Isaiah 44:7
And who, as I, shall call, and shall declare it, and set it in order for me, since I appointed the ancient people? and the things that are coming, and shall come, let them show to them.
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(7) Since I appointed the ancient people . . .—Literally, the people of the age, or of eternity. The phrase is used of the dead in Ezekiel 26:20. Here it has been referred either to the antediluvian fathers of mankind (Job 22:15) or to the patriarchs of Israel, or, more fitly, to Israel, as having before it a far-off future as well as a far-off past, and, therefore, an everlasting people. The same phrase is used for the “perpetual covenant” of Exodus 31:16. (Comp. Exodus 40:15; 2Samuel 7:13; 2Samuel 7:16.)

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?And who, as I-- This verse contains an argument to prove that he is God. In proof of this, he appeals to the fact that he alone can predict future events, and certainly declare the order, and the time in which they will come to pass (see the notes at Isaiah 41:21-23; Isaiah 44:9-10).

Shall call - That is, call forth the event, or command that to happen which he wills - one of the highest possible exhibitions of power. See a similar use of the word call in Isaiah 46:2; Isaiah 48:15.

And shall declare it - Declare, or announce with certainty the future event.

And set it in order - Arrange it; secure the proper succession and place (see the notes at Isaiah 41:22). The word used here (ערך ‛ârak) denotes properly "to place in a row; set in order; arrange." It is of the same signification as the Greek τάσσω tassō or τάττω tattō, and is applied to placing the wood upon the altar in a proper manner (Genesis 22:9); or to placing the showbread in proper order on the table Leviticus 24:8; and especially to setting an army in order, or putting it in battle array Genesis 14:8; Judges 20:20, Judges 20:22; 1 Samuel 17:2. Here it means, that God would arrange the events in a proper order - as an army is marshalled and arrayed for battle. There should be no improper sequences of events; no chance; no hap-hazard; no confusion. The events which take place under his government, occur in proper order and time, and so as best to subserve his plans.

For me - In order to execute my plans, and to promote my glory. The events on earth are for God. They are such as he chooses to ordain, and are arranged in the manner which he chooses.

Since I appointed the ancient people - 'From my constituting the people of old;' that is, God had given them intimations of future events from the very period when he in times long past, had selected and appointed them as his people. They were, therefore, qualified to be his witnesses Isaiah 44:8.

And the things that are coming, let them show - (See the notes at Isaiah 41:22-23).

7. Who but God can predict future events and declare also the order and time of each (see on [795]Isa 41:22, 23; [796]Isa 45:21)?

call—"openly proclaim" (Isa 40:6) things to come [Maurer]. Or, "call forth" the event; command that it happen (Isa 46:11; 48:15), [Barnes].

set … in order—There is no chance or confusion; all events occur in the order best fitted to subserve God's plans.

for me—It is FOR God that all things exist and take place (Re 4:11). But Maurer translates, "Let him set it forth (Job 37:19) to me."

since … ancient people—I have given the Jews predictions of the future ever since I appointed them as My people in ancient times; therefore they were qualified to be His witnesses (Isa 44:8). As to their being God's "ancient (everlasting) people," see De 32:7-9; Jer 31:3; the type of the redeemed Church (Eph 1:4).

Who, which of all the heathen gods,

as I, shall call, and shall declare? shall by his powerful call or word cause it to be, and by his infinite foreknowledge declare that it shall be. Or, shall publish and declare; two words expressing the same thing, as is usual.

It; that which shall come to pass, whatsoever it be; which is easily understood out of the following clause.

Set it in order; orderly relate all future events in the same manner as they shall happen.

For me, Heb. to me, so as I may hear it, and thereby be convinced of their Divinity.

Since I appointed the ancient people; since the time that I appointed or called the Israelites to be my people, whom he calleth the ancient people, because they were his people long before this time; or, as the words may be rendered, the everlasting people, because he determined that he would never totally and finally cast them off and destroy them, as he would do other nations. But the words are and may well be otherwise rendered, since I constituted or made (as this word is elsewhere rendered) the people of the world since I first made man upon earth, as the LXX. and others understand it. Let them give me an account of any of their predictions of future events from the beginning of the world to this day.

The things that are coming, and shall come; such things as are near at hand, and such as are to come hereafter.

Unto them; unto their worshippers; who consult their oracles about future events, as I have told them unto thee, O Jacob, as it follows in the next verse. So the pronoun relative is put for the antecedent, which is left to be understood out of the following clause. Or, to or for themselves, in their own defence. Although these words might have been omitted in the translation, as being insignificant; such pronouns being oft redundant in the Hebrew language, as Genesis 12:1, and oft elsewhere, as also in the Greek and Latin. And who as I shall call,.... Which of the idols of the Gentiles can do as the king of Israel, the Lord of hosts has done? call things that are not, as though they were? call all creatures into being? call men by their names before they were born, as Isaac; Josiah, and Cyrus, of whom mention is made in the latter end of this chapter, and call them to service and usefulness in their day and generation? and call whom he pleases by his grace to eternal glory?

and shall declare it; the end from the beginning, things future that are yet to come to pass; or the purposes and decrees of God, his counsel and covenant, his mind and will?

and set it in order for me; give an exact and orderly account of things that shall be throughout the successive ages of time; as Jehovah did with respect to the people of Israel, whose God and king he was; he foretold to Abraham their going into Egypt, and bondage there, their deliverance from thence, and settlement in the land of Canaan, and now their deliverance from Babylon, and by name who should be the instrument of it; none of the gods of the Gentiles could do this, or anything like it, or order and dispose all occurrences in providence for his own glory, and the good of men:

since I appointed the ancient people? meaning either the ancient patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and their posterity, the children of Israel, who were early formed into a body politic, and into a church state; see Deuteronomy 32:6, or rather the first man, and the first race of men that inhabited the world before the flood, called the old world; and so the sense is, who ever did the things I have done, from the time I made man, and other creatures, and placed them on the earth, or from the creation of the world? so Aben Ezra, Jarchi, and Kimchi interpret it; though it is best of all to understand this of the people of God, the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven, in the Lamb's book of life, from the foundation of the world; who are, as the words may be rendered, "the people of eternity" (y); and may be so called, because they were in some sense a people that were "from eternity", as the Targum paraphrases it; not that they had an actual personal being so early, for they are but creatures of time, raised up in successive generations, and but of yesterday, and of a short continuance; yet they had from all eternity a representative being in Christ, as their federal head; they were chosen in him before the foundation of the world, and had grace given them in him before the world began, Ephesians 1:3 they were the people of God taken into covenant by him from everlasting, for so early was the covenant of grace made with Christ, and them in him; they stood so early related to God as his children, and to Christ as his spouse and bride; so early were they on the thoughts of God, and on his heart, and in his affections, as they were also upon Christ's, and in his hands, and their names so early registered in his book of life; so that they may be said to be indeed an "ancient people", or "a people of eternity"; and they may be called so, because they will continue for ever, as the days of heaven, and as the sun and moon, before the Lord, Psalm 89:29, everlasting habitations are provided for them, and they shall be for ever with the Lord; so the Syriac version renders it, "a people for eternity": now these are appointed by the Lord to come into actual being at the time, and in the place he has fixed; they are appointed to many things in life; not unto wrath, either here or hereafter, but to afflictions, and to death itself: and they are appointed to many good things, to be called by grace, to be saved with an everlasting salvation, and to reign with Christ in the New Jerusalem state; see Isaiah 24:23 where they are called "ancients", as here; and to be glorified with Christ for ever; it follows:

and the things that are coming, and shall come? let them show unto them: let the idols show to their worshippers if they can, "the things that are coming"; just coming, that are near at hand, that will be tomorrow; and that "shall come", are at a greater distance, which will be in ages to come; or wonderful things, and things future, so Jarchi interprets it; a word (z) like the first being used for signs and wonders. God foretells wonderful things that shall come to pass, and which accordingly do; but the idols of the Gentiles can do nothing of this kind.

(y) "populum seculi", Munster, Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus, Tigurine version, i.e. "qui a seculo est", Targ. "populum aeternitatis", Gataker. (z) "sigma", with the Rabbins as here.

And who, as I, shall {g} call, and shall declare it, and set {h} it in order for me, since I appointed the {i} ancient people? and the things that are coming, and shall come, let {k} them show to them.

(g) And appoint them that will deliver the Church.

(h) That is, tell me how I should proceed in this.

(i) God calls the Israelites ancient, because he preferred them to all others in his eternal election.

(k) Meaning, their idols.

7. The proof of Isaiah 44:6 is found in the incontestable fact of prophecy (as ch. Isaiah 41:22 ff., Isaiah 43:9; Isaiah 43:12; &c.). The verse as translated in A.V. and R.V. reads very awkwardly; it would have to be paraphrased thus: “And which of the other gods shall call etc., as I have done since I appointed the ancient people?’ But the distance of the last clause from the “as I” on which it depends is so great as to make the construction unnatural. It is better, with most commentators, to suppose a parenthesis, and render thus: “And who, as I, proclaims (and let him declare it and set it in order before me) since I founded the people of antiquity?” But a parenthesis is always more or less suspicious in a Hebrew sentence, and this one is doubly so on account of the “and” which introduces it. The LXX. reads, “And who is like me? Let him stand and proclaim &c.” The additional verb (“stand”) is likely to be original, and the construction of the first part of the clause is faultless. The only difficulty is presented by the temporal clause, “since I appointed” etc., on which see below.

call] means proclaim or “prophesy,” as in ch. Isaiah 40:6.

set [it] in order] used of the arrangement of discourse, as Job 32:14; Psalm 50:21, Isaiah 44:3.

since I appointed the …] Better: “since I founded the people of antiquity.” The most probable meaning is that prophecy has been continuous during the long period since Israel was formed into a nation. Some take the expression to denote the earliest population of the world (cf. ch. Isaiah 41:4); but this is less likely. Ewald applies it to Israel, but in the sense “everlasting people.” In Ezekiel 26:20 the same phrase is used of the shades in the underworld.

Several difficulties in the verse are got rid of by an attractive emendation of Oort (followed by Duhm), which makes this clause read; “who hath announced from of old?” (מי השמיע מעולם instead of עם־עולם משמי; cf. ch. Isaiah 45:21). The whole verse would then be rendered: And who is like me? Let him stand and proclaim, and declare it and set in order to me. Who hath announced from of old future things? and things to come let them declare.

things that are coming and that shall come are equivalent expressions; there is no foundation for Delitzsch’s notion that the former denotes the future in general, and the latter the immediate future (see on ch. Isaiah 41:22).Verse 7. - Who, as I, shall call, etc.? i.e. "Who will do (or who can do) as I do - call events into being, declare them, and set them in order beforehand - who can do this for me (or, in my stead)? No one. I have done it, ever since I appointed (or, placed upon earth) the ancient people" that is, the race of men before the Flood (see Job 22:15). The claim is that, from the first creation of mankind, God has not only prearranged the events that should happen, but has declared them by the mouth of prophets (see Genesis 3:15; Genesis 6:13, 17; Genesis 8:22, 23; 9:12-16, etc.). No other has done the same. The things that are coming, and shall come. Not earlier and later events, but "future events," and "such as will actually come to pass" (Kay, Cheyne). Let the idol-gods declare these, if they are to be entitled to consideration. The prophet cannot bear to dwell any longer upon this dark picture of their state of punishment; and light of the promise breaks through again, and in this third field of the fourth prophecy in all the more intensive form. "And now hear, O Jacob my servant, and Israel whom I have chosen. Thus saith Jehovah, thy Creator, and thy Former from the womb, who cometh to thy help; Fear not, my servant Jacob; and Jeshurun, whom I have chosen! For I will pour out water upon thirsty ones, and brooks upon the dry ground; will pour out my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine after-growth; and they shoot up among the grass, as willows by flowing waters." In contrast with the cheerem, i.e., the setting apart for destruction, there is here presented the promise of the pouring out of the Spirit and of blessing; and in contrast with the giddūphı̄m, the promise of general eagerness to come and honour Israel and its God (Isaiah 44:5). The epithets by which Jehovah designates Himself, and those applied to Israel in Isaiah 44:1, Isaiah 44:2, make the claim to love all the more urgent and emphatic. The accent which connects מבּטן ויצרך, so as to make יעזרך by itself an attributive clause like בו בּחרתּי, is confirmed by Isaiah 44:24 and Isaiah 49:5 : Israel as a nation and all the individuals within it are, as the chosen servant of Jehovah (Isaiah 49:1), the direct formation of Jehovah Himself from the remotest point of their history. In Isaiah 44:26, Jeshurun is used interchangeably with Jacob. This word occurs in three other passages (viz., Deuteronomy 32:15; Deuteronomy 33:5, Deuteronomy 33:26), and is always written with kibbutz, just as it is here. The rendering ̓Ισραελίσκος in Gr. Ven. is founded upon the supposition that the word is equivalent to ישׂרלוּן - a strange contraction, which is inadmissible, if only on account of the substitution of שׁ for שׂ. The שׁ points back to ישׁר, to be straight or even; hence A. S. Th. εὐθύσς (elsewhere εὐθύτατος), Jerome rectissimus (though in Deuteronomy 32:15 he renders it, after the lxx, dilectus). It is an offshoot of ישׁר equals ישׁר (Psalm 25:21), like זבלוּן, ידתוּן from זבל, ידת; and ūn ( equals ōn) does not stamp it as a diminutive (for אישׁון, which Kamphausen adduces in opposition to Hengstenberg and Volck, does not stand in the same relation to אישׁ as mannikin to man, but rather as the image of a man to a man himself; compare the Arabic insân). We must not render it therefore as an affectionate diminutive, as Gesenius does, the more especially as Jehovah, though speaking in loving terms, does not adopt the language of a lover. The relation of Jeshurun to ישׁר is rather the same as that of שׁלמה to שׁלום, so that the real meaning is "gentleman," or one of gentlemanly or honourable mind, though this need not appear in the translation, since the very nature of a proper name would obliterate it. In Isaiah 44:3, the blessings to be expected are assigned as the reason for the exhortation to be of good cheer. In Isaiah 44:3 water is promised in the midst of drought, and in Isaiah 44:3 the Spirit and blessing of God, just as in Joel the promise of rain is first of all placed in contrast with drought; and this is followed by the promise of the far surpassing antitype, namely, the outpouring of the Spirit. There is nothing at variance with this in the fact that we have not the form צמאה in the place of צמא fo e (according to the analogy of עיפה ארץ, ציּה, נלאה, Psalm 68:10). By צמא) we understand the inhabitants of the land who are thirsting for rain, and by yabbâshâh the parched land itself. Further on, however, an express distinction is made between the abundance of water in the land and the prosperous growth of the nation planted by the side of water-brooks (Psalm 1:3). We must not regard Isaiah 44:3, therefore, as a figure, and Isaiah 44:3 as the explanation, or turn Isaiah 44:3 into a simile introduced in the form of a protasis, although unquestionably water and mountain streams are made the symbol, or rather the anagogical type, of spiritual blessings coming down from above in the form of heavenly gifts, by a gradual ascent from מים and נוזלים (from נזל, to trickle downwards, Sol 4:15, Jeremiah 18:14) to ה רוּח and ה בּרכת (בּרכּת). When these natural and spiritual waters flow down upon the people, once more restored to their home, they spring up among (בּבין only met with here, lxx and Targum כּבין) the grass, like willows by water-brooks.

The willows

(Note: "The garab," says Wetzstein, "was only met with by me in one locality, or, at any rate, I only noticed it once, namely in the Wady So'b, near to a ford of the river which is called the Hd ford, from the chirbet el-Hd, a miserable ruin not far off. It is half an hour to the west of Nimrin (Nimrim, Isaiah 15:6), or, speaking more exactly, half an hour above (i.e., to the east of) Zaft Nimriin, an antique road on the northern bank of the river, hewn in a precipitous wall of rock, like the ladder of Tyre. I travelled through the valley in June 1860, and find the following entry in my diary: 'At length the ravine opened up into a broader valley, so that we could get down to the clear, copious, and rapid stream, and were able to cross it. Being exhausted by the heat, we lay down near the ford among the oleanders, which the mass of flowers covered with a rosy glow. The reed grows here to an unusual height, as in the Wady Yarmk, and willows (zafzaf) and garab are mingled together, and form many-branched trees of three or four fathoms in height. The vegetation, which is fresh and luxuriant by the water-side, is scorched up with the heat in the valley within as little as ten paces from the banks of the stream. The farthest off is the 'osar plant, with its thick, juicy, dark green stalks and leaves, and its apple-like fruit, which is of the same colour, and therefore not yet ripe. The garab tree has already done flowering. The leaves of this tree stand quite close around the stem, as in the case of the Sindiana (the Syrian oak), and, like the leaves of the latter, are fringed with little thorns; but, like the willow, it is a water plant, and our companions Abdallah and Nasrallah assured us that it was only met with near flowing water and in hot lowlands. Its bunches of flowers are at the points of the slender branches, and assume an umbelliferous form. This is the ערב of the Bible.' Consequently the garab (or (as nom. unitatis) the garaba cannot be regarded as a species of willow; and Winer's assumption (Real-Wrterbuch, s.v. Weiden), that the weeping willow is intended at any rate in Psalm 137:2, is an error. In Arabic the weeping willow is always called shafshaf mustachi (the drooping tree). At the same time, we may render ערבים 'willows,' since the garab loves running water as well as the willow, and apparently they seek one another's society; it is quite enough that the difference should be clearly pointed out in the commentary. The reason why the garab did not find its way into my herbarium was the following. On my arrival in Salt, I received the first intelligence of the commencement of the slaughter of the Christians on Antilibanus, and heard the report, which was then commonly believed, that a command had been sent from Constantinople to exterminate Christianity from Syria. This alarming report compelled me to inquire into the actual state of affairs; therefore, leaving my luggage and some of my companions behind, I set off with all speed to Jerusalem, where I hoped to obtain reliable information, accompanied by Herr Drgen, my kavas, and two natives, viz., Abdallah the smith, from Salt, and Nasrallah the smith, from Ain Genna. For a ride like this, which did not form part of the original plan of my journey, everything but weapons, even a herbarium, would have been in the way. Still there are small caravans going every week between Salt and Jerusalem, and they must always cross the Hd ford, so that it would be easy to get a twig of the garab. So far as I remember, the remains of the blossom were of a dirty white colour." (Compare p. 213, where we have taken nachal hâ‛ărâbhı̄m, according to the meaning of the words, as a synonym of Wady Sufsaf, or, more correctly, Safsf. From the description given above, the garab is a kind of viburnum with indented leaves. This tree, which is of moderate height, is found by the side of streams along with the willow. According to Sprengel (Gesch. der Botanik. i. 25), the safsâf is the salix subserrata of Wildenow).)

are the nation, which has hitherto resembled withered plants in a barren soil, but is now restored to all the bloom of youth through the Spirit and blessing of God. The grass stands for the land, which resembles a green luxuriant plain; and the water-brooks represent the abundant supply of living waters, which promote the prosperity of the land and its inhabitants.

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