Isaiah 43:4
Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life.
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43:1-7 God's favour and good-will to his people speak abundant comfort to all believers. The new creature, wherever it is, is of God's forming. All who are redeemed with the blood of his Son, he has set apart for himself. Those that have God for them need not fear who or what can be against them. What are Egypt and Ethiopia, all their lives and treasures, compared with the blood of Christ? True believers are precious in God's sight, his delight is in them, above any people. Though they went as through fire and water, yet, while they had God with them, they need fear no evil; they should be born up, and brought out. The faithful are encouraged. They were to be assembled from every quarter. And with this pleasing object in view, the prophet again dissuades from anxious fears.Since thou wast precious in my sight - This verse contains another reason why God would defend and deliver them. That reason was, that he had loved them as his people; and he was willing, therefore, that other people should be overcome in order that they might be saved.

Thou hast been honorable - This does not refer so much to their personal character, as to the fact that they had been honored by him with being the depository of the precious truths of his religion. It means that he had made them honorable by the favors bestowed on them; not that they were honorable in reference to their own personal character and worth.

Therefore will I give men for thee - As in the case of Egypt, Ethiopia, and Seba Isaiah 43:3. He would cause other nations to be destroyed, if it were necessary, in order to effect their deliverance, and to restore them to their own land. We learn here:

1. That nations and armies are in the hand of God, and at his disposal.

2. That his people are dear to his heart, and that it is his purpose to defend them.

3. That the revolutions among nations, the rise of one empire, and the fall of another, are often in order to promote the welfare of his church, to defend it in danger, and deliver it in time of calamity.

4. That his people should put the utmost confidence in God as being able to defend them, and as having formed a purpose to preserve and save them.

Expressions similar to those used in this verse occur frequently among the Arabians (see Rosenmuller in loc).

For thy life - Margin, 'Person.' Hebrew, 'For thy soul;' that is, on account of thee; or in thy place (see the notes at Isaiah 43:3).

4. Since—All along from the beginning; for there was never a time when Israel was not Jehovah's people. The apodosis should be at, "I will give." "Since ever thou wast precious in My sight, honorable, and that I loved thee, I will give," &c. [Maurer]. Gesenius, as English Version, takes "Since" to mean, "Inasmuch as." If the apodosis be as in English Version, "Since thou wast precious" will refer to the time when God called His people out of Egypt, manifesting then first the love which He had from everlasting towards them (Jer 31:3; Ho 11:1); "honorable" and "loved," refer to outward marks of honor and love from God.

men … people—other nations for thee (so Isa 43:3).

thy life—thy person.

Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: so the sense is, From that time that I chose time for my precious and peculiar treasure and people, I have had a great esteem and affection for thee. But the words may well be, and by some are, rendered thus, Since that (or, For that; or, Because) thou wast precious in my sight, thou wast honourable, (the same thing repeated in other words,) and I love thee.

Therefore will I give men for thee; as I did give up the Egyptians, so I am ready to give up others to save thee, as occasion requires.

Since thou wast precious in my sight,.... As the saints are; not that they are valuable in themselves; they have no intrinsic worth in them; they are in no wise better than others; they are of the same mass and lump with others; they are of the fallen race of Adam, and are earthly and simple as he was; nor are they precious in their own sight, and much less in the eyes of the world; they are mean and despicable: but they are precious in the sight of God and Christ; in the sight of God the Father, who has chosen them, and taken them into his family, and blessed them with all spiritual blessings; and in the sight of Christ, who desired them, and betrothed them to himself, and undertook for them in eternity, and died for them in time; hence they are compared to things of value, to gold, to jewels, and precious stones, to a pearl of great price, to rich treasure; and are reckoned by Christ as his portion, and are as dear to him as the apple of his eye:

thou hast been honourable; ever since precious, and that was from all eternity; for though they became dishonourable in themselves, through the fall of Adam, and their own transgressions, and are dishonourable in the esteem of men, yet honourable in the esteem of God and Christ; they appear to be so, by their birth, by regeneration, being born of God; by their marriage to the Son of God, the Lord of the whole earth; by their characters of kings and priests unto God; and by their clothing, the robe of righteousness, and garments of salvation clothing of wrought gold; and by their being favoured with the presence of God and Christ, and their nearness to them:

and I have loved thee; which is the source and spring of all; hence they became precious and honourable; this is a past act, an act in eternity; it is an act of complacency and delight; a continued one, God rests in his love; and it is an act of undeserved grace and layout, and unchangeably the same; it never alters:

therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life: as, of old, the Egyptians, Ethiopians, and Sabeans, were given for the people of Israel, as in the preceding verse; so, in New Testament times, the enemies of God's people should be given for them; that is, their enemies should be destroyed, and they should be spared and saved; so that all Jews that rejected Christ, and persecuted his people, were given up to destruction. The Pagan empire was demolished, and so will Rome Papal too be destroyed, and the church of God will be preserved, and his interest revive, and all the kingdoms of the world become his; of which the conversions among the Gentiles in the first ages of Christianity were a pledge, prophesied of in the next words. The Talmudists (g), by "Adam", rendered "man", understand "Edom", by which Rome is often meant in Jewish writings.

(g) T. Bab. Beracot fol. 62. 2.

Since thou hast been precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give {e} men for thee, and people for thy life.

(e) I will not spare any man, rather than you should perish, for God values one of his faithful more than all the wicked in the world.

4. Since thou wast … thou hast been …] Rather, Because thou art precious in my sight, art honourable, and I love thee (three coordinate clauses). The A.V. seems to take the conjunction in a temporal sense, a view which has been defended by some commentators on grammatical grounds, but is quite unsuitable.

men] in contrast to a money payment. For people read peoples (as R.V.).

Verse 4. - Since thou wast precious. "Since" probably means "from the time that" (LXX., ἀφ οῦ), not "because," as Delitzsch and Mr. Cheyne render. Israel became "precious" from the time that the promise was given to Jacob that in his seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed (Genesis 28:14). Thenceforward God placed the interests of Israel above those of "men" generally, and markedly above those of any other "people." People; rather, peoples - as Mizraim, Cush, Seba (ver. 3). Isaiah 43:4Just as in Isaiah 43:1, kı̄ (for), with all that follows, assigns the reason for the encouraging "Fear not;" so here a second kı̄ introduces the reason for the promise which ensures them against the dangers arising from either water or fire. "For I Jehovah am thy God; (I) the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I give up Egypt as a ransom for thee, Ethiopia and Seba in thy stead. Because thou art dear in my eyes, highly esteemed, and I loved thee; I give up men in thy stead, and peoples for thy life." Both "Jehovah" and "the Holy One of Israel" are in apposition to "I" ('ănı̄), the force of which is continued in the second clause. The preterite nâthattı̄ (I have given), as the words "I will give" in Isaiah 43:4 clearly show, states a fact which as yet is only completed so far as the purpose is concerned. "A ransom:" kōpher (λύτρον) is literally the covering - the person making the payment. סבא is the land of Mero, which is enclosed between the White and Blue Nile, the present Dr Sennr, district of Sennr (Sen-rti, i.e., island of Sen), or the ancient Meriotic priestly state settled about this enclosed land, probably included in the Mudrya (Egypt) of the Achaemenidian arrowheaded inscriptions; though it is uncertain whether the Kusiya (Heb. Kūshı̄m) mentioned there are the predatory tribe of archers called Κοσσαῖοι (Strabo, xi. 13, 6), whose name has been preserved in the present Chuzistan, the eastern Ethiopians of the Greeks (as Lassen and Rawlinson suppose), or the African Ethiopians of the Bible, as Oppert imagines. The fact that Egypt was only conquered by Cambyses, and not by Cyrus, who merely planned it (Herod. i. 153), and to whom it is only attributed by a legend (Xen. Cyr. viii. 6, 20, λἐγεται καταστρἐψσασθαι Αἰγυπτον), does no violence to the truth of the promise. It is quite enough that Egypt and the neighbouring kingdoms were subjugated by the new imperial power of Persia, and that through that empire the Jewish people recovered their long-lost liberty. The free love of God was the reason for His treating Israel according to the principle laid down in Proverbs 11:8; Proverbs 21:18. מאשׁר does not signify ex quo tempore here, but is equivalent to אשׁר מפּני in Exodus 19:18; Jeremiah 44:23; for if it indicated the terminus a quo, it would be followed by a more distinct statement of the fact of their election. The personal pronoun "and I" (va'ănı̄) is introduced in consequence of the change of persons. In the place of ונתתּי (perf. cons.), ואתּן commended itself, as the former had already been used in a somewhat different function. All that composed the chosen nation are here designated as "man" (âdâm), because there was nothing in them but what was derived from Adam. תּחת has here a strictly substitutionary meaning throughout.
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