Isaiah 41:9
Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called thee from the chief men thereof, and said unto thee, Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(9) From the ends of the earth.—Ur of the Chaldees, as belonging to the Euphrates region, is on the extreme verge of the prophet’s horizon.

From the chief men thereof.—Better, from the far-off regions thereof.

I have chosen . . .—Isaiah becomes the preacher of the Divine election, and finds in it, as St. Paul found, the ground of an inextinguishable hope for the nation of which he was a member. As in St. Peter’s teaching, it remained for them to “make their calling and election sure” (2Peter 1:10), though God, in the unchangeableness of His nature, had chosen them before the foundation of the world.

41:1-9 Can any heathen god raise up one in righteousness, make what use of him he pleases, and make him victorious over the nations? The Lord did so with Abraham, or rather, he would do so with Cyrus. Sinners encourage one another in the ways of sin; shall not the servants of the living God stir up one another in his service? God's people are the seed of Abraham his friend. This is certainly the highest title ever given to a mortal. It means that Abraham, by Divine grace, was made like to God, and that he was admitted to communion with Him. Happy are the servants of the Lord, whom he has called to be his friends, and to walk with him in faith and holy obedience. Let not such as have thus been favoured yield to fear; for the contest may be sharp, but the victory shall be sure.Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth - From Chaldea - regarded by the Jews as the remote part of the earth. Thus in Isaiah 13:5, it is said of the Medes that they came 'from a far country, from the end of heaven' (see the note on that place). Abraham was called from Ur of the Chaldees - a city still remaining on the east of the river Euphrates. It is probably the same place as the Persian fortress Ur, between Nesibis and the Tigris. It was visited by Mr. Wolfe, Mr. Buckingham, and by others.

And called thee from the chief men thereof - Or rather, from the extremities of the earth. The word אציל 'âtsiyl means properly "a side"; and when applied to the earth, means the sides ends, or extremities of it. In Exodus 24:11, it is rendered 'nobles,' from an Arabic word signifying to he deep-rooted, and hence, those who are sprung from an ancient stock (Gesenius). In this place it is evidently used in the same sense as the word (אצל 'ētsel) meaning "side," in the sense of extremity, or end. The parallelism requires us to give this interpretation to the word. So Jerome renders it, longinquis ejus (sc. terroe). The Septuagint renders it, Ἐκ τῶν σκωπιῶν Ek tōn skōpiōn - 'From the speculations of the earth' (Thompson), or rather perhaps meaning from the extremity of vision; from the countries lying in the distant horizon; or from the elevated places which offered an extensive range of vision. The Chaldee renders it, 'From the kingdoms I have selected thee.' Symmachus renders it, Ἀπὸ τῶν ἀγκῶνων Apo tōn angkōnōn autēs - from its angles, its corners, its extremities. Some have supposed that this refers to the deliverance from Egypt, but the more probable interpretation is that which refers it to the call of Abraham from Chaldea; and the idea is, that as God had called him from that distant land, and had made him his friend, he would preserve and guard his posterity. Perhaps it may be implied that he would be favorable to them in that same country from where he had called their illustrious progenitor, and would in like manner conduct them to the land of promise, that is, to their own land.

9. Abraham, the father of the Jews, taken from the remote Ur of the Chaldees. Others take it of Israel, called out of Egypt (De 4:37; Ho 11:1).

from the chief men—literally, "the elbows"; so the joints; hence the root which joins the tree to the earth; figuratively, those of ancient and noble stock. But the parallel clause "ends of the earth" favors Gesenius, who translates, "the extremities of the earth"; so Jerome.

Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth; thou, Israel, whom I took to myself, and brought hither in the loins of thy father Abraham from a remote country, to wit, Chaldea; or, whom I brought back out of Babylon into thine own land, which though yet to come, he may speak of as of a thing past, as the prophets use to do, as was noted before. Jut the former interpretation seems to agree better with the foregoing verse. From the chief men thereof; from the midst of many great and noble persons, among whom he lived in Chaldea. So this notes God’s singular mercy to Abraham, and consequently to the Israelites descended from him, that he passed by many of Abraham’s betters, and called him into fellowship with himself.

I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away; I have chosen thee not for a small moment, but for ever, by making an everlasting covenant with thee and thy seed through all generations. Or the sense is this; As I have chosen thee at first, so I have not since that time cast thee off, as thou hadst frequently given me sufficient occasion to do. Or, and did not refuse thee, as this word is elsewhere used. So the same thing is repeated in other words, not without some emphasis; for he intimates that he chose them when he had just cause of refusing them.

Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth,.... Meaning not Abraham, nor his natural seed; but such who believed in Christ, who dwelt in the furthest parts of the earth, to whom the Gospel came, and by which they were laid hold upon, and apprehended by Christ as his own:

and called thee from the chief men thereof; from among the great men of the earth, out of their families, courts, and palaces: or rather called them by grace, when such personages were passed by and left; not many noble, not many mighty, being called in those times, 1 Corinthians 1:26,

and said unto thee, thou art my servant; and not only called them by the name, but made them such in reality: adding,

I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away; nor does the Lord cast away any whom he has chosen and foreknown; and therefore being thus dear to God, as all the above titles and acts of grace show, and being secured by him from perishing or being eternally lost, this should encourage them to suffer persecution patiently for his name's sake, and not be afraid of any of their enemies, as follows.

Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called thee from the chief men thereof, and said unto thee, Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
9. taken (better, as R.V., taken hold of) from the ends of the earth] It is disputed whether the reference is to the call of Abraham, or to the Exodus. It is a little difficult to suppose that Egypt could be described as the “ends of the earth” by a Jew; for although the writer may have lived in Babylonia, he could hardly divest himself of the historic consciousness of his nation, that Egypt was the neighbour of Israel. It is more probable, therefore, that he is thinking of Mesopotamia, and of the choice of Israel as effected in the call of Abraham. For chief men render corners (R.V.).

cast thee away] rejected thee—because of thy smallness.

Verse 9. - Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth; i.e. from Ur of the Chaldees (Mugheir in Lower Babylonia), and again from Egypt, another "end of the earth" compared with Palestine. The prophet views Palestine as Israel's true habitat, whatever may be its temporary abiding-place. From the chief men thereof. Most moderns translate "from the corners thereof;" but atsilim has the meaning of "chief men" in the only other place where it occurs (Exodus 24:11). And not cast thee away. Not even when in exile was Israel "cast away." God's care was still extended over them. Isaiah 41:9The proof adduced by Jehovah of His own deity closes here. But instead of our hearing whether the nations, with which He has entered upon the contest, have any reply to make, the address turns to Israel, upon which deliverance dawns from that very quarter, from which the others are threatened with destruction. "And thou, Israel my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, seed of Abraham my friend, thou whom I have laid hold of from the ends of the earth, and called from the corners thereof, and said to thee, Thou art my servant, I have chosen and not despised thee; fear thou not, for I am with thee; be not afraid, for I am thy God: I have chosen thee, I also help thee, I also hold thee with the right hand of my righteousness." The ו before ואתּה connects together antitheses, which show themselves at once to be antitheses. Whereas the nations, which put their trust in idols that they themselves had made, were thrown into alarm, and yielded before the world-wide commotions that had originated with the eastern conqueror, Israel, the nation of Jehovah, might take comfort to itself. Every word here breathes the deepest affection. The address moves on in soft undulating lines. The repetition of the suffix ך, with which אשׁר forms a relative of the second person, for which we have no equivalent in our language (Ges. 123, Anm. 1), gives to the address a pressing, clinging, and, as it were, loving key-note. The reason, which precedes the comforting assurance in Isaiah 41:10, recals the intimate relation in which Jehovah had placed Himself towards Israel, and Israel towards Himself. The leading thought, "servant of Jehovah," which is characteristic of chapters 40-46, and lies at the root of the whole spirit of these addresses, more especially of their Christology, we first meet with here, and that in a popular sense. It has both an objective and a subjective side. On the one hand, Israel is the servant of Jehovah by virtue of a divine act; and this act, viz., its election and call, was an act of pure grace, and was not to be traced, as the expression "I have chosen and not despised thee' indicates, to any superior excellence or merit on the part of Israel. On the contrary, Israel was so obscure that Jehovah might have despised it; nevertheless He had anticipated it in free unmerited love with this stamp of the character indelibilis of a servant of Jehovah. On the other hand, Israel was the servant of Jehovah, inasmuch as it acted out what Jehovah had made it, partly in reverential worship of this God, and partly in active obedience. את־ה עבד, i.e., "serving Jehovah," includes both liturgical service (also עבד absolutely, Isaiah 19:23) and the service of works. The divine act of choosing and calling is dated from Abraham. From a Palestinian point of view, Ur of Chaldaea, within the old kingdom of Nimrod, and Haran in northern Mesopotamia, seemed like the ends and corners of the earth ('ătsı̄lı̄m, remote places, from 'âtsal, to put aside or apart). Israel and the land of Israel were so inseparably connected, that whenever the origin of Israel was spoken of, the point of view could only be taken in Palestine. To the far distant land of the Tigris and Euphrates had Jehovah gone to fetch Abraham, "the friend of God" (James 2:23), who is called in the East even to the present day, chalil ollah, the friend of God. This calling of Abraham was the furthest terminus a quo of the existence of Israel as the covenant nation; for the leading of Abraham was providentially appointed with reference to the rise of Israel as a nation. The latter was pre-existent in him by virtue of the counsel of God. And when Jehovah adopted Abraham as His servant, and called him "my servant" (Genesis 26:24), Israel, the nation that was coming into existence in Abraham, received both the essence and name of a "servant of Jehovah." Inasmuch then as, on looking back to its past history, it would not fail to perceive that it was so thoroughly a creation of divine power and grace, it ought not to be fearful, and look about with timidity and anxiety; for He who had presented Himself at the very beginning as its God, was still always near. The question arises, in connection with the word אמּצתּי, whether it means to strengthen (Isaiah 35:3; Psalm 89:22), or to lay firm hold of, to attach firmly to one's self, to choose. We decide in favour of the latter meaning, which is established by Isaiah 44:14, cf., Psalm 80:16, Psalm 80:18. The other perfects affirm what Jehovah has ever done, and still continues to do. In the expression "by the right hand of my righteousness," the justice or righteousness is regarded pre-eminently on its brighter side, the side turned towards Israel; but it is also regarded on its fiery side, or the side turned towards the enemies of Israel. It is the righteousness which aids the oppressed congregation against its oppressors. The repeated אף heaps one synonym upon another, expressive of the divine love; for ו simply connects, גּם appends, אף heaps up (cumulat). Language is too contracted to hold all the fulness of the divine love; and for this reason the latter could not find words enough to express all that it desired.
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