Isaiah 45:20
Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, you that are escaped of the nations: they have no knowledge that set up the wood of their graven image, and pray to a god that cannot save.
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(20) Ye that are escaped of the nations.—Primarily, the words point to the survivors of the conquests of Cyrus, who are contemplated as acknowledging the God of Israel. Ultimately the words find their fulfilment in the conversion of the heathen to the true anointed of Jehovah, of whom Cyrus was a type. They will bear witness from their experience to the vanity of idols. They will learn that it does not avail to set up (or carry) their idols in religious processions (Jeremiah 10:5; Amos 5:26; 1Samuel 4:4).

Isaiah 45:20-22. Draw near together — To attend to what I have said, and am now about to say again, concerning the vanity of your idols; ye that are escaped of the nations — Ye that survive those many and great destructions which I am bringing upon heathen nations for their abominable idolatries and other wickedness. Let those dreadful judgments upon others, and God’s great mercy in sparing you, awaken you to a more impartial and serious consideration of this subject, and induce you to renounce those idols which have now manifested their inability to afford any help to those who serve and trust in them. They have no knowledge, &c. — See on Isaiah 44:9; Isaiah 44:17-18. Let them take counsel together — To maintain the cause of their idols. See on Isaiah 41:22; and Isaiah 43:9; and Isaiah 44:7. Look unto me, &c., all ye ends of the earth — Upon these considerations I call upon all people, from one end of the earth to the other, to cast away their idols, and to turn their eyes and hearts to me, expecting salvation from me, and from me only; and they shall not be disappointed. And this is not only an exhortation to the Gentiles to turn from idols to God, but a prediction that they shall turn to him, and look unto Christ, who is and will be the author of eternal salvation to all that obey him, whether Jews or Gentiles, which is confirmed by the following verse. 45:20-25 The nations are exhorted to draw near to Jehovah. None besides is able to help; he is the Saviour, who can save without the assistance of any, but without whom none can save. If the heart is brought into the obedience of Christ, the knee will cheerfully obey his commands. To Christ men shall come from every nation for blessings; all that hate his cause shall be put to shame, and all believers shall rejoice in him as their Friend and Portion. All must come to him: may we now come to him as the Lord our Righteousness, walking according to his commandments.Assemble yourselves, and come - This, like the passage in Isaiah 41:1 ff, is a solemn appeal to the worshippers of idols, to come and produce the evidences of their being endowed with omniscience, and with almighty power, and of their having claims to the homage of their worshippers.

Ye that are escaped of the nations - This phrase has been very variously interpreted. Kimchi supposes that it means those who were distinguished among the nations, their chiefs, and rulers; Aben Ezra, that the Babylonians are meant especially; Vitringa, that the phrase denotes proselytes, as those who have escaped from the idolatry of the pagan, and have embraced the true religion; Grotius, that it denotes those who survived the slaughter which Cyrus inflicted on the nations. Rosenmuller coincides in opinion with Vitringa. The word used here (פליט pâlı̂yṭ) denotes properly one who has escaped by flight from battle, danger, or slaughter Genesis 14:13; Joshua 8:32. It is not used anywhere in the sense of a proselyte; and the idea here is, I think, that those who escaped from the slaughter which Gyrus would bring on the nations, were invited to come and declare what benefit they had derived from trusting in idol-gods. In Isaiah 45:16, God had said they should all be ashamed and confounded who thus put their trust in idols; and he here calls on them as living witnesses that it was so. Those who had put their confidence in idols, and who had seen Cyrus carry his arms over nations notwithstanding their vain confidence, could now testify that no reliance was to be placed on them, and could be adduced as witnesses to show the importance of putting their trust in Yahweh.

That set up the wood - The word 'wood' is used here to show the folly of worshipping an image thus made, and to show how utterly unable it was to save.

20. escaped of the nations—those of the nations who shall have escaped the slaughter inflicted by Cyrus. Now, at last, ye shall see the folly of "praying to a god that cannot save" (Isa 45:16). Ultimately, those that shall be "left of all the nations which shall come against Jerusalem" are meant (Zec 14:16). They shall then all be converted to the Lord (Isa 66:23, 24; Jer 3:17; Zec 8:20-23). Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together; to debate the business with me concerning the divinity of your idols, and hear what I have said, and am now about to say again, in that matter.

Ye that are escaped of the nations; the remnant of the Gentiles, which shall survive those great and many destructions which I am bringing upon the heathen nations for their abominable idolatries and other wickedness. Let these dreadful judgments upon others, and God’s singular mercy in sparing you, awaken you to a more impartial and serious consideration of this point, and cast off those idols, which have now discovered their own vanity and inability to help those who serve them and trust in them.

They have no knowledge; they hereby discover their deep ignorance and stupidity.

That set up in a high place, where it may be seen and worshipped. Assemble yourselves, and come; draw near together, ye that are escaped of the nations,.... Not that escaped the sword of Cyrus's army, the Chaldeans; nor the Jews that escaped out of Babylon and other countries, by his means; but the remnant, according to the election of grace among the Gentiles; such who were called out of Heathenish darkness into the marvellous light of the Gospel, and escaped the idolatries that others continued in; these are called and summoned together, as to observe the grace of God to themselves, so to labour to convince others of their gross ignorance and stupidity in worshipping idols, and to judge and pass sentence on the obstinate among them:

they have no knowledge that set up the wood of their graven image; or that "lift up" or "carry the wood of their graven image" (d); the inside of whose graven image is wood, though covered with some metal which is graved; and for a man to carry such an image on his shoulders, either in procession or in order to fix it in some proper place for adoration, argues great ignorance and stupidity; such persons can have no knowledge of deity, that can believe that a log of wood, covered with gold or silver, graved by art and man's device, and which they are obliged to carry upon their shoulders, can be a god, or a fit object of worship:

and pray to a god that cannot save; itself, nor them; cannot hear their prayers, nor return an answer to them; cannot help and assist them in distress, nor deliver them out of their troubles; and therefore it must be the height of madness and folly to pray unto it.

(d) , Sept. "qui efferunt", Pagninus; "extollentes", Montanus; "qui gestant", Piscator; "gestantes lignum sculptilis sui", Junius & Tremellius; "qui portant", Cocceius, Vitringa.

Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, {y} ye that have escaped of the nations: they have no knowledge that set up the wood of their graven image, and pray to a god that cannot save.

(y) All you idolaters who though you seem to have worldly dignity yet in God's sight you are vile and abject.

20. that set up the wood …] Render, with R.V., that carry, &c., in religious processions (Amos 5:26), or perhaps into battle (2 Samuel 5:21). That idols have to be carried is a sign of their powerlessness (Isaiah 46:1 f.; Jeremiah 10:5).

a god that cannot save] The contrast in the end of Isaiah 45:21.

20, 21. The heathen are now summoned together that they may consider this attribute of Jehovah’s character, as illustrated by the prediction of the victories of Cyrus. The question submitted to them is the same as in Isaiah 41:1-4; Isaiah 41:21-29, Isaiah 43:9-13 : who has foretold these events? But this scene is imagined as taking place after the great crisis is over; hence those addressed are the escaped of the nations (cf. Jeremiah 51:50), the survivors of a world-wide judgement, of which Cyrus is the instrument (see Isaiah 45:14).Verse 20. - Assemble yourselves and come... ye... escaped of the nations. The prophet reverts to the main idea of the section, which is the conversion of the Gentiles, and calls on all "the escaped of the nation" - i.e. all who have survived the judgments of the time - to "assemble and come," to consider the claims of Jehovah to be the only true God, to "look to him (ver. 22) and be saved." The great judgments through which the heathen will be brought to God have been frequently mentioned (Isaiah 24:1-23; Isaiah 26:20, 21; Isaiah 27:1-7; Isaiah 30:27-33; Isaiah 34:1-10; Isaiah 40:24; Isaiah 41:11, 12, 25; Isaiah 42:13-15, etc.). They must not be regarded as limited to the time of Cyrus, but rather as continuing into the Messianic period, and indeed nearly to its close (see especially ch. 34.). Each one of them constitutes a call to the nations, and is followed by a conversion to a greater or less extent. They have no knowledge that set up the wood of their graven image; rather, who lift up (or, carry) the wood of their graven image (comp. Isaiah 46:7, "They bear him upon the shoulder," where the same verb is used). It was a practice of the idolatrous heathen to carry the images of their gods in processions, generally exposed to view upon their shoulders (Layard, 'Nineveh and its Remains,' vol. 2. opp. p. 451), but sometimes partially concealed in shrines, or "arks" (Rawlinson, 'Herodotus,' vol. 2. pp. 100, 101). There would be still among the "escaped" some who would so act. The second half is uttered in the prospect, that the judgment which Cyrus brings upon the nations will prepare the way for the overthrow of heathenism, and the universal acknowledgment of the God of Israel. The heathen submit, as the first strophe or group of vv. (Isaiah 45:14-17) affirms, to the congregation and its God; the idolatrous are converted, whilst Israel is for ever redeemed. With the prospect of the release of the exiles, there is associated in the prophet's perspective the prospect of an expansion of the restored church, through the entrance of "the fulness of the Gentiles." "Thus saith Jehovah, The productions of Egypt, and gain of Ethiopia, and the Sabaeans, men of tall stature, will come over to thee, and belong to thee: they will come after thee; in chains they will come over, and cast themselves down to thee; they pray to thee, Surely God is in thee, and there is none else; no Deity at all." Assuming that יעברוּ has the same meaning in both cases, the prophet's meaning appears to be, that the Egyptians, Ethiopians, and Meroites (see Isaiah 43:3), who had been enslaved by the imperial power of Persia, would enter the miraculously emancipated congregation of Israel (Ewald). But if they were thought of as in a state of subjugation to the imperial power of Asia, who could the promise be at the same time held out that their riches would pass over into the possession of the church? And yet, on the other hand, the chains in which they come over cannot be regarded, at least in this connection, where such emphasis is laid upon the voluntary character of the surrender, as placed upon them by Israel itself (as in Isaiah 60:11 and Psalm 149:8). We must therefore suppose that they put chains upon themselves voluntarily, and of their own accord, and thus offer themselves spontaneously to the church, to be henceforth its subjects and slaves. Egypt, Ethiopia, and Saba are the nations that we meet with in other passages, where the haereditas gentium is promised to the church, and generally in connection with Tyre (vid., Psalm 68:32; Psalm 72:10; compare Isaiah 18:7; Isaiah 19:16., Isaiah 23:18). Whilst the labour of Egypt (i.e., the productions of its labour) and the trade of Ethiopia (i.e., the riches acquired by trade) are mentioned; in the case of Saba the prophecy looks at the tall and handsome tribe itself, a tribe which Agatharchides describes as having σώματα ἀξιολογώτερα. These would place themselves at the service of the church with their invincible strength. The voluntary character of the surrender is pointed out, not only in the expression "they will come over," but also in the confession with which this is accompanied. In other cases the words hithpallēl 'el are only used of prayer to God and idols; but here it is to the church that prayer is offered. In the prophet's view, Jehovah and His church are inseparably one (compare 1 Corinthians 12:12, where "Christ" stands for the church as one body, consisting of both head and members; also the use of the word "worship" in Revelation 3:9, which has all the ring of a passage taken from Isaiah). אך is used here in its primary affirmative sense, as in Psalm 58:11. There can be no doubt that Paul had this passage of Isaiah in his mind when writing 1 Corinthians 14:24-25, ἀπαγγέλλων ὅτι ὁ Θεὸς ὄντως ἐν ὑμῖν ἐστί, or, according to a better arrangement of the words, ὅτι ὄντως ( equals אך) ὁ Θεὸς ἐν ὑμῖν ἐστίν. 'Ephes does not signify praeter (as a synonym of בּלעדי, זוּלתי) either here or anywhere else, but is a substantive used with a verbal force, which stands in the same relation to אין as "there is not at all (absolutely not)" to "there is not;" compare Isaiah 5:8; Isaiah 45:6; Isaiah 46:9, also Deuteronomy 32:36 (derivative passage, 2 Kings 14:26), and Amos 6:10; 2 Samuel 9:3; vid., Isaiah 47:8.
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