Isaiah 25:2 Commentaries: For You have made a city into a heap, A fortified city into a ruin; A palace of strangers is a city no more, It will never be rebuilt.
Isaiah 25:2
For you have made of a city an heap; of a defended 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. This appeal is not made in vain. Isaiah 24:16. "From the border of the earth we hear songs: Praise to the Righteous One!" It no doubt seems natural enough to understand the term tzaddı̄k (righteous) as referring to Jehovah; but, as Hitzig observes, Jehovah is never called "the Righteous One" in so absolute a manner as this (compare, however, Psalm 112:4, where it occurs in connection with other attributes, and Exodus 9:27, where it stands in an antithetical relation); and in addition to this, Jehovah gives צבי (Isaiah 4:2; Isaiah 28:5), whilst כבוד, and not צבי, is ascribed to Him. Hence we must take the word in the same sense as in Isaiah 3:10 (cf., Habakkuk 2:4). The reference is to the church of righteous men, whose faith has endured the fire of the judgment of wrath. In response to its summons to the praise of Jehovah, they answer it in songs from the border of the earth. The earth is here thought of as a garment spread out; cenaph is the point or edge of the garment, the extreme eastern and western ends (compare Isaiah 11:12). Thence the church of the future catches the sound of this grateful song as it is echoed from one to the other.

The prophet feels himself, "in spirit," to be a member of this church; but all at once he becomes aware of the sufferings which will have first of all to be overcome, and which he cannot look upon without sharing the suffering himself. "Then I said, Ruin to me! ruin to me! Woe to me! Robbers rob, and robbing, they rob as robbers. Horror, and pit, and snare, are over thee, O inhabitant of the earth! And it cometh to pass, whoever fleeth from the tidings of horror falleth into the pit; and whoever escapeth out of the pit is caught in the snare: for the trap-doors on high are opened, and the firm foundations of the earth shake. The earth rending, is rent asunder; the earth bursting, is burst in pieces; the earth shaking, tottereth. The earth reeling, reeleth like a drunken man, and swingeth like a hammock; and its burden of sin presseth upon it; and it falleth, and riseth not again." The expression "Then I said" (cf., Isaiah 6:5) stands here in the same apocalyptic connection as in Revelation 7:14, for example. He said it at that time in a state of ecstasy; so that when he committed to writing what he had seen, the saying was a thing of the past. The final salvation follows a final judgment; and looking back upon the latter, he bursts out into the exclamation of pain: râzı̄-lı̄, consumption, passing away, to me (see Isaiah 10:16; Isaiah 17:4), i.e., I must perish (râzi is a word of the same form as kâli, shâni, ‛âni; literally, it is a neuter adjective signifying emaciatum equals macies; Ewald, 749, g). He sees a dreadful, bloodthirsty people preying among both men and stores (compare Isaiah 21:2; Isaiah 33:1, for the play upon the word with בגד, root גד, cf., κεύθειν τινά τι, tecte agere, i.e., from behind, treacherously, like assassins). The exclamation, "Horror, and pit," etc. (which Jeremiah applies in Jeremiah 48:43-44, to the destruction of Moab by the Chaldeans), is not an invocation, but simply a deeply agitated utterance of what is inevitable. In the pit and snare there is a comparison implied of men to game, and of the enemy to sportsmen (cf., Jeremiah 15:16; Lamentations 4:19; yillâcēr, as in Isaiah 8:15; Isaiah 28:13). The על in עליך is exactly the same as in Judges 16:9 (cf., Isaiah 16:9). They who should flee as soon as the horrible news arrived (min, as in Isaiah 33:3) would not escape destruction, but would become victims to one form if not to another (the same thought which we find expressed twice in Amos 5:19, and still more fully in Isaiah 9:1-4, as well as in a more dreadfully exalted tone). Observe, however, in how mysterious a background those human instruments of punishment remain, who are suggested by the word bōgdim (robbers). The idea that the judgment is a direct act of Jehovah, stands in the foreground and governs the whole. For this reason it is described as a repetition of the flood (for the opened windows or trap-doors of the firmament, which let the great bodies of water above them come down from on high upon the earth, point back to Genesis 7:11 and Genesis 8:2, cf., Psalm 78:23); and this indirectly implies its universality. It is also described as an earthquake. "The foundations of the earth" are the internal supports upon which the visible crust of the earth rests. The way in which the earth in its quaking first breaks, then bursts, and then falls, is painted for the ear by the three reflective forms in Isaiah 24:19, together with their gerundives, which keep each stage in the process of the catastrophe vividly before the mind. רעה is apparently an error of the pen for רע, if it is not indeed a n. actionis instead of the inf. absol. as in Habakkuk 3:9. The accentuation, however, regards the ah as a toneless addition, and the form therefore as a gerundive (like kob in Numbers 23:25). The reflective form התרעע is not the hithpalel of רוּע, vociferari, but the hithpoel of רעע (רצץ), frangere. The threefold play upon the words would be tame, if the words themselves formed an anti-climax; but it is really a climax ascendens. The earth first of all receives rents; then gaping wide, it bursts asunder; and finally sways to and fro once more, and falls. It is no longer possible for it to keep upright. Its wickedness presses it down like a burden (Isaiah 1:4; Psalm 38:5), so that it now reels for the last time like a drunken man (Isaiah 28:7; Isaiah 29:9), or a hammock (Isaiah 1:8), until it falls never to rise again.

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