Isaiah 43:5
Fear not: for I am with you: I will bring your seed from the east, and gather you from the west;
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(5) From the east . . .—Even from Isaiah’s stand-point, the dispersion of Israel might well be contemplated in all this wide extent. The Ten Tribes were already carried off to the cities of the Medes (2Kings 17:6). The Babylonian exile had its beginning under Esar-haddon (2Chronicles 33:11); others may have been found before the time of Zephaniah (Zephaniah 3:10) beyond the rivers of Ethiopia. Even in the time of Joel the slave-trade of the Phœnicians had carried the sons of Judah and Jerusalem to the western isles of Javan, or Ionia (Joel 3:6).

Isaiah 43:5-7. I will bring thy seed from the east, &c. — Although the Jews, for their sins, shall be carried captives out of their own land northward and eastward into Babylon, and the adjacent countries; and others of them shall flee southward and westward, and shall there pine away in their iniquities, as I have threatened; yet I will bring back their posterity into Canaan, from all the places where they are dispersed. I will say to the north, Give up — Thou, who hast so long held my people in bondage, resign them to me, and permit them to return to their own land. He speaks to the countries by a prosopopœia. Bring my sons from far — Not only permit, but assist and further their return. Every one that is called — Rather, every one is called, or, they are all called, by my name — I own them for my people and children; and, therefore, what kindness or cruelty you exercise toward them, I take it as done to myself. I have created him for my glory — And therefore I will glorify my power, and goodness, and faithfulness in delivering them. I have formed him — I have not only created them out of nothing, but I have also formed and made them my peculiar people. We must observe, however, that while Isaiah “appears to speak of one thing only, two are understood: the less includes the greater. Speaking literally and properly of the collection of the dispersed church from Babylon, — a more noble collection, the spiritual one, of the converted Jews and Gentiles to the church of Christ, was in his view; and this is described in expressions taken from the external collection of the church from Babylon, and the restoration of the republic under the Maccabees; exactly in the same manner as in chap. 11:12, which should be compared with this place. The 7th verse plainly shows that the spiritual seed of Israel is spoken of. Every one that is called by my name, means, every one who is truly my son; for to be called by the name of any one is to be his son.” See chap. 45:5, and Vitringa.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.Fear not - (see the note at Isaiah 41:10, Isaiah 41:14; compare Isaiah 43:1).

I will bring thy seed - Thy children; thy descendants. The sense is, I will re-collect my scattered people from all parts of the world. The passage appears to have been taken from Deuteronomy 30:3, where God promises to gather his people together again if they should be scattered among the nations, and should then repent. Vitringa understands this of the spiritual descendants of the Jews, or of those who should believe on the Messiah among the Gentiles, and who should become the people of God. But the more natural interpretation is, to refer it to the Jews who were scattered abroad during the exile at Babylon, and as a promise to re-collect them again in their own land.

From the east ... - From all parts of the earth; from all lands where they were scattered. That they were driven to other places than Babylon on the invasion of their land by the Chaldeans, is abundantly manifest in the historical records Jeremiah 9:16; Ezekiel 5:12; Ezekiel 17:21; Amos 9:9; Zechariah 2:6.

5. (De 30:3).

seed—descendants scattered in all lands. Vitringa understands it of the spiritual "seed" of the Church produced by mystical regeneration: for the expression is, "bring," not "bring back." This sense is perhaps included, but not to the exclusion of the literal Israel's restoration (Jer 30:10, 11; Am 9:9; Zec 2:6-13).

Although the Jews shall for their sins be carried captives out of their own land northward and eastward into Babylon and the adjacent countries, and others of them shall flee southward and westward, and shall there pine away in their iniquities, as I threatened; yet their posterity I will bring back into Canaan, from all the places where they are dispersed. Fear not, for I am with thee,.... With thy ministers that preach the everlasting Gospel, to make it effectual to the conversion of many everywhere, as well as to bear thee up under all trials, and to cause thee to stand against all opposition:

I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west; which is to be understood not literally of the return of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity; for these several quarters, east, west, north, and south, will hardly agree with that, though it may be supposed they were scattered in several countries; but spiritually of the gathering in of God's elect, whether Jews or Gentiles, which were scattered abroad throughout the world, called the "seed" of the church, because born to her, and brought up in her, and of which she consists; and therefore she herself is said to be gathered, converts being brought in from all quarters; from the "east", even from India, where the Apostle Thomas is said to preach the Gospel, and from other "eastern" countries; and from the "west", from the European nations, good part of which lay west of Judea. Our Lord seems to have respect to this passage in Matthew 8:12.

Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the {f} east, and gather thee from the west;

(f) He prophecies of their deliverance from the captivity of Babylon, and so of the calling of the universal Church, alluding to that which is written in De 30:3.

5–7. The ingathering of the Dispersion (cf. ch. Isaiah 49:12).Verse 5. - Fear not: for I am with thee (comp. Isaiah 41:10). I will bring thy seed from the east... from the west. The actual extent of the Jewish diaspora in Isaiah's day has been greatly exaggerated by some modern critics, who say that there were at that date "bands of Jewish exiles in the far lands of the Mediterranean, and even in China" (Cheyne). Israel had been carried captive into Mesopotamia and into Media (2 Kings 17:6; 1 Chronicles 5:26), perhaps, also, into other regions belonging at the time to Assyria, as Babylonia, Assyria Proper, Syria. Two hundred thousand Jews had been taken to Nineveh by Sennacherib ('Eponym Canon,' p. 134), and planted probably by him m outlying portions of his dominions. But such transplantation would not carry the dispersion further than Cilicia and Cyprus towards the west, Armenia towards the north, Media towards the east, and the shores of the Persian Gulf towards the south. Any scattering of the nation into regions more remote than these, as into [Egypt, Ethiopia, Elam (Isaiah 11:11), and China - if Sinim is China (Isaiah 49:12) - must have been seen by Isaiah in vision, or made known to him by revelation. It had not taken place in his day. The expression, "ends of the earth" (ver. 6), must not be pressed in Isaiah any more than in Herodotus, where the ἐσχατίαι τῆς οἰκουμέης are India, Arabia, Ethiopia, and Scythia (3:106-116). When they ceased to be deaf to this crying contradiction, they would recognise with penitence that it was but the merited punishment of God. "Who among you will give ear to this, attend, and hear afar off? Who has give up Jacob to plundering, and Israel to the spoilers? Is it not Jehovah, against whom we have sinned? and they would not walk in His ways, and hearkened not to His law. Then He poured upon it in burning heat His wrath, and the strength of the fury of war: and this set it in flames round about, and it did not come to be recognised; it set it on fire, and it did not lay it to heart." The question in Isaiah 42:23 has not the force of a negative sentence, "No one does this," but of a wish, "O that one would" (as in 2 Samuel 23:15; 2 Samuel 15:4; Ges. 136, 1). If they had but an inward ear for the contradiction which the state of Israel presented to its true calling, and the earlier manifestations of divine mercy, and would but give up their previous deafness for the time to come: this must lead to the knowledge and confession expressed in Isaiah 42:24. The names Jacob and Israel here follow one another in the same order as in Isaiah 29:23; Isaiah 40:27 (compare Isaiah 41:8, where this would have been impracticable). זוּ belongs to לו in the sense of cui. The punctuation does not acknowledge this relative use of זו (on which, see at Isaiah 43:21), and therefore puts the athnach in the wrong place (see Rashi). In the words "we have sinned" the prophet identifies himself with the exiles, in whose sin he knew and felt that he was really involved (cf., Isaiah 6:5). The objective affirmation which follows applies to the former generations, who had sinned on till the measure became full. הלוך takes the place of the object to אבוּ (see Isaiah 1:17); the more usual expression would be ללכת; the inverted order of the words makes the assertion all the more energetic. In Isaiah 42:25 the genitive relation אפּו חמת is avoided, probably in favour of the similar ring of חמה and מלחמה. חמה is either the accusative of the object, and אפּו a subordinate statement of what constituted the burning heat (cf., Ewald, 287, k), or else an accusative, of more precise definition equals בּחמה in Isaiah 66:15 (Ges. 118, 3). The outpouring is also connected by zeugma with the "violence of war." The milchâmâh then becomes the subject. The war-fury raged without result. Israel was not brought to reflection.
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