Isaiah 47:12
Stand now with your enchantments, and with the multitude of your sorceries, wherein you have labored from your youth; if so be you shall be able to profit, if so be you may prevail.
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(12) If so be thou shalt be able . . .—The words come with a subtle tone of irony. Persevere in thy enchantments . . . perchance thou wilt be able to profit, perchance thou wilt strike terror.

Isaiah 47:12-15. Stand now with thine enchantments — Persist in these practices. Wherein thou hast laboured from thy youth — From the beginning of thy kingdom. For the Chaldeans in all ages were famous, or rather infamous, for the study and practice of these arts. Thou art wearied in thy counsels — Thou hast spent thy time and strength in going from one to another, in trying all manner of experiments, and all to no purpose. Let now the astrologers, &c., stand up — To succour thee, or to inquire for thee. Behold, they shall be as stubble — They shall have no more power to withstand the calamities coming upon them than stubble has to resist the violence of the fire. They shall not deliver themselves from the flame — And much less thee. There shall not be a coal to warm at, &c. — They shall be totally consumed, and all the comfort which thou didst expect from them shall utterly vanish. Thus shall they be unto thee — Such comfortless and helpless creatures, namely, thy sorcerers, astrologers, &c.; with whom thou hast laboured — Upon whom thou hast spent thy time, pains, and money; even thy merchants — Or negotiators, as Bishop Lowth translates סחרין, with whom thou hast had so much intercourse, and so many dealings. They shall wander every one to his quarter — Or, as some interpret the meaning, “They shall wander by whatsoever ways they can to the extreme boundaries of thy empire, to save themselves from the general calamity.” None shall save thee — From thy impending ruin, but all shall leave thee to perish without help, and without hope. Observe, reader, they, and only they, are safe and happy, who, by faith and prayer, deal with one that will always be a present help in time of trouble to those that flee to him for refuge, and trust in him. 47:7-15 Let us beware of acting and speaking as Babylon did; of trusting in tyranny and oppression; of boasting as to our abilities, relying on ourselves, and ascribing success to our own prudence and wisdom; lest we partake of her plagues. Those in the height of prosperity, are apt to fancy themselves out of the reach of adversity. It is also common for sinners to think they shall be safe, because they think to be secret in wicked ways. But their security shall be their ruin. Let us draw from such passages as the foregoing, those lessons of humility and trust in God which they convey. If we believe the word of God, we may know how it will be with the righteous and the wicked to all eternity. We may learn how to escape the wrath to come, to glorify God, to have peace through life, hope in death, and everlasting happiness. Let us then stand aloof from all delusions.Stand now with thy enchantments - (See the notes at Isaiah 47:9). This is evidently sarcastic and ironical. It is a call on those who practiced the arts of magic to stand forth, and to show whether they were able to defend the city, and to save the nation.

Wherein thou hast labored - Or in practicing which thou hast been diligently employed.

From thy youth - From the very commencement of thy national existence. Babylon was always distinguished for these arts. Now was a time when their value was to be put to the test, and when it was to be seen whether they were able to save the nation.

If so be - Or perhaps or possibly, they may be able to profit thee - the language of irony. Perhaps by the aid of these arts you may be able to repel your foes.

12. Stand—forth: a scornful challenge to Babylon's magicians to show whether they can defend their city.

laboured—The devil's service is a laborious yet fruitless one (Isa 55:2).

Stand: this word notes either,

1. Continuance. Persist or go on in these practices. Or,

2. Their gesture. For those that inquired of their gods by any of these superstitious practices used to stand; this being a posture, both of reverence, and waiting for an answer. But this is not a command or concession, but a sacred irony or scoff at the folly of these men, who having so oft been disappointed by these impostures, yet were as forward to use them and trust to them as if they had never deceived them.

From thy youth; from the beginning of thy commonwealth or kingdom. For the Chaldeans in all ages were famous, or rather infamous, for the study and practice of these arts. Stand now with thine enchantments, and with the multitude of thy sorceries,.... An ironic expression, deriding those evil arts, bidding defiance to them, calling upon the masters of them to do their utmost by them:

wherein thou hast laboured from thy youth; from the infancy of their state; as soon as their monarchy was founded, or they became a people, they were given to these practices, and were famous for them; and in which, no doubt, many among them were brought up from their youth; and to gain the knowledge of which they were at great labour and expense; and yet it was all in vain, and to no purpose:

if so be thou shall be able to profit, if so be thou mayest prevail; if skill in these things can be of any advantage to keep off the impending calamity, and fortify against the powerful enemy that will quickly surprise thee; try if by thine art thou canst foresee the danger, and prevent it.

Stand now with thy enchantments, and with the multitude of thy sorceries, in which thou hast {l} laboured from thy youth; if thou shalt be able to profit, if thou mayest prevail.

(l) He derides their vain confidence, who put their trust in anything but in God, condemning also such vain sciences, which serve no use, but to delude the people, and to bring them from depending only on God.

12. Stand now with &c.] Either Stand by thy spells, persist in them, stake everything upon them, as Leviticus 13:5; Jeremiah 48:11, Ezekiel 13:5 (these parallels, however, are not quite convincing); or (as in Isaiah 47:13) Stand forth with thy spells.

wherein thou hast laboured from thy youth] Or: with which thou hast wearied thyself, &c.; see on ch. Isaiah 43:22. Duhm omits these words entirely, for the sake of the rhythm, but they excite no suspicion on any other ground.

if so be &c.]  perchance thou wilt be able to profit!—

  perchance thou wilt inspire terror! (Cf. R.V.)

keen and bitter irony.Verse 12. - Stand now. The fourth and concluding strophe now begins; it opens, like the third, with a single imperative. It has, as Mr. Cheyne observes, "a strongly ironical tinge, reminding us of Elijah's language to the priests of Baal in 1 Kings 18:27." The irony is, however, confined to the first half (vers. 12, 13); giving place in vers. 14 and 15 to a scathing sentence of judgment and ruin. Enchantments... sorceries; rather, spells, enchantments (see the comment on ver. 9). If so be, etc.; rather, perchance thou wilt be able to profit; perchance thou wilt cause terror. The prophet gives a pretended encouragement to Israel's adversaries. "If Babylon uses all the resources of her magical art, perhaps she may succeed - who knows? Perhaps she may strike terror into the hearts of her assailants." In the second strophe the penal sentence of Jehovah is continued. "Sit silent, and creep into the darkness, O Chaldeans-daughter! for men no longer call thee lady of kingdoms. I was wroth with my people; I polluted mine inheritance, and gave them into thy hand: thou hast shown them no mercy; upon old men thou laidst thy yoke very heavily. And thou saidst, I shall be lady for ever; so that thou didst not take these things to heart: thou didst not consider the latter end thereof." Babylon shall sit down in silent, brooding sorrow, and take herself away into darkness, just as those who have fallen into disgrace shrink from the eyes of men. She is looked upon as an empress (Isaiah 13:9; the king of Babylon called himself the king of kings, Ezekiel 26:7), who has been reduced to the condition of a slave, and durst not show herself for shame. This would happen to her, because at the time when Jehovah made use of her as His instrument for punishing His people, she went beyond the bounds of her authority, showing ho pity, and ill-treating even defenceless old men. According to Loppe, Gesenius, and Hitzig, Israel is here called zâqēn, as a decayed nation awakening sympathy; but according to the Scripture, the people of God is always young, and never decays; on the contrary, its ziqnâh, i.e., the latest period of its history (Isaiah 46:4), is to be like its youth. The words are to be understood literally, like Lamentations 4:16; Lamentations 5:12 : even upon old men, Babylon had placed the heavy yoke of prisoners and slaves. But in spite of this inhumanity, it flattered itself that it would last for ever. Hitzig adopts the reading עד גּברת, and renders it, "To all future times shall I continue, mistress to all eternity." This may possibly be correct, but it is by no means necessary, inasmuch as it can be shown from 1 Samuel 20:41, and Job 14:6, that (ד is used as equivalent to אשׁר עד, in the sense of "till the time that;" and gebhereth, as the feminine of gâbhēr equals gebher, may be the absolute quite as well as the construct. The meaning therefore is, that the confidence of Babylon in the eternal continuance of its power was such, that "these things," i.e., such punishments as those which were now about to fall upon it according to the prophecy, had never come into its mind; such, indeed, that it had not called to remembrance as even possible "the latter end of it," i.e., the inevitably evil termination of its tyranny and presumption.
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