I will make waste mountains and hills, and dry up all their herbs; and I will make the rivers islands, and I will dry up the pools.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)I will make waste mountains . . .—The whole description is symbolic, and points to the subjugation of the heathen nations, the “rivers” and “pools” probably representing the kingdoms of the Tigris and Euphrates (Isaiah 8:7). All this seems a purely destructive work, but through it all mercy and truth are working, and a way is being opened for the return of Israel, in painting which, as elsewhere, the literal melts into the spiritual, as in a dissolving view. (See Note on Isaiah 40:4.) “These things” include the whole work of judgment and of mercy.
And dry up all their herbs - He would destroy all the grain and fruits on which they were depending for support.
And I will make the rivers islands - Or rather, dry land, or deserts. I will, in the heat of my anger, dry up the streams, so that the bottoms of those streams shall be dry land. The word rendered here 'islands,' from אי 'ı̂y, properly denotes dry land, habitable ground, as opposed to water, the sea, rivers, etc., and the signification 'islands' is a secondary signification.
And I will dry up the pools - The pools on which they have been dependent for water for their flocks and herds. The sense of the whole passage is, I will bring to desolation those who worship idols, and the idols themselves. I will produce an entire change among them, as great as if I were to spread desolation over their cultivated hills, and to dry up all their streams. The reference is probably to the great changes which God would make in the pagan world. All that flourished on Pagan ground; all that was nurtured by idolatry; all their temples, fanes, altars, shrines, should be overturned and demolished; and in all these things great and permanent changes would be produced. The time would have come when God could no longer bear with the growing abominations of the pagan nations, and when he would go forth as a conqueror to subdue all to himself.
mountains—in Palestine usually planted with vines and olives in terraces, up to their tops.
islands—rather, "dry lands." God will destroy His foes, the heathen, and their idols, and "dry up" the fountains of their oracles, their doctrines and institutions, the symbol of which is water, and their schools which promoted idolatry [Vitringa].I will make waste mountains and hills; not dry and barren ones, for these were waste already, but such as are clothed with grass and herbs, as the following words imply; which is to be understood metaphorically, of God’s destroying his most lofty and flourishing enemies, who are oft compared in Scripture unto mountains and hills.
I will dry up the pools; I will remove all impediments out of the way; which is expressed in the prophetical dialect, by drying up Euphrates, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared, Revelation 16:12. He seems to allude to that which God did in drying up first the Red Sea, and then Jordan, to give his people passage into Canaan. And this exposition is confirmed by the following verse. Revelation 6:14,
and dry up all their herbs; the common people, and common soldiers that were with them, and on their side; comparable, for smallness, weakness, and number, to the grass of the mountains and hills:
and I will make the rivers islands, and dry up the pools; extirpate all the remains of idolatry, rivers and fountains being sacred with the Heathens, as mountains and hills were places where sacrifices were offered to idols. Unless by it rather should be meant, that the Lord would remove all impediments out of the way of his people, or which were obstacles of their conversion; just as he dried up the waters of the Red sea and Jordan, to make way for the people of Israel; to which the allusion may be, and which agrees with the following words.I will make waste mountains and hills, and dry up all their herbs; and I will make the rivers islands, and I will dry up the pools.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)15. Jehovah’s breath of anger will make the fairest and best watered regions an arid waste. Cf. ch. Isaiah 40:7; Isaiah 40:24, and note the contrasted image in Isaiah 41:18 f. For herbs, read herbage. The word islands is used in a peculiar sense, of dry land as opposed to water.Verse 15. - I will make waste mountains and hills. The result of God's "stirring up his jealousy," and giving a free vent to his feelings, will be the destruction of the great and mighty ones of the earth (comp. Isaiah 2:14). These are probably, in this place, the Babylonian kings and nobles. Dry up all their herbs; i.e. turn Babylonia, temporarily, into a desert. Make the rivers islands, and dry up the pools. Invert the established order of things - turn the rivers into dry land, and empty the reservoirs. There is, perhaps, some allusion to those dealings with the river-beds, which the Greek historians ascribe to Cyrus (Herod., 1:189, 191; Xen., 'Cyrop.,' 7:5, § 10), and which are not disproved by the fact that the one native account of the capture of Babylon by Cyrus, which has come down to us, makes no mention of them. Isaiah 43:19), are the restoration of Israel, for which the defeat of their oppressors prepares the say, and the conversion of the heathen, to which an impulse is given by the fact that God thus glorifies Himself in His people.
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