Isaiah 44:5
One shall say, I am the LORD's; and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe with his hand to the LORD, and surname himself by the name of Israel.
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(5) One shall say, I am the Lord’s.—The words paint, like Psalm 87:4-5, the eagerness of heathen proselytes to attach themselves to Israel. The forms of adhesion rise in emphasis: (1) the convert declares himself to belong to Jehovah; (2) he calls upon the name of Jacob; (3) he writes upon his hand, To Jehovah!—brands himself, as it were, as His servant (comp. Ezekiel 9:4), as showing that the prohibition of idolatrous marks (Leviticus 19:28) did not exclude this; and see also Revelation 7:3; Revelation 9:4; (4) he takes the name of Israel in addition to his own as a title of honour.

44:1-8 Israel is here called Jeshurun, which means the upright one. Such only are Israelites indeed, in whom is no guile. Those that serve God he will own. He will help them over difficulties, and in their services. Water is the emblem of the Holy Spirit; as water refreshes, cleanses, and makes the earth fruitful, so do his influences the soul. This gift of the Holy Ghost is the great blessing, the plentiful pouring out of which God kept for the latter days. Where God gives his Spirit, he will give all other blessings. Hereby shall be a great increase of the church; thus it shall be spread to distant places. Was there any other Rock, or Protector, that could defend them? None besides could foretell these things to come, of which God by his prophets gave notice. All was set in order in the Divine predictions, as well as in the Divine purposes. Could any other have done so? Who can compare with Israel's Redeemer and King?One shall say - It shall be common to say this, or a profession of religion shall be common. The various expressions in this verse mean substantially the same thing - that there should prevail among the people a disposition to make a profession of attachment to Yahweh in every proper public manner. It is in immediate connection with what is said in the previous verses, that he would pour his Spirit upon them, and especially on their children. The effect would be, that many would make a public profession of religion. This refers, doubtless, in the main, to the period after their return from the captivity, and to the general prevalence of religion then. But it is also true of the people of God at all times - especially under the Messiah. God pours his Spirit like gentle dews, or rains, on the families of his people; and the effect is, that many publicly profess attachment to him.

I am the Lord's - I belong to Yahweh; I devote myself to him. This expresses the true nature of a profession of religion - a feeling that we are not our own, but that we belong to God. It is, that we not only feel that we are bound to worship him, but that we actually belong to him; that our bodies and spirits, and all that we have and are, are to be sacredly employed in his service (see 1 Corinthians 6:20; 2 Corinthians 7:5; 2 Corinthians 5:14-15). Nothing, in few words, can more appropriately describe the true nature of a profession of religion than the expression used here (אני ליהוה layhovâh 'ānı̂y) 'For Yahweh am I' - 'I am wholly, and entirely, and forever for Yahweh, to obey him; to do his will; to suffer patiently all that be appoints; to live where he directs; to die when, where, and how he pleases; to moulder in the grave according to his will; to be raised up by his power; and to serve him forever in a better world.'

And another shall call himself by the name of Jacob - The Chaldee renders this, 'He shall pray in the name of Jacob.' The idea seems to be, that he should call himself a friend of Jacob - an Israelite. He should regard himself as belonging to the same family and the same religion, as Jacob; as worshipping the same God; and as maintaining the same belief. To call oneself by the same name as another, is indicative of friendship and affection; and is expressive of a purpose to be united to him, and to identify our interest with his. The idea is that which one would express by saying, that he cast in his interest with the people of God, or he became identified with them; as we now say, a man calls himself by the name of Christ, that is, a Christian. Jerome renders this, 'He shall call by the name of Jacob.' that is, sinners to repentance (compare the note at Isaiah 43:7; Isaiah 48:1; Psalm 24:6).

And another shall subscribe with his hand unto the Lord - The Septuagint renders this, 'And another shall write with his hand (χειρί cheiri), I am of God.' Lowth, 'On his hand,' Aquila and Symmachus, (Χειρά Cheira). Lowth supposes that the allusion here is to the marks which were made indelible by puncture with ink on the hand or on other parts of the body. He supposes that the mark thus indelibly impressed was the name of the person, or the name of the master if he was a slave, or some indication by which it might be known to whom he belonged. In this way, the soldier marked himself with the name of his commander; the idolater, with the name of his god; and in this way, Procopius says, that the early Christians marked themselves. On this passage he says, 'Because many marked their wrists or their arms with the sign of the cross, or with the name of Christ' (see Revelation 20:4; Spencer, De Leg. Heb. ii. 20).

But all this is too refined, and is evidently a departure from the true sense of the passage. The mark, or writing, was not on the hand, but with it - literally, 'and this shall write his hand to Yahweh; 'and the figure is evidently taken from the mode of making a contract or bargain, where the name is subscribed to the instrument. It was a solemn compact or covenant, by which they enrolled themselves among the worshippers of God, and pledged themselves to his service. The manner of a contract among the Hebrews is described in Jeremiah 32:10, Jeremiah 32:12, Jeremiah 32:44. A public, solemn, and recorded covenant, to which the names of princes, Levites, and priests, were subscribed, and which was sealed, by which they bound themselves to the service of God, is mentioned in Nehemiah 9:38. Here it denotes the solemn manner in which they would profess to be worshippers of the true God; and it is expressive of the true nature of a profession of religion.

The name is given in to God. It is enrolled by the voluntary desire of him who makes the profession among his friends. It is done, after the manner of solemn compacts among men, in the presence of witnesses Hebrews 12:1. Among Christians, it is sealed in a solemn manner by baptism, and the Lord's supper. It has, therefore, all the binding force and obligation of a solemn compact; and every professor of religion should regard his covenant with God as the most sacred of all compacts, and as having a more solemn obligation than any other. And yet, how many professors are there who would shrink back with horror from the idea of breaking a compact with man, who have no alarm at the idea of having proved unfaithful to their solemn pledge that they would belong wholly to God, and would live to him alone! Let every professor of religion remember that his profession has all the force of a solemn compact that he has voluntarily subscribed his name, and enrolled himself among the friends of God; and that there is no agreement of a more binding nature than that which unites him in public profession to the cause and the kingdom of the Saviour.

And surname himself by the name of Israel - Shall call himself an Israelite, and shall be a worshipper of the same God. The word rendered 'shall surname' (כנה kânâh, not used in the Qal, in the Piel כנה kinnâh) means to address in a friendly and soothing manner; to speak kindly to anyone. Gesenius renders it, 'And kindly, soothingly names the name of Israel.' But the idea is probably that expressed in our translation. The word sometimes denotes a giving of flattering titles to anyone, by way of compliment Job 32:21-22 :

Let me not, I pray you, accept any man's person;

Neither let me give flattering titles unto man.

For I know not to give flattering titles;

In so doing my Maker would soon take me away.

In Isaiah 45:4, it is rendered, 'I have surnamed thee (Cyrus), though thou hast not known me.' The word does not occur elsewhere. It conveys the idea of an honorable title; and means here, I think, that he would call himself by the honorable appellation of Israel - or an Israelite - a worshipper of the God o f Jacob. It implies that a profession of the true religion is honorable, and that it is and should be esteemed so by him who makes it. It is observable, also, that this verse contains an instance of the parallelism in the Hebrew writings where the alternate members correspond to each other. Here the first and third members, and the second and the fourth correspond to each other (see the Introduction, Section 8).

5. The third clause answers in parallelism to the first, the fourth to the second.

I am the Lord's—(Jer 50:5; 1Co 6:19, 20; 2Co 8:5).

call himself by the name of Jacob—The Gentiles (as the result of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Israel, the Lord's "seed," first) shall join themselves to the children of Jacob, in order to worship their God (compare Isa 43:7; Ps 49:11). Or, "calls," that is, invokes and celebrates the name of Jacob, attaches himself to his nation and religion [Maurer], (Ps 24:6).

subscribe … hand unto … Lord—in solemn and public covenant, pledging himself to God's service (compare Ne 9:38), before "witnesses" (Heb 12:1), after the manner of a civil contract (Jer 32:10, 12, 44). So the Christian in the sacraments [Barnes]. Literally, "shall fill his hand with letters (Ex 32:15; Eze 2:10) in honor of Jehovah"; or "shall write upon his hand, I am Jehovah's" (compare Isa 49:16; Re 13:16); alluding to the puncture with ink on the hand, whereby a soldier marked himself as bound to his commander; and whereby the Christians used to mark themselves with the name of Christ [Lowth]. The former view is simpler.

surname himself … Israel—Maurer and Gesenius interpret this as the Hebrew sanctions, answering to their rendering of the parallel second clause, "calls blandly (speaks in honorable terms of) the name of Israel." Retaining English Version, we must, from the Hebrew understand it thus, "Surname himself by the honorable name of Israel" (Isa 45:4).

The blessing of God upon the Jews shall be so remarkable, that the Gentiles shall join themselves unto them, and accept the Lord for their God, and own themselves for his people. One shall say, I am the Lord's,.... This expresses the success of the apostles' ministry, not only among the Jews, but more especially among the Gentiles, who were not called by the name of Jacob and Israel; but now should call themselves by those names, as the following clauses show, being called by grace and converted; when they should openly profess their faith in Christ, claim their interest in him, and acknowledge his property in them, and not be ashamed of the name of Christians; and this one, and another, even many should do. The Lord has a people who are his special and peculiar people, his beloved ones, the objects of his delight and pleasure, his chosen and covenant ones, his adopted ones, his treasure and his jewels; and hence he has taken such care of them; he has put them into the hands of Christ for their security; given him to be a Head, Redeemer, and Saviour of them; bestows every blessing of grace on them; will not suffer any to hurt them; and keeps them by his power: and having given them to Christ, they are his people, his portion, his spouse and bride, his children, and the sheep of his hand; hence he became incarnate on their account; laid down his life to save them; sends his Gospel, and along with it his Spirit effectually to call them; and hence all that he has is theirs, and he will keep them, and not lose any of them: and being called by grace, they are the workmanship of the Spirit; his temples in which he dwells, and in whom he is as the earnest and pledge of their eternal glory: and this interest the Lord has in his people may be known by them, so as that they may be able to say, one and another, "I am the Lord's", as many of them have done; see Psalm 119:94, they may know they are the Lord's beloved ones, by his drawing them with his love, by the communications of his grace to them, by the communion with himself he indulges them with, and by what he shows unto them, and by the shedding abroad of his love in them; and that they are his chosen ones, by the Gospel coming in power to them, by their effectual calling, by the sanctification of the Spirit, and their faith in Christ Jesus; and that they are his covenant ones, by the application of covenant grace and blessings to them; and that they are his adopted ones, by the Spirit of adoption sent down into their hearts, witnessing it unto them; they may know that they are the redeemed of the Lamb, by their having his Spirit, and by his being formed in their hearts: and they may know that they are the temples of the Holy Ghost, by his own work upon them, and his dwelling in them: and knowing this, they should and will declare, and say they are the Lord's and none other's; that they are not their own, nor Satan's, nor the servants of men, but the Lord's to whom they devote themselves, and whom they desire to serve; and therefore join themselves to his churches, and walk in his ordinances, publicly confessing their faith in him, which is telling all the world whose they are; and this they say with the utmost joy and pleasure, in an exulting, yea, even boasting way and manner. The Targum is,

"this shall say, I am of them that fear the Lord:''

and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; reckon himself of the posterity of Jacob, in a spiritual sense; count it an honour to be called a wrestling Jacob, and a prevailing Israelite; so the Targum,

"this shall pray in the name of Jacob;''

either in the name of the God of Jacob, the Messiah, or as Jacob did: "and another shall subscribe with his hand to the Lord": shall give his hand and seal to serve the Lord; shall esteem it his high and great privilege to be written among the living in Jerusalem and to have his name registered among the saints, and in their church book. The Targum is,

"and this shall offer his oblation before the Lord;''

himself and his sacrifices of prayer and praise: "and surname himself by the name of Israel": shall value himself upon this, that he is an Israelite indeed, and shall choose no other name to be called by than that of a Christian. The Targum is,

"in the name of Israel; he shall draw near;''

and worship with them; all these phrases are expressive of a sincere and hearty profession of faith in Christ, and of the Christian religion, in terms borrowed from the people of Israel; see Acts 2:41.

One shall say, I am the LORD'S; and another {e} shall call himself by the name of Jacob; and another shall write with his hand to the LORD, and surname himself by the name of Israel.

(e) By this diversity of speech he means one thing, that is, that the people will be holy, and receive the true religion from God, as in Ps 87:5.

5. The result of the Divine blessing manifested in Israel’s restoration will be that foreigners shall attach themselves as proselytes to the Jewish community. The promise therefore goes far beyond ch. Isaiah 43:5-7. It is perhaps barely possible (with Dillmann) to understand this verse also of Israelites by birth, in the sense that they shall esteem it an honour to belong to their own nation; but this is certainly unnatural and scarcely to be reconciled with the second and fourth members of the verse.

call himself by the name of Jacob] The words, strictly rendered, would mean “call on the name of Jacob.” It simplifies the construction greatly if, with Duhm, we vocalize this verb (as well as the last verb of the verse) as a passive:—“shall be called” etc.

subscribe with his hand unto the Lord] Rather: inscribe his hand ‘To Jehovah.’ The allusion is to the practice of branding slaves with the name of their owner, or perhaps to the religious custom of tattooing sacred marks on the person (Leviticus 19:28). See Ezekiel 9:4; Galatians 6:17; Revelation 7:3; Revelation 13:16.

surname himself (or better be surnamed, see above) by the name of Israel] The verb is connected etymologically with an Arabic word kunya, although it is used here in a wider sense. The kunya is a sort of household name, which consists in designating a man as the father of a particular child; thus in Nimmer ibn Koblân Abû Faris (N., son of K., father of F.) the last title is the kunya. (Seetzen, Reisen, Vol. ii., p. 327.) Besides this, however, the Arabs make great use of honorific titles, like Nûr-eddîn (“Light of the Religion”) etc.; and it is in a sense corresponding to this that the Heb. verb is always used; cf. ch. Isaiah 45:4 and esp. Job 32:21 f. (A.V. “give flattering titles”). The meaning, therefore, is that in addition to their personal names the proselytes will adopt the name of Israel as a title of honour. Cf. Psalm 87:4 f.Verse 5. - One shall say, I am the Lord's, etc. There shall be an influx of proselytes. Instead of the heathen nations looking scornfully on, and uttering gibes and jeers (Psalm 137:7) at Israel's fall, on seeing Israel's rise they shall be anxious to have a part in it, and shall hasten to enrol themselves among the worshippers of Jehovah. "One shall say, I am Jehovah's," - while "another shall proclaim the name of Jacob," as that in which he glories; and a third "shall write on his hand, (I am) Jehovah's, and take as a surname the name of Israel." It was usual among the heathen nations to mark the name of a god upon the bodies of persons specially devoted to him (Herod., 2:113; 7:235); and, though the practice was forbidden to Israelites (Leviticus 19:28), it might naturally continue in use among semi-heathen proselytes. But Israel has no such works; on the contrary, its history has been a string of sins from the very first. "Thy first forefather sinned, and thy mediators have fallen away from me." By the first forefather, Hitzig, Umbreit, and Knobel understand Adam; but Adam was the forefather of the human race, not of Israel; and the debt of Adam was the debt of mankind, and not of Israel. The reference is to Abraham, as the first of the three from whom the origin and election of Israel were dated; Abraham, whom Israel from the very first had called with pride "our father" (Matthew 3:9). Even the history of Abraham was stained with sin, and did not shine in the light of meritorious works, but in that of grace, and of faith laying hold of grace. The melı̄tsı̄m, interpreters, and mediators generally (2 Chronicles 32:31; Job 33:23), are the prophets and priests, who stood between Jehovah and Israel, and were the medium of intercourse between the two, both in word and deed. They also had for the most part become unfaithful to God, by resorting to ungodly soothsaying and false worship. Hence the sin of Israel was as old as its very earliest origin; and apostasy had spread even among those who ought to have been the best and most godly, because of the office they sustained.
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