Isaiah 40:2
Speak you comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry to her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she has received of the LORD's hand double for all her sins.
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(2) Speak ye comfortably . . .—Literally, Speak ye to the heart. The command is addressed to the prophets whom Isaiah contemplates as working towards the close of the exile, and carrying on his work. In Haggai 1:13, Haggai 2:9, and Zechariah 1:13; Zechariah 2:5-10; Zechariah 9:9-12, we may rightly trace the influence of the words as working out their own fulfilment.

That her warfare is accomplished.—The time of war, with all its suffering, becomes the symbol of sufferings apart from actual war. The exile was one long campaign with enemies who were worse than the Babylonian conquerors. In Job 7:1; Job 14:14, the word is applied (rendered by “appointed time”) to the battle of life from its beginning to its end. This, too, may be noted as one of the many parallelisms between Isaiah and Job.

That her iniquity is pardoned.—Strictly, as in Leviticus 26:41; Leviticus 26:43, is paid off, or accepted. The word implies not exemption from punishment, but the fact that the punishment had been accepted, and had done its work.

She hath received of the Lord’s hand . . .—Primarily, the thought is that Jerusalem has suffered a more than sufficient penalty. (Comp. Exodus 22:9; Revelation 18:6.) This seems more in harmony with the context than the view which takes the meaning that Jerusalem shall receive a double measure of grace and favour. In the long run, however, the one meaning does not exclude the other. It is the mercy of Jehovah which reckons the punishment sufficient, because it has been “accepted” (Leviticus 26:41), and has done its work. (Comp. Jeremiah 16:18.)

40:1-11 All human life is a warfare; the Christian life is the most so; but the struggle will not last always. Troubles are removed in love, when sin is pardoned. In the great atonement of the death of Christ, the mercy of God is exercised to the glory of his justice. In Christ, and his sufferings, true penitents receive of the Lord's hand double for all their sins; for the satisfaction Christ made by his death was of infinite value. The prophet had some reference to the return of the Jews from Babylon. But this is a small event, compared with that pointed out by the Holy Ghost in the New Testament, when John the Baptist proclaimed the approach of Christ. When eastern princes marched through desert countries, ways were prepared for them, and hinderances removed. And may the Lord prepare our hearts by the teaching of his word and the convictions of his Spirit, that high and proud thoughts may be brought down, good desires planted, crooked and rugged tempers made straight and softened, and every hinderance removed, that we may be ready for his will on earth, and prepared for his heavenly kingdom. What are all that belongs to fallen man, or all that he does, but as the grass and the flower thereof! And what will all the titles and possessions of a dying sinner avail, when they leave him under condemnation! The word of the Lord can do that for us, which all flesh cannot. The glad tidings of the coming of Christ were to be sent forth to the ends of the earth. Satan is the strong man armed; but our Lord Jesus is stronger; and he shall proceed, and do all that he purposes. Christ is the good Shepherd; he shows tender care for young converts, weak believers, and those of a sorrowful spirit. By his word he requires no more service, and by his providence he inflicts no more trouble, than he will strengthen them for. May we know our Shepherd's voice, and follow him, proving ourselves his sheep.Speak ye comfortably - Hebrew, על־לב ‛al-lēb as in the margin, 'To the heart.' The heart is the seat of the affections. It is there that sorrow and joy are felt. We are oppressed there with grief, and we speak familiarly of being pained at the heart and of being of a glad or merry heart. To speak 'to the heart,' is to speak in such a way as to remove the troubles of the heart; to furnish consolation, and joy. It means that they were not merely to urge such topics as should convince the understanding, but such also as should be adopted to minister consolation to the heart. So the word is used in Genesis 34:3 : 'And his soul clave unto Dinah - and he loved the damsel, and spake kindly (Hebrew, to the heart) of the damsel;' Genesis 50:21 : 'And he comforted them, and spoke kindly unto them' (Hebrew, to their hearts); see also 2 Chronicles 32:6.

To Jerusalem - The direction is not merely to speak to the people in Babylon, but also to comfort Jerusalem itself lying in ruins. The general direction is, therefore, that the entire series of topics of consolation should be adduced - the people were to return from their bondage, and Jerusalem was to be rebuilt, and the worship of God to be restored.

And cry unto her - In the manner of a crier; or one making public and loud proclamation (compare Isaiah 40:3, Isaiah 40:9). Jerusalem is here personified. She is addressed as in ruins, and as about to be rebuilt, and as capable of consolation from this promise.

That her warfare is accomplished - Septuagint, 'That her humiliation (ταπείνωσις tapeinōsis) is accomplished.' The Hebrew word (צבא tsâbâ', 'warfare') properly means an army or host (compare the note at Isaiah 1:9), and is usually applied to an army going forth to war, or marshalled for battle 2 Samuel 8:16; 2 Samuel 10:7. It is then used to denote an appointed time of service; the discharge of a duty similar to an enlistment, and is applied to the services of the Levites in the tabernacle Numbers 4:28 : 'All that enter in to perform the service (Hebrew, to war the warfare), to do the work in the tabernacle of the congregation.' Compare Numbers 8:24-25. Hence, it is applied to human life contemplated as a warfare, or enlistment, involving hard service and calamity; an enlistment from which there is to be a discharge by death.

Is there not a set time (Hebrew, a warfare) to man upon earth?

Are not his days as the days of an hireling?

2. comfortably—literally, "to the heart"; not merely to the intellect.

Jerusalem—Jerusalem though then in ruins, regarded by God as about to be rebuilt; her people are chiefly meant, but the city is personified.

cry—publicly and emphatically as a herald cries aloud (Isa 40:3).

warfare—or, the appointed time of her misery (Job 7:1, Margin; Job 14:14; Da 10:1). The ulterior and Messianic reference probably is the definite time when the legal economy of burdensome rites is at an end (Ga 4:3, 4).

pardoned—The Hebrew expresses that her iniquity is so expiated that God now delights in restoring her.

double for all her sins—This can only, in a very restricted sense, hold good of Judah's restoration after the first captivity. For how can it be said her "warfare was accomplished," when as yet the galling yoke of Antiochus and also of Rome was before them? The "double for her sins" must refer to the twofold captivity, the Assyrian and the Roman; at the coming close of this latter dispersion, and then only, can her "iniquity" be said to be "pardoned," or fully expiated [Houbigant]. It does not mean double as much as she deserved, but ample punishment in her twofold captivity. Messiah is the antitypical Israel (compare Mt 2:15, with Ho 11:1). He indeed has "received" of sufferings amply more than enough to expiate "for our sins" (Ro 5:15, 17). Otherwise (cry unto her) "that she shall receive (blessings) of the Lord's hand double to the punishment of all her sins" (so "sin" is used, Zec 14:19, Margin) [Lowth]. The English Version is simpler.

Cry unto her; proclaim it in my name.

Her warfare; the time of her servitude, and captivity, and misery.

Her iniquity is pardoned; I am reconciled to her; I will not impute sin to her, to punish her any longer for it.

Double for all her sins; not twice as much as her sins deserved, for she herself confessed the contrary, Ezra 9:13 Lamentations 3:22; but abundantly enough to answer God’s design in this chastisement, which was to humble and reform them, and to warn others by their example. Double is oft put for abundantly, as Isaiah 61:7 Jeremiah 16:18 17:18. God here speaks of himself after the manner of men, and compareth himself to a tender-hearted father, who when he hath corrected his child for his misdemeanour, relenteth and repenteth of his severity, and casteth his rod away. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her,.... Or, "speak to or according to the heart of Jerusalem (h)"; to her very heart, what will be a cordial to her, very acceptable, grateful, and comfortable; and let it be proclaimed aloud, that she may hear and understand it. By "Jerusalem" is meant the Gospel church, and the true members of it. Aben Ezra interprets it of the congregation of Israel; see Hebrews 12:22,

that her warfare is accomplished; this life is a warfare; saints have many enemies to engage with, sin, Satan, and the world; many battles to fight, a great fight of afflictions, and the good fight of faith: this is "accomplished", or "filled up (i)"; not that it is at an end before this life is, while that lasts there will be a continual conflict; yet all enemies are now conquered by Christ, and in a short time will be under the feet of his people; the Captain of their salvation, who has got the victory, is gone before them; the crown is laid up for them, and is sure unto them. Some interpret it, as Aben Ezra, Kimchi, and Ben Melech, "her set or appointed time (k)"; and compare it with Job 7:1, and may be understood either of the time of deliverance from captivity: so the Targum,

"that her captivity by the people is filled up:''

or of the time of the Messiah's coming, the fulness of time, when he should appear, afterwards prophesied of; or of the servitude and bondage of the law being at an end, and of all the fatigue, labour, and trouble of that dispensation; and of the Gospel dispensation taking place: it follows,

that her iniquity is pardoned; which is God's act, flows from his free grace, is obtained by the blood of Christ, is full and complete, and yields great relief and comfort to guilty minds: or "is accepted" (l); that is, the punishment of it as bore by her surety; see Leviticus 26:43. The allusion is to the sacrifices being accepted for the atonement of sin, Leviticus 1:4, and may have respect here to the acceptation of Christ's sacrifice, for the expiation of the sins of his people. Jarchi interprets the word "appeased"; and so it may be applied to the reconciliation for sin made by the blood of Christ. The Targum understands it of forgiveness, as we do:

for she hath received of the Lord's hand double for all her sins; which may be understood either of a sufficiency of chastisements for sin; though they are not more, but less, than are deserved, yet are as much as their heavenly Father, in his great tenderness and compassion, thinks are enough; and though they are in measure, and do not exceed, yet are in large measure often, at least in their own apprehension: or else of the large and copious blessings of grace and goodness received, instead of punishment for sins, that might be expected: or rather at the complete satisfaction made by Christ for her sins, and of her receiving at the Lord's hands, in her surety, full punishment for them; not that more was required than was due, but that ample satisfaction was made, and, being infinite, fully answers the demerit of sin; and this being in the room and stead of God's people, clears them, and yields comfort to them.

(h) , Sept. "loquimini ad cor", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus, Vitringa; "secundum cor", Calvin. (i) "completa est militia ejus", Pagninus, Montanus. (k) "Tempus praefinitum", Junius & Tremellius. (l) "acccpta est", Piscator, Forerius.

Speak ye kindly to Jerusalem, and cry to her, that her {b} warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received from the LORD'S hand {c} double for all her sins.

(b) The time of her affliction.

(c) Meaning, sufficient as in Isa 61:7 and full correction, or double grace, while she deserved double punishment.

2. speak ye comfortably to] Lit. “speak to the heart of.” To “speak to one’s own heart” is to whisper or meditate (1 Samuel 1:13); to speak to the heart of another is to soothe, or persuade, or comfort. For the meaning of the phrase, see Genesis 34:3; Jdg 19:3; 2 Samuel 19:7; Hosea 2:14; and esp. Genesis 50:21; and Ruth 2:13, where it is parallel to “comfort” as here.

Jerusalem] an ideal representation of the people, like Zion in Isaiah 40:9; cf. Isaiah 49:14 ff., Isaiah 51:16 f., Isaiah 52:1 ff. Isaiah 52:7 ff. That there was an actual population in the ruined city during the Exile is of course not to be inferred from this figure. There are two standing personifications of Israel in this prophecy, the other being the “Servant of the Lord.” These, however, are not interchangeable; Zion represents the nation on its receptive side; she is the mother of the people, the recipient of the blessings of salvation; while the Servant represents the historic Israel, past, present and future, in its religious aspect, with a Divine mission to fulfil for humanity.

her warfare is accomplished] The word for “warfare” is that rendered “appointed time” in A.V. of Job 7:1; Job 14:14. It means properly a term of military service; then figuratively any period of irksome toil or endurance which a man longs to reach the end of; such as life itself had become to Job. The reference here is of course to the Exile. Render: time of service (R.V. marg.).

her iniquity (better, her guilt) is pardoned] The expression for pardon is rare. The verb commonly means “to be pleased with”; in a few places it means (as here) “to pay off a debt to the satisfaction of the creditor” (see Leviticus 26:34; Leviticus 26:41; Leviticus 26:43, and cf. 2 Chronicles 36:21). For the idea see ch. Isaiah 50:1.

for she hath received … double] i.e. “double penalty for her sins” (cf. Jeremiah 16:18; Jeremiah 17:18; Revelation 18:6), not “(she shall receive) double favour for her previous punishment.” It is difficult to say whether the clause is subordinate to the two preceding (as in A.V.) or co-ordinate with them, as in R.V. (reading that instead of for). The idea that Jerusalem’s punishment had been greater than her sin required is not to be pressed theologically; but the idea that Jehovah’s penal purpose can be satisfied by a temporary chastisement is of the essence of the O.T. notion of forgiveness. It must be remembered, however, that in the view of this prophet, Israel includes the Servant of Jehovah, and the unmerited sufferings of the Servant form the atoning element in the punishment which has fallen on the nation as a whole (ch. 53).Verse 2. - Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem; literally, speak ye to the heart of Jerusalem. Address her inmost feelings, her very spirit and soul. Her warfare is accomplished... is pardoned... hath received. These perfects can only be viewed as "perfects of prophetic certainty." According to every theory of the authorship of Isaiah 40-46, they were written before the close of the Captivity, when Israel's warfare was not yet accomplished, her iniquity not yet fully pardoned. Isaiah, however, sees all as already accomplished in the Divine counsels, and so announces it to the people. Israel's warfare, her long term of hard service (comp. Job 7:1), will assuredly come to an end; she will thoroughly turn to God, and then her iniquity will be pardoned, she will be considered to have suffered enough. Double. "It was the ordinary rule under the Law that 'for all manner of trespass' a man condemned by the judges should pay double" (Kay; comp. Exodus 22:9). Heathen legislators adopted the same rule for certain offences (Arist, 'Eth. Nic.,' 3:5, § 8). It is not here intended to assert that the law of Divine judgment is to exact double; but only to assure Israel that, having been amply punished, she need fear no further vengeance (comp. Isaiah 61:7). The consequences of this coqueting with the children of the stranger, and this vain display, are pointed out in Isaiah 39:3-8 : "Then came Isaiah the prophet to king Hizkiyahu, and said to him, What have these men said, and whence come they to thee? Hizkiyahu said, They came to me from a far country (K. omits to me), out of Babel. He said further, What have they seen in thy house? Hizkiyahu said, All that is in my house have they seen: there was nothing in my treasures that I had not shown them. Then Isaiah said to Hizkiyahu, Hear the word of Jehovah of hosts (K. omits tsebhâ'ōth); Behold, days come, that all that is in thy house, and all that thy fathers have laid up unto this day, will be carried away to Babel (בּבל, K. בּבלה): nothing will be left behind, saith Jehovah. And of thy children that proceed from thee, whom thou shalt beget, will they take (K. chethib, 'will he take'); and they will be courtiers in the palace of the king of Babel. Then said Hizkiyahu to Isaiah, Good is the word of Jehovah which thou hast spoken. And he said further, Yea (כּי, K. אם הלוא), there shall be peace and stedfastness in my days." Hezekiah's two candid answers in vv. 3 and 4 are an involuntary condemnation of his own conduct, which was sinful in two respects. This self-satisfied display of worthless earthly possessions would bring its own punishment in their loss; and this obsequious suing for admiration and favour on the part of strangers, would be followed by plundering and enslaving on the part of those very same strangers whose envy he had excited. The prophet here foretells the Babylonian captivity; but, in accordance with the occasion here given, not as the destiny of the whole nation, but as that of the house of David. Even political sharp-sightedness might have foreseen, that some such disastrous consequences would follow Hezekiah's imprudent course; but this absolute certainty, that Babylon, which was then struggling hard for independence, would really be the heiress to the Assyrian government of the world, and that it was not from Assyria, which was actually threatening Judah with destruction for its rebellion, but from Babylon, that this destruction would really come, was impossible without the spirit of prophecy. We may infer from Isaiah 39:7 (cf., Isaiah 38:19, and for the fulfilment, Daniel 1:3) that Hezekiah had no son as yet, at least none with a claim to the throne; and this is confirmed by 2 Kings 21:1. So far as the concluding words are concerned, we should quite misunderstand them, if we saw nothing in them but common egotism. כּי (for) is explanatory here, and therefore confirmatory. אם הלוא, however, does not mean "yea, if only," as Ewald supposes (324, b), but is also explanatory, though in an interrogative form, "Is it not good (i.e., still gracious and kind), if," etc.? He submits with humility to the word of Jehovah, in penitential acknowledgement of his vain, shortsighted, untheocratic conduct, and feels that he is mercifully spared by God, inasmuch as the divine blessings of peace and stability (אמת a self-attesting state of things, without any of those changes which disappoint our confident expectations) would continue. "Although he desired the prosperity of future ages, it would not have been right for him to think it nothing that God had given him a token of His clemency, by delaying His judgment" (Calvin).

Over the kingdom of Judah there was now hanging the very same fate of captivity and exile, which had put an end to the kingdom of Israel eight years before. When the author of the book of Kings prefaces the four accounts of Isaiah in 2 Kings 18:13-20, with the recapitulation in 2 Kings 18:9-12 (cf., Isaiah 17:5-6), his evident meaning is, that the end of the kingdom of Israel, and the beginning of the end of the kingdom of Judah, had their meeting-point in Hezekiah's time. As Israel fell under the power of the Assyrian empire, which foundered upon Judah, though only through a miraculous manifestation of the grace of God (see Hosea 1:7); so did Judah fall a victim to the Babylonian empire. The four accounts are so arranged, that the first two, together with the epilogue in Isaiah 37:36., which contains the account of the fulfilment, bring the Assyrian period of judgment to a close; and the last two, with the eventful sketch in Isaiah 39:6-7, open the way for the great bulk of the prophecies which now follow in chapters 40-66, relating to the Babylonian period of judgment. This Janus-headed arrangement of the contents of chapters 36-39 is a proof that this historical section formed an original part of the "vision of Isaiah." At any rate, it leads to the conclusion that, whoever arranged the four accounts in their present order, had chapters 40-66 before him at the time. We believe, however, that we may, or rather, considering the prophetico-historical style of chapters 36-39, that we must, draw the still further conclusion, that Isaiah himself, when he revised the collection of his prophecies at the end of Hezekiah's reign, or possibly not till the beginning of Manasseh's, bridged over the division between the two halves of the collection by the historical trilogy in the seventh book.

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