Isaiah 30:13
Therefore this iniquity shall be to you as a breach ready to fall, swelling out in a high wall, whose breaking comes suddenly at an instant.
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(13) As a breach ready to fall.—The ill-built, half-decayed houses of Jerusalem may have furnished the outward imagery of the parable. First comes the threatening bulge, then the crack, and then the crash. That was to be the outcome of the plans they were building up on the unsound foundation of corrupt intrigue. In Ezekiel 13:10 we have the additional feature of the “untempered mortar” with which such a wall is built.

30:8-18 The Jews were the only professing people God then had in the world, yet many among them were rebellious. They had the light, but they loved darkness rather. The prophets checked them in their sinful pursuits, so that they could not proceed without fear; this they took amiss. But faithful ministers will not be driven from seeking to awaken sinners. God is the Holy One of Israel, and so they shall find him. They did not like to hear of his holy commandments and his hatred of sin; they desired that they might no more be reminded of these things. But as they despised the word of God, their sins undermined their safety. Their state would be dashed in pieces like a potter's vessel. Let us return from our evil ways, and settle in the way of duty; that is the way to be saved. Would we be strengthened, it must be in quietness and in confidence, keeping peace in our own minds, and relying upon God. They think themselves wiser than God; but the project by which they thought to save themselves was their ruin. Only here and there one shall escape, as a warning to others. If men will not repent, turn to God, and seek happiness in his favour and service, their desires will but hasten their ruin. Those who make God alone their confidence, will have comfort. God ever waits to be gracious to all that come to him by faith in Christ, and happy are those who wait for him.Therefore this iniquity - That is, this refusing to trust in Yahweh, and this intention to seek the alliance of Egypt. The general sense of the figure here is, that their depending on Egypt would involve them ultimately in complete and awful ruin - ruin that should come upon them as suddenly as when a wall that had been long swelling out gives way.

As a breach ready to fall - Like a breaking forth, or a bursting in a wall.

Swelling out in a high wall - That is, where the foundation is not firm, and where one part of the wall sinks, and it inclines to one side until it suddenly bursts forth. A similar figure is used by the Psalmist Psalm 62:3 :

Ye shall be slain all of you

As a bowing wall shall ye be, and as a tottering fence.

Whose breaking cometh suddenly - Though it has been long leaning and swelling, yet the actual bursting forth would be in an instant. So would it be with the destruction that would come upon the Jews. Though by their sins they had been long preparing for it, yet it would come upon them by a sudden and tremendous crash. So it will be with all sinners. Destruction may seem to be long delayed - as a wall may be long inclining, and may seem to prepare imperceptibly to fall; but in due time it will come suddenly upon them, when too late to obtain relief.

13. Image from a curve swelling out in a wall (Ps 62:3); when the former gives way, it causes the downfall of the whole wall; so their policy as to Egypt. This iniquity, of sending and trusting to Egypt for succour.

Whose breaking cometh suddenly at an instant; like a wall which is high, and seems to be strong, but swelling forth in some parts, which upon the least accident falleth down suddenly to the ground. Such shall be the issue of your high and towering confidence in Egypt. Therefore this iniquity shall be to you as a breach ready to fall,.... Or, "as a falling breach" (m); contempt of the word of God, and trusting in wickedness, rejecting the counsel of God, and placing confidence in the creature, these would be the cause of ruin; which ruin is signified by the breach of a falling wall, or by a breach in a wall, by reason of which it is in danger of falling, and is just ready to fall:

swelling out in a high wall; like a wall that bellies out and bulges, and which, when it once begins to do, suddenly falls; and the higher it is, it comes with more force, and the greater is the fall:

whose breaking cometh suddenly, at an instant; and so it is suggested, should be the ruin of this people; the high towering confidence they had in Egypt would fall with its own weight, and they with it, and be broken to pieces in a moment; and which is further illustrated by another simile.

(m) "sicut ruptura cadens", Montanus, Cocceius, De Dieu. Ben Melech observes, that a breach is after the building is fallen; for the breach does not fall, but it is said on account of the end of it, or what it is at last, as in Isaiah 47.2. "grind meal" or "flour".

Therefore this iniquity shall be to you as a breach ready to fall, swelling out in a high wall, whose breaking cometh suddenly at an instant.
13. Disaster will follow their policy with the necessity of a natural law. The best translation seems to be: Therefore this guilt shall be to you as a rent descending (lit. “falling”) (and) bulging out in a high wall, whose crash comes, &c. The slight beginnings of transgression, its inevitable tendency to gravitate more and more from the moral perpendicular, till a critical point is reached, then the suddenness of the final catastrophe,—are vividly expressed by this magnificent simile. Comp. Psalm 62:3.

suddenly at an instant] Cf. ch. Isaiah 29:5.Verse 13. - This iniquity shall be to you as a breach ready to fall. Your sin in rebelling against God, rejecting the warnings of his prophets, and trusting in your own devices shall bring you into the condition of a wall in which there is a "breach," or rather, a "bulge," which therefore totters to its fall, and is liable to dissolve in ruins at any moment. Swelling out in a high wall. The higher the wail, the greater the danger, and the more complete the destruction. The prophet's address is hardly commenced, however, when a heading is introduced of the very same kind as we have already met with several times in the cycle of prophecies against the heathen nations. Gesenius, Hitzig, Umbreit, and Knobel, rid themselves of it by pronouncing it a gloss founded upon a misunderstanding. But nothing is more genuine in the whole book of Isaiah than the words massâ' bahămōth negebh . The heading is emblematical, like the four headings in chapters 21, 22. And the massâ' embraces Isaiah 30:6, Isaiah 30:7. Then follows the command to write it on a table by itself. The heading is an integral part of the smaller whole. Isaiah breaks off his address to communicate an oracle relating to the Egyptian treaty, which Jehovah has specially commanded him to hand down to posterity. The same interruption would take place if we expunged the heading; for in any case it was Isaiah 30:6, Isaiah 30:7 that he was to write upon a table. This is not an address to the people, but the preliminary text, the application of which is determined afterwards. The prophet communicates in the form of a citation what has been revealed to him by God, and then states what God has commanded him to do with it. We therefore enclose Isaiah 30:6, Isaiah 30:7 in inverted commas as a quotation, and render the short passage, which is written in the tone of chapter 21, as follows: "Oracle concerning the water-oxen of the south: Through a land of distress and confinement, whence the lioness and lion, adders and flying dragons; they carry their possessions on the shoulders of asses' foals, and their treasures on the humps of camels, to a nation that profits nothing. And Egypt, worthlessly and hollowly will they help; therefore I call this Egypt, Great-mouth that sits still." The "water-ox of the south" is the Nile-horse; and this is the emblem of Egypt, the land of the south (in Daniel and Zechariah Babylonia is "the land of the north"). Bahămōth is the construct of behēmōth (Job 40), which is a Hebraized from of an Egyptian word, p-ehe-mau (though the word itself has not yet been met with), i.e., the ox of the water, or possibly p-ehe-mau-t (with the feminine article at the close, though in hesmut, another name for a female animal, mut equals t. mau signifies "the mother:" see at Job 40:15). The animal referred to is the hippopotamus, which is called bomarino in Italian, Arab. the Nile-horse or water-pig. The emblem of Egypt in other passages of the Old Testament is tannin, the water-snake, or leviathan, the crocodile. In Psalm 78:31 this is called chayyath qâneh, "the beast of the reed," though Hengstenberg supposes that the Nile-horse is intended there. This cannot be maintained, however; but in the passage before us this emblem is chosen, just because the fat, swine-like, fleshy colossus, whose belly nearly touches the ground as it walks, is a fitting image of Egypt, a land so boastful and so eager to make itself thick and broad, and yet so slow to exert itself in the interest of others, and so unwilling to move from the spot. This is also implied in the name rahabh-hēm-shâb. Rahab is a name applied to Egypt in other passages also (Isaiah 51:9; Psalm 87:4; Psalm 89:11), and that in the senses attested by the lxx at Job 26:12 (cf., Isaiah 9:13), viz., κῆτος, a sea-monster, monstrum marinum. Here the name has the meaning common in other passages, viz., violence, domineering pride, boasting (ἀλαζονεία, as one translator renders it). הם is a term of comparison, as in Genesis 14:2-3, etc.; the plural refers to the people called rahabh. Hence the meaning is either, "The bragging people, they are sit-still;" or, "Boast-house, they are idlers." To this deceitful land the ambassadors of Judah were going with rich resources (chăyâlı̄m, opes) on the shoulder of asses' foals, and on the hump (dabbesheth, from dâbhash, according to Luzzatto related to gâbhash, to be hilly) of camels, without shrinking from the difficulties and dangers of the road through the desert, where lions and snakes spring out now here and now there (מהם, neuter, as in Zephaniah 2:7, comp. Isaiah 38:16; see also Deuteronomy 8:15; Numbers 21:6). Through this very desert, through which God had led their fathers when He redeemed them out of the bondage of Egypt, they were now marching to purchase the friendship of Egypt, though really, whatever might be the pretext which they offered, it was only to deceive themselves; for the vainglorious land would never keep the promises that it made.
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