or roofs, that required durable, and beautiful timber. The roof of the temple of Diana of Ephesus, according to Pliny, was of cedar, and no small part of the temple of Solomon was of this wood. A few lofty trees of this description are still remaining on Mount Lebanon. 'After three hours of laborious traveling,' says D'Arvieux, 'we arrived at the famous cedars about eleven o'clock. We counted twenty-three of them. The circumference of these trees is thirty-six feet. The bark of the cedar resembles that of the pine; the leaves and cone also bear considerable resemblance. The stem is upright, the wood is hard, and has the reputation of being incorruptible. The leaves are long, narrow, rough, very green, ranged in tufts along the branches; they shoot in spring, and fall in the beginning of winter. Its flowers and fruit resemble those of the pine. From the full grown trees, a fluid trickles naturally, and without incision; this is clear, transparent, whitish, and after a time dries and hardens; it is supposed to possess great virtues. The place where these great trees are stationed, is in a plain of nearly a league in circumference, on the summit of a mount which is environed on almost all sides by other mounts, so high that their summits are always covered with snow. This plain is level, the air is pure, the heavens always serene.'

Maundrell found only sixteen cedars of large growth, and a natural plantation of smaller ones, which were very numerous. One of the largest was twelve yards six inches in girth, and thirty-seven yards in the spread of its boughs. At six yards from the ground, it was divided into five limbs, each equal to a great tree. Dr. Richardson visited them in 1818, and found a small clump of large, tall, and beautiful trees, which he pronounces the most picturesque productions of the vegetable world that he had ever seen. In this clump are two generations of trees; the oldest are large and massy, rearing their heads to an enormous height, and spreading their branches to a great extent. He measured one, not the largest in the clump, and found it thirty-two feet in circumference. Seven of these trees appeared to be very old, the rest younger, though, for want of space, their branches are not so spreading.

Bush's "Illustrations of Scripture." 'The celebrated cedar-grove of Lebanon,' says Dr. Robinson, 'is at least two days journey from Beirut, near the northern, and perhaps the highest summit of the mountain. It has been often and sufficiently described by travelers for the last three centuries; but they all differ as to the number of the oldest trees, inasmuch as in counting, some have included more and some less of the younger ones. At present, the number of trees appears to be on the increase, and amounts in all to several hundred. This grove was long held to be the only remnant of the ancient cedars of Lebanon. But Seetzen, in 1805, discovered two other groves of greater extent; and the American Missionaries, in traveling through the mountains, have also found many cedars in other places. The trees are of all sizes, old and young; but none so ancient and venerable as those usually visited.' "Bib. Researches," iii., 440; 441. The cedar, so large, lofty, and grand, is used in the Scriptures to represent kings, princes, and nobles: compare Ezekiel 31:3; Daniel 4:20-22; Zechariah 11:1-2; Isaiah 14:8. Here it means the princes and nobles of the land of Israel. The Chaldee renders it, 'upon all the strong and mighty kings of the people.'

And upon all the oaks of Bashan - "Bashan" was east of the river Jordan, in the limits of the half tribe of Manasseh. It was bounded on the north and east by Gilead, south by the river Jabbok, and west by the Jordan. It was celebrated for pasturage, and for producing fine cattle; Numbers 21:33; Numbers 32:33; Psalm 22:12; Ezekiel 39:18; Amos 4:1; Micah 7:14. Its lofty oaks are also particularly celebrated; Ezekiel 27:6; Amos 2:9; Zechariah 11:2. The sense here is not different from the former member of the sentence - denoting the princes and nobles of the land.

13. cedars … oaks—image for haughty nobles and princes (Am 2:9; Zec 11:1, 2; compare Re 19:18-21).

Bashan—east of Jordan, north of the river Jabbok, famous for fine oaks, pasture, and cattle. Perhaps in "oaks" there is reference to their idolatry (Isa 1:29).


1. Metaphorically, upon the highest and proudest sinners; or,

2. Literally, as may seem probable from the following verses, where there is distinct mention made of mountains and hills, Isaiah 2:14, of towers and walls, Isaiah 2:15, of ships and pictures, Isaiah 2:16. Whereby he intimates that the judgment should be so universal and terrible, that it should not only reach to men, but to things also, whether natural or artificial, in all which there should be manifest tokens of God’s displeasure against the land. The cedars and oaks standing in the mountains shall be either thrown down by furious winds or earthquakes, or torn in pieces by thunder and lightning, and the stately houses built with cedars and oaks shall be destroyed. And upon all the cedars of Lebanon that are high and lifted up,.... That is, upon the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication with Babylon, and will join with the beast and false prophet in making war with the Lamb. So the Targum, Jarchi, and Kimchi, interpret it of the kings of the nations, mighty and strong:

and upon all the oaks of Bashan; nobles, princes, governors of provinces, as the same writers explain the words, oaks being inferior to cedars: the day of the Lord will be upon these, and their destruction come on at the battle of Armageddon, Revelation 19:18.

And upon all the cedars of Lebanon, that are high and lifted up, and upon all the oaks of Bashan,
Verse 13. - Upon all the cedars of Lebanon. It is usual to take this metaphorically; and no doubt men are often compared to trees in Scripture (Psalm 1:3; Jeremiah 17:8; Job 8:16, 17), and "cedars of Lebanon" especially are symbols of the great and proud ones (Ezekiel 31:3). But it has been well observed that either all the details of the description in the text must be taken literally, or all of them metaphorically, and that the mention of such objects as "ships of Tarshish" and "pleasant pictures" pleads strongly for a literal interpretation. The day of the Lord was upon the cedars when Sennacherib "with chariots upon chariots came up to the height of the mountains, to the sides of Lebanon, and cut down the tall cedars thereof, and the choice fir trees thereof" (Isaiah 37:24); and similar devastation accompanied, it is probable, the other invasions of the Assyrians (see 'Ancient Monarchies,' vol. 1. pp. 474, 475). Upon all the oaks of Bashan. The "oaks of Bashan" are celebrated also by Ezekiel (Ezekiel 27:6) and by Zechariah (Zechariah 11:2). It is quite likely that the Assyrians cut timber in Bashan, as they did in Lebanon and Amanus. In Isaiah 2:7, Isaiah 2:8 he describes still further how the land of the people of Jehovah, in consequence of all this (on the future consec. see Ges. 129, 2, a), was crammed full of objects of luxury, of self-confidence, of estrangement from God: "And their land is filled with silver and gold, and there is no end of their treasures; and their land is filled with horses, and there is no end of their chariots. And their land is filled with - idols; the work of their own hands they worship, that which their own fingers have made." The glory of Solomon, which revived under Uzziah's fifty-two years' reign, and was sustained through Jotham's reign of sixteen years, carried with it the curse of the law; for the law of the king, in Deuteronomy 17:14., prohibited the multiplying of horses, and also the accumulation of gold and silver. Standing armies, and stores of national treasures, like everything else which ministers to carnal self-reliance, were opposed to the spirit of the theocracy. Nevertheless Judaea was immeasurably full of such seductions to apostasy; and not of those alone, but also of things which plainly revealed it, viz., of elilim, idols (the same word is used in Leviticus 19:4; Leviticus 26:1, from elil, vain or worthless; it is therefore equivalent to "not-gods"). They worshipped the work of "their own" hands, what "their own" fingers had made: two distributive singulars, as in Isaiah 5:23, the hands and fingers of every individual (vid., Micah 5:12-13, where the idols are classified). The condition of the land, therefore, was not only opposed to the law of the king, but at variance with the decalogue also. The existing glory was the most offensive caricature of the glory promised to the nation; for the people, whose God was one day to become the desire and salvation of all nations, had exchanged Him for the idols of the nations, and was vying with them in the appropriation of heathen religion and customs.
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