Isaiah 26:18 Commentaries: We were pregnant, we writhed in labor, We gave birth, as it seems, only to wind. We could not accomplish deliverance for the earth, Nor were inhabitants of the world born.
Isaiah 26:18
We have been with child, we have been in pain, we have as it were brought forth wind; we have not worked any deliverance in the earth; neither have the inhabitants of the world fallen.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(18) We have as it were brought forth wind.—Left to themselves, the longing expectations of Israel had been frustrated. It was, “as it were” (the words imply the prophet’s consciousness of the boldness of the figure), like a false pregnancy, a disease with no birth as its outcome.

Neither have the inhabitants of the world fallen.—Better, Neither were the inhabitants of the world brought to birth, the verb to “fall” being used, as in Wisdom Of Solomon 7:3; Hom., II., xix. 10, of the delivery of a woman with child. The words continue the picture of the fruitlessness of mere human strivings and expectations. The LXX., “They that are in the tombs shall rise,” connects itself with John 5:28-29. (Comp. the like imagery in Isaiah 37:3.) The “creation” was “subject unto vanity,” as in Romans 8:20-22.

26:12-19 Every creature, every business, any way serviceable to our comfort, God makes to be so; he makes that work for us which seemed to make against us. They had been slaves of sin and Satan; but by the Divine grace they were taught to look to be set free from all former masters. The cause opposed to God and his kingdom will sink at last. See our need of afflictions. Before, prayer came drop by drop; now they pour it out, it comes now like water from a fountain. Afflictions bring us to secret prayer. Consider Christ as the Speaker addressing his church. His resurrection from the dead was an earnest of all the deliverance foretold. The power of his grace, like the dew or rain, which causes the herbs that seem dead to revive, would raise his church from the lowest state. But we may refer to the resurrection of the dead, especially of those united to Christ.We have been ... - This refers to sorrows and calamities which they had experienced in former times, when they had made great efforts for deliverance, and when those efforts had proved abortive. Perhaps it refers to the efforts of this kind which they had made during their painful captivity of seventy years. There is no direct proof indeed, that during that time they attempted to revolt, or that they organized themselves for resistance to the Babylonian power; but there can be no doubt that they earnestly desired deliverance, and that their condition was one of extreme pain and anguish - a condition that is strikingly represented here by the pains of childbirth. Nay, it is not improbable that during that long period there may have been abortive efforts made at deliverance, and that here they refer to those efforts as having accomplished nothing.

We have as it were brought forth wind - Our efforts have availed nothing. Michaelis, as quoted by Lowth, explains this figure in the following manner: 'Rariorem morbum describi, empneumatosin, aut ventosam molam dictum; quo quae laborant diu et sibi, et peritis medicis gravidae videntur, tandemque post omnes verae gravitatis molestias et labores ventum ex utero emittant; quem morbum passim describunt medici.' (Syntagma Comment. vol. ii. p. 165.) Grotius thinks that the reference is to birds, 'Quae edunt ova subventanea,' and refers to Pliny x. 58. But the correct reference is, doubtless, that which is mentioned by Michaelis.

Neither have the inhabitants of the world fallen - We had no power to subdue them; and notwithstanding all our exertions their dominion was unbroken. This refers to the Babylonians who had dominion over the captive Jews.

18. brought forth wind—Michaelis explains this of the disease empneumatosis. Rather, "wind" is a figure for that which proves an abortive effort. The "we" is in antithesis to "Thy," "my" (Isa 26:19), what we vainly attempt, God will accomplish.

not wrought … deliverance in … earth—literally, "the land (Judea) is not made security," that is, is not become a place of security from our enemies.

neither … world fallen—The "world" at large, is in antithesis to "the earth," that is, Judea. The world at enmity with the city of God has not been subdued. But Maurer explains "fallen," according to Arabic idiom, of the birth of a child, which is said to fall when being born; "inhabitants of the world (Israel, Isa 24:4; not the world in general) are not yet born"; that is, the country as yet lies desolate, and is not yet populated.

We have been with child, we have been in pain, we have as it were brought forth wind; we have had the torment of a woman in child-bearing, but not the comfort of a living child, John 16:21, for we have brought forth nothing but wind; all our labours and hopes were vain and unsuccessful. The prophet here represents their deplorable and desperate condition before God appeared so eminently to deliver them.

We have not wrought any deliverance; we found that we were utterly unable to deliver ourselves.

In the earth; or, in the land, in our own country, where yet we had far greater advantages than we could have had elsewhere.

The inhabitants of the world; the Assyrians, or our other enemies; for they are here opposed to God’s people. We have been with child,.... Like women with child; we have been full of hopes and expectations of great things, of deliverance from our enemies, and of the kingdom of Christ being at hand:

we have been in pain; in great distress and anxiety, and in fervent and frequent prayer, travailing in birth, which we looked upon as forerunners of a happy issue of things:

we have as it were brought forth wind; all our hopes have proved abortive, and we have been disappointed in our expectations:

we have not wrought any deliverance in the earth: or, "salvations" have "not been wrought in the earth" (f); this explains what is meant by bringing forth wind; salvation and deliverance out of the hand of the enemy not being wrought, as was expected:

neither have the inhabitants of the world fallen; worldly men, the great men, the kings of the earth; particularly such as commit fornication with the whore of Rome, Popish persecuting princes; these as yet are not fallen, though they shall in the battle of Armageddon.

(f) "res salutum non est facta", Vatablus; "salates non fit terra", Montanus; "salutes non factae sunt terrae", Tigurine version; "non sunt factae in terra", Pagninus.

We have been with child, we have been in pain, we have as it were brought forth {r} wind; we have not wrought any deliverance on the earth; neither have the inhabitants of {s} the world fallen.

(r) Our sorrows had no end, neither did we enjoy the comfort that we looked for.

(s) The wicked and men without religion were not destroyed.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
18. Retaining the figure the prophet dwells on the abortive issue of the nation’s prayers and sufferings. In the last clause he seems even to give the figure a closer application. For that sentence is no doubt to be read as in R.V. marg., neither have inhabitants of the world been born; i.e. the mother-nation has brought forth no children to people the world. This sense of the verb “fall” is not found elsewhere in Hebr., but it occurs in Arabic (cf. also the Greek πίπτειν and Latin cadere); and here it is demanded by the last clause of Isaiah 26:19. The complaint (of an insufficient population) seems at first inconsistent with Isaiah 26:15, but the discrepancy belongs to the conflict of feeling which runs through the poem; a certain degree of prosperity has been attained, but not complete and final salvation. It is certainly difficult to imagine such a complaint projected on the ideal horizon of the future. A disappointment so peculiar must be begotten of actual experience. Comp. ch. Isaiah 66:7-9.

we have not wrought any deliverance in the earth] Lit. “we do not make the land salvations”; i.e. we cannot with all our exertions bring about a condition of freedom, prosperity, peace, &c.Verse 18. - We have as it were brought forth wind. Our pains have been idle, futile - have effected nothing. We have not given deliverance (literally, "salvation") to our land; we have not effected the downfall of our heathen enemies. That downfall was God's work (Isaiah 24:16-20). The situation still remains essentially the same as in Isaiah 26:11-13 : "Jehovah, Thy hand has been exalted, but they did not see: they will see the zeal for a people, being put to shame; yea, fire will devour Thine adversaries. Jehovah, Thou wilt establish peace for us: for Thou hast accomplished all our work for us. Jehovah our God, lords besides Thee had enslaved us; but through Thee we praise Thy name." Here are three forms of address beginning with Jehovah, and rising in the third to "Jehovah our God." The standpoint of the first is the time before the judgment; the standpoint of the other two is in the midst of the redemption that has been effected through judgment. Hence what the prophet states in Isaiah 26:11 will be a general truth, which has now received its most splendid confirmation through the overthrow of the empire. The complaint of the prophet here is the same as in Isaiah 53:1. We may also compare Exodus 14:8, not Psalm 10:5; (rūm does not mean to remain beyond and unrecognised, but to prove one's self to be high.) The hand of Jehovah had already shown itself to be highly exalted (râmâh, 3 pr.), by manifesting itself in the history of the nations, by sheltering His congregation, and preparing the way for its exaltation in the midst of its humiliation; but as they had no eye for this hand, they would be made to feel it upon themselves as the avenger of His nation. The "zeal for a people," when reduced from this ideal expression into a concrete one, is the zeal of Jehovah of hosts (Isaiah 9:6; Isaiah 37:32) for His own nation (as in Isaiah 49:8). Kin'ath ‛âm (zeal for a people) is the object to yechezū (they shall see); v'yēbōshū (and be put to shame) being a parenthetical interpolation, which does not interfere with this connection. "Thou wilt establish peace" (tishpōt shâlom, Isaiah 26:12) expresses the certain hope of a future and imperturbable state of peace (pones, stabilies); and this hope is founded upon the fact, that all which the church has hitherto accomplished (ma‛aseh, the acting out of its calling, as in Psalm 90:17, see at Isaiah 5:12) has not been its own work, but the work of Jehovah for it. And the deliverance just obtained from the yoke of the imperial power is the work of Jehovah also. The meaning of the complaint, "other lords beside Thee had enslaved us," is just the same as that in Isaiah 63:18; but there the standpoint is in the midst of the thing complained of, whereas here it is beyond it. Jehovah is Israel's King. He seemed indeed to have lost His rule, since the masters of the world had done as they liked with Israel. But it was very different now, and it was only through Jehovah ("through Thee") that Israel could now once more gratefully celebrate Jehovah's name.
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