Isaiah 25:2
For thou hast made of a city an heap; of a defenced city a ruin: a palace of strangers to be no city; it shall never be built.
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(2) Thou hast made of a city an heap.—The city spoken of as “the palace of strangers” was, probably in the prophet’s thought, that which he identified with the oppressors and destroyers of his people—i.e., Nineveh or Babylon; but that city was also for him the representation of the world-power which in every age opposes itself to the righteousness of God’s kingdom. The Babylon of Isaiah becomes the type of the mystical Babylon of the Apocalypse. The words as they stand expand the thought of Isaiah 24:10. (Comp. Isaiah 27:10.)

Isaiah 25:2. Thou hast made of a city a heap — Nineveh, Babylon, Ar of Moab, or any other strong city, or fortress, possessed by the enemies of the people of God. Vitringa has made it appear probable that Babylon is chiefly meant, “which was emphatically called the city; which was remarkably fortified, and which was inhabited by strangers, as the Assyrians and Babylonians are commonly called in prophetical language, and in the destruction of which the ancient believers rejoiced most especially, having therein a pledge and earnest of future deliverance, and particularly a type of the deliverance of the Christian Church from persecution, by the fall of spiritual Babylon.” See Revelation 18:20; and Revelation 19:1. A palace of strangers — A royal city, in which were the palaces of strangers, that is, of the kings of strange people, or of the Gentiles. Bishop Lowth on the authority of two MSS., instead of זרים, strangers, reads זדים, proud ones: which reading, he thinks, the LXX. countenance, as they render the word ασεβων, the ungodly. To be no city; it shall never be built — It has been, or shall be, utterly and irrecoverably destroyed.

25:1-5 However this might show the deliverance of the Jews out of captivity, it looked further, to the praises that should be offered up to God for Christ's victories over our spiritual enemies, and the comforts he has provided for all believers. True faith simply credits the Lord's testimony, and relies on his truth to perform his promises. As God weakens the strong who are proud and secure, so he strengthens the weak that are humble, and stay themselves upon him. God protects his people in all weathers. The Lord shelters those who trust in him from the insolence of oppressors. Their insolence is but the noise of strangers; it is like the heat of the sun scorching in the middle of the day; but where is it when the sun is set? The Lord ever was, and ever will be, the Refuge of distressed believers. Having provided them a shelter, he teaches them to flee unto it.For thou hast made - This is supposed to be uttered by the Jews who should return from Babylon, and therefore refers to what would have been seen by them. In their time it would have occurred that God had made of the city an heap.

Of a city - I suppose the whole scope of the passage requires us to understand this of Babylon. There has been, however, a great variety of interpretation of this passage. Grotius supposed that Samaria was intended. Calvin that the word is used collectively, and that various cities are intended. Piscator that Rome, the seat of antichrist, was intended. Jerome says that the Jews generally understand it of Rome. Aben Ezra and Kimchi, however, understand it to refer to many cities which they say will be destroyed in the times of Gog and Magog. Nearly all these opinions may be seen subjected to an examination, and shown to be unfounded, in Vitringa.

An heap - It is reduced to ruins (see the notes at Isaiah 13; 14) The ruin of Babylon commenced when it was taken by Cyrus, and the Jews were set at liberty; it was not completed until many centuries after. The form of the Hebrew here is, 'Thou hast placed from a city to a ruin:' that is, thou hast changed it from being a city to a pile of ruins.

Of a defensed city - A city fortified, and made strong against the approach of an enemy. How true this was of Babylon may be seen in the description prefixed to Isaiah 13.

A palace - This word properly signifies the residence of a prince or monarch Jeremiah 30:18; Amos 1:4, Amos 1:7, Amos 1:10, Amos 1:12. Here it is applied to Babylon on account of its splendor, as if it were a vast palace, the residence of princes.

Of strangers - Foreigners; a term often given to the inhabitants of foreign lands, and especially to the Babylonians (see the note at Isaiah 1:7; compare Ezekiel 28:7; Joel 3:17). It means that this was, by way of eminence, The city of the foreigners; the capital of the whole Pagan world; the city where foreigners congregated and dwelt.

It shall never be built - (See the notes at Isaiah 13:19-22)

2. a city … heap—Babylon, type of the seat of Antichrist, to be destroyed in the last days (compare Jer 51:37, with Re 18:1-24, followed, as here, by the song of the saints' thanksgiving in Re 19:1-21). "Heaps" is a graphic picture of Babylon and Nineveh as they now are.

palace—Babylon regarded, on account of its splendor, as a vast palace. But Maurer translates, "a citadel."

of strangers—foreigners, whose capital pre-eminently Babylon was, the metropolis of the pagan world. "Aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, strangers from the covenants of promise" (Isa 29:5; Eph 2:12; see in contrast, Joe 3:17).

never be built—(Isa 13:19, 20, &c.).

A city; which is put collectively for cities. He speaks of the cities of

strangers, as the following clause explains it, or of enemies of God, and of his people. And under the name cities he comprehends their countries and kingdoms, of which cities are an eminent and commonly the strongest part.

A palace of strangers; the royal cities, in which were the palaces of strangers, i.e. of the kings of strange people, or of the Gentiles.

It shall never be built; their cities and palaces have been or shall be utterly and irrecoverably destroyed.

For thou hast made of a city an heap,.... Which is to be understood, not of Samaria, nor of Jerusalem; rather of Babylon; though it is best to interpret it of the city of Rome, as Jerom says the Jews do; though they generally explain it of many cities, which shall be destroyed in the times of Gog and Magog, as Aben Ezra and Kimchi; and so the Targum has it in the plural number; perhaps not only the city of Rome, but all the antichristian states, the cities of the nations, all within the Romish jurisdiction are meant; which shall all fall by the earthquake, sooner or later, and become a heap:

of a defenced city, a ruin; or, "for a fall" (c); the same thing is meant as before: it designs the fall of mystical Babylon or Rome, called the great and mighty city, Revelation 18:2,

a palace of strangers; which Kimchi interprets of Babylon, which, he says, was a palace to the cities of the Gentiles, who are called strangers; and it is said, that that city was originally built for strangers, that dwelt in tents, in Arabia Deserts; but it is best to understand it of Rome, as before, which is the palace of such who are aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, who have introduced a strange religion, and are the worshippers of strange gods, Daniel 11:38. The Targum renders it,

"the house of the gods of the people in the city of Jerusalem;''

and this will be made

to be no city, it shall never be built; any more, when once it is destroyed, signified by the angels casting a millstone into the sea, which shall never be taken up again, or found more, Revelation 18:21.

(c) "in lapsum".

For thou hast made of a {b} city an heap; of a fortified city a ruin: a palace {c} of foreigners to be no city; it shall never be built.

(b) Not only of Jerusalem, but also of these other cities which have been your enemies.

(c) That is, a place where all vagabonds may live without danger and as it were at ease as in a palace.

2. The fall of a hostile city. The word “city” can hardly in this case be understood collectively, although the terms of the description are too vague to shew what historic city is intended. All that appears is that it is a city which, in the age of the prophet, symbolised the hostility of the world to the kingdom of God; its identification will depend on the date assigned to the prophecy. If for instance the author lived during or shortly after the Exile, the “defenced city” would be most naturally identified with Babylon (see however on the next verse).

a palace of strangers] Better, of aliens (as in ch. Isaiah 1:7).

Verse 2. - Thou hast made of a city an heap. No particular city is pointed at. The prophet has in his mind the fate of all those cities which have been enemies of Jehovah and persecutors of the saints upon earth. A defended city; i.e. "a fenced, or fortified, city." A palace of strangers. As the "city" of this passage is not an individual city, so the "palace" is not an individual palace. All the palaces of those who were "strangers" to God and his covenant have ceased to be - they are whelmed in the general destruction (see Isaiah 24:20). They will never rise again out of their ruins. Isaiah 25:2The first echo is Isaiah 25:1-8, or more precisely Isaiah 25:1-5. The prophet, whom we already know as a psalmist from Isaiah 12:1-6, now acts as choral leader of the church of the future, and praises Jehovah for having destroyed the mighty imperial city, and proved Himself a defence and shield against its tyranny towards His oppressed church. "Jehovah, Thou art my God; I will exalt Thee, I will praise Thy name, that Thou hast wrought wonders, counsels from afar, sincerity, truth. For Thou hast turned it from a city into a heap of stones, the steep castle into a ruin; the palace of the barbarians from being a city, to be rebuilt no more for ever. Therefore a wild people will honour Thee, cities of violent nations fear Thee. For Thou provedst Thyself a stronghold to the lowly, a stronghold to the poor in his distress, as a shelter from the storm of rain, as a shadow from the burning of the sun; for the blast of violent ones was like a storm of rain against a wall. Like the burning of the sun in a parched land, Thou subduest the noise of the barbarians; (like) the burning of the sun through the shadow of a cloud, the triumphal song of violent ones was brought low." The introductory clause is to be understood as in Psalm 118:28 : Jehovah (voc.), my God art Thou. "Thou hast wrought wonders:" this is taken from Exodus 15:11 (as in Psalm 77:15; Psalm 78:12; like Isaiah 12:2, from Exodus 15:2). The wonders which are now actually wrought are "counsels from afar" (mērâcōk), counsels already adopted afar off, i.e., long before, thoughts of God belonging to the olden time; the same ideal view as in Isaiah 22:11; Isaiah 37:26 (a parallel which coincides with our passage on every side), and, in fact, throughout the whole of the second part. It is the manifold "counsel" of the Holy One of Israel (Isaiah 5:19; Isaiah 14:24-27; Isaiah 19:12, Isaiah 19:17; Isaiah 23:8; Isaiah 28:29) which displays its wonders in the events of time. To the verb עשׂית we have also a second and third object, viz., אמן אמוּנה. It is a common custom with Isaiah to place derivatives of the same word side by side, for the purpose of giving the greatest possible emphasis to the idea (Isaiah 3:1; Isaiah 16:6). אמוּנה indicates a quality, אמן in actual fact. What He has executed is the realization of His faithfulness, and the reality of His promises. The imperial city is destroyed. Jehovah, as the first clause which is defined by tzakeph affirms, has removed it away from the nature of a city into the condition of a heap of stones. The sentence has its object within itself, and merely gives prominence to the change that has been effected; the Lamed is used in the same sense as in Isaiah 23:13 (cf., Isaiah 37:26); the min, as in Isaiah 7:8; Isaiah 17:1; Isaiah 23:1; Isaiah 24:10. Mappēlâh, with kametz or tzere before the tone, is a word that can only be accredited from the book of Isaiah (Isaiah 17:1; Isaiah 23:13). עיר, קריה, and אמרון are common parallel words in Isaiah (Isaiah 1:26; Isaiah 22:2; Isaiah 32:13-14); and zârim, as in Isaiah 1:7 and Isaiah 29:5, is the most general epithet for the enemies of the people of God. The fall of the imperial kingdom is followed by the conversion of the heathen; the songs proceed from the mouths of the remotest nations. Isaiah 25:3 runs parallel with Revelation 15:3-4. Nations hitherto rude and passionate now submit to Jehovah with decorous reverence, and those that were previously oppressive (‛arı̄tzim, as in Isaiah 13:11, in form like pârı̄tzim, shâlı̄shı̄m) with humble fear. The cause of this conversion of the heathen is the one thus briefly indicated in the Apocalypse, "for thy judgments are made manifest" (Revelation 15:4). דּל and אביון (cf., Isaiah 14:30; Isaiah 29:19) are names well known from the Psalms, as applying to the church when oppressed. To this church, in the distress which she had endured (לו בּצּר, as in Isaiah 26:16; Isaiah 63:9, cf., Isaiah 33:2), Jehovah had proved Himself a strong castle (mâ'ōz; on the expression, compare Isaiah 30:3), a shelter from storm and a shade from heat (for the figures, compare Isaiah 4:6; Isaiah 32:2; Isaiah 16:3), so that the blast of the tyrants (compare ruach on Isaiah 30:28; Isaiah 33:11, Psalm 76:13) was like a wall-storm, i.e., a storm striking against a wall (compare Isaiah 9:3, a shoulder-stick, i.e., a stick which strikes the shoulder), sounding against it and bursting upon it without being able to wash it away (Isaiah 28:17; Psalm 62:4), because it was the wall of a strong castle, and this strong castle was Jehovah Himself. As Jehovah can suddenly subdue the heat of the sun in dryness (tzâyōn, abstract for concrete, as in Isaiah 32:2, equivalent to dry land, Isaiah 41:18), and it must give way when He brings up a shady thicket (Jeremiah 4:29), namely of clouds (Exodus 19:9; Psalm 18:12), so did He suddenly subdue the thundering (shâ'on, as in Isaiah 17:12) of the hordes that stormed against His people; and the song of triumph (zâmı̄r, only met with again in Sol 2:12) of the tyrants, which passed over the world like a scorching heat, was soon "brought low" (‛ânâh, in its neuter radical signification "to bend," related to כּנע, as in Isaiah 31:4).
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