Isaiah 44:25
That frustrateth the tokens of the liars, and maketh diviners mad; that turneth wise men backward, and maketh their knowledge foolish;
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(25) That frustrateth the tokens of the liars.—Better, of the pratersi.e., the false prophets of Babylon. It is implied that they, after the manner of the false seers of Judah (Jeremiah 23:16-17), predicted for the kings of Babylon a time of prosperity and peace.

44:21-28 Return unto me. It is the great concern of those who have backslidden from God, like the Jews of old, to hasten their return to him. The work of redemption wrought for us by Christ, encourages to hope for all blessings from him. Our transgressions and our sins are as a thick cloud between heaven and earth: sins separate between us and God; they threaten a storm of wrath. When God pardons sin, he blots out, he dispels this cloud, this thick cloud, so that the way to heaven is open again. The cloud is scattered by the Sun of righteousness; it is quite gone. The comforts that flow into the soul when sin is pardoned, are like clear shining after clouds and rain. Let not Israel be discouraged; nothing is too hard for God: having made all, he can make what use he pleases of any. Those that learn to know Christ, see all knowledge to be foolishness, in comparison with the knowledge of him. And his enemies will find their counsels turned into foolishness, and themselves taken in their craftiness. The exact fulfilling the prophecies of Scripture confirms the truth of the whole, and proves its Divine origin. The particular favours God designed for his people in captivity, were foretold here, long before they went into captivity. Very great difficulties would be in the way of their deliverance; but it is promised that by Divine power they should all be removed. God knew who should be the Deliverer of his people; and let his church know it, that when they heard such a name talked of, they might know their redemption drew nigh. It is the greatest honour of the greatest men, to be employed as instruments of the Divine favour to his people. In things wherein men serve themselves, and look no further, God makes them do all his pleasure. And a nobler Shepherd than Cyrus does his Father's will, till his work is fully completed.That frustrateth - Hebrew, 'Breaking:' that is, destroying, rendering vain. The idea is, that that which necromancers and diviners relied on as certain demonstration that what they predicted would be fulfilled, God makes vain and inefficacious. The event which they predicted did not follow, and all their alleged proofs that they were endowed with divine or miraculous power he rendered vain.

The tokens - Hebrew, אתות 'othôth - 'Signs.' This word is usually applied to miracles, or to signs of the divine interposition and presence. Here it means the things on which diviners and soothsayers relied; the tricks of cunning and sleight-of-hand which they adduced as miracles, or as demonstrations that they were under a divine influence. See the word more fully explained in the notes at Isaiah 7:2.

The liars - Deceivers, boasters - meaning conjurers, or false prophets (compare Jeremiah 50:36; see also the note at Isaiah 16:6).

And maketh diviners mad - That is, makes them foolish, or deprives them of wisdom. They pretend to foretell future events, but the event does not correspond with the prediction. God orders it otherwise, and thus they are shown to be foolish, or unwise.

That turneth wise men backward - Lowth renders this, 'Who reverseth the devices of the sages.' The sense is, he puts them to shame. The idea seems to be derived from the fact that when one is ashamed, or disappointed, or fails of performing what he promised, he turns away his face (see 1 Kings 2:16, margin) The 'wise men,' here denote the sages; the diviners, the soothsayers; and the sense is, that they were not able to predict future events, and that when their prediction failed, they would be suffused with shame.

And maketh their knowledge foolish - He makes them appear to be fools. It is well known that soothsayers and diviners abounded in the East; and it is not improbable that the prophet here means that when Babylon was attacked by Cyrus, the diviners and soothsayers would predict his defeat, and the overthrow of his army, but that the result would show that they were utterly incapable of predicting a future event. The whole passage here has reference to the taking of Babylon by Cyrus, and should be interpreted accordingly.

25. tokens—prognostics; the pretended miracles which they gave as proofs of their supernatural powers.

liars—(Jer 50:36). Conjurers; or, astrologers; men leading a retired contemplative life in order to study divination by the signs of the stars [Vitringa].

backward—with shame at their predictions not being verified. "To turn away the face" is to frustrate defeat (Isa 36:9; 1Ki 2:15). The "wise men" are the diviners who, when Babylon was attacked by Cyrus, predicted his overthrow.

That frustrateth the tokens of the liars; of the magicians, and astrologers, and sorcerers, who were numerous, and greatly employed and esteemed in Babylon, Isaiah 47:12,13 Da 2:2,48, and who had foretold the long continuance and prosperity of the Chaldean empire. But, saith God, I will confute their tokens or predictions, and prove them to be liars.

And maketh diviners mad with grief for the disappointment of their hopes and predictions, and their disgrace and loss which followed it.

That turneth wise men backward; stopping their way, thwarting and blasting their designs, so as they can proceed no further, but are forced to retreat and take new counsels, and giving them up to such counsels and courses as are foolish and pernicious to themselves.

That frustrateth the tokens of the liars,.... Struck dumb the oracles of the Heathens, disappointed their lying priests, and made void all the signs and tokens they gave the people, that such and such things would come to pass, which did not, and which proved them to be liars:

and maketh diviners mad; soothsayers, astrologers, and such sort of persons, who pretended to foretell future events; but these not answering to their predictions, they became mad, because their credit was ruined, and they lost their reward:

that turneth wise men backward, and maketh their knowledge foolishness; the wise philosophers among the Gentiles, and their schemes of philosophy, which were confounded and destroyed, and proved foolish, through the ministration of the Gospel, 1 Corinthians 1:20.

That frustrateth the {c} tokens of the liars, and maketh diviners mad; that turneth wise men backward, and maketh their knowledge foolish;

(c) He arms them against the soothsayers of Babylon, who would have said that they knew by the stars that God would not deliver Israel, and that Babylon would stand.

25, 26. The overthrow of heathen soothsaying and the establishment of true prophecy as it existed in Israel.

the tokens of the liars] Or, the signs of the praters (cf. Jeremiah 50:36, and See on ch. Isaiah 16:6 where the word means “pratings”). The “signs” (see Deuteronomy 13:1 f.) referred to are the omens on which the diviners based their forecasts of the future. How much reliance was placed on these prognostications by the Babylonians will be seen from ch. 47.

diviners] See on ch. Isaiah 3:2.

Verse 25. - That frustrateth the tokens of the liars; i.e. "who brings to nought the prognostications of the astrologers and soothsayers, that pretend falsely to a knowledge of future events" (see Isaiah 49:13; and comp. Jeremiah 29:8, 9); and maketh diviners mad; i.e. "shows them to be thole or madmen" (see Job 12:17). That turneth wise men backward; i.e. "repulses them - puts them to flight." Pretenders to wisdom, rather than truly wise men, are meant. Isaiah 44:25The promise takes a new turn here, acquiring greater and greater speciality. It is introduced as the word of Jehovah, who first gave existence to Israel, and has not let it go to ruin. "Thus saith Jehovah, thy Redeemer, and He that formed thee from the womb, I Jehovah am He that accomplisheth all; who stretched out the heavens alone, spread out the earth by Himself; who bringeth to nought the signs of the prophets of lies, and exposeth the soothsayers as raging mad; who turneth back the wise men, and maketh their science folly; who realizeth the word of His servant, and accomplisheth the prediction of His messengers; who saith to Jerusalem, She shall be inhabited! and to the cities of Judah, They shall be built, and their ruins I raise up again! who saith to the whirlpool, Dry up; and I dry its streams! who saith to Koresh, My shepherd and he will perform all my will; and will say to Jerusalem, She shall be built, and the temple founded!" The prophecy which commences with Isaiah 44:24 is carried on through this group of vv. in a series of participial predicates to אנכי (I) Jehovah is ‛ōseh kōl, accomplishing all (perficiens omnia), so that there is nothing that is not traceable to His might and wisdom as the first cause. It was He who alone, without the co-operation of any other being, stretched out the heavens, who made the earth into a wide plain by Himself, i.e., so that it proceeded from Himself alone: מאתּי, as in Joshua 11:20 (compare מני, Isaiah 30:1; and mimmennı̄ in Hosea 8:4), chethib אתּי מי, "who was with me," or "who is it beside me?" The Targum follows the keri; the Septuagint the chethib, attaching it to the following words, τίς ἕτερος διασκεδάσει. Isaiah 44:25 passes on from Him whom creation proves to be God, to Him who is proving Himself to be so in history also, and that with obvious reference to the Chaldean soothsayers and wise men (Isaiah 47:9-10), who held out to proud Babylon the most splendid and hopeful prognostics. "Who brings to nought (mēphēr, opp. mēqı̄m) the signs," i.e., the marvellous proofs of their divine mission which the false prophets adduced by means of fraud and witchcraft. The lxx render baddı̄m, ἐγγαστριμύθων, Targ. bı̄dı̄n (in other passages equals 'ōb, Leviticus 20:27; 'ōbōth, Leviticus 19:31; hence equals πύθων πύθωνες). At Isaiah 16:6 and Job 11:3 we have derived it as a common noun from בּדה equals בּטא, to speak at random; but it is possible that בּדה may originally have signified to produce or bring forth, without any reference to βαττολογεῖν, then to invent, to fabricate, so that baddı̄m as a personal name (as in Jeremiah 50:36) would be synonymous with baddâ'ı̄m, mendaces. On qōsemı̄m, see Isaiah 3:2; on yehōlēl, (Job 12:17, where it occurs in connection with a similar predicative description of God according to His works.

In Isaiah 44:26 a contrast is draw between the heathen soothsayers and wise men, and the servant and messengers of Jehovah, whose word, whose ‛ētsâh, i.e., determination or disclosure concerning the future (cf., yâ‛ats, Isaiah 41:28), he realizes and perfectly fulfils. By "his servant" we are to understand Israel itself, according to Isaiah 42:19, but only relatively, namely, as the bearer of the prophetic word, and therefore as the kernel of Israel regarded from the standpoint of the prophetic mission which it performed; and consequently "his messengers" are the prophets of Jehovah who were called out of Israel. The singular "his servant" is expanded in "his messenger" into the plurality embraced in the one idea. This is far more probable than that the author of these prophetic words, who only speaks of himself in a roundabout manner even in Isaiah 40:6, should here refer directly to himself (according to Isaiah 20:3). In Isaiah 44:26 the predicates become special prophecies, and hence their outward limits are also defined. As we have תּוּשׁב and not תּוּשׁבי, we must adopt the rendering habitetur and oedificentur, with which the continuation of the latter et vastata ejus erigam agrees. In Isaiah 44:27 the prophecy moves back from the restoration of Jerusalem and the cities of Judah to the conquest of Babylon. The expression calls to mind the drying up of the Red Sea (Isaiah 51:10; Isaiah 43:16); but here it relates to something future, according to Isaiah 42:15; Isaiah 50:2 -namely, to the drying up of the Euphrates, which Cyrus turned into the enlarged basin of Sepharvaim, so that the water sank to the depth of a single foot, and men could "go through on foot" (Herod. i. 191). But in the complex view of the prophet, the possibility of the conqueror's crossing involved the possibility or the exiles' departing from the prison of the imperial city, which was surrounded by a natural and artificial line of waters (Isaiah 11:15). צוּלה (from צוּל equals צלל, to whiz or whirl) refers to the Euphrates, just as metsūlâh in Job 41:23; Zechariah 10:11, does to the Nile; נתרריה is used in the same sense as the Homeric ̓Ωοκεάνοιο ῥέεθρα. In Isaiah 44:28 the special character of the promise reaches its highest shoot. The deliverer of Israel is mentioned by name: "That saith to Koresh, My shepherd (i.e., a ποιμὴν λαῶν appointed by me), and he who performs all my will" (chēphets, θέλημα, not in the generalized sense of πρᾶγμα), and that inasmuch as he (Cyrus) saith to (or of) Jerusalem, It shall be built (tibbâneh, not the second pers. tibbânı̄), and the foundation of the temple laid (hēkhâl a masculine elsewhere, here a feminine). This is the passage which is said by Josephus to have induced Cyrus to send back the Jews to their native land: "Accordingly, when Cyrus read this, and admired the divine power, an earnest desire and ambition seized upon him to fulfil what was so written" (Jos. Ant. xi. 2). According to Ctesias and others, the name of Cyrus signifies the sun.But all that can really be affirmed is, that it sounds like the name of the sun. For in Neo-Pers. the sun is called char, in Zendic hvarĕ (karĕ), and from this proper names are formed, such as chars'ı̂d (Sunshine, also the Sun); but Cyrus is called Kuru or Khuru upon the monuments, and this cannot possibly be connected with our chur, which would be uwara in Old Persian (Rawlinson, Lassen, Spiegel), and Kōresh is simply the name of Kuru (Κῦρ-ος) Hebraized after the manner of a segholate. There is a marble-block, for example, in the Murghab valley, not far from the mausoleum of Cyrus, which contained the golden coffin with the body of the king (see Strabo, xv 3, 7); and on this we find an inscription that we also meet with elsewhere, viz., adam. k'ur'us.khsâya thiya.hakhâmanisiya, i.e., I am Kuru the king of the Achaemenides.

(Note: See the engraving of this tomb of Cyrus, which is now called the "Tomb of Solomon's mother," in Vaux's Nineveh and Persepolis (p. 345). On the identity of Murghb and Pasargadae, see Spiegel, Keil-inschriften, pp. 71, 72; and with regard to the discovery of inscriptions that may still be expected around the tomb of Cyrus, the Journal of the Asiatic Society, x. 46, note 4 (also compare Spiegel's Geschichte der Entzifferung der Keil-schrift, im "Ausland," 1865, p. 413).)

This name is identical with the name of the river Kur (Κῦρ-ος); and what Strabo says is worthy of notice - namely, that "there is also a river called Cyrus, which flows through the so-called cave of Persis near Pasargadae, and whence the king took his name, changing it from Agradates into Cyrus" (Strab. xv 3, 6). It is possible also that there may be some connection between the name and the Indian princely title of Kuru.

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